STUDENTS have been grilling education experts about their prospects as their school days come to an end and the country emerges from lockdown.
Sixth formers at The English Martyrs School and Sixth Form College shared their experiences of the pandemic with Shadow Education Secretary Kate Green as she toured the facility in Hartlepool.
Eighteen-year-old Max Strelitz told her: “It has been a topsy-turvy experience for young people. Some thrived on it while others struggled. One minute you are on top of the world, the next down in the dumps. It’s been like a yo-yo and much more volatile than normal school life.”
Max and his classmates also told the Labour MP for Stretford and Urmston and member of the opposition front bench that the majority of students would have liked to have sat their examinations rather than relying on continual assessment.
“All that time we invested over so many years it would have been nice to sit the exams,” he said. “What would help us now is an end date, some certainty, because at the moment we do not know when this will end.”
Mrs Green was accompanied by the prospective parliamentary candidate for Hartlepool Dr Paul Williams and was shown round the school by its headteacher Stephen Hammond and chief executive of the 26-school Bishop Hogarth Catholic Education Trust Maura Regan.
The Shadow Education Secretary told students: “We have got to think about what comes next for the Year 13 students in terms of university and apprenticeships. What extra accommodation will be made for them because they may not have had time to be taught particular things. With younger students it will depend on the quality of the tutoring as to how well they will be able to catch up.”
Dr Williams said: “Even before the pandemic students’ mental health was a big issue now it feels it has really exploded.”
Mr Hammond showed the politicians the Catcote Road school which recently benefited from a £22.5m rebuild and renovation project.
He said: “Around 85 per cent of learning for the 1,500 students happens in the new building, which is great. The whole design is tailored to passive supervision. Everything is visible and, with the offices overlooking the main areas, it is very easy to keep an eye on our students. If they are here we know they are safe and we can offer support as well as create an air of positivity.”
Miss Regan added: “The brand new environment really helps, with the majority of the school being rebuilt through the School Buildings Programme, it makes an incredible difference to learning.”