How has the pandemic changed mental health and education opportunities for young people?

Female student wearing blue face mask and looking away. Life Solved logo and episode title

  • 15 June 2021
  • 36 min listen

In this special new series of Life Solved, we explore the trends, changes and innovations that are taking place in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Across 5 episodes, find out how life is changing for all of us, and University of Portsmouth researchers share their findings, ideas and observations on what a post-Covid future might look like.

In our first episode, we explore how the education and future opportunities of young people have been impacted by the pandemic, and discuss what we can learn to better support them in the future.

We hear from secondary school students Blake, Tom and Snick, on how their GCSEs and international GCSE studies were affected. They share their thoughts on studying and socialising during a pandemic, as well as their hopes for the future.

University of Portsmouth student Serena tells us about her experience of starting university during lockdown, and how she balanced her sporting career with remote study and building new friendships away from home.

And University of Portsmouth academics share their expert insight into the conditions.

Dr Emma Maynard, a Child Psychologist and Senior Lecturer is joined by Dr Simon Edwards, a Senior Lecturer in Youth Studies, to celebrate the resilience of the young during challenging conditions, and to discuss how families and mental health interact with education.

Also looking to the future, Head of the School of Education and Sociology Dr Catherine Carroll-Meehan looks at wellbeing in an education context and alternative approaches in supporting individual development.

Episode transcript:

John Worsey: You're listening to Life Solved from the University of Portsmouth. In this series, researchers will be sharing their thoughts and ideas on how life looks set to change long term as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. In March 2020, the UK went into a national lockdown and the way we lived, worked, studied and sought support was transformed. Our ideas of community, the way we accessed health care, grieved, connected and thought about our freedoms changed overnight.

Boris Johnson: I've got to be clear, we've all got to be clear, this is the worst public health crisis for a generation.

News 1: We are seeing more people contacting services who have no past experience of mental health care.

News 2: And of course, in times like this, it is the vulnerable who suffer most.

John Worsey: Around the world, the patterns were similar, and as nations sought to coordinate and prepare a response, the economic and social impacts of the crisis resounded globally. At the University of Portsmouth here in the UK, research continued to seek ways of meeting the challenges facing humanity today. In June 2021, the crisis continues to have far-reaching effects on the opportunities, livelihoods, health and wellbeing of people worldwide. Across this series, we'll explore the patterns emerging here in the UK and beyond in five subject areas. We'll look at how our working lives have changed, as well as our relationship with democracy. We'll explore emerging trends in shopping and consumer habits, and we'll look at how the crisis has impacted our natural environments and changed sustainability agendas. But we're starting our conversations, thinking about the people who will not only continue to reshape and regenerate our world following the pandemic but who will define the economies, societies and ideologies of the future. We're asking what the pandemic has meant for the education prospects and opportunities of children and young people. Blake is 15 and is waiting for the results of his exams. He told us how the pandemic brought a level of uncertainty he'd never experienced.

Blake: I've not been someone who's been glued to the notifications of the latest covid numbers and the graphs and stuff, but I guess it kind of shows how quickly things can change. You have plans like I was meant to go to Pompeii with school on a classics trip just before spring in year 10. So a whole year ago now. And then suddenly it really is happening. No where's-- no one's going anywhere quickly. It's just weird to plan something, know it's happening and then for it to just not happen so quickly and randomly for a reason no one could have foreseen. It's interesting having to deal with just a random occurrence and it's bigger than stuff, you know, things get cancelled all of the time. You get cricket games that will be cancelled by rain and football matches might be cancelled because people don't have enough players to play for their team, but. Everything was cancelled for a whole year it felt like.

John Worsey: Blake's twin brother and older sister were also both studying remotely from home. What did these changes to the home mean for family relationships?

Blake: I have the great privilege of having great siblings who are very great and fun. So I know that it was weird because my sister goes to a different school to me and my brother, and it meant at lunch, we'd all finish at the same time due to school clocks and stuff. So we'd all be in the kitchen around about one, either cooking stuff and just talking for around about twenty, thirty minutes before going back to the computer to start the next lesson. I didn't struggle with family. I know a lot of people did because they find their siblings annoying and they really struggled being in the same house the whole time. But I haven't experienced that. In terms of still speaking to my friends, I mean, I know I actually got back in touch with some of my brother's friends from primary school; we go to a different school. We came every Friday together on Discord, so online just to play games and hang out for one and half hours every week. And even if it's not much, it's still definitely one of the highlights of my weeks. Just being able to think the week is done, got a massive weekend ahead and have fun for an hour and a half.

John Worsey: Blake mentioned Discord, a social platform that allows friends to create groups, share media and chat privately online. Discord also has a community function where individuals can connect over shared interests in groups called servers. Snick is also 15. They say that learning online from home was challenging for many, but the social connections Snick maintained through Discord and other platforms actually helped them build confidence and maintain good mental health during isolation.

Snick: So I have a lot of online friends, some of which I have met a couple of times. So everything with them has kind of been the same. But with school friends, I've kind of lost contact with most of them because of lockdown. It's been pretty difficult. I think there's a couple that we just stuck together like glue. There's no separating us. But yeah, some of them just completely gone. I think being able to speak to my online friends throughout the school day was much better and I wish I could do that in school today. But it was much easier to be really stuck on this piece of work, have a little break, talk to all my friends and then go back in with a clear head. I do live streaming on a platform called Twitch. So I think that has improved my confidence. I've gained a lot of friends through streaming. Twitch is a platform for all different people live streaming things from like gaming to sewing and like whatever hobbies they have, make music as well. I tend to either stream arts or small games.

John Worsey: Remote learning required a shift in the routines and structures young people had relied upon, but at a critical time for examination preparation, how does Snick think this period has impacted their GCSE prospects?

Snick: It was extremely stressful knowing that from how stressful the online revision was, it's going to be really difficult to complete your GCSEs with confidence. We got given emails at the beginning of each day from each teacher that we had that day, and we were given a like a task or something that we have to do. It was mainly towards the middle and end of each lockdown, and I just found that things were coming in too quickly and there was too much to do. Like we would have 50 slides of a PowerPoint to complete in fifty-five minutes. It was way too much.

John Worsey: Although the responsibility of setting your own hours and working at your own pace is an attractive concept to some, was this too big an ask of young people still establishing critical skills? Tom is living in France and working towards his iGCSEs – the international version. He spent last year studying at a state comprehensive in London.

Tom: So what happened during lockdown one was instead of doing online lessons, like a lot of us here saw in the US, we were just set homework basically every day. At about seven o'clock in the morning, we'd have a load of tasks ping onto our phone for that day, which at first were fine. Obviously, I knew kids that didn't get around to doing them or, you know, we'd do a certain number. What kind of made it more complicated for us was we didn't know when we'd be going back. And this year was quite important for us because my last day certainly was when I handed in my GCSE options form. So that meant next year we'd be dropping a load of subjects, but we weren't told whether or not we needed to complete the work for the subjects that we weren't going to be doing, whether we'd be back in the classes. And so it worked for me. I managed to keep up, but I know certainly a lot of friends, a lot of people that you thought would be quite organised with this stuff started to fall behind. And of course, once you fall behind, the tasks don't really stop. And, you know, I had friends with 200 overdue tasks on their phone and just kind of felt a bit overwhelmed. Students now had to decide when they did the work, how much of the work they did, to what quality and you know, what they did with it. Whereas before, you know, you'd turn up to class, the teacher would give you the amount of work, they'd check that you done it. They'd, you know, make sure it's to a good enough standard and then they take it back. Whereas now you suddenly, you know, you're in charge of basically everything for the time being and keeping up with all of it and so for some students, that was great. And for other students, they really, really struggled with that.

John Worsey: The workload, lack of zone out time for reflection, in addition to isolation and a wider atmosphere of uncertainty, also meant that Snick couldn't invest as much time in pursuing their work as an artist.

Snick: One of my main passions is art, and I occasionally do music, I play piano and bass guitar. During the lockdown's, I wasn't able to produce as much art at all. I had about three months where I didn't produce anything. I'd have like occasional sketches, but it was all just filled up with work. So it's really tricky because as well as all the work we also got given homework still. So we would have those six hours to do all that work and then given some stuff as well after that. It was really hard on mental health. I found that was one of the lowest points just because like how lonely it was, the only contact I had was my family and some friends online who I couldn't actually see most of the time.

John Worsey: Tom also had to try and find a new structure for socialising and connecting with friends, both in the UK and France.

Tom: With the lockdown one in the UK, at first, I'd get up early in the morning. I'd then phone my friend, we'd get through some work together. But then obviously as time goes on, that doesn't stick. The problem socially with Covid was that especially around my age, is that you start to see a lot of things happening in kids, you know, mental health issues. Anything like that. And the problem with not being in school is you can't see how severe that is. You're just looking at a screen and looking at words and you can't tell. And that was something that started to bug me, especially when I moved out here was that I couldn't tell how severe things were, especially back in England. But then, you know, with lockdown over here, we have a class group chat for while Zooms were going on. We'd be in constant communication. We'd be comparing work. So in a way, you kind of get closer to people through that.

John Worsey: Regardless of a supportive home environment. Blake feels studying remotely during the pandemic will have impacted his grades.

Blake: I feel like I definitely probably have done worse that what I would if the pandemic hadn't existed at all because I found it really difficult to work at home, to be honest. Like, I'd sit on my computer for five hours. The second those five hours is up; I'd just turn the computer off and stop because I was done. I felt exhausted and it's just so boring and dull to just not have any of the positive side of school and just do all of the work and effort.

John Worsey: So how do our three guests feel about the future? Snick says some good things have come out of their deeper connection with online friends and the live streaming they've been doing on Twitch.

Snick: Before the pandemic, I was extremely shy and I didn't want to do drama at all, even when it was mandatory. Now, after having chosen my GCSEs, I wish I'd chosen drama because I'm being much more confident. I feel like I could do as a living.

John Worsey: Blake hopes he'll be able to return to his original A-level plans and reconnect with friends in person.

Blake: I'm probably going to do the same A-level courses I was planning to do beforehand. I just you know, I've got to wait to see whether my grades enable me to do those. I'm planning to stay at my same school for sixth form. So I'll be with most of my friends because I don't think a lot of them planning to move anywhere either.

John Worsey: Tom says the pandemic has opened his awareness to the wider world.

Tom: It's definitely made what I want to do in the future more global. You know, I want to start looking at schools further abroad and other options and just keeping options open, whereas before it would never have crossed my mind at all. So in a way, Covid for me has made my life more global. The dream would be something like the United Nations. That's something I dream of. We'll see where the future takes us.

John Worsey: Thanks to Blake, Snick and Tom for sharing their experiences. We're wishing them all the best in their studies. And we're so impressed by the way they've each found something positive in this really difficult and uncertain time. Dr Emma Maynard is a child psychologist and senior lecturer at the University of Portsmouth.

Emma Maynard: My main research area at the moment is about complex families and actually how change happens for the better in families, but how we can help that change going by working in particular ways with parents.

John Worsey: Dr Simon Edwards is a senior lecturer in Youth Studies.

Simon Edwards: My current research, or actually my own research is around supporting young people's transitions through adolescence, in particular bringing young people's voices to the table where adults intervene in their lives.

John Worsey: Emma and Simon frequently collaborate on projects, and they're both agreed that the current post pandemic thinking in education is not helping children.

Simon Edwards: Recently, we set up a small youth work project that draws on a lived experience of former excluded kids and their parents, to mentor and advocate for current excluded kids and their parents. We work with five families throughout the pandemic. In fact, we set the project up in the pandemic. And what we found is that the transition going back to school is highly problematic because the government and school leaders are taking on the idea that we need to catch up somehow. Well we're not quite sure, I guess what we're actually trying to catch up with at the detriment of the wellbeing of the students and the young people. The impact of that is that where there has not been any kind of physical contact with peers over the last year or so when they go back to school, quite often that's coming at as aggression. Play fighting and aggression, which is then getting jumped on. When that gets jumped on by teachers, etc., etc. it's leading to exclusions. We're also finding that young people are having to bury some of the issues that would normally come out and be dealt with. And the focus on academic performance has left schools with a gap in the provision to help with young people's mental health and wellbeing. We've already got two young people out of five who sonly since the pandemic, they hadn't been excluded from school prior to that. Well, one's just been permanently excluded and another is constantly being excluded at the verge of permanent exclusion. It was predicted, by the way, by a national survey last year.

Emma Maynard: Simon and I talk quite a bit about this in terms of the recovery and return to school and how children and young people can really slot back in quite so readily. And the push, the narrative from the government does seem to be very much on "make up the gap" without really thinking about what that really means. And the entire world has changed. But our expectations and I mean that in the general sense around the politicians and those people that are making the decisions over education, not necessarily the people on the front line of education, are not changing any expectations for what previous generations have done. If you take the year elevens from last year, so those young people who are just about to do their GCSEs, they left school in March; they had nothing until they started in their sixth form years. Although all children had six months out of school, those key exam years had nothing. There was no routine. There was no learning and anything to keep on top of. And yet they're expected to hit the ground running and come straight up to that next phase, the A-levels or diplomas or whatever they're doing, which for many, many of them also involved a very sharp exit from school and a blunt entry into college, which is quite a different world. And then with a little one's time, feels much, much more expensive to them than it does to us. So you can understand that. But, you know, the behaviour specialist will quite often say, you know, you get children to be quiet for a minute of every year of their life because actually, five minutes feels like a really long time to a five-year-old. So you think about what six months means out of school. Being a governor at a primary, I must say they've also had some really positive stories of children going back and how the bubbles have helped them settle because their worlds become quite predictable. And it's been a lot more cosy than just going back into a melee. And the head teacher from that school is always at pains to say that the youngest ones don't know any different. So let's not hype it up, because actually, they're coping fine. So there's a duality of it, I think. And actually what it comes down to is individual children and young people will have individual responses to this, just like all the adults have. But somehow society gives more space for the adults to have a difference of experience and be doing well in different ways at different times. We tend to homogenise what children and young people should be doing at any point in time.

John Worsey: Young people are individuals and not all of them learn passively or in the same way. Simon says a homogenised approach to their learning and education doesn't take into account the different backgrounds and starts that children have. Emma says the practical challenges of moving learning online will also have created stresses in family dynamics.

Emma Maynard: It probably has brought some people together if you're lucky enough to have a secure and a happy place beneath you. But if you're in a situation where there's already flashpoints and already stresses, this will just have exacerbated it.

Simon Edwards: You know, from a more positive note that we found a way forward, is that we advocated with some families and the Sanco and pastoral leader in an academy. And one of our young people was working very, very hard, five hours a day on his mobile phone to do his work. He was turning up for everything. However, he wasn't doing anything. He didn't know how to do. He couldn't figure out how that then worked in his home space, and also home spaces with mum and sister. That created tensions in the home that they didn't really need. Mum really struggled with that. So we advocated and the school were fantastic. And they said, what do you think they actually need? So mum through us, explained that I need some accessible learning that I can help them out with. And they reduced the homework to two hours a day at a lower level. And that young person flourished through entirely through since last September. Is now back full time in school and the relationship between the mum and the young person was restored because they could work on it together.

John Worsey: Assuming that technology can simply transfer to different spaces and applications created tension in households, but Simon's example has offered valuable insight into how future educational tools might be adapted to different learning environments. Emma says there's much to celebrate about how all young people have shown resilience in adversity.

Emma Maynard: Within the university, we talk a lot about employability and what kind of graduate we are turning out from Portsmouth. All of our schools are doing that in their own way, at their own stage. And what we're all doing collectively as a sector is preparing our children and young people to become the leaders of the sector in time. Look what they have gained from this, from coming through this time of adversity and being incredibly resilient in their own way. So however difficult their circumstances are, they are still here. They are still trying and they've dug in. And that doesn't mean it looks perfect. But underneath all of those behaviours are incredibly strong young people who have learnt so much about what matters to themselves, their families, their societies and what really counts. Those are the children and young people who are going to be leading us in future generations. So there's a lot to celebrate there.

Simon Edwards: The opportunity that seems to be arising is that we've had some of the fabrics of our society exposed. We're in an opportune moment to listen to young people, to collaborate with young people and with parents and teachers to say, how do you learn best? What can we learn from this and take it forward together? Actually, education is something that happens a) beyond the school gates and it's happening all the time. There's a certain academic education, but we assume that young people only learn and learn best and have to learn between 12 and 16 to get GCSEs, which will then or inside the rest of their life. However, we also know the pathways to employment are becoming increasingly difficult, particularly with the technological revolution that we're seeing – a digitised revolution. So actually we are right embedded across most of school curriculums and university outcomes for students is not just employability, but entrepreneurship. But entrepreneurship doesn't take a standardised route through GCSE processes. It takes creative thinking, different thinking, different structures, realising that actually perhaps it's not thinking outside the box, but realising there is no box. It's about taking that forward. And I think the opportunity for collaboration sits very, very well within that new opportunities for entrepreneurship.

John Worsey: And what if those opportunities to reflect and collaborate with young people and develop more individualised development pathways is not seised? Simon says that existing inequalities would only continue.

Simon Edwards: Well, certainly for our young people, it will mean that they have no placements in school whatsoever. And we know that once a young person starts on that spiral if you want to call it, of disengagement and educational exclusion, their aspirations lower. You know, we talk about young people have low aspirations from poor families. I don't have a single family I've come across that has low aspirations, but they have been lowered by consistent being kicked out or whatever.

John Worsey: So how might the education system itself tackle some of the challenges raised by the pandemic? Simon suggests a more relational educational model presents an interesting avenue of exploration. Emma suggests the emphasis on GCSE grades as a single access point to higher education is something that needs revisiting. Next, we'll hear from Serena. Serena started her first year of university in the autumn of 2020. As an international shot-putter, she missed out on the world championships when they were cancelled earlier in the year. In spite of that disappointment, Serena was still able to carve out a positive, if unexpected, experience of fresher's life and beyond.

Serena: It's actually been easier now I'm at university because I train near where I stay at university, so it's actually only a 20 minute commute. So I just have to know what I'm doing in the week. I know what lectures I have. I know what work I have. I know what training I have. And then if I'm competing, I know when I'm competing and it's just timetabling when I can do what. And it's just communicating with coaches as well as lecturers to understand that everybody knows where I'm at, what I'm doing. At the moment it's going all right. So this is my first year at university. So yeah, I haven't experienced university. Whether it's outside a pandemic or within a pandemic, this is the norm. It's not as good because we aren't getting the experience that we should have got and that we were all excited to get. Before a pandemic, I was really nervous for going to university. I was, obviously, I was excited to go to university. I really wanted to go. But I'm very shy with new people. So in my head, I was like worrying about freshers and like who I was going to go with, because I don't want to go to an event by myself because I don't know anyone at university. I was practising just talking to people that even if you don't know them, I was like, you act confident and they think that you're confident. So go out and actually talk to people and make friends, it's fine. So I took that with me when I came to university and one of my flatmates came in early. So I walked in, I pretended to be really confident. I struck up a couple of conversations straight away and I actually, because I was going to leave at that point, but then I was like, I turned around to my parents and I was like, I'm actually going to stay here the night and hopefully, like, see if she wants to go out, do something during the day. And my parents were so proud of me, they were like, yes, Serena! You do that. And it seriously took me less than a day to feel comfortable here because my flatmates are amazing. We all click. But in terms of knowing people from my course, it's definitely limited that because I've really only got to know people in my tutor because that was really the only one I had face to face with. I made one particular friend in my tutor that I happened to be in lots of her classes as well. So we are actually very close as well. And we had a geography group chat before we came into university. And one particular friend of mine, we just happened to start talking outside of the group chat. And he's actually become one of like my closest friends and my flat and him get on really well as a group. So it's kind of like my flat plus him. You kind of have to message people and then and then see them in person rather than seeing in person and then getting their social media. I think I've only had one person that dropped out of the university because they didn't enjoy it. But that's I think because they weren't on the right course and the flat wasn't great. But she's willing-- she wants to go back to university in September. She's taken this year out. She's got a job and then she'll go back to university. I really am positive about the fact that my next year at university we're going to have vaccines out, and I feel like we are genuinely going to have a different university year. And I feel so much more confident about that. And I'm hoping that this year, in September, we can go out properly and actually experience a little bit of freshers and a little bit of what we should have done last year. But, no, I am looking forward to it. I'm hoping, obviously we get more face to face.

John Worsey: It definitely sounds like Serena and her flatmates were able to get along knowing that their relationships with each other had a greater emphasis during the isolation period. But how typical is this positive and resilient experience of adaptation for other age groups? Catherine Carroll-Meehan is the head of the School of Education and Sociology here at Portsmouth. She has an interest in education at every stage.

Catherine Carroll-Meehan: I am interested in the role of parents and their partnerships with educators in the early years' context. And in higher education, it's really been about the student experience and being responsible as the head of education at the University Portsmouth, I have an interest in education from birth through to the training of academics in higher education.

John Worsey: Catherine explained how she sees education connecting to future employment and which group she thinks will have been most impacted in our current system of education.

Catherine Carroll-Meehan: We've seen with the lockdowns and the pandemic how we've got basically two class of workers, the essential workers and those deemed non-essential. And I think that's a really interesting thing that we've got to look at in terms of employment, what jobs are actually needed to keep a society going and which people can just stay at home and actually get a universal basic income, which is basically what the furlough scheme has given. And so I think that's a real challenge for us, that we need to think about education in terms of the future of employment. And these are some really big issues. The school experience just isn't what happens in the curriculum with teachers. It's what happens in the playground. It's what happened at sports, dance, and other performing arts activities that children engage in as part of a wider school curriculum. I think probably the people that have experienced and can articulate the most are university students, and we've certainly seen that. Where I'm concerned is with younger children and particularly children who are from families where the resources may not be as great to be able to support learning at home and where parents are not as in touch with education and their own education experience may limit what they feel they can do with their own children. Ofsted recently introduced that notion of social capital as something that they're looking at in schools, particularly where children are coming from deprived backgrounds, or that their experiences may not be what we would necessarily hope for in a socially mobile society. It's learning how to be as a person in a community. I think one of the things that children are having challenges going back to school is it's just knowing how to behave and knowing some of the social responsibilities that they have in relation to being with others in a group. And I think if we go back to some of what neuroscience tells us about how human brains develop, that lack of physical interaction can and will have a lasting impact. And we're not going to necessarily see that for a number of years. How we respond in nurturing relationships are very important to young children in particular.

John Worsey: Catherine thinks the younger generation do have some positive assets that may add to resilience in dealing with such a crisis. But there will also always be people who are marginalised by periods of social change.

Catherine Carroll-Meehan: I do think there are a lot of things about this younger generation. They're a lot more able to articulate things about their identity and who they are. And I think there's a lot more freedoms that they have in saying, I'm not feeling okay, I need help, I need to talk to someone, which is fantastic because people of my age and generation have really struggled to articulate because, you know, when I think about my university years, you know, we weren't able to be as free in expression of who we were because of all of the social parameters that really dictated who we were and how we had to behave. So I think there are some advantages, thinking about this positively, about younger generations and certainly the emphasis on information that we've been given. I think it's quite popular in the discourse to say that children from well-off families, you know, with social capital will have done okay. And that's-- that is true. However, there have been some studies recently that have indicated that children have been able to learn at their own pace. And so the pressure of not being in school and having longer to undertake tasks that in the classroom they may not have the time to do probably has been an advantage to many more children than we know at this stage. So I'm not so concerned about GCSE and A level students because they've got the foundational skills or they should have them by the time they get to key stage three and four. But the key stage one children where the fundamentals of reading and writing and understanding number and shape and all of those basic concepts, how to relate to people, how to see themselves in relation to the world are all really foundational. It's really hard to replicate that in a consistent manner for all children with children being at home and educated by parents with varied skills.

John Worsey: Catherine says education can play an important role in well-being conversations helping children understand their locus of control, choosing healthy attitudes and responses, and coaching them for situations beyond their influence. But how might the British education system better serve children who've been impacted by the pandemic then? One idea is something called a developmental continuum that might update the current approach to assessing children's performances in school.

Catherine Carroll-Meehan: I think systems like Finland, where they don't have an exam based system, have probably fared better. And I think other countries that don't have this centralised examination system as being the be-all and end-all for how we measure students’ performance. But our education system is excellent. One of the challenges, though, is the way it is so year level bound. So by the end of year one, every student will achieve this, by the end of year two, year three. And if a child doesn't achieve those things, they're seen as a failure. And I'm using that term liberally because schools don't ever call children failures. But that is to an outsider what that could look like. What I think we probably need to do and it goes back to my work as a teacher in Australia, and this is heading 25 plus years ago, what we had in our early years from pre-school through to (which is equivalent of reception) through to end of year three, was what we called a developmental continuum. And that developmental continuum in reading, writing and mathematics was something that you would see beginning in pre-school, in reception. And by the end of year three, you would see children progress through all of the indicators. Now, I pulled that out the other day just as a matter of interest. And I was thinking that is the kind of approach we probably need to think about in response to the pandemic because what it allows children is to have the time. It also clearly supports teachers about what are the fundamentals that children need to achieve and by what stage. And it also allows teachers to look at targeted interventions for that continuum. So rather, it being end of year they must do this, but giving children time, particularly children who have been impacted. The underlying problem is that there were inequalities in the education system before Covid, Covid's made that whole much larger. And we need to actually have a fundamental review of education and assessment and exams here in England in particular.

John Worsey: The education system is essential in supporting all parents, but in cases where it's needed to build foundational knowledge and support healthy mental approaches, it's been even more crucial during the pandemic. Even if children and young people have shown incredible resilience and adaptability during the pandemic, the imbalances highlighted in some areas present us with an opportunity to innovate in how young people learn and develop beyond the classroom. We've presented just a few of the ideas that might help turn learnings from the pandemic into a more supportive and individual system of development for our future leaders. Why not share your own with us? You can tweet using the hashtag Life Solved. Next time we'll be looking at how our changing consumer habits and attitudes are driving innovation in business and global supply chains. You can follow this podcast on your favourite app and find out more about our researchers and their projects by going online to port.ac.uk/research. Thanks for listening.

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