Kensal & Kilburn 2020 meeting hears the ‘harsh reality’ of education under Covid-19

Kensal & Kilburn 2020 meeting on education with panellists including Queen's Park Community School. Picture: Nathalie Raffray

Kensal & Kilburn 2020 meeting on education with panellists including Queen's Park Community School. Picture: Nathalie Raffray - Credit: Archant

The Covid pandemic is putting a generation of school children at risk of deepening inequality in education and life prospects, a meeting heard.

Queen's Park Community School. Picture: Google

Queen's Park Community School. Picture: Google - Credit: Archant

Kensal & Kilburn Better 2020 hosted Schools, Interrupted on Thursday evening (October 15) to discuss how coronavirus has disrupted schools, creating huge challenges for pupils, teachers and parents.

Fears were raised that the “novelty” of Covid-19 is “wearing off” putting more people at risk of catching the illness, with the knock on effect of pupils missing weeks of school.

The meeting also heard a three week delay for pupils sitting A-Levels and GCSEs next summer was “not adequate” with calls for a proper consideration of the impact of covid on schools.

Queen’s Park Community School (QPCS) head Judith Enright, QPCS student Lola Jempeji, child & adolescent psychologist Mark Nathan and Kensal & Kilburn online expert Steve Haggard were panellists at the Zoom meeting chaired by Melissa Benn.

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Ms Enright, who has steered the inclusive comprehensive school in Aylestone Avenue for five years, said a number of pupils had been forced to self isolate.

“With the best will in the world, with the best technology in the world, with the best wifi, there are huge limitations to continue [students] education during any sort of lockdown,” she said.

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She said one pupil had not been in school since September 18 when they were the first in their family to have covid and weeks later parents and now a sibling have testing positive.

Teachers simultaneously teach in class and remotely to pupils at home which Ms Enright said was “technologically challenging”.

She suggested A-Levels should go ahead but “more consideration” be given to GCSEs saying the government had been “uniquely incompetent” dealing with education.

Lola, a senior student leader in Year 13, said working online had effected a lot of pupils in retaining information compared to interacting with a teacher in a classroom.

She said it would have “a big impact on exams” saying some peers had no access to wifi. “Having three weeks to replace six months of learning online is not the best decision the government could have made.”

Mr Haggard said home learning is “ramping up a lot” and will “probably be permanent”.

He added: “The increasing role of online is increasing inequality in education outcomes and that’s a pity and something that we’re all going to have to think very hard about.”

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