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Lockdown learning: ‘Important to remember’ some pupils have thrived

Anne Paterson, who recently retired as chief education officer in Argyll and Bute, said some youngsters have enjoyed lockdown learning.
Anne Paterson, who recently retired as chief education officer in Argyll and Bute, said some youngsters have enjoyed lockdown learning.

A north education expert says it is important not to assume every young person has struggled with lockdown learning.

Home-schooling has become the norm for many families across Scotland due to the closure of classrooms.

The lack of face-to-face interaction and conversations with classmates have taken their toll on many – with the cold winter months potentially making things worse.

Anne Paterson, who recently retired as chief education officer for Argyll And Bute, said: “It probably has been more difficult this time around because the whole country is feeling a fatigue, so it has been harder for children and their families to take on board each day’s required activities.

“In the last lockdown you could move them outside into the natural environment with activities that get kids out and about – but January is not the time for that.”

Among these difficulties, a number of parents fear their children are falling behind their peers in terms of their education.

Some have also called for entire cohorts to repeat the last year and ensure nothing crucial has been missed during lockdown learning.

But Mrs Paterson says we cannot assume everyone is facing the same issues.

“I don’t think we can do a whitewash and say ‘everybody is so behind,’ as it’s not going to be the case,” she said.

“We have to be really aware there are some young people who have found this has been a type of environment they have enjoyed and been able to work in, but for others it will have been very difficult.

“Not everybody is going to be at the same pace, so it’s going to be hard to assess that quality of learning.

“That’s where the skills of teaching professionals and leadership within schools are important, as they’ll be able to look at individual young people and assess where their learning is at.”

Aberdeen mum Amy Mackie said it took some time for her and S6 daughter Jessica to adjust to a new regime of home-schooling.

She said: “The motivation over the first few months was kind of lax as a lot of them were treating it more like a holiday.

“But since Christmas she’s been following the school timetable and it’s been quite good.”

Jessica described her lockdown learning as “stressful but do-able” and added: “When you’re in class you’ve got that motivation to put your head down and do your work as there aren’t any distractions.

“But when you’re at home you’ve got your pets and your phone, and you’re sitting in your bed most of the time.

“Then you look at your phone to check the time and the next thing you know half an hour has passed and you’ve done nothing.

“It’s the small interactions you miss day-to-day – seeing one of your teachers in the hallway and saying hi as you walk past.”

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