march 8: too soon for schools to return?

Almost two months ago, the prime minister Boris Johnson plunged the United Kingdom into a a third national lockdown. However, unlike the last, there was a slight difference: schools would close and students and teachers alike would return to online learning. The question has now been raised: when should schools go back? At the end of Janaury, it was announced that March 8th would be the earliest return date but it “depend[ed] on lots of things going right.” Now, it is clear. Schools will return on March 8th.

Hearing this news, I frankly wasn’t surprised. It has been clear from the outset that one of prime minister’s highest priorities has been getting students back into school. However, I’m unsure. This quick, mass return isn’t an enormously welcome prospect.

It is clear that remote learning has a determinable effect on children: from negative mental health to educational impact. Online schooling is not without its challenges.

However, the return to schools will iron out technological inequalities. I have been in a very privileged position to have had a stable internet connection and multiple devices in which to access my online lessons from. For others, they haven’t been so fortunate.

Earlier in the lockdown, the prime minister recognised the challenges of online education. He pledged to “work with parents, teachers and schools to develop a long-term plan to make sure that pupils have the chance to make up their learning” before 2024.

He went on to say that £300m “of new money to schools” would fund a catch-up programme over the coming year, with financial incentives for providers to educate pupils who have missed lessons due to the pandemic.

He has now gone that one step further to launch students back into the classroom. The question is: it is too soon?

My school has just over 1000 pupils, with around 200 in each year. School buildings are not designed for social distancing. To think this is possible is a gross misjudgement.

Mask wearing was optional except in corridors. The guidance was that it wasn’t necessary in non-communal spaces, so no one did. The messaging was continually mixed, with teachers stressing social distancing where possible, with others uncertain on their approach. In no way I am blaming teachers, instead I am blaming the vague and impractical advice from the government.

Although young people are at a lower risk of catching the virus, the risk is not 0%. When students catch COVID, they are forced to self-isolate, potentially missing any form of teacher-aided learning. This problem widens the issue of educational inequalities, as some may have had to self-isolate more than once.

As we have seen before, cases will rise. It will happen. I don’t want the future of measures to be resting on students’ and teachers’ shoulders.

I for one, like many other students, have struggled with online learning. It’s hard to cope without the classroom banter or the ability to simply just ask for support. Would I like to see my friends in person? Without a shadow of a doubt, yes. But, more importantly, the threat of the virus is still ever-present. Is socialising a reason for returning? That is up for debate.

I believe it is important for the Department for Education to learn from their mistakes and recognise the failures in the last return of pupils to schools. It is vital that schools are given clear, scientifically proven guidance in keeping all those in work in educational settings safe.

New guidance on masks has been issued. A plan for mass testing is in place. But, the question still remains whether schools are safe environments. In my opinion, the next step would be to vaccinate teachers as a priority. They are key workers after all.

Perhaps the government could learn from countries like Denmark, who used cultural venues such as theatres to house students in order to maintain social distancing whilst they are closed.

It will be interesting to see whether the return of schools will cause another lockdown in the future, or simply the current government will prove its incompetence with another U-turn.

valenica

Since I can’t travel at the moment, I thought I’d share my trip to Valenica when I travelled there two years ago!

Although before my trip I’d never heard of the city, by the end I was wishing to be able to stay just that little bit longer. If you are looking for a short or long break to a non-touristy part of Spain, Valenica is the place for you.

Valencia is the third most populated city in Spain. Known for art and science, it also has several beaches, parks and gardens. The When researching for this post, I discovered that there is actually two official languages spoken in Valenica: Español and Valencian (a Catalan dialect).

London Gatwick to Valenica

The flight from London Gatwick is around two hours. I believe that you can now fly directly from London Heathrow, our closest airport, but that wasn’t possible at the time.

TRYP Hotel

For the duration of our visit, we stayed at TRYP Valencia Oceanic. It had everything you needed from a hotel and the staff were really helpful. There was a bus stop close by to get to the old town and it was in walking distance of the science park which is one of the main tourist attractions! In terms of transport, we either took the bus or just walked. The only time we used a taxi was to get to and from the airport, but I believe there are alternative methods to do so.

L'Oceangrafic

An attraction I could not recommend enough was The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias or City of Arts and Sciences. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, it is the number one tourist attraction in Valenica. It was within walking distance of our hotel and even if you don’t go inside, like us, there’s still so much to see. Taking photos of the stunning buildings doesn’t cost anything! The architecture is almost un-earthly (if that’s a word.) Strangely enough, it doesn’t look that out of place and blends in well with the rest of the area.

Torres de Serranos

Like many other European cities, the old and historic parts are usually the most beautiful. Beauty resides amongst the cobble-stone streets and beautiful buildings whose walls could tell masses of stories from centuries before.

Valencia’s old town really is incredibly beautiful and very well-preserved. There is no shortage of sights to stop at and is perfect for a lazy afternoon stroll.

Once part of the long-since destroyed city walls, Torres de Serranos marked the start of the old town. It is perfect for providing views across the whole of Valencia. You can see the remains of the old moat and the river Turia from its terraces. The entry fee is 2 euros and the small amount is worth the experience!

Plaza de Reina

Valenica has no shortage of beautiful cathedrals and churches. The most iconic is probably the cathedral, housed in the historic centre. Nearby to the cathedral is an area known as Plaza de Reina. You’ll be able to see one side of the cathedral and the stunning bell tower.

Colon Market

You have to visit the Colon Market for a Valenican delicacy: horcata and fartons. I thoroughly enjoyed mine!  Originally a market for garden produce, fish and meat, it is now filled with chic restaurants and flower stalls. It’s perfect for a quick meal or drink.

Casa de las Rocas

Casa de las Rocas houses wooden ceremonial carts used in the Hábeas procession. The history of the festival is really fascinating. The museum covers the Corpus Christi celebrations in Valencia, with carriage-floats of the Ark of the Covenant, giants, giant puppets and the “Las Rocas.” These are all used in the procession.

Centre de Carme Art Gallery

We visited a few art galleries during our time in Valenica.

Centre del Carme Art Gallery has a range of exhibitions from local artists. Featuring contemporary and regional art, it is a great place to discover both recent and old Valenican artists.

IVAM

IVAM was really interesting and had an exhibition for everyone. The pop art I especially enjoyed. It is Spain’s oldest centre of modern art, with over 10,000 pieces of art and photography from the 20th century. Temporary exhibitions are housed in the basement – once part of the city’s medieval fortifications.

Museu de Belles Arts de València

For older and renaissance art, try Museu de Belles Arts de València. This renovated art museum houses 2,000 works, most dating from the 14th-17th centuries. Art works by Goya, Velázquez, José Ribera and Sorolla cover its red, peach and green walls. Even if you aren’t particuarly interested in the art, the building itself is incredible.

Valencia - food

Valenica is perfect for any foodie. There is no limit of different cuisines, you just need to know where to look. We were definitely spoilt for choice – here are some of my favourites!

  • La Bothéca (Italian)
  • Refugio (Mediterranean)
  • Almalibre Açaí Bar (Vegan Bar Food)
  • Ice Wave (Ice Cream)

Jardi Botantic

A notable spot is the Jardi Botantic. Home to every species of cacti imaginable, this is a breath of fresh air without stepping out of the city walls.

El Carmen Street Art

El Carmen is infamous for its street art. Treat it as as an outside art gallery! It’s definitely worth spending a calm afternoon, walking round and discovering some hidden gems.

Llotja de la Seda

Llotja de la Seda, a 15th century silk exchange. One of the best eamples of Gothic civil architecutre in Europe  a UNESCO World Heritage site with history in its very walls. The building was stunning, especially the floors.

Two main structures flank a citrus-studded courtyard: the Sala de Contratación, a cathedral with twisted pillars, and the Consulado del Mar, where a maritime tribunal sat. The top floor boasts a coffered ceiling brought here from another building.

If you are looking for a unique break for any time of year, Valencia is the place.

results day 2020: perspective from a gcse student

To “celebrate” getting my GCSE results I decided to document how I felt in the days leading up to getting them. Safe to say, we’ve been through a lot.

the week before

It’s strange sitting here, typing that my results day is a weeks time. 20th August has been a date that has been sat in my mind since school ended in March. I can’t help but feel anxious; I guess that’s natural. It’s odd, being the guinea pigs for a new system. The new system that seemingly doesn’t work.

At the start, I felt guilty. Guilty that I couldn’t sit my exams. The exams I had been working towards since Year 7. Countless hours of work dropped in seconds.

I couldn’t do anything about a global pandemic. I couldn’t do anything about my exams.

Today is A-Level Results Day and it’s just weird. That’s me next week!

Yesterday, the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, announced a “triple lock system.” This means A-Level and GCSE students can choose which ever is highest: estimated grades, mocks or exams in the autumn.

This comes as a slight comfort, but mocks are not the real thing. Mocks are not standardised, they are not marked in the same way, they are not graded in the same way. They are not a fair representation of what a student could achieve in the real exam.

I am incredibly fortunate that these exam results only need to get me into sixth form, nothing else. What if this was me, trying to get into university?

The one question that everyone’s considering, will I feel like I deserve those grades? Will they feel like they’re mine? But I don’t believe that’s the question we should be asking.

The question we should be asking is why have so many students been stripped of their grades and university places? From the SQA results last week and A-Levels today, I can’t help but wonder what they got wrong. Why are so many people being downgraded? It has robbed them of their future, and maybe ours too. This algorithm isn’t neutral, it’s designed by people with biases and it is failing to assess students and calculate grades in a fair way.

Students from lower-class or minority backgrounds have been proven to worse off from this algorithm. A phrase I’ve seen a lot today is “postcode not potential,” I believe that sums it up really well. It is locking in class inequality.

This results do not create a level-playing field. Education is the key to social mobility, but these results are limiting thousands of students.

The government is trying to hide these so-called “anomalies.” There is no point in hiding, the system is flawed: simple as. Students have received three or four grades lower than expected. That’s an issue.

Perhaps this event will shape change for exams to come. It’s hard to tell what is to come in this world of uncertainty. Students sitting exams next year deserve reduced content from what they’ve been through. It’s something I believe the government and the department for education aren’t prepared to do to the full extent which is needed.

Gavin Williamson said there would be no u-turn. But A-Level students are outraged, and rightly so.

Only a week to go.

the day before

So, the government did one, massive u-turn.

The announcement this week came as a huge relief to me and thousands of other students. Exam results will be based off centre-assessed grades unless the computer algorithm gave a higher grade.. This means that our teachers, the ones who know us the best, will be deciding them and not an algorithm.

Unfortunately, the results have come too late for some university applicants. Some universities aren’t accepting students through clearing, and some of the courses are completely full. It was a mistake, and it wasn’t acted upon quickly enough.

I’m glad the right decision was made. I’m glad that our futures, in some way, have been saved. However, it was an incident that could have been avoided and should have never happened in the first place.

In all honesty, I just want results day to be over. I just want to know what I got. I’m not too anxious now; it would definitely be more worrying if I’d actually sat the exams. It’s just the wait between today and tomorrow.

I’ve been trying not to think about it all day but it’s a recurring thought that keeps coming to the front of my mind. I’ve waited five months: one day is nothing, right?

results day

I didn’t sleep too well last night. I don’t think it was because I was scared. Instead, I think I just had too many thoughts going through my head and I couldn’t switch my brain off.

I did eventually manage to go to sleep, and of course I’m up bright and early, waiting to log onto my school emails to check my results. I have no clue whether more schools are sending results via email over in-person, or vice versa.

My results came out half an hour early which really surprised me. Half an hour early!

I was really nervous opening them, but I am so relieved. I got exactly or better from what I had predicted and I do believe the centre-assessed grades are a fair representation of my ability.

As long as you are happy with your results, that’s all that matters.

I just wanted to give everyone a reminder if you’ve got your results today. It’s okay to be upset with a 7. It’s okay to be happy with a 3. We’ve gone through so much and didn’t even get to do the exams. Please be proud of getting this far!

However much your grades are worth, you are worth a million times more.

my first roll of film

The obvious question in a world of digital photography – why would you want to get into shooting film? 

A few days ago, I got back my first roll of processed film. I’ve been taking photos on this roll of film for such a long time, most of the photos I can’t even remember taking. I’ve really enjoyed shooting on film.

I made a few mistakes, which was inevitable, but I hope these can be avoided in the future. Film photography is simply a learning process, one of the risks I wasn’t too prepared to take.

I believe my film camera is the Canon AE-1 which was my granddad’s old one (I know the typical getting into film story). I used the Fujifilm Superia 400 which was perfect for both people and landscapes. I hadn’t done much research about film, but I knew this was good for beginners, like me.

Film photography is a much slower process from start to finish. There is no instant satisfaction or reassurance like digital photography. You can’t check the result before continuing, you just have to trust your gut instinct.

Apparently, film photography helps you become a better photographer? I can see why, it’s not as a simple as snap and go.

Let it be said, it is far more expensive than digital photography! Rolls of film can cost as much as 36 exposures for over £10 in some cases. Film processing is becoming ever more difficult to source. Luckily, I found Max Spielmann, the same company that serves Tesco with photo printing.

It ended up costing around £12 for processing and delivery. I just got the scans onto a CD; I don’t think it’s necessary to have everything printed.

So, without further ado, here are some of my favourite photos on my first ever roll of film!


I love how all of these photos turned out! Everything I took photos of is pretty random; it was just whatever interesting thing I saw. I’m very proud of what I’m able to see and happy I can save what I see.

However, this doesn’t come without mistakes.

The first mistake I made is not setting my camera to my film’s speed. The film speed is the recommended ISO you set your camera to in order to properly expose. This is a simple error I made just because I didn’t read about it anywhere.

The second mistake I made was, at times, being lazy with the aperture and shutter speed. For pretty much all the photos, I set the aperture at f/1.8 or f/2.8. This didn’t really matter for most of them, apart from some.

My third mistake was not reloading the film correctly. I’m not entirely sure how this happened, but on some photos there is a part of the film which turned out completely black.

The final mistake I made was forgetting the number of exposures I had on my camera. My film camera can take photos up to 40 but my film could only do 36. So, once the counter had hit 36, I continued snap happy which resulted in this catastrophe of a photo.


A factor I will definitely be taking into consideration next time is film speeds. Recently, I learnt the shorter the film speed, the finer the grain and the higher the film speed, the fatter the grain.

I adore the grainy film look so I think I’ll be sticking with the Fujifilm Superia 400. In terms of colour or black and white film, I’m really not sure. One thing is for certain though, I will be continuing to shoot film.

favourite new releases

During lockdown, some amazing music has come out, so I’ve decided to share some of my favourites!

+ bugbear by chloe moriondo 

Opening with a catchy bass riff, ‘bugbear’ explores Chloe’s uncertainty with the future and what she wants to accomplish. Presenting rawness and vulnerability in the track, the lyrics match Moriondo’s similar theme of expressing her true feelings though her music. However, this song is completely different from her ukulele days and I’m super excited to see where she goes to next.

being in this space has made me feel

a bit more small and I’m not quite sure where i’m goin’ next

+ the key to life on earth by declan mckenna

After the cultural phenomenon that was ‘What Do You Think About The Car’, he seemingly couldn’t top it. But, I think this song has possibly done so. Although the song is overall upbeat and quite funky, McKenna explains that ‘The Key To Life On Earth’ reflects on mundanity and hostility”. The lyrics explore themes of duality, humanity, and one’s place in the dynamic scape of human experience.

gold, let it unfold, imagine you’re dressed in gold

roaring crowds in manchester will manage to be told

+ you taught me what love is by beth porch

Performed on Britain’s Got Talent, Beth’s audition was immaculate. Honest and truthful lyrics combined with a simple chord progression and riff is all you need with a voice like hers. I can’t wait to see what she releases next.

[at time of writing, all proceeds generated from the purchase or streaming of this single go towards nhs charities together.]

and although it wasn’t for long

you taught me what is love is

+ waking in the dark by only the poets

The prominent message being about mental health and not feeling alone, this song is a reminder that we’re all only human and that it’s okay not be okay. Tommy’s voice is so incredibly raw and truthful which adds to the depth and texture of the track. Speaking on Instagram, he noted that “it’s the most personal song I’ve ever written.”

if you’re feeling lonely and you’re feeling far away

that don’t define who you are

+ if you’re too shy (let me know) by the 1975

The 1975 fans worldwide were heavily anticipating the release of this song after the exclusive performances on the UK Music for Cars tour. Some even claimed that it would solve all world problems and that the rest of the music industry “should just go home”. This track is the epitome of the band’s fun and energetic sound. All I’m saying is it’s definitely one to turn the volume all the way up and dance to (perhaps speaking from experience)!

if you’re too shy, then let me

too shy, then let me know

+ lie out loud by bloxx

Encapsulating all that I love about BLOXX, ‘Lie Out Loud’ is just another piece of ingenuity. The instrumentals are similar to those on their older tracks, but the production is way bigger. It’s so exciting to see a band you love grow and develop.

i’m thinking about you, I hate that

i love that sound, we lie out loud

+ affluenza by conan gray

Taken from his debut album, Conan explores the supposed correlation between money and happiness and explains his difficult relationship with it through this up-beat indie bop. Starting with light violin and consistent piano, the songs shift into an angrier tone with a sharp shift to a more electronic sound. ‘Affluenza’ ultimately explores the implications of wealth, but the underlying problems that impact all.  

money, money

ain’t it funny, honey

+ midnight love by girl in red

‘Midnight Love’ is something very different from girl in red. Exploring new territories with a more produced sound, the song focus on being emotionally raw instead of sounding raw. It has an almost bittersweet, nostalgic feel to it, definitely suited for a coming of age film.

i can’t be your second best

close but not your favourite

why we need to speak out

“if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

– desmond tutu

As a student with voice and platform available to me however small, I feel I have a responsibility to help in whatever way I can. In light of the recent events in the USA, we all need to speak out against injustice and racism, not just in the USA but in our own countries as well.

We need to hear everyone’s voice. We need to hear justice. Say that racism and injustice is wrong. Say that you don’t support it. Say that it needs to change. People shouldn’t be scared to speak out because we are speaking out for what is right. If you feel worried about saying the wrong thing, just know it is better to have tried than to have done nothing at all.

Those who are anti-racist, and who stand by the oppressed must not stay silent. This is an everyday battle. Black oppression continues and must stop.

These events have sparked conversations and demonstrations not only in the US, but worldwide. Particularly in the UK, we have now recognised that our own police force and government have changes to make. There are problems we need to solve, and we can solve them together, unified.

A lot of people are questioning why people are protesting about events that aren’t in our own country. For the case of the UK, here are some examples:

  • Black people are twice as likely to die in police custody in the UK than white people
  • Black graduates are two times more likely to be unemployed than their white peers
  • Black women are five times more likely to die during childbirth
  • 95% of the doctors who died during the first month of COVID-19 were from the BAME community

Systematic racism and oppression exists at all levels in the UK – the media, education, healthcare, advertising, employment, the justice system. If you can’t see it, you’re choosing not to look.

The news cycle will move on. This will become a memory. You must not move on. You have to keep holding yourself and your community to account. You have to keep on taking the actions and doing the work.

The things that are happening now are not isolated incidents. These current events fit into a larger pattern. We cannot erase the past but we can create the future.

Preformative activism is not enough. Sign petitions, educate and make yourself aware. If it’s safe to do so, attend a protest. Write to people in power. Support black owned businesses. Expand the diversity of media you consume. Law makers need to hear the voice of reason, the voice of change.

We can use this time to reflect on what you can do to spark change within our own communities. For me, this is especially at my school and sixth form. If we battle something we can change, then those changes can add up and promote fuller change.

I’ve also been using this time to reflect on my own beliefs and the structures that have benefited me. As a white male, I believe I have privileged from a system which is systemically unjust.

Society needs to come together and fight for justice and what is right in this world. And what is right is equality and an end to racism.

+ resources

carrot cake muffins

Muffins are one of my favourite things to make and when combined with carrot cake, make a wonderful treat. This recipe creates light, moist and irresistible muffins that you simply have to try!

ingredients (makes nine muffins):

for the muffins:

  • 1 large carrot
  • 150g of self-raising flour
  • 150g of caster sugar
  • 135ml of sunflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla

for the frosting:

  • 100g of cream cheese
  • 100g of butter
  • 10ml of orange juice
  • Icing sugar

method:

  1. Preheat the oven to fan 180°C/gas mark 5.
  2. Place the paper cases into the tin.
  3. Peel the carrot and grate finely.
  4. Put oil and sugar into a mixing bowl and beat for 1 minute.
  5. Add the eggs to the mixture little at a time, mixing well.
  6. Stir in the carrot.
  7. Pour the flour and spices into the mixture.
  8. Gently fold.
  9. Place mixture into cases.
  10. Bake for around fifteen minutes.
  11. Once cool, mix the frosting ingredients and pipe.

raspberry and almond muffins

I don’t know about you, but this weather is definitely making me feel like summer is on its way. Summer is the perfect time to do some baking and take advantage of all the wonderful seasonal fruit. Raspberries are one of my favourites especially because of how versatile they are. When baked, the raspberries ooze out of the muffins, creating a gorgeous texture inside.

ingredients:

  • 250g of raspberries
  • 200g of self-raising flour
  • 200ml of milk
  • 125ml of oil
  • 100g of ground almonds
  • 100g of golden caster sugar
  • 75g of flaked almonds
  • Three eggs

method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.
  2. Line the muffin tin with twelve paper cases.
  3. Beat the eggs in a large bowl with the oil and milk.
  4. Without the raspberries or almonds, add the dry ingredients into a separate bowl.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients together. Make sure not to overmix as the batter should be lumpy.
  6. Stir in the raspberries.
  7. Divide the batter between the paper cases and sprinkle the flaked almonds on top.
  8. Bake in the oven for twenty to twenty-five minutes or until golden brown.

IMG_9125.JPG

[this recipe was inspired by the one on great british chefs. click here for the original recipe!]

stop caring what others think

“each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage and confidence in the doing.”

theodore roosevelt

We’re all guilty of this. As soon as we wake up, we’re concerned about what the world thinks of us. But we can change this behaviour. We can change our attitudes and we can forget judgement and the pre-conceptions people may have of us.

We spend too much negative energy on caring what will please others, not on what we want. Our actions, appearances and lives are supposedly moulded by others. We need to stop living a life dictated by others, and that’s why I want you to stop caring what other people think of you. I don’t claim to be an expert and it’s not magic. This doesn’t mean you’ll become instantly more confident. Confidence comes in stages but self love is incredibly important. Being confident is incredibly important. Not caring what other people think is incredibly important.

I used to struggle a lot with thinking that everyone cared about how I acted and lived my life. Little actions would worry me and I’d get scared thinking that everyone was looking at me. These thoughts would consume me and sometimes would become unmanageable. I also used to hate my personality and the way I act. But I’ve discovered that not fitting is okay.

I believe everyone, no matter how much self-confidence they have, can’t withhold all these thoughts. I think that’s completely natural. However, it all came when I realised that no one really cares. We’re all preoccupied in our own thoughts, own actions, own lives. We’re too busy thinking about ourselves!

I think that it is just human nature to overthink. Overthinking is one of our worst habits as humans and it’s something that is difficult to avoid if not focused on. Overthinking can lead you to think you’re being judged even when that’s not the case. Whenever it happens, replace your overthinking with positive thoughts.

I think the journey to self-confidence involves discovering that it’s impossible to please everyone. You can’t be everyone’s friend. As much as you want to, you can’t. Everyone is different, we’re all unique. Some people get along and some don’t. But that is fine! People will make assumptions about you, there’s nothing that can stop that. We all have free will after all. What can you do? Not let those people affect you. Keep perspective, those comments mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. Opinions are always changing.

Don’t be afraid to remove the negativity in your life. Stop talking to that person making you upset or angry. Unfollow or unfriend. Stand up for what you believe in! You deserve happiness.

Life’s too short to spend time worrying about what other people think. Do you need to waste those precious moments debating whether people will like your outfit? Do you need to fuss over what you say next? You know best. You are the only person who can live your life. Live it in the way you want.

a return to blogging

So, it’s been a while. And by a while, a long while.

Something stopped me from blogging; it became almost tedious or boring. Perhaps I didn’t have time or I just didn’t enjoy it anymore. But, truly I’ve missed having a space to share my ideas and thoughts.

Where have I been?

+ school

This was my last year of secondary school, meaning saying goodbye to some of the people I’ve spent the last five years with. My school is also a sixth form so I’ll be going there next year, as the majority of my year.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, all schools in the UK had to close. In turn, this means my GCSEs are cancelled.

  • Three years of work basically mean nothing now! I worked so, so hard and was pretty much ready until the opportunity to sit the exams was snatched away (obviously my exams are a very tiny part of the whole situation but I think as students we have a right to be angry, I’m now over the shock and frustration).
  • The process to receive a grade seems slightly unfair?! I completely understand the entire process it just seems a little unjustifiable and it’s not the same as sitting the actual exam.
  • Students don’t have the ability to prove themselves or achieve in the same way!
  • We still have the opportunity to sit an exam if we don’t agree with the grade once we’ve appealed. The exam may be in the autumn but it might be next year. That’s just crazy to think about.

We had a “leaver’s day” on Thursday, the day before all schools in England were told to close. The school day was pretty normal; we got to talk, relax and question everything over the last 24 hours. However, it was in the last lesson of the day where it was announced that we would have our leaver’s assembly. We were then given a short amount of time to sign each other’s shirts and take photos. It’s strange to think some of those people I’ve spent the last five years with I might not see again. I’m incredibly grateful to be able to say goodbye to the people who aren’t staying but it was so rushed and I hope there is another opportunity to do so.

+ music

I was supposed to take my Grade 6 clarinet exam this term which was obviously cancelled. But I’m still having lessons virtually over Zoom which is super fun and quirky.

My concert band rehearsals have also been cancelled and they’re not taking place virtually for obvious reasons. I miss everyone and I can’t wait to see them all again soon.

+ hobbies

During this lockdown, I’m hoping to pick up some of the hobbies I’ve neglected over the past few months. I’m definitely going to be spending more time doing more creative ventures, such as journaling and painting. I’ve even started doing some embroidery!

I’m definitely going to be continuing learning through lockdown. I’ve been given quite a lot of A-Level preparation work which I’m actually looking forward to completing. I’ve also decided to do some independent learning on websites such as Future Learn and Coursea. Last week, I finished my first ever MOOC on Propaganda and Ideology which was incredibly informative and has given me a lot of ideas for my A-Level History coursework.

Finally, I made the decision to learn sign language! I think it’s a really useful skill to have and I’m finding it really enjoyable.

+ life

Most days, I take it easy and do something productive but I’m taking this time to just appreciate being with myself. I now have the freedom to sit and read or binge a Netflix show (which I might have already done once or twice, who knows)?! As a family, we’ve watched both The Stranger and Safe which are possibly the best shows I have ever seen. I’m literally recommending them to everyone I know because they’re that good!

It’s a strange time, but we’ll all get used to it and soon enough everything will be back to normal.