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This week, the Children’s Commissioner spoke to children at Harris Academy St John’s Wood. We would like to thank the school for hosting us, it was great to be able to hear about children’s return to school after the Christmas break. Children told us they are very pleased that schools are open.

As we heard from children at the school:

“I definitely wanted school open. The teacher physically being there just helps us learn better. It did feel better coming back to school”

“Last year was pretty much just online learning, and I feel myself and I think all my classmates have really suffered from that… coming back to school after so long is just a massive help for everyone”

 “During lockdown online learning – because there was no teacher physically there to impose those restrictions on you in learning, to force you to work harder, it really was up to you whether you were going to put that effort in or not and sometimes even for the best of students it is quite hard to get motivated when you are not in the physical classroom”

The children explained how much they value their education and how they recognised the importance of it more, particularly since schools closed for some children during lockdown:

“I think I value school even more than I did before, because before this I loved coming to school but now, I’m going to make sure I make the most of it”

“School really motivates us as students”

“Honestly, when we came back everyone was energised and so ready to start, because I feel like when you have such a long period of a break, you realise how much you miss your learning and how much you miss school”

The impact of lockdown on these children was clear:

“Later, throughout the (lockdown) year, we began to realise how pressuring it felt after losing every opportunity we had to learn and get better in other subjects, and the connections with your friends and generally the school that you never had. It was very upsetting”

“I feel like I learn a lot more in school than online”

They also spoke about what they needed to catch up on some of the learning experiences that they felt they had missed out on in lockdown:

“I feel like we missed out so much and we are at such a disadvantage and more advantages would help us”

“Lockdown did change people’s perspectives on school and wellbeing”

The children at the school also told us are looking forward to seeing their friends:

“We lost a lot during lockdown, but we created closer bonds because of it, and being back in school has made those bonds stronger – we were kind of like left at home and it was a kind of struggle, but coming back to school was a good situation, because we finally got to do something we hadn’t done in years, which was to communicate”

These children at school told us how excited they were to be back, and this reflected what we heard in The Big Ask from children across the country. They told us that they care passionately about being able to go to school, care about their education and doing well, and enjoy all the experiences that being at school offers – seeing friends and doing activities.

We have also published a podcast episode featuring the students’ discussions with the Children’s Commissioner.

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