How to reach your academic potential post-lockdown

As we settle back into school after a long hiatus because of lockdown many students and parents are concerned about how students are going to reach their academic potential when their education has been so severely disrupted for much of 2020.

In this podcast episode I'm going to:

  • Highlight some of the challenges that young people and families will face, in terms of academic achievement, as we settle back into school and face the uncertainties of the autumn and winter
  • Outline how to succeed academically against this backdrop
  • Let you know how you can explore this further with me this week

Let's get started.

The challenges we face to academic success as we go back to school

1. Being behind

During the period of school closures during the spring and summer of 2020, and even after the schools partially re-opened to year 10 and 12 students, there was huge disruption to many students' learning.

Some schools were able to provide a thorough timetable of lessons, others were not in a position to do the same.

What is going to be true for pretty much everyone, to a greater or lesser degree, is that there will have been some disruption to people's learning which means that as they start the new school year they won't be in the academic position that students in their year group would normally be in as they start a new school year.

This is particularly worrying if your child is entering year 11 or year 13.

There have been some announcements about how the content and requirements of exams will be adapted to take account of this disruption to learning, and with so much uncertainty about how the pandemic is going to play out over the autumn and winter months there could be further disruption.

2. Adjusting to a new school environment

We all know that schools are going to be organised and work differently to be ‘Covid safe'.

In most classrooms, students will be facing the front rather than sitting at group tables. Some schools will be keeping specific groups of students in the same classroom as much as possible rather than moving around the school. There will be socially distanced school bus queues and dinner times will be staggered. I've even heard of one school that is requiring all work to be done and handed in electronically so that students and teachers aren't passing paper to one another.

Some young people will adapt to this quickly and easily, but others will find it more challenging. If they're not coping well with the change in their school environment this will make it difficult for students to engage properly with their academic work.

3. Mental health concerns

There is a great deal of concern about how the lockdown, school closures and worries about catching and spreading the virus has already impacted young people's mental health. In the absence of some of the social and leisure activities that help them to have balance in their lives, this will continue to be a concern as long as social restrictions are in place.

This may be compounded by a lack of trust in the education and exams system as a whole because of the grading debacle. This has highlighted what little control young people have over their own destinies in the context of the pandemic – and lack of control is a real problem for mental health.

4. Challenges for teachers and schools

On top of all of the above, teachers and schools are going to be tested in a way they never have been before by:

  • Supporting any students taking the autumn exam series
  • Making sure their school is following the guidelines to be Covid safe
  • Helping students to catch-up what they missed last year as well as teaching the normal curriculum
  • Dealing with the stress and strain that is put on them by all of the above (and the normal worries that all humans are experiencing at this time)

A year like no other

As you can see, and probably already know, this year is going to be a year like no other in schools.

It's very easy to wallow in the gloom of it all and feel hopeless. However, that doesn't get us anywhere and doesn't move us forward.

So, how do we approach this school year in a positive way?

How to succeed academically in the 2020-1

If you've listened to my last two podcast episodes with Claire Jones and Lisa Cherry, you'll have heard how important relationships are in creating resilience in young people. If they feel they have a safe and secure home and adults who are ready to listen to them they will be able to cope with the challenges they're facing this year so much better.

But, there is more than just being a listening ear that we can do to support them to achieve their full academic potential against this backdrop.

The tools for success

In addition to creating resilience in our young people through safe and loving relationships, we can give them the tools they need to succeed academically.

Through the lockdown, I taught students in The Extraordinaries Club how to study independently as they were learning at home on their own.

I saw some remarkable shifts in the young people I was working with during this time.

  • One student went from refusing to think that she could study on her own, without the support of her teachers, to actually getting on with the work she was set to do quite happily
  • Other students were overwhelmed by how the work was being set and managed to create systems where they could cope with the work
  • Others developed a strong sense of personal agency and belief in what they could achieve on their own

There were many more wins but the overall outcome for the group was greater resilience, higher belief in themselves and their ability to make things happen and get things done, better organisation and stronger growth mindsets.

How you can find out more about the tools for academic success

I strongly believe that every student needs to be equipped with the tools for academic success from the very beginning of this academic year, if they're going to have the best chance of reaching their potential.

That's why I'd love you to come along to my live webinar on Saturday 5th September to discover:

  • The specific challenges faced by students in years 10, 11, 12 and 13 every year as they start the new school year, as well as the challenges they face because of school closures and the lockdown
  • My framework for achieving your academic potential, that has helped countless students exceed their own expectations
  • Specific things you can take away and put in place right away such as how parents can encourage an attidue that will get results, and students can build it in themselves; the simple calculation you need to do to find out if you're doing enough work and two key habits that will lead to exam success

Click here to sign-up for the webinar.


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