11 August 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. This first interim report presents preliminary findings from interviews held with five school staff from three schools and eight families from five schools between 15 July and 7 August 2020.
This project is being conducted in collaboration with the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Behavioural Science and Evaluation at the University of Bristol.
Home learning: young people struggled with the lack of socialising and teacher interaction and sometimes minimal teacher feedback. Staff were concerned that unequal access to technology and space exacerbated socioeconomic divides in educational attainment. Home learning benefits included fewer distractions and less stress for young people, and some better family-teacher relationships.
Feelings about returning to school: Families were keen to return unless they had vulnerable family members. Some young people were concerned about returning to socialising after lockdown, and the effectiveness of their home learning. Staff had many concerns about reopening, including COVID-19 infection risk, young people’s emotional wellbeing, managing anticipated behavioural issues, and supporting young people who struggle with learning or are generally seen as more vulnerable, including Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) families. Some staff felt government guidance on reopening was unclear, impractical, inflexible and rushed.
Social distancing and risk reduction in schools: Although families were happy with year group ‘bubbles’, families and staff felt social distancing in schools would be difficult and such risk reduction measures will impact learning. There was particular concern about young people with additional needs e.g. those with special educational needs (SEN) or who struggle with structured learning/have shorter attention spans, and exam year groups.
Test, trace and isolate: Most parents and young people liked the idea of a school test and trace programme. Self-isolation was generally seen as feasible for most families.
This report should be cited as:
Lorenc, A. Kidger, J. Kesten, J. Langford, R. & Horwood, J. Back to School Study: Interim Report 1, 11 August 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-interim-report-1/