Parents hesitant to send kids back to school, but not just because of COVID-19

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Posted on: 04 Jun 2020

Online lockdown learning has been a surprise hit with parents of secondary school children.

Online lockdown learning has been a surprise hit with parents of secondary school children.

We recently surveyed 2000 UK parents, and 59% said that their children prefer online learning to actually having to walk through the school gates each day. 

But it’s not just because of the threat of COVID-19 spreading in schools and kids bringing the virus back home to their families. 

Respite from in-school bullying and peer pressure seem to be a major factor in parents’ enthusiasm, with a quarter of them saying that their child had been bullied in school. Only a third of those parents with children aged 11 – 18 thought the school had dealt with the problem well, with the rest saying it had ignored it, handled it badly, or even made it worse.

Children and parents are left feeling almost helpless. 

Rick Greener, our headteacher says “...unfortunately some children are expert at getting away with bullying, knowing the parameters and how far they can exploit a situation. It's every parent's nightmare to find out that their child is being bullied at school. 

"Although not a long-term solution for those who will return to a ‘bricks and mortar’ school, the chance to be away from the physical classroom and study online appears to be a welcome distraction for the quarter of teens that were being bullied in school before lockdown.”

A lot of parents feel that online learning has allowed children to learn at their own pace, and believe the home is a much less stressful environment than school.

Two-fifths of parents also say that their children feel under less duress to look and dress in a certain way every day and believe there is less pressure to get the answers right in front of classmates. 

On the flip-side, parents who are online sceptics say the biggest downsides to online learning is that children are missing their friends and face-to-face interaction with teachers and peers.

Overall, however, most parents say that they have enjoyed having their teenage children with them every day during lockdown.

The prospect of a swift return to school still divides opinion.

Two-thirds of parents say they would prefer their child to stay at home rather than return to school until a vaccine for COVID-19 becomes available. And while parents say some children are happy or excited at the prospect of going back to school, others say that they are nervous, unhappy, worried and even “full of dread”.

Parents around the world can relate to this. 

Concerned parent, Clare Woolf said that she was aware that her 13-year-old son was “missing his friends terribly” but said that there were “so many unanswered questions about safety for students and staff that I’d be reluctant to rush him back into the classroom. 

“On the upside”, she added, “he’s definitely a happier person generally since he started to learn from home. He’s had more praise from teachers in the past two months than he managed to get in the past two years. And the other night he said that if online learning and still being able to see his mates was an option then that’s what he’d love to be doing in the future. We’ll have to see what schools think they’ll be able to offer from September. Perhaps he’ll get his wish.”

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