It’s not the Coronavirus I’m worried about – It’s falling behind at school.

We all know what young people are thinking and feeling and worrying about just now, right? 

We remember what it was like to be at school – we can guess, we can imagine? 

Right? 

This week The Poverty Truth Community caught up with 8 young people in Glasgow aged 11-16 and decided to make sure we do. 

Talking the digital divide, school, glockenspiels and guilt; the main thing they told us is this  – just listen, we want to talk.

What’s good about life in lockdown?

  • Staying in bed longer
  • I get to hug my mum much more.
  • Going for walks, playing on the rope swing.

What’s difficult?

  • I miss being active and all my clubs so much.
  • Not seeing friends is the worst.
  • I miss my teacher.
  • It’s sunny, but I can’t go outside.
  • I didn’t realise how much I would miss just sitting in the library with my friends.  Just being quiet or giggling about something silly that happened in maths. 

What are you worried about?

  • I feel like it will take a long time for school to get back to normal again. I have important exams next year.  I’m really worried.
  • I’m worried about the world in general too, what the future will hold.  About going out and getting the virus, or bringing it back to people in my house.
  • Being a teenager at this time is hard.  I have had to grow up so so fast. I worry about how my mum and I are going to make our money last just a little bit longer.  About how if I have a bag of sweets now it means we can’t have a jug of milk later.  I have such terrible guilty feelings.  I’m hungry, but I don’t want to have to eat so much, because she’s hungry too. 
  • All my worries are based around school really.  This has been one of the most important years in my school life and now its all been taken away from me.  I was set up to believe these exams were the most important thing and then I haven’t been allowed to sit them.  I’m really worried about not getting the results I’d hoped for.  It’s really stressful.
  • It’s not the Coronavirus I’m worried about, it’s how much I’m falling behind.

How is home school working out?

  • Keeping up with the work is the hardest thing.  It takes longer to learn, to understand and to do the work than it would if there was a teacher in the classroom.
  • It’s stressful not having a plan for the day.  All your work coming in at the same time, waiting and not knowing when it will come, what you should concentrate on that day.
  • I’m worried about missing out.  I’m worried that people will be miles ahead of me.  I’ve always been a bit behind, but it’ll be even worse now.  I’ll look really daft, but it’s hard when you don’t understand something and you don’t have the teacher there to explain it. 
  • Sometimes I have to do my work on my phone as someone else is using the tablet, and it is hard to see, the words are really small.
  • I have an iPad from the school, but we didn’t get shown how to use it properly.  It’s hard if you haven’t had one before and you don’t know what you’re doing. My gran looks after me and she doesn’t know either.  It’s causing a lot of arguments. 
  • I know my teachers send me stuff, but I can’t get it because we don’t have Wi-fi.
  • There are a lot of people missing – people who are in my classes, but I can see are not online.  Maybe their internet is down or they don’t have enough data.  I think people are struggling to keep motivated too as it’s been going on so long.

What are you looking forward to?

  • I’m looking forward to going back to school, to seeing all the people in my classes again.
  • I am looking forward to going to music again.  I play the keyboard and glockenspiel but don’t have those instruments at home.  I really miss playing them.
  • I am looking forward to getting back into a routine that feels normal.  Even if I have to walk to school in the rain and snow because we can’t afford the bus pass, I won’t mind, I can go outside again.
  • Seeing my friends!

What do you think people making decisions about education in Scotland need to hear?

  • They need to hear from us.  A lot of their observations and assumptions may not be right.  Please don’t just listen to the teachers and other adults, take the time to sit down and talk with us. 
  • We are worried about the impact this is going to have on our future.
  • We need clear information about what is going to happen next.  About our exams – it’s still too confusing, about school, about where we can get help.
  • They need to remember it is not just about education, it is also about our mental health. 
  • That we are glad they are helping us – that we say thank you!

Any final thoughts?

  • Everyone on earth has something in common now.  Maybe we can all understand each other a bit better, maybe that is something that can make a real difference to our future.

Elaine Downie

The Poverty Truth Community

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