Schools and colleges were officially moved to online learning in Wales. The announcement was made by First Minister Mark Drakeford just before the Christmas holidays. But what can the implications’ effects have on young people in the country, particularly in the long-term?
It is not only universities which have been forced to switch to online-based learning. Schools and colleges across the UK have been in and out of the classrooms and online environment, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, for the young people of Wales, they will once again be learning from home, online for the foreseeable future. With cases rising in Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced last week that all schools and colleges would be closing, taking them away from their classrooms.
Stephen Edwards, a qualified teacher and founder of Healthy Kitchens Creations, believes online teaching is here to stay, not only in Wales but across the world.
“I feel online teaching will remain a core part of education throughout Wales and across the world,” said Edwards.
Looking past these challenging times, perhaps online learning could be an integrated part of education. “I believe the education system will naturally accommodate online learning more moving forward; whether this be as a hybrid when in person can resume.”
For a lot of young people attending school and college, those respective environments can essentially be social hubs for them. The impact on the lack of social interactions for students can be damaging, Edwards believes. “I believe it could have a damaging impact on a large number of pupils/students; we will not know the true impact of this for some time – if ever.”
Edwards also pointed out that the early years for students are vital, when it comes to the development of adult life. “These early years are crucial building blocks in the development of our adult personalities and this will have a negative impact on their behaviours, habits and mental health. It is important for young people to feel supported to speak up about their feelings and experience at this time.”
A few weeks prior to online learning in Wales moving online, it was also announced that all exams had been cancelled at the end of the current academic year in the country. All students’ final grades will be solely based on their coursework. As a teacher, Edwards thinks this could be a better alternative moving forward.
“From my own teaching experience I do wonder if this will shape the examination process for the better moving forward. Less stress and worry, more focus and determination to succeed with coursework only may be a good thing.”