As a 16-year-old student, I know the real dangers of shutting schools – my generation will be plagued by this forever

CONGRATULATIONS, Gav, you have won – you have officially spoilt the lives of millions of students like me across the UK.   

Yesterday was a joyous day for the teaching union barons as they achieved their goal of closing down schools and exacerbating inequality among young people.

Worst of all, they are still saying that schools should remain shut for longer, whilst complaining about the disparity among students from those who attend private schools and from those who attend comprehensive schools. 

Yesterday it was confirmed that MILLIONS of schoolkids in the worst-hit Covid areas will stay home for at least an extra two weeks after the Christmas holidays. 

Gavin Williamson was forced to tear up his plans to stagger the reopening of secondaries and colleges, with students now going back to the classroom a week later than previously planned. 

Years 11 and 13 – who have exams coming up – will go back in person from January 11 and the rest of secondary schools will return from January 18.

Worst fears coming true

As a 16-year-old student and who attends a comprehensive school in Leeds, this news couldn’t be any more mortifying.

My worst fears have become a reality – I'm dreading missing school and falling behind in my education.

When I heard the news I was heartbroken and it filled me with worry and anxiety.

Some of my friends took to Snapchat and Instagram to share their annoyance and concerns about the irrational decision taken by the Education Secretary to delay the opening of schools.

In truth, we were all dreading going back to the educational situation we faced in lockdown in March: little support from school, a mental health crisis amongst young people, and inequality growing by the day. 

Generational gap

Politicians don’t seem able to grasp how being trapped in a house with family is no good for the majority of kids' mental health.

Like me, most students would rather be at school – a safe place to escape, meet friends, and learn. 

During the first lockdown in March, I had no contact with most of my subject teachers.

Some directed me to free online learning – advice which I found disheartening since these sites are there to enhance your learning, not to teach you.

Now I'm worried that this is what we're going back to. 

My school closed a week before the Christmas holidays and switched to online learning.

Now it will be closed for an additional two weeks, so in total (including the holidays) I have missed five weeks of school – this is frankly unacceptable in 21st century Britain. 

State students left behind

Even without the pandemic, we know that disadvantaged pupils are 18 months behind their better-off peers when they come to take their GCSEs.

This virus has made that gap much wider, as disadvantaged children fall even further behind.

One in five pupils who are eligible for a free school meal have no access to the internet, while almost all (97 per cent) of private school pupils have computers.

Private schools don’t have the same drop in education levels as state schools when working remotely, so why should comprehensive students like me have to suffer because of school closures?

Schools have exacerbated the attainment gap between less affluent children as pupils are constrained by lack of access to technology, individual tutorship and stable learning environments. 

We know schools closing will have a severe impact on state school kids in terms of our welfare, mental health, and most importantly our education.

Parents have become the forgotten heroes of this pandemic

But nothing is being done for us. The Government can’t even guarantee that every child will have access to online learning, a laptop and internet – all of which should have been considered before closing schools. 

Parents who can will now be forced to teach their kids at home, often while working remotely themselves.

In some ways, parents have become the forgotten heroes of this pandemic as they have become makeshift teachers. 

Dragging the profession into the mud

Perhaps it isn’t students who need educating, but rather the unions and teachers who remain consistent in destroying children's learning by pursuing their vendetta against the Government.

In fact, the evidence indicates that poorer students suffer more when schools close: according to a study by UCL's Institute of Education, 71 per cent of state school students received under one or no hours of online teaching or contact time everyday in the first lockdown.

The study also found that half of private school pupils spent more than four hours a day on schoolwork in lockdown, compared to 18 per cent of state school pupils.

I accept that not all teachers want schools to close, as a small noble minority respect the evidence for keeping students in school.

But I can't help but feel disheartened.

Only yourselves to blame

The next time I hear teachers blame Boris the ‘clown’  for how behind children are in learning, or the next time my teachers lecture me how “abysmal” my homework is I will politely, remind them of how they are responsible for the plights that many students find themselves in.

After all, teachers are funding these unions which have and will continue to put millions of children behind in learning in order to get schools closed.

They are just as responsible for the inequality in education as the Government. They have all had a part to play.

It is imperative that we move away from the dialogue of closing schools or opening schools: if schools are shut, young people have been failed – it is as simple as that. 

And who would have thought a Conservative Education Secretary would have given into the demands of pathetic teaching unions? 

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