UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson today confirmed that schools will be reopening in just two weeks’ time, on the 8th March. The government, alongside a four-point vaccination plan to ensure a safe reopening, has clearly indicated that after-school clubs and activities will be included.
Restrictions and online learning have placed a huge stress on teachers and parents, with one Ruislip secondary school teacher adding that: “Online learning has been very difficult for students and time-consuming for teachers. I’ve found it very difficult to adapt lessons to the online classroom and I think it’s essential to get children back into a routine again.”
The impact of multiple lockdowns for children has illustrated wider digital, nutritional and economic inequalities across the UK. The focus for many teachers will be on getting children back to pre-covid levels of concentration and educational attainment.
Sport England’s statistics have classed a third of children as inactive, with this group doing less than 30 minutes of exercise a day. Earlier this year, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) emphasised seeking support from the activities sector to get children moving as soon as possible.
Increased physical activity is not only good for children’s health, but it has strong links to increased performance in the classroom. Supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) research, increased physical activity improves cognitive, motor and social skills.
Core skills of numeracy and literacy are at the centre of creating engaging activities programs for children. According to Juniper education, the UK’s youngest pupils, unable to play with their friends on a regular basis have been most affected by the closure of schools. Year 1s or 5–6-year-olds reaching or exceeding expectations in these core skills have fallen by a quarter during lockdowns.
The four-point vaccination plan is a clear indication that the UK is not out of danger yet. Whilst provisions for activities will be permitted there must be a stress on keeping to Covid-19 safety guidelines to reduce transmission and increase the efficacy of vaccines.
As the Sports and Recreation Alliance prepares to celebrate the grassroots activities sector next month. The addition of awards in diversity and resilience are proof that the sector must continue to support schools as we move forward.
See here for more information on the four-point vaccination plan for ending lockdown.