Amid government fiascos and ongoing uncertainty, year 11 student, Olivia Eren opens her ‘half term’ lockdown diary

 

Monday May 25

I try to to focus on my work, but it feels like a kick in the teeth

“Half term” starts with the arrival of a work package from a college I hope to attend in September. Despite the cancellation of our GCSEs, I have decided to spend this period productively and get a headstart on my A-level content so that I am in the best possible position for September.

Today’s headlines are dominated by the news that government adviser Dominic Cummings drove 260 miles to Durham. I try to to focus on my work, but as a young person who has been in lockdown for more than two months it feels like a kick in the teeth.

 

Tuesday May 26

There is no doubt that the lack of clarity will mean some young people miss out

Much of today is spent on Zoom calls with friends, a refreshing break from what is a really worrying and stressful time. One of our discussions is about the government’s u-turn on providing free school meals over half term after a petition from a 16-year-old Londoner, Christina, got more than 100,000 signatures. This will definitely benefit the 1.3 million young people that rely on those meals, many of them my friends and neighbours. However, there is no doubt that the lack of clarity will mean some young people will miss out.

 

Wednesday May 27

Young people have not been consulted about their experiences and thoughts

Throughout lockdown I have become increasingly frustrated that young people have not been consulted about their experiences and thoughts. The government has allowed over-18s to submit questions, but is not accepting them from anyone younger. I decided to create a consultation for young people in my local area, Halton, to ensure their voices and opinions are fed into local decision-making.

Today we hit 220 submissions and received a very welcome response from our council’s chief executive, who told us that “young people’s opinions are always important, but even more so at present”. It’s good to know that our local decision-makers value young people’s input, even if their national counterparts don’t seem to.

 

Thursday May 28

I woke up with the feeling that I had no control over my life

Today has been the most challenging day of lockdown so far. I woke up with the feeling that I had no control over my life. Although it has had its positives, including the cancellation of GCSE exams and more family time, it has also come with challenges such as social distancing, ruined sleep and constant anxiety. All of which led, for the first time in my 16-year existence, to the urge to clean my bedroom. Doing so gave me a sense of accomplishment, something I have not felt since I was last in school.

 

Friday May 29

Not knowing if I’m learning things right is sometimes enough to put me off

I have found that I am most productive in the evenings, so I use this time to complete my schoolwork. That isn’t such an issue now, but having practised this habit for such a long time now I worry how it might affect my studying at college. Making a start on my A-level courses has been enlightening, but the uncertainty about whether and how schools and colleges will reopen is distracting. And in the end it shouldn’t be down to children to teach themselves. I know it can lead to misconceptions and confusion, which will ultimately negatively impact final exams. Not knowing if I’m learning things right is sometimes enough to put me off.

On a more positive note, I bumped into a friend when I went out for some essentials. It was refreshing to have a socially distanced catch-up – the first face-to-face contact I have had in seven weeks.

My time in lockdown has given me an overwhelming sense of gratitude. Never again will I take seeing my friends, attending school or going on peak-time trains for granted. This time last year that would have all sounded so strange, but now even the simple act of stepping outside my front door feels liberating. I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling it.