As the foster carer of 16-year-old Rebecca (not her real name), who has just started studying for ‘A’ levels at a local college, I would like to express the serious concerns every parent must be feeling for the social development of the nation’s children.
I am increasingly concerned for Rebecca’s long-term mental state. Having built her hopes for new challenges at the start of her college life, she is finding that she is not being extended socially or emotionally by less than 1½ days a week in college, with large amounts of teaching delivered remotely online and long periods spent in private study at home. Having left behind all her long-established school friends at the start of lockdown in March, college life is not allowing her to become socially engaged, make new friends or become part of a vibrant learning community. She is becoming socially withdrawn, has started wasting her food and is showing signs of intense depression.
I suspect that Rebecca, like an entire generation of children in education, is having these important formative experiences catastrophically decimated by the pointless and needless political interference with educational standards. In terms of child safeguarding, the politically-driven policy in relation to Covid measures is deconstructing the mental and emotional wellbeing of a generation of children, not least that of Rebecca. I fear for the impact this is having on Rebecca's present and future development.
Recent media reports indicate that from infants in primary school to young adults in universities, extreme and unnecessary draconian measures are causing the whole educational structure to fall far short of being fit for purpose (and this against a backdrop of zero evidence that schools and colleges are – or ever were - a driver of the spread of Covid).
As just one very small cog in the national childcare wheel, I feel very strongly that it is now long past the time for everyone involved at any level in the childcare profession to speak with a single voice and demand of our political leaders that where education is concerned at least (and for the good of all our futures), enough is enough.