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The Children Of Lockdown Will Still Go On To Achieve Wonderful Things

As January 2021 begins with another national lockdown, schools are yet again closed. Children across the country are engaging in online learning alternatives and we are still seeing a lack of alternative provisions for children who are living in poverty. Although we cannot ignore the fact that children with no access to technology will be at a disadvantage after lockdown, it is also so important to recognise that for all children and indeed adults, a school education is only one part of a lifetime of learning.

A person’s lifetime achievements are individual, and should be measured not only by grades, but by the journey on which they have travelled. Perhaps school closures give us the opportunity now to revaluate the weight we put on exam grades.

If we look at the famous equality vs equity graphic (interesting article on it here), it’s clear that judging children equally after the school closures, and indeed before, is not a viable option, we must instead praise them on their ability to adapt through a period that we as adults have never faced.

Trigger warning: Brief mention of depression and suicide.

childs head from behind sitting at a wooden table completing maths homework
childs head from behind sitting at a wooden table completing maths homework

A person’s lifetime achievements are individual, and should be measured not only by grades, but by the journey on which they have travelled. Perhaps school closures give us the opportunity now to revaluate the weight we put on exam grades.

If we look at the famous equality vs equity graphic (interesting article on it here), it’s clear that judging children equally after the school closures, and indeed before, is not a viable option, we must instead praise them on their ability to adapt through a period that we as adults have never faced.

Trigger warning: Brief mention of depression and suicide.

Read my schooling story:

image of abi in a forest with a solar flare over her faceAs a child, I loved school, but as I grew older and moved into secondary school, a combination of an unhappy home life, mental health conditions and undiagnosed physical conditions meant school life was miserable. I began to miss more and more school, resulting in a full-on refusal to return by the end of year 10.

Like many unhappy teenagers, my predicted grades had slipped as time passed and I began to accept I would be a failure with no GCSEs. As a depressed teenager, I didn’t plan to live much beyond my GCSE’s, so they didn’t matter to me anyway.

Due to my refusal to attend school, I was referred to a Pupil Referral Unit or PRU. Months into year 11 I began my education with this new school. I only took the subjects which I enjoyed and could cope with. Subjects like English which can be broken into language and literature were stripped to one part which meant less work whilst still achieving an English grade.

During the <1 year of schooling with part time school hours at the PRU, I managed to complete a 2-year GCSE course in photography gaining an A grade, which really highlights how possible it is to catch up with learning in a limited space of time.

Overall, I finished school with 6 GCSEs including a Science GCSE which was competed in Year 10. My results are worth just as much as those who stressed over their tens of GCSE grades, and I left the schooling system with a much more positive outlook and the ability to begin attending College.

Though the first year of college was difficult for me and resulted in me dropping out, I started again the following year achieving a BTEC in Art & Design. A few years later, I found a remote learning course and completed a Foundation Degree in Interior Design, proving that no matter how many times you must delay or start again, you can still achieve.

Read my schooling story:

image of abi in a forest with a solar flare over her faceAs a child, I loved school, but as I grew older and moved into secondary school, a combination of an unhappy home life, mental health conditions and undiagnosed physical conditions meant school life was miserable. I began to miss more and more school, resulting in a full-on refusal to return by the end of year 10.

Like many unhappy teenagers, my predicted grades had slipped as time passed and I began to accept I would be a failure with no GCSEs. As a depressed teenager, I didn’t plan to live much beyond my GCSE’s, so they didn’t matter to me anyway.

Due to my refusal to attend school, I was referred to a Pupil Referral Unit or PRU. Months into year 11 I began my education with this new school. I only took the subjects which I enjoyed and could cope with. Subjects like English which can be broken into language and literature were stripped to one part which meant less work whilst still achieving an English grade.

During the <1 year of schooling with part time school hours at the PRU, I managed to complete a 2-year GCSE course in photography gaining an A grade, which really highlights how possible it is to catch up with learning in a limited space of time.

Overall, I finished school with 6 GCSEs including a Science GCSE which was competed in Year 10. My results are worth just as much as those who stressed over their tens of GCSE grades, and I left the schooling system with a much more positive outlook and the ability to begin attending College.

Though the first year of college was difficult for me and resulted in me dropping out, I started again the following year achieving a BTEC in Art & Design. A few years later, I found a remote learning course and completed a Foundation Degree in Interior Design, proving that no matter how many times you must delay or start again, you can still achieve.

Many parents and educators are rightly concerned for our children but must always keep in mind that this generation of children will be stronger and more able to adapt than any before them. As children, they have faced a global pandemic, several country wide lock downs and the closures of their main source of social interaction. As adults, they will know what it is to experience stress, sadness, grief, and loneliness in a way which we are still coming to terms with. 2020, the year of Brexit, COVID-19 and the climate emergency has created a generation of compassionate, trailblazers who will put health before wealth, and passion and society before exam grades.

It is the schooling system’s lack of flexibility which must be challenged, the education system remodelled and made fit for purpose, and funding made available for children in poverty, to enable all children of the lockdown to go on to achieve amazing things. A one size fits all approach to education has never been appropriate, and it is my hope that such a monumental disruption to the usual programming will only bring about positive steps towards child lead schooling.

As a parent whose child is now learning from home, do not put excessive pressure on yourself. There is no time limit on education. Whether a child of lockdown, or a parent, there is always the time for more education, and we will keep moving forward.

Meet The Author: Abi Arnold-Michael

Meet The Author: Abi Arnold-Michael

Co Creator Of Esperanza

Abi Arnold-Michael is the joint creator of Esperanza.

Having grown up with a series of health problems, Abi has always created her own way. After renovating her first home, Abi who lives with her wife Emma and dog Tia, plans to move into a home large enough to adopt and foster children and animals. Abi currently creates flatlays for small businesses and her goal is to establish a more sustainable and ethical shopping experience by encouraging customers to shop locally and with independent businesses.