Keeping pupils in class “essential” says school founder

Children studying in Abercorn School

Pupils studying in Abercorn School. - Credit: Abercorn School

The founder of Abercorn, a family of schools in central London, has described students returning to in-person lessons as “a chance to resume their childhood and young adulthood”. 

Andrea Greystoke, who founded Abercorn School in 1987 and was the first female teacher at both St. Paul’s Boys’ School and King’s College School, spoke of her joy after the government announced it would do “everything in its power” to keep pupils in class earlier this week. 

“I think it’s essential for the wellbeing of youngsters of all ages to be in school," she said.

“I think everyone in education has seen the deleterious impact of lockdown on youngsters ranging from anxiety attacks to eating disorders to all sorts of antisocial behaviour.” 

At Abercorn, in St John's Wood Marylebone, Andrea said she has seen the physical, as well as the emotional, impact lockdowns have had on young people.  

Abercorn School

Abercorn is a family of schools in central London. - Credit: Abercorn School

One young boy, she recounts, was puffing after climbing some stairs, announcing it was the most amount of exercise he’d done in three months.  

Other times, she has seen children “melt into tears for no reason”. 

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“It’s physical wellbeing, it’s emotional wellbeing, it’s academic wellbeing," she said. 

"All of them are very important and vital, because our children deserve every opportunity that we give them.” 

As Omicron pushes the UK’s Covid cases to record-breaking heights, Andrea is keen to emphasise the safety measures required to keep pupils safe.  

Ensuring hand-sanitising takes place, keeping windows and doors open for fresh air and insisting that staff and pupils aged 11 and above wear masks are just some of the rules Abercorn enforced to try and prevent the spread of Covid. 

She notes that some new ways of teaching and working could prove to be beneficial moving forward, in particular “the ability to offer the flexibility of using online learning and communication with the families”. 

Despite this, Andrea believes pupils learning in person is essential, and puts it to the government to maintain its efforts in supporting young people throughout the pandemic. 

“I do hope, and I realise that the government has quite a lot to cope with at the moment, but that they do focus, and continue to focus, on the wellbeing of our children and young adults.”