Going back to School – this year it’s a bit different

Going back to school … Did you feel happy? sad? excited? After the long summer break going back to school was always a time of high emotion wasn’t it?

Memories of going back to school

My mother used to take us to buy new shoes a couple of days before term started ‘to make sure you wear them in’. I always got a new bag/backpack as well and was under strict instructions to ‘make it last all year’. I sharpened my pencils and emptied the detritus from the previous year from my pencil case. School pencil cases had a certain smell to them, didn’t they? Sort of musty, with a vague waft of eraser and ink.

I always remember the first day of the new academic year. Meeting my new form tutor. Copying down the timetable and realising I had double maths last thing on a Friday. Feeling sad that I wouldn’t be in the same set as my best friend for English, and discovering the new Home Ec teacher was a martinet.

Our first ‘homework’ was always to cover the fresh exercise books we had received. My mother always had an old roll of anaglypta wallpaper just for the occasion!!! Oh, how I longed for the funky coverings of my friends exercise books. Or to cover them in brown paper. I thought brown paper was SOOO cool and stylish. But no, Mum wasn’t going to pay for anything like that.

So, how it will be for the class of 2020 as they prepare to go back to school?

Of course, as politicians are keen to remind us, we have lived through unprecedented times. None of us could have thought, as we welcomed in the New Year, that in 10 weeks time we would be confined to barracks and our children would be learning remotely.

I really hope nobody will ever again say that teachers have it easy. Having spoken at length to my brother about the challenges of home educating a 12-year-old, I know that it has been far from plain sailing.

Going back to schoolDespite the challenges of home education, many parents remain anxious about their children going back to school. It certainly won’t be ‘normal’ will it? Our children will be in class bubbles, have staggered break times and not be able to sit close to their friends. Then there is the will they /won’t they need to wear masks debate. (At the time of writing, the guidance remains complex).

Public Health England has suggested that the virus is more likely to be spread by school staff than pupils, which has not endeared them to teaching unions.

https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/aug/24/teachers-hit-back-at-claims-coronavirus-is-spread-by-school-staff

And, of course, the mental health issues surrounding going back to school after such a long lay off are hard to gauge.  https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/returning-school-after-lockdown

The next few months are going to be challenging for everyone. I just hope our children are still able to wear in their new shoes, cover their exercise books and sniff their old pencil cases just as I did. Sadly, I think those days are long gone.

Thank you

On a final note, I would like to praise teachers everywhere who have worked tirelessly over the summer break to prepare schools for the return of students. Whatever happens next, you have done everything you can to keep our young people safe. Let’s hope that our young people return the compliment and maintain your safety too.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools