Schools are back, and many parents and carers around the country are breathing a sigh of relief after 9 weeks of juggling home schooling, childcare and jobs. Some will be missing family time together at home. Some are anxious about the return to routine and the possible health risk of their children mixing again.
A year of school closures, exam cancellations, anxiety, grief and social isolation has been a perfect storm for children and young people. A survey carried out in January by national charity Young Minds found that many of the 13 to 25-year-olds taking part were deeply anxious, having panic attacks or losing motivation and hope for the future. The main pressures they spoke of were loneliness, worries about their education, exams and qualifications, and breakdown in routine.
For younger children too, lockdown has brought learning loss, anxiety, isolation and financial hardship, with already disadvantaged pupils suffering the most.
Whilst schools across the UK are now in the process of opening up to all students, the pandemic’s impact will not disappear overnight. BCM’s Youth and Children’s Teams’ Co-ordinators talk here about their work through the latest lockdown and their hopes as it begins to ease.
John Platt, Youth Team
‘During lockdown we have been in regular touch with teachers to show support, offer prayer and express our willingness to help their school in any way we can. Schools are now focused on helping students catch up on missed work, especially exam students. Some schools have said they are expecting an inevitable rise in returning students reporting personal and mental health issues and wanting support.
We have been busy recording and editing Easter assembly and RE lesson videos and so far 25 schools have requested the assembly and a dozen the lesson. We are excited about many young people hearing the important Easter message of ‘Hope’ and pray that it will greatly benefit them personally, educationally and spiritually. These videos will be available to schools from mid-March, and another Easter video produced for church youth groups towards the end of the month.
In June and July we are hoping to take the GSUS Live trailer project into secondary schools once again.’
Kathryn Hindley, Children’s Team
‘During this last lockdown we offered a video assembly designed to be used by teachers as part of a virtual lesson or passed on to be used by children and their parents at home. 37 schools took up the assembly.
Our Solid Rock week was an activity pack delivered to the home of each child, and videos including some of our favourite parts of the holiday club – games, a Bible story, a Bible verse and puppet show. Although everything took place at a distance this year, one child let us know, ‘I love Solid Rock. It is so much fun!’
Our Easter assembly video has gone out to schools and we hope the retelling of the events of Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday sparks some good class discussions.
Though schools are back, physical assemblies are still not feasible and we are planning to offer live virtual assemblies in the summer term. We don’t know yet whether this summer’s Solid Rock will be virtual, physical or something in between!’
PRAY FOR OUR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
…for those who are sad, anxious and struggling with their mental health
…for those who are feeling lonely and isolated, missing their friends and family
…for those needing to catch up on lost learning
…for those whose hopes and plans for the future have been disrupted
…for families in financial hardship
…for schools, colleges and universities to safely stay open and resume in-person learning
…that the story of Easter would bring hope and renewal to many