Why children MUST NOT be locked down again

Why children MUST NOT be locked down again

There are fears that the government will impose another strict lockdown due to the new variant of Covid.

It must resist.

The education of our children has been severely affected during the pandemic and they need to be in school to catch up.

A balance must be struck between the risks of Covid and the damage that is caused when people and families are stuck at home.

The tragic murder of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes highlights the higher risk of abuse when lockdowns are in force.

School staff – among all their other duties – are skilled in identifying children who might be suffering at home.

They get to know the children in their class and build up trust, so youngsters feel able to tell them when something is wrong.

Interventions can then be put in place and help provided.

If the children are not in school, this valuable system of early ‘red flag’ signals is removed and abuse is more likely to go unnoticed.

Well-off middle-class parents might be happy for lessons to go online, but this is no solution.

It does not replace the effectiveness of face-to-face learning in the classroom; it is lonely for the children and harder for the teacher to teach.

The popular Zoom software and other similar online platforms are helpful but they cannot be used to provide the depth and variety of subject teaching offered in a face-to-face taught curriculum.

When learning online, children are more likely to switch off mentally and not properly engage with their teacher. It is much harder for teachers to motivate children under these circumstances.

Furthermore, many less well-off parents do not have the best home learning conditions.

The devices they are using – even though the government has made computers available to many – may be less effective than the ones used by their better-off peers.

If their living space is more restricted, it could also mean children are trying to learn when other activities are going on around them and this is very distracting.

Situations arise where a child is trying to learn at home in the same room in which baby brothers and sisters are crying and playing and where older siblings are watching the TV and the parents are also trying to work from home.

It can be utter chaos – and these are the families that need the most help.

For many children school is the only time when they are shown proper attention, fed properly and can spend time away from a chaotic home life.

Being out of school can also be a lonely and isolating experience for a child.

They are not spending time with their peer group and are unable to maintain the kind of healthy friendships that are normal for children.

Online friendships are not the same and there are also possibilities of cyber-bullying.

There are real dangers that a child’s mental health can deteriorate when they spend much of their time indoors and on a computer.

Socialisation is really important for a child. I was recently teaching a Year 4 class and found that they were behaving like a Year 3 class.

They were less settled, less focused and less relaxed in the classroom setting.

It was clear to me that these children had really missed out and were about a year behind in their social development.

Another group that really suffered during the lockdowns are children with special educational needs

They, more than any others, benefit from specialist, face-to-face teaching which has been lacking for long periods over the duration of the pandemic.

The interventions and support they would normally receive have been largely absent.

For all these reasons WE MUST NOT LOCK DOWN AGAIN!