Local Sixth Form returns to normal after COVID

By Amelia Riley

A Sixth Form in Leeds has almost returned to normal after closing down and retreating to remote lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, restrictions remain in place with face coverings required between lessons and in hallways, only being removed when there is social distancing.

Globally, over 1.2 billion children were out of the classroom and instead learned remotely online, with UK schools being closed for approximately 172 days. Schools in the UK initially closed on 20th March 2020, until mid-June, and then again in December of last year until the beginning of March.

A Leeds sixth form is back to normal with remote lessons only in place if a teacher or student is isolating. In this case, the teacher will set up an online class, or the student who is absent will join the in-person lesson through Google Classroom.

A second year sixth former, Bella, aged 17, said: “There is a worry that we will have a lack of experience with exams because we missed out on the GCSEs.”

When everything went into lockdown and the sixth form closed, students say they were left feeling isolated with the worry of missing out on learning important content. A lot of students say they felt like they didn’t have the chance to be excited about going to college.

Max, aged 17 and in his second year of sixth form, said how being online “impacted the learning side because it was quite hard to stay focused.”

They said that looking at a screen daily left them feeling more and more unmotivated, to the point they felt like they missed 60% of their first year. Bella said that the exam boards haven’t made any allowances or changes to the exams for this year.

“Just because everything is back to normal doesn’t mean that we know everything or that we’re ready for everything to go back to normal,” Bella said.

17-year-old Abbey, a second year sixth former, says there is a lot more pressure after the pandemic to decide what they would like to do once they leave. Whilst the school is good at supporting university, she feels as though they push it on everyone which is even more pressure.

A second year sixth former, Bethany, aged 17, said: “We missed out so much last year that we almost feel like we skipped so much.

“I think due to the pandemic, I’m leaning towards taking a gap year just so I can have a break from education and hopefully let everything calm down.”

The sixth form cautiously put restrictions in place; everyone had to wear masks and stay in bubbles. Students were confined to their own area of the school in order to not mix with other students.

Abbey said: “I liked having the bubbles and being away from the rest of the school because it was comforting.”

However, now that the sixth form is back to normal, it has taken the students a while to get used to mixing with everyone again, although they are grateful to be back on campus as they feel more motivated and can focus on their learning once again.

“This year, going back, it’s been so much easier to learn,” Ross, a 17-year-old second year sixth former said.

Many schools have relaxed with bubbles and social distancing, but still recommend face masks in crowded spaces and ensure classroom ventilation is in place.

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