Life after peak and reopening schools
The notion of ‘New normality’ appeared to be a difficult concept to imagine for more than half the sample while about ¼ of the sample remained indecisive about whether it would be different from life before the outbreak. The two groups seemed to trust the same sources of information during the outbreak: mostly journalism, government guidance and news summaries from their senior management team. For families, social media were also one of the main sources of information. In relation to reopening schools, about half of practitioners and families were worried about the children’s transition to formal schooling. Qualitative responses discussed their main worries, which were relevant to the time needed for smooth transition, the social challenges of re-joining formal education and safety from COVID-19. Practitioners and families agreed that safe reopening is not yet possible and that the voices of stakeholders should be heard when it comes to reopening.
Findings in more detail showed that:
The notion of ‘New normality’:
- 64.5% of practitioners and 58.6% of families reported that they could not imagine what the “new normality” would look like for children and themselves when the lockdown is over. 12.9% and 15.7% of practitioners and families disagreed, and 22.6% and 21.4% were indecisive.
Transition to formal schooling:
- 71.1% of families felt that their child’s experience was going to be impacted by the partial reopening of schools in June 2020, 7.9% disagreed with that statement and 15.8% were indecisive. Qualitative responses focused on worries about attention shifted from supporting distance learning to live teaching of the year groups returning to school, children with special needs finding it difficult to adhere to enforced contact with only small groups of peers and staff. However, there were also families that felt that smaller teaching groups and going back to structured learning would have a positive impact on their children’s experience during the outbreak.
- 36.5% of practitioners said that they were worried regularly about vulnerable children’s transition to formal schooling when schools reopen and 39.7% were frequently worried about that. The remaining 20.6% were a little worried and 3.2% not at all. 36.8% of families said that they were worried regularly about their children’s transition to formal schooling when schools reopen and 21.1% were frequently worried. The remaining 25% were a little worried and 13.2% not at all. Qualitative responses from both samples centred around the time needed for a smooth transition due to the social challenges of settling back to formal schooling but also worries about lost learning time. The need for teachers to keep in regular contact with families to enable a smoother transition to formal schooling was also highlighted.
- We asked families about whether they were worried about reopening schools without having taken appropriate measures to protect children, families and staff from COVID-19. Views were split with 28.9% of families expressing a regular worry and 26.3% reported worrying frequently. On the other hand, 22.4% reported worrying a little and 19.7% not at all.
- 68.3% of practitioners said that they would rather ‘vulnerable’ children returned to regular schooling as soon as possible, while 17.5% disagreed and 14.3% were indecisive. Qualitative responses showed that practitioners evaluated returning to formal education on a case-by-case basis taking into account the home but also the school environment. In contrast, 42.1% of families would preferer their children to not return to regular schooling in June 2020, 45.5% would like them to return and 14.5% were indecisive. Qualitative responses highlighted worries about safety as the main reason for preferring continuation of distance learning over early re-joining formal schooling.
- In another question to families, about whether they would consider keeping home-schooling as a permanent fixture after the lockdown even if their children are given the option to return to in-school education, 68.4% said they would not, 10.5% that they would, and 15.8% were indecisive. Qualitative responses mentioned alternatives, such as changing school or trying flexischooling (a combination of in school and at home education) rather than making home-schooling a permanent fixture.
Browse the rest of the ‘Results’ sub-pages from the drop down menu in the banner to find out more about participants’ views by theme:
For Practices During COVID- 19: https://blogs.reading.ac.uk/vunerable-children-covid-19/practices-during-covid-19/
For Wellbeing, Mental Health and Safeguarding: https://blogs.reading.ac.uk/vunerable-children-covid-19/wellbeing-and-mental-health-2/
For Meeting the Children’s Needs: https://blogs.reading.ac.uk/vunerable-children-covid-19/meeting-the-childrens-needs/
For Reopening Schools: https://blogs.reading.ac.uk/vunerable-children-covid-19/reopening-schools-2/
If you would like to contribute your questions, please go to: https://reading.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/have-your-say