Schools: more than a drop-off point
Schools are so much more than a place to drop on the kids off at 8.30am and pick up in the afternoon. They are places to learn, socialise, escape from difficult situations. We sometimes take for granted their importance in protecting and strengthening the hopes and happiness of young people.
When schools were shut down back in March, you could hear a collective gasp from parents all over the country. How was this going to work? Would parents be called upon to dust off their GCSE Maths? Do they even teach Pythagoras theorem anymore?
More importantly, how will they feed their growing children? If they’re at home all the time, they're going to eat a lot. What about childcare? What about work?
Parents around the country were tuning in to the daily briefings with baited breath, praying for Boris to utter those three magic words, ‘schools are reopening’. Never again would we take schools for granted.
Here's a look at how they support young people across the country.
Schools not only save parents from the crippling costs of childcare, they also play a vital role in keeping young people safe. They are places where young people can spend time with friends under the supervision of trusted adults.
For those at risk of going missing or being exploited by criminal groups, this is crucial. Without schools, young people could be out and about, an easy target for criminals looking to manipulate them with promises of quick cash and a place to belong.
Our My Voice programme holds group workshops in schools, encouraging students to talk about issues important to them - diversity, bullying, respect, knife crime, county lines, grooming. They learn how to stay safe, be confident and deal with their feelings. Schools provide safe spaces for these conversations to happen.
I like how we can express our thoughts
Teachers do an incredible job in not only educating our children, but also looking out for them. We work closely with schools so more professionals can spot the signs of abuse, neglect and exploitation. Without the eyes and ears in classrooms, cases of child abuse are more likely to go unseen and unreported.
For young carers, schools not only offer a break from looking after mum and dad, but they’re also a place to go and get support. Teachers who are aware of a carer's situation can give advice and recommend support programmes. Without these professionals to talk to, young carers have to cope with more on their own.
Despite being excited by school closures at first, most young people quickly admitted they missed school. They missed their friends and the variety of their days. When schools were closed it meant staying inside, learning online, socialising online. They had a lot less autonomy and less chance to ‘play’, which is important for well-being.
Through our programmes we've been able to go to schools and train year 7 pupils how to become mentors and well-being ambassadors. They're then able to look out for others and improve young people's well-being throughout the school.
We can pick people up if they're feeling down
Whether it’s supporting a child with well-being, providing free meals in the week or allowing parents to work without worrying about their child's safety, schools play a huge part in keeping our children hopeful and happy.
With all of the disruption this year to schools and young lives, we're stepping up the fight for children’s hopes and happiness.
Join us as we fight for their hope, their ambitions, and their whole generation.