We recently had Hannah, a year 13 UKAT student, join us for some virtual work experience. We asked her about her experiences as a sixth former during the time of COVID-19 and she has written this fascinating piece.
Year 13 is a stressful year anyway, never mind having to complete it during a global pandemic. When I returned to school in September it was the first time I had been in a classroom in five months. I had spent months completing work at my kitchen table with only seeing my school mates and teachers through a little box on zoom. So when we eventually did return, I didn’t feel year 13. We never officially finished the school year and had a proper summer that we had been so accustomed to. This then only got worse when my year group had to go back into self-isolation for a two-week period in the middle of term. The gradual settling into the routine was destroyed by having to return to home-schooling once again. I never thought I would miss school as much as I have done. The anxiety that I had knowing my lessons would be on zoom for the next few weeks highlighted the inequality that will come across the country. Some students may not have a single day off for the rest of the year, with other year groups having half of their term online.
Then comes the daunting task of applying to universities. The last six months have been spent attending virtual university open days. Having to choose where I want to spend my next three/four years with only having a few YouTube videos to watch and photos of the accommodation and city is scary. It’s virtually impossible to understand the atmosphere of the university without physically experiencing it. I have a real lack of motivation to complete my UCAS application because I don’t truly know what I’m aiming for. This is only heightened by hearing the experiences of our friends from the year above. Hearing that many of them are coming home after three weeks of being at university and having lectures on zoom is not the university experience I had dreamed of since I was a kid.
As well as this, there is a mass feeling of uncertainty and anxiety amongst students. Everyday different stories and headlines get exposed on social media claiming different things are happening with regards to end of year exams. Nobody knows what they are working towards as there is no end goal in sight. Students are having to be mentally prepared for every situation, meaning 120% effort needs to go into every single essay, homework and in class assessment. Students are mentally drained, getting four hours sleep a night so they can revise for the in-class exam that has the possibility of being used as evidence.
Having to work at home for my final years of school is something I never could have dreamed of, and despite all the negative consequences presented, it is unfair to say it has been a completely negative experience. I have learnt motivation, perseverance and how to avoid checking my phone every half an hour. Despite the tremendous stress it is a life experience I wont ever forget and has made my final year of school even more interesting than ever.