The gap between the rich and the poor in schools is widening
25th January 2021

WITH schools closed to most kids across the country, pressure is mounting for the Government to say when pupils will be able to go back to classrooms.

Families are left in limbo wondering how long their home-schooling ordeal will last.

Devastated parents and their kids are left in limbo wondering how long their homeschooling ordeal will continue.

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And as our shocking new polling reveals, the consequences for families’ mental health and kids’ education could be dire if this continues.

We surveyed 1,000 pupils aged six to 16 and their parents, and a staggering 72 per cent of parents thought school closures during the last lockdown had been bad for their children’s mental health.

Two thirds of children agreed.

Parents feel home-schooling leaves today’s youngsters at risk of becoming a “lost generation”.

Most kids think education has been badly affected by the Government’s fumbled handling of the pandemic.

Some have been left feeling so isolated they are at breaking point.

Three parents tell The Sun how their kids have been affected.

And Molly Kingsley, co-founder of parent campaign group UsForThem, pleads with the PM to reopen classes.

Son was so dark

REBECCA Da Reis is a stay-at-home mum to nine-year-old Romeo, who is autistic.

He spiralled during the first lockdown, as he voiced dark thoughts.

Londoner Rebecca, 37, says: “By about July, it turned to: ‘I don’t want to be here any more. I need to think of ways to not be here’.

"I’m not sure I could fully tell you how heartbreaking that is.”

Romeo can be equally dark in the latest lock-down.

Rebecca says: “He said: ‘Mummy, I want a rocketship, to go to the moon, and I’m not going to wear an astronaut outfit’.

I said: ‘Why is that?’

He said: ‘Because I would die’.

“It’s killing me to see him un-ravel like this and not to be able to help him.”

Gap between rich and poor widening

COVID is a devastating tragedy that has killed almost 100,000 people.

However, underneath our noses there is another national emergency.

Its victims are our children.

In August Chris Whitty and the other Chief Medical Officers for the UK’s nations said that the risk of kids getting seriously ill from Covid-19 is dwarfed by what they describe as the “certainty of long-term harm” for many children if they do not attend school.

That’s why I’m begging Boris Johnson to open our schools as soon as possible.

As a parent of two girls, a four and a seven-year-old in their key developmental years, I’m deeply concerned by the serious and lasting impacts of school closures on our children.

That’s why I co-founded the UsForThem campaign alongside three other parents.

As The Sun reported yesterday, a dozen Tory MPs have now joined our initiative to get schools open.

All of us are terrified that one of the most disastrous effects of our response to coronavirus will be a lost generation of kids.

And those hardest hit will be youngsters from the poorest households.

Ofcom estimated this month that there are up to 1.5million pupils who don’t have digital for home lessons.

Another survey shows that nearly one in five being taught at home gets no ‘live’ schooling via a computer from their teacher each day.

While figures from the spring lockdown show private school pupils were twice as likely to get online lessons every day.

It means the inequality between rich and poor pupils is widening.

School closures have also had a devastating impact on kids’ mental and physical health, as the alarming stats on this page bear out.

Anxiety and depression, self-harm, eating disorders and suicidal thoughts have increased.

Recent research from The Prince’s Trust found that one in four young people feel they have been “unable to cope with life” since the start of the pandemic.

Its Youth Index survey of 2,180 people aged 16 to 25 across the UK indicated that more young people are anxious than in the 12-year history of the study.

If the Government wants to keep schools shut, it must show us how it is both necessary and proportionate so we are not needlessly sacrificing kids’ futures.

Otherwise we must rely on the sensible Covid safety measures already in place and reopen them.

Longing for pals

COOK Etsuko Morita, 49, from Southwick, West Sussex, fears her nine-year-old daughter Triniti is overwhelmed by isolation – including one incident last week.

Etsuko says: “She was really low, and eventually she just started crying because she was so lonely.

“She misses school and her friends.”

While Etsuko also finds home-schooling her daughter a challenge, her main worry is not Triniti’s studies.

She says: “Education will eventually catch up, but mental health is a massive concern.

“It’s definitely a traumatic event and it is not necessary. I feel really sorry for all the kids.”

Wasted revision

ANOTHER victim of school closures is Matthew Culliford, 15, from North London.

He says: “I spent much of Christmas revising for my mocks as I thought we were going to have to sit them when we returned in the new year.

"Then the PM announced school was cancelled along with all exams. It made me feel like all that revision was for nothing. 

“Since then, I have been trying to do home- schooling.

"But a school with teachers is a much better environment to prepare for your GCSEs than a virtual world of online lessons.

“At home, it has been hard to keep motivated and I miss seeing people and the old routine.”

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