Young person’s takeover: ‘With the right support, our young people have got this’

Corrienne Peasgood OBE, the principal of City College Norwich, explained the importance of making sure young people do not get left behind.

City College Norwich logo. Picture: CCN

City College Norwich logo. Picture: CCN - Credit: City College Norwich

Whilst the pandemic has disrupted all our lives, it is particularly important that our young people are not thrown off course or left behind.

This cohort have experienced a level of upheaval in their learning that has not been seen in modern times. The controversy and confusion surrounding the grading of qualifications was a major additional source of stress and worry. As if that wasn’t enough, the repercussions of Covid for the economy have created added uncertainties around their future.

This pandemic has sharpened the challenges young people face. Making the right decisions at 16 is now more important than ever. Schools and colleges need to provide all young people with high-quality information, advice and guidance so they make the right decisions about their learning and future career direction.

During the recent enrolment period, we put even more emphasis than usual in our conversations with young people and their parents on ensuring they are setting out on the right pathways. Employers will favour those who are leaving the education system with a clear direction, motivation, and relevant experience of work for their chosen career.

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We also need to be fully alert to the impact that the lockdown and current restrictions are having on young people’s physical and mental health. The loss of familiar routines, reduced contact with friends, and fewer opportunities for sporting, cultural and social activities that promote wellbeing, have been acutely felt. Easy-to-access support for mental health and wellbeing is crucial.

There has been criticism of young people in some quarters for not acting responsibly to help stop the spread of Covid-19. This has not been my experience. Our new and returning students are taking the new requirements, such as wearing face coverings in corridors and communal areas, extremely seriously. Many of our students have part-time jobs in retail and hospitality and are acutely aware of the risks, while others worked right through lockdown in everything from frontline caring roles to keeping food production moving.

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Young people have shown great resilience and adaptability in the face of the Covid challenges so far. We have a responsibility to give this generation every support necessary, so that this pandemic doesn’t hold them back.

- The impact of Covid on young people is the subject of a special online debate involving teenagers from the region. Sponsored by City College Norwich and in association with MAP, it will be hosted by EDP editor David Powles tonight (Tuesday, September 15) at 5pm. To watch or take part in the debate click the link here .

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