Since our March newsletter, life has been a rollercoaster for many of us. Our love goes out to you all, however, lockdown and COVID-19 has affected you and your family.
As lockdown eases, we are all adapting to wearing facemasks, social distancing, and other aspects of the ‘new normal.’ As we write, schools are due to reopen in September with full attendance and we wonder what school life will now look like for our young people.
We can only hope that it will include trained and experienced specialists, such as ourselves and those we train, supporting students’ emotional and relational health and resilience, through relationships and sex education (RSE).
Our Esteem team has delivered online RSE in one London school during the past term, but in most schools this has not been possible.
Many children are unable to access online work at all because they don’t have a computer - or decent Wi-Fi.
Teachers have done an amazing job to keep schools open for the few, and to provide work for others who can access online work from home.
But nothing can replace interactive, face-to-face teaching.
We have heard conflicting views as to what the best way forward is, which just adds to the uncertainty that young people are feeling.
We add our voice to those who say that, when schools do fully reopen, RSE and Personal, Social, and Health Education must form an important part of the school timetable.
Otherwise, we could be heading for a mental, emotional, and relational health crisis amongst our youth.
Yes, their academic education has taken a huge knock but isn’t helping our young people through the emotional and relational impact of COVID-19 of equal importance?
Many young people will be grieving for loved ones. Others will be fearful and anxious about the future - or the virus itself. Or experiencing mental ill-health due to the isolation of lockdown, or the removal of routine, structure, and support networks.
Tragically, there has been a big increase in domestic abuse cases during lockdown. And we have seen an enormous boom in the use of online pornography.
We believe high-quality RSE is vital so that young people’s emotional wellbeing and resilience can be strengthened.
RSE will still become statutory from September but, due to COVID-19, the Department of Education has given schools until the summer term to implement this. So we wait to see how RSE will play its part.