As we head into what we hope will be a period of optimism and a return to normality for schools, we have to consider counting the cost of the lockdown experience on our children. They have had to endure a great deal and enjoy little. Denied the social aspects of school life, they have had little chance to develop the relationships with their teachers who remain the bedrock for inspiring and encouraging them, advising and guiding them. Whilst a harmonious homelife may have provided comfort and support, many children may have faced a painful sense of isolation on a daily basis and an ebbing away of their natural resilience and confidence.
Education is about the heart, the head and the hands. Some children, let it be said, will find it difficult to adjust to school expectations on their return in September. Two years of SATS have been missed. Those who are entering Sixth Forms have not had any experience of sitting any form of public exam. The prospect of studying at university is not as automatic nor as attractive as it once was. The routines and disciplines connected to studying will have to be relearnt. And then there are the costs to mental health. Often through stealth and gradual acquisition, depression, self doubt and a diminishing of self esteem may have triggered episodes of self harming and eating disorders which were already on the ascendancy before the term ‘lockdown’ was ever mentioned.
We all want a return to normality. Our teachers, themselves victims of the absence of social interaction in regular school life, will have the added responsibility to recognize and restore the mental wellbeing of their students.