COVID-19 prompted the UK government to introduce lockdown measures that rapidly changed the way education was delivered. Most young people had to learn from home, with schools only remaining physically open for vulnerable pupils and children of key workers.
When lockdown measures eased, secondary schools invited some pupils to return to school part-time, while they continued to learn at home. Local councils and schools are now planning to re-open schools fully from September 2020.
School re-opening poses a challenge due to the need for social distancing to prevent local COVID-19 outbreaks. These challenges must be balanced against the benefits for young people of returning to school, such as resuming their education and seeing their friends. To stop the spread of the virus, schools are putting in place a range of measures including hand-washing campaigns, staggered break times and test and trace schemes.
To understand how schools can give young people, parents and teachers the best support, the Back to School study examined how people in Bristol feel and their concerns about returning to secondary school.
This project is being conducted in collaboration with the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Behavioural Science and Evaluation at the University of Bristol.
Interviews were conducted with young people, parents, carers, and teachers in Bristol to understand their views on:
Local councils and schools urgently need evidence to help design policies for the safe re-opening of schools and provide the right support for pupils’ mental health and wellbeing.
The results of the interviews will be rapidly fed back in an anonymous form to education leaders, mental health charities and those producing guidance for schools at a local and national level. This information will help them to support students, parents and teachers – particularly vulnerable groups – as schools re-open.
Findings will also help to shape a proposed school-based test and trace study.
This first interim report presents preliminary findings from interviews held with five school staff from three schools and eight families (seven young people, mostly Years 7/8 (11-13 years), and eight parents) from five schools, between 15 July and 7 August 2020. Read the interim report (PDF).
The final report presents preliminary findings from interviews with 13 school staff from seven schools and 20 families from eight schools, conducted between 15 July and 4 September 2020. Read the final report (PDF).