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How is COVID-19 impacting learning?

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Article 12 states that young people have the right to be listened to and taken seriously, and if there was ever an event to show this it would be 5 MSYPs from out Education and Lifelong Learning Committee meeting with 3 MSPs in our equivalent Committee at the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Parliaments Education and Skills Committee invited 5 MSYPs along to meet them (virtually) and discuss young people’s views about how COVID-19 had impacted learning. We were asked 5 questions;

  1. What has been the impact on learning of Covid-19 and what do you think about the plans to re-open schools?
  2. What impact has lockdown had on the mental health of young people?
  3. What do you think about the process to estimate grades this year?
  4. What support do disadvantaged young people need most at the moment?
  5. What is the impact on your plans for the future of Covid-19?

Five important questions I’m sure you’ll agree. With our findings from our Lockdown Lowdown consultation, as well as our individual consultations ahead of this meeting, we went to the committee armed with the views of Scotland’s young people.

We highlighted how young people are worried about COVID-19, how it will affect their schooling right now and thinking in the future, and how it could impact their job prospect.

Schooling right now is of major concern, especially finding a balance between public health and ensuring that young people do not fall behind in their education. When we were asked about this, we were very clear through our Lockdown Lowdown findings, young people are worried about going back to school and catching the virus, as well as passing it on to family members.

Digital exclusion is another major play when it comes to how earning has been impacted due to COVID-19. Not every young person has access to a laptop, to Wi-Fi, to their e-learning recourses. This risks young people falling behind. Let me be clear: digital exclusion is affecting everyone differently. One young told me:

My mum uses the laptop everyday when working from home, I struggle to keep up on my phone and regularly find myself up until 4am trying to catch up.”

This is far from ideal and will be having a detrimental impact on many young people the length and breadth of our country. Many Local Authorities are trying to rectify this by sending out paper resources to young people, but people don’t know this support exists, and are yet again missing out.

When it comes to future prospects, young people are really concerned their transition from school to their positive destinations. Whether it be college, apprenticeships, university or jobs. They’re worried about COVID-19 having an affect on getting to these positive destinations and worried about the possibility of their being impacts on their employability in the future.

Mental wellbeing has always been at the forefront of young people’s lives, but this has been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdown Lowdown and our individual consultations showed us that young people are concerned about mental wellbeing. We don’t have our usual social support networks as we’re unable to see our friends and meet up. Schools are closed, and thus young people are additionally missing out on in-person support in educational settings. The isolation of lockdown is having a detrimental impact on young people’s mental wellbeing. The committee listened to some young people’s experiences, and are more aware than ever about how acute this problem is. Now we need all our decision makers to listen. To quote one young person:

The stress of future impacts on education and employment is very concerning. Lack of access to service to support them and also the lack of routine can make this worse.”

The Committee Members were very clear during our meeting, young people must be actively listened to throughout this process. The Scottish Youth Parliament will continue to make sure this happens wherever possible.

If you would like to find out more about our findings around education you can watch a recording of the full meeting on the Education and Skills Committee website, it’s also linked on our twitter!

Stay Safe!

Liam Fowley MSYP, Convener of the Education and Lifelong Learning Committee

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