Keeping classrooms open is key to children’s health says Oak View Academy’s Head

Credit: Granada Reports

Schools must stay open during lockdown in order to avoid children suffering the detrimental educational and social consequences of being kept at home for long periods.

That’s the view of Oak View Academy Executive Head Fiona Whittaker, who says staff members have reported that some youngsters have struggled with anxiety, concentration and even with holding conversations since returning to lessons in September.

Ms Whittaker was speaking to Granada Reports, who dropped in at the Whitby’s Lane school to gather the views of teachers and pupils on keeping classrooms open during the second national lockdown.

She told reporter Amy Welch that the negative effects of the first three-month long lockdown earlier this year are being sensitively handled at the school, but she hopes it is not something they will have to deal with again.

Ms Whittaker said: “When the school reopened, the children’s concentration span was much shorter, some children struggled to have a conversation or play games, and some children’s mental health was affected and they came back really anxious.

“We’ve assessed where children have fallen behind and we are taking steps to make this ground back.

“We’ve added extra PE lessons to the timetable, made other lessons shorter to help with concentration, and we’ve brought in many safety measures which are helping both staff and children to feel safe in this environment.

“Overwhelmingly, our children and our staff want to come into school, they say they feel safe here and everyone agrees that staying open is the right thing to do to support our community.

“Of course, if we have any cases of Covid we will temporarily close the parts of school affected, and go back to learning from home. But while we can, we are determined to keep our doors open.”

UK charity Mental Health Foundation have reported many children experienced loneliness during lockdown, were affected by a lack of physical contact with friends, families and peers, were frustrated by the loss of activities they had been used to taking part in.

Oak View is one of several schools across Cheshire and Shropshire, run by North West Academies Trust, working hard to reintegrate pupils and restore confidence.

Some of the youngsters were also interviewed by Granada Reports, and Ms Whittaker added: “We’re very proud of the children who were filmed for the piece about schools staying open. They did really well and shared their views clearly.”

For more information about Oak View Academy, email: or tel: 01606 288118.