Survey reveals concerns around lack of communication, facilities and resources
NOTE: EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01 July 22nd
Dublin 22.07.2020 – ISSU, NCPPP, IGC, and UNICEF are urgently calling on the Government to provide the additional resources students need this Autumn, as preparations continue for the safe reopening of schools after COVID-19 closures. There are serious concerns about student welfare and the impact of distance learning. Plans for the reopening of schools must consequently be developed in consultation with the wider school community, and communicated clearly, ahead of the fast-approaching 2020/21 school year.
The representative groups are reacting to a recent survey of 11,615 students, parents and guardians by the ISSU and the NPCPP, which indicates significant concern around the return to school.
The groups have joined together to ensure the needs of students are addressed. Key concerns are: missed educational/developmental milestones for young people transitioning from primary to post-primary school, and out of post-primary education, health and wellbeing impacts and learning loss.
The core findings of the survey*, conducted in June and July 2020, are outlined below. The full survey and its results can be found here.
- 24.08% of respondents raised concerns around transitioning back to school in September. 2020 and the lack of guidance provided to date, specifically for incoming first-year students
- Participants sought an induction programme for adjusting back to school.
Health and well-being:
- 29% of respondents had concerns around their physical health amid reopening.
- 662 comments were made regarding stress, of which 62% were contributed by students.
- 353 comments relating to anxiety were made, 70% were made by parents/guardians.
- Additional mental health resources were highlighted as a priority need.
- Over 51% of respondents noted concerns regarding academic issues.
- A common concern for students was that distance learning leaves them at a disadvantage, starting the new school year already behind.
In assessing the concerns highlighted, the groups are making the following recommendations:
1.Support students’ health and wellbeing, especially those most disadvantaged by school closures
- Increase one-to-one support for students through the reinstatement of dedicated Guidance Counsellor hours to support their social-emotional wellbeing, and deal with anxieties around academic and vocational challenges.
- Provide extra guidance to students transitioning through educational/developmental milestones or transitioning from primary to post-primary, and out of post-primary.
- Provide a back-to-school wellbeing programme to address the social, mental, physical and environmental consequences of the pandemic and school closures.
- Implement additional learning programmes and social supports to address learning loss, particularly for vulnerable or at-risk students, and/or those with special educational needs.
2. Adapt courses to account for the loss of learning due to school closures
- Immediate review and adaptation of syllabi and examinations for all subjects at both Junior and Senior Cycle to ensure they are carried out in an equitable way.
- Adaptations made to specific years or programmes – like Transition Year – must ensure learning, skills and experiences are not compromised.
3. Safeguard the health and safety of the school community
- Provide the necessary sanitation facilities and implement social distancing, hygiene and cleaning practices.
- Share clear, concise and accurate information about COVID-19, to combat the spread of misinformation which exacerbates fear and anxiety
ISSU, NPCPP, IGC and UNICEF further recommend that the Department of Education & Skills designate schools’ COVID-19 liaisons to coordinate the implementation of these measures, monitor health and safety and oversee contingency planning and the strengthening of remote learning practices in the event of future school closures.
Notes for editors:
In June 2020, having identified the need for additional school supports for students affected by COVID-19, ISSU, NPCPP, UNICEF and IGC joined together to launch a campaign for enhanced student resources ahead of the reopening of schools.
*In order to ascertain the views and opinions on the reopening of post-primary schools in Ireland, the ISSU and the NPCPP launched an open survey of students, parents and guardians. The survey ran from 27th June until 1st July 2020.
Provisional information on the results of this survey was shared online in July 2020, including an infographic and Twitter cards, with a full report launching 22nd July at this link.
The Irish Second-Level Students’ Union (ISSU) is the national representative body for second-level school students in the Republic of Ireland. The ISSU works towards an education system in which the views, opinions and contributions of students are respected and in which students are recognised as an official partner in creating an education that is centred around and caters best for students.
About the NPCPP
The National Parents Council Post Primary (NPCPP) is the national representative body for parents and guardians of young people in post-primary education in Ireland. Inaugurated in 1985, the organisation assists parents and guardians, ensuring that they engage effectively within their school communities and with partners in education.
IGC is The Institute of Guidance Counsellors (IGC).
The IGC conducted its own survey of second-level schools/colleges of further education (IGC, 2020), which showed, out of the 301 respondents, in 64 schools guidance counsellors currently deliver non-guidance counselling classroom teaching and spend 6.84 hours weekly on time-tabled classroom teaching.
Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for every child, visit our website
For more information, please contact:
Rob O’Donnell, ISSU Communications, firstname.lastname@example.org , Tel: +353 1 443 441, Mob: +353 83 130 5583
Leah Palleschi, Communications and Outreach Coordinator, NPCPP, email@example.com, Tel: 085 2291527
Beatrice Dooley, President of the IGC, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 01 676 1975
Aedín Donnelly, Communications Manager for UNICEF Ireland, email@example.com, Tel: 085 1395272