Views of young people, their parents/carers and teachers about re-opening secondary schools: the Back to School study final report
15 September 2020
The Back to School study is a rapid qualitative study examining how young people, parents, carers and school staff in Bristol feel about returning to secondary school in September, including their views on measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infections.
The final report presents rapid analysis of data from interviews with 13 school staff from seven schools and 20 families from eight schools, conducted between 15 July and 4 September 2020.
Home learning: Young people struggled with the lack of socialising and teacher interaction. For some, home learning benefits included fewer distractions, less stress for some young people, especially those with Special Educational Needs (SEN). Staff found it a poor substitute for face-to-face teaching and were concerned about unequal access to technology and space, which would deepen the gap in educational attainment between different socioeconomic groups.
Feelings about returning to school: Families were keen for young people to return unless they had clinically vulnerable or high-risk family members, for example those from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds. Some young people were concerned about returning to socialising after lockdown, using public transport and catching up on learning, especially in year 10. Staff had concerns about reopening, including: COVID-19 infection risk (to their family and to students and staff), the pressure on teachers not to spread COVID-19, feasibility of risk reduction measures, reduced staff numbers, young people’s emotional wellbeing and mental health, and supporting young people who are struggling.
Opinion on Government guidance: Despite agreeing that schools must reopen, families and staff had very little trust in the Government due to their repeated U-turns (for example on exam grades), and guidelines were viewed as unscientific, unclear and untimely.
Views on social distancing and COVID-19 risk reduction measures in schools: Families and staff felt social distancing in schools would be difficult. Although year group bubbles were seen as a pragmatic solution, there were concerns about crossover from socialising and siblings. Staff were concerned about whether students would comply with new measures. Risk reduction measures were expected to impact learning, particularly for young people with additional needs, those who struggle with structured learning, and years 11 and 13 taking exams.
Citing this report
This report should be cited as:
Lorenc, A. Kidger, J. Kesten, J. Langford, R. & Horwood, J. Back to School Study: Final rapid report, 14 September 2020, University of Bristol.
Available from: https://arc-w.nihr.ac.uk/covid-response/rapid-reports/views-of-young-people-their-parents-carers-and-teachers-about-re-opening-secondary-schools-the-back-to-school-study-final-report/