The summer holidays are in full flow, but in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s break looks very different from the last.
While the outbreak wages on, lockdown restrictions have eased significantly, meaning an estimated 1.3m student exam takers are now making up for more than four months of lost time.
Rite of passage post-exam celebrations, which traditionally come in the form of festivals, concerts and holidays, have been cancelled in a year that has so far been dictated by public health guidelines and social distancing. According to Festival Republic, around 70,000 students will miss out on music and arts festivals this year.
But this doesn’t mean students won’t celebrate their achievements in what has arguably been the most difficult term the sector has seen; many replacement celebrations will take place unofficially, unregulated by both regular and COVID-19 safety guidelines and infrastructure.
In light of this, the relationships, sex and health education (RSHE) organisation, It Happens, is delivering the nation’s first remote RSHE lessons for British school students, using the latest interactive technologies to support anonymous discussion on sensitive topics, as well as to prepare young people for the dangers surrounding unregulated post-lockdown events.
Developed in partnership with Festival Republic, the organisation has created a range of informative workshops that enable schools to provide pastoral education online.
The remote workshops will use the Swedish technology platform Mentimeter, which supports anonymous, interactive and inclusive classroom participation in discussions, all through the participant’s smartphone.
With a Sex Education Forum study revealing that a third of students feel too embarrassed to ask questions in front of classmates, It Happens hopes the anonymised platform will encourage students to confront subjects that are traditionally considered taboo – including topics relating to sex, relationships, alcohol and substance use.
Following the workshops, students should be able to better navigate potentially dangerous or uncomfortable situations, sharing tops and advice to help keep each other safe.
“Tens of thousands of young people would have been attending our festivals this summer, but COVID-19 has meant they don’t have these fantastic, well organised events to enjoy and celebrate at,” said Melvin Benn, managing director of Festival Republic.
“The It Happens remote workshops, which Festival Republic have advised on, are very important for staying safe in the inevitable unofficial and home-made celebrations that they will be doing instead.”