More change at schools in a year of disruption

In a year of ongoing disruption to schools, the arts are crucial for helping children to cope.


It’s been a year and a half of stops and starts and sudden changes and no more so than for children and for anyone working in education. Every time there is a new announcement, a round of emails comes from the schools. This time is no different.

I have children in year 6, year 11 and year 13 – all key years. First came the year 6 letter. The school fete has been cancelled. Only son is not too disappointed, but I know that is a major fundraising event for the parent teachers association. Still, they can maybe hold it in the autumn, although moving things and rebooking everything is no small feat. Next an email from his secondary school: the induction days next week will be slightly tweaked with more wearing of masks and bubbling and other guidance. He’s used to that by now so it won’t spoil the excitement of being in big school.

Then came the emails for daughter three. Her end of year event has been cancelled. She didn’t want to go anyway so that’s not a big deal. Her sixth form – at another school – has written to say induction will be online. Daughter three is not a big fan of online, but she was getting anxious about meeting new people so this might be a bonus for her.

Next came the emails for daughter two who has been planning her prom for months – and even the picnic thing they were supposed to be doing next week. Both have been cancelled and there are no plans to reorganise them. Instead, they will be able to collect their yearbooks, in bubbles, at an appointed time in July.

They’ve grown resigned to all of this over the last year. They’ve had to cope with classes being closed down, having Covid, isolation, online learning while grieving, exams being cancelled, no information for months and being told every single thing they do counts for their assessment, continuous tests for weeks on end – in exam conditions for daughter two. They have coped with it all and I am sure we can do our own prom – of sorts – for them, but it’s such a damp squib at the end of a dreadful year.

I know they are not losing their business over these latest changes and that the delay is absolutely understandable, but it’s worth acknowledging the impact of all of this on everyone. The schools must be on their knees and crawling towards summer.

I would say thank goodness for the football, but my kids are not into it. Instead, I would like to send the biggest of bouquets to BTS [and Eurovision] and to Harry Potter for getting my kids through this year. Music and the arts are what get us through hard times and yet they are being cut at schools and are in crisis generally at a time when we have never needed them more.

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