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Education Resources Covid-19 surveys

Secondary pupils

In total, 1563 S1-S5 pupils completed the survey, representing 8% of pupils attending South Lanarkshire Council mainstream secondary schools.

Pupils were asked rating scale questions about their experiences, thoughts and feelings. Pupils were also asked open questions designed to gather their own opinions and viewpoints. Emerging themes were identified and the most common are presented.

Part 1

Your thoughts and feelings about life in lockdown

Pupils were asked to rate their feelings about the changes they experienced during lockdown. The graphs below illustrate pupils’ feelings about changes to their relationships and their routine.

Alt text 4% felt positive, 27% neutral and 69% hard not being with friends. 23% felt positive, 45% neutral and 32% hard not being with other pupils in school. 69% felt positive, 21% neutral and 10% found it hard being at home with family. 8% felt positive, 28% neutral and 64% found it hard not being with family who don't live at home. 64% felt positive, 25% neutral and 11% found it hard using social media, gaming and video calls to keep in touch with friends. 51% felt positive, 34% neutral and 15% found it hard to use social media, gaming and video calls to keep in touch with family.


26% felt positive, 36% neutral and 38 % found it hard having a different routine to normal. 21% felt positive, 22% neutral and 57% found hoe education hard. 17% felt positive, 40% neutral and 43% found it hard not having enough to do. 22% found it positive, 25% neutral and 53% found it hard to stay in the house most of the time.


Other positive changes experienced

Emerging themes were:

  • spending more time/quality time with my family and pet(s)
  • learning or improving hobbies/activities/life skills
  • being more active, getting exercise and eating more healthily
  • having more time to relax/chill
  • socialising virtually with my friends and family
  • improvements to my wellbeing for example less stress/anxiety, better mental health, working on myself
  • learning at my own pace, for example deciding when to work on what topic
  • being grateful/appreciative of things in my life
  • having more free time/leisure time

Example comments:

"Easier and more manageable schedule. More time with household family. Online schooling is easier as you can complete it at your own pace. Not eating as unhealthy. Not as tired and stressed as I would be at school."

"I have learned new skills such as baking, roller skate and basic British Sign Language. Also it has given me time to think about things more deeply like life choices and things involving my future and I have realised a lot of good things about relationships and thought a lot more about future carers."

"Zoom calls with my football teammates and coaches. Finding a routine between schoolwork, exercise, activities and chilling."

"Being able to talk to friends and family on my phone."

"I feel as if I have a lot more free time than I would if I was attending school, this also made me able to invest in personal projects and find new interests and hobbies."

More difficult changes experienced during this time

Emerging themes were

  • I am missing my friends
  • I am missing my family
  • negative impact on my mental health for example being worried/stressed/anxious/lonely
  • finding home-school and schoolwork difficult
  • I am missing my clubs/activities/hobbies
  • being suck in the house
  • lacking motivation
  • feeling bored

Example comments:

"Not sticking to a usual routine. Not being able to go out at every weekend with friends anymore. Not being able to go visit other family members. Not getting enough sleep and staying up all night School work isn’t the same, sometimes find it difficult because teachers aren’t there in person to go through it for you."

"Being bored stuck inside being unable to spend time with friends."

"I have found it hard to not being able to take part in the sport I would normally do for 15h a week. Not being able to do gymnastics is very hard for me."

"My mental health has suffered and my anxiety is through the roof finding it really difficult now."

"Online learning is very hard, feel very lonely, sleep schedule is all over the place, always feel very down."

Part 2

How you feel about not being at school and about coming back to school

Pupils were asked to rate how they felt about their school being closed (in June), and to compare this to how they felt when schools first closed. They were also asked what had helped them during this time and about their feelings about coming back to school.

15% were not at all worried about school being closed. 23& were not so worried. 32% were neutral. 23% were quite worried. 7% were very worried.


12% felt a lot better. 22% felt a little better. 33% felt the same. 23% felt a little worse. 10% felt a lot worse.


Is there anything you would like to say about your feelings about school being closed?

Emerging themes were:

  • I am worried/stressed about my schoolwork, exams and the future
  • I want to see my friends
  • I prefer being at school
  • I miss having my routine
  • I have had a positive home-schooling experience

Example comments:

"I miss the social aspect as I didn't realise how many people I talk to in each of my separate classes and I miss them all very much. It is also extremely difficult to do school online."

"Miss having a normal routine."

"I didn’t miss school at first but now that I have been doing school at home I wish I was still there."

"Being stuck in the house all day has affected my mental health a bit in a negative way and I definitely feel more anxious about exams and about my study and how crucial this year is to me and my future career and I’m having to spend it inside."

"Love being home-schooled."

What has been helpful to you during the time your school has been closed? This could be anything that has helped, or maybe something you have learned or done yourself.

Emerging themes were:

  • spending time with and calling my family
  • speaking to my friends on the phone, on video calls and on social media
  • having/learning activities and hobbies for example reading, listening to music and cooking/baking
  • exercising for example walking, cycling and running
  • online learning using Google Classroom and Glow
  • gaming on my PC/Xbox/PS4 with my friends

Example comments:

"I have learned some SFX horror makeup and also been learning some songs, I’ve been calling my friends every day as well so I can still talk to others other than my family."

"I have done a lot of online learning about Google Classroom and online meetings. I have done professional reading I wouldn't have had the time to do normally. I have built strong bonds with local school librarians and the Heads of English."

"Music, gaming, my family, reading, trying new things and practicing old hobbies."

"Finding a new routine, getting up early and going a walk, concentrating on schoolwork, cooking and baking, Facetiming friends, doing workouts."

"Well, I love cycling, I have started origami, good TV shows(old/new) gardening, and just knowing that soon it will be back.

How do you feel about coming back to school?

Pupils indicated their feelings about returning to school by choosing from a list of feelings provided. The five most commonly chosen feelings were: nervous; relieved; happy; worried; and excited. This word cloud is a representation of the frequency of the 12 chosen feelings.

In order of most chosen to least chosen the young people felt nervous, relieved, happy, worried, excited, grateful, motivated, confused, frightened, disappointed, sad and annoyed.

Are there any other feelings you have about returning to school?

Emerging themes were:

  • I am looking forward to seeing my friends
  • I am anxious/apprehensive
  • I am unsure about what it will be like returning to school for example social distancing, PPE and part-time attendance
  • I am worried about exams
  • I am worried about catching the virus
  • I am worried about the workload when returning to school and falling behind
  • I want to get back to normal

Example comments:

"Concern about my health and the health of vulnerable family members - catching covid-19 from pupils or other staff members."

"I feel anxious about how everything is going to work and how everything is going to work in terms of my exams at the end of S4."

"I can’t wait. It’s hard because I can’t describe what I’m feeling. I can’t wait to see my friends!!!!!!"

"Mostly I am happy about school returning. Home learning is manageable but not full time."

"I am excited that I will be able to see my friends again. I am concerned a lot though about how social distancing will be able to work in quite small corridors or at lunch. I would prefer it if I was in the full week and then had a week off as then the teachers would be able to give us work for the week we are off, only being in 2 days a week would be harder in my opinion. I am also a little worried about how exams will work in 2021 if we are not in school all of the time... we have already missed out on a lot of learning."

"Yes, very very very happy because I can see everyone again and get back to a normal routine."

"Just that I'm worried about falling behind."

Part 3

How can we help you when you go back to school?

Pupils were asked five open questions to gather their views about what would be helpful for them when returning to school.

What can we do to help make coming back to school as easy as possible?

Emerging themes were:

  • provide detailed information about what will happen when we return
  • have realistic expectations regarding our learning and reduce the pressure
  • go over the learning we were assigned at home
  • get back to normal
  • have a part-time/staged return
  • ensure health and safety for example ensure social distancing; and provide hand sanitiser/soap and masks
  • allow us to be in groups/classes with our friends
  • be welcoming, reassuring and supportive

Example comments:

"Some people are scared to go back since the virus is around still. It would be good if you could spilt the class up so we can social distance a little bit. Also if you do spilt the class make sure everyone has a friend."

"We need information, uncertainty is stressful for everyone. Protect staff and pupils from the virus but also support them mentally and emotionally too."

"Don’t put too much pressure on us. Everything is hard enough right now without teachers expecting the world from us."

"Lots of revision and going over things before moving onto new work."

"Easing into it by going back part time to start with."

What could we do to help your wellbeing, for example your feelings, your happiness, your mental health?

Emerging themes were:

  • have someone in school to talk to if I need it
  • allow us time to be with our friends
  • don’t overload us with work
  • provide detailed information
  • keep us safe
  • be kind, thoughtful and reassuring
  • make it normal
  • make it fun and active
  • I feel fine

Example comments:

"I think just making sure that we are all safe."

"Getting to see my friends again and getting back to some kind of normal."

"Be kind, be there for people, listen to anyone who’s struggling."

"For schools to be patient with pupils going back into their old routine and not to overload our work schedule."

"I would find it helpful if there was lots of information available. It would make me feel much better knowing what is expected of me in terms of hand washing, social distancing and wearing masks etc."

"Anonymous chat rooms. Something I have been thinking about for a while but sometimes saying things out loud is really hard and really scary, but typing isn't so bad. even just a singular pupil support e-mail address or something."

What could we do to help you to do the best you can to catch up with schoolwork?

Emerging themes were:

  • allow us time to ease back in without pressure or being rushed
  • provide online support for example have video lessons and use Google Classroom
  • go over the work we were given to complete at home
  • provide supported study periods and lunchtime/after school support
  • be helpful and supportive
  • consider prelim/exam arrangements for example prepare us for exams and delay prelims/exams

Example comments:

"Please make sure the workload is eased into, beginning with a good explanation, and if anyone needs help, please offer them it. It will speed up the process a lot more. If anyone is working from home, make sure the work they missed is emailed to them."

"Be helpful and supportive."

"Video lessons so we can watch over. More on Google Classroom and time in class working through problems and examples. My sister did this in maths at the grammar years ago and it was much better she said."

"Make exams take place later."

"Extra revision/supported study."

What would be helpful for you to know before you go back to school?

Emerging themes were:

  • information about the class arrangements for example layout of the classrooms, my timetable, my new teachers and classmates
  • what the school day will be like for example the days will I be in, what will happen and break and lunch and how I will move around between classes
  • information about new rules/changes for example what we can and can’t do, social distancing and uniform
  • information about health and safety for example cleaning, using soap and other precautions in place
  • information about prelims/exams
  • information about socialising with friends
  • what equipment we can bring to school for example stationary, hand sanitiser and masks
  • the structure of my days/weeks for example how blended learning will work, the days I will be in school, who I’ll be in school with and if I’ll be in school full days

Example comments:

"Layout of school, list of teachers with photos, hand washing procedures - need to know all of this so can prepare in advance."

"Our new timetable, what the new school be like, what classrooms will look like, what will we be allowed to do, what will happen with break/lunch, will we be with our friends, when are we in school, what will happen with school transport, do we have to wear masks, what will happen to make sure the school is safe."

"What is happening with my exams and prelims?"

"How blended learning will work and who I’m going to be in school with on what days."

"How is the system going to work, what are the rules that we have to follow, how long is 1 day?? Do we go for the full six hours?"

What would be helpful for you to have on your first day back at school?

Emerging themes were:

  • class arrangements for example having class lists and my timetable
  • seeing familiar/friendly faces for example my friends and teachers
  • clear rules for example display signs and instructions, ensure social distancing and tell us the dos and don’ts
  • an assembly
  • an easier day for example longer breaks, time to catch up, have fun and relax and free periods/time
  • safety equipment for example face masks, hand sanitiser, soap and gloves
  • support and reassurance for example check-in to see how we’re coping, have a quiet space/teacher to go to when we’re anxious and tell us what to do when we’re worried
  • a feeling of safety and comfort
  • school equipment for example books, jotters, pens and pencils, desks and locker
  • a normal day

Example comments:

"A friend, a timetable an easy day to adjust back to the routine. A relatively normal school day."

"Cleaning products like soap (as there’s none in the boys’ toilets) and hand sanitiser and this isn’t really a physical thing but assemblies more frequently to keep us up to date on rules, phases, and what we can and can’t do."

"Friends from the same year group, All the subjects that we choose, support and understanding from the teachers, resources such as pencils/jotters etc as many people have ran out or have no money to go out and buy some."

"Everything all sign posted well so we can understand what’s happening and the changes to make us all safe including all staff."


For most respondents, positive aspects of lockdown were being at home with the family they live with, and using social media, gaming or video calls to stay in touch with friends. The most commonly reported difficult aspects of lockdown were not being able to see friends and extended family.

30% of respondents reported that they were quite worried or very worried about schools being closed, and 33% reported feeling a little or a lot worse in June than they had felt when schools closed in March.

57% percent reported that learning at home was hard or very hard, and 21% reported that learning at home was a little positive or very positive.

Taken together, the most common themes identified as being helpful for a successful return to school were related to:

  • detailed information about what to expect when they return to school
  • reconnection with school staff and friends
  • a nurturing approach and focus on wellbeing - staff being welcoming and understanding, and providing emotional support and reassurance
  • clear health and safety guidance, rules and equipment
  • easing back into work and having an easier first day
  • teachers having realistic expectations about learning
  • revision of what has been learned/assigned during lockdown
  • a sense of normality

What schools will do

  • We will continue to give pupils a warm welcome and make sure they feel included and supported when they are in school
  • We will continue to give pupils the information they need to attend school safely
  • We will offer a range of opportunities to help pupils to do their best in their learning and maximise their wellbeing