includem has launched their new research report into the school experience in Scotland during the COVID-19 pandemic.
includem is a Scottish charity supporting children, young people, and families to transform their lives. Their new report calls for schools to be underpinned by a children’s rights perspective, to ensure that children and young people can have their voices heard, increased provision of whole family support to “bridge the gap” between home and school, and the expansion of restorative practices to both build positive relationships and help young people feel they can put mistakes behind them.
They surveyed the views of 111 young people supported by includem in Aberdeen, Dundee, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow, South Lanarkshire, Stirling and West Dunbartonshire. The research of this report was carried out from May – June 2021, with a digital survey distributed to these children and young people. This was followed up through a series of focus groups held towards the end of June (adhering to COVID-19 restrictions at the time).
Key findings of the report include:
- home learning negatively impacted children and young people’s enjoyment of school, confidence in completing their homework, interest in learning, and the level to which they felt supported – however, experiences of school were more positive on the second “return” to school than pre-COVID-19
- children and young people want to be heard and respected. includem’s report details how children told them that they need:
- more opportunities to shape how and what they learn
- to be judged on the “here and now”, rather than on past behaviour
- for school staff to get to know them better and build positive relationships
- family support can help “bridge the gap” between home and school, helping children and young people engage more fully in their education in a way that works for them
Martin Dorchester, Chief Executive of includem said:
“The last seventeen months have posed unprecedented challenges for pupils across Scotland, and it is vital that the voices of children and young people are at the heart of their learning moving forward.
“In this report, the young people we work with stress the importance of being supported, understood, and listened to in a learning environment that ensures their rights are respected and upheld, and is underpinned by a culture of mutual respect.
“We must listen to what children and young people have told us they need from their education moving forward, and act on it accordingly. It is our collective responsibility to ensure they all have the tools and the environment in which their potential can be fully realised.”
Meg Thomas, Head of Research, Policy & Participation added:
“The young people involved in this research were already struggling with the school setting before the pandemic. The situation of remote learning and fractured relationships with teachers made a return to school even more difficult for them. They are the young people for whom the fallout of the pandemic will continue for years to come if we don’t listen to what they have said and act on it.”
To view or download the full report as a pdf, please visit the includem website.