Forest Gate Community School staff member on ‘devastating’ impact of lockdown

Cynthia Quarshie works at Forest Gate Community School. Picture: LDRS

Cynthia Quarshie works at Forest Gate Community School. Picture: LDRS - Credit: LDRS

A school staff member who has helped support pupils throughout the pandemic has spoken of the “devastating” impact lockdown has had on education.

Cynthia Quarshie is the deputy designated safeguarding lead at Forest Gate Community School, working with children who may need extra support with their mental health or have problems at home.

“We keep a very close eye on our students,” she said.

“We make sure they have everything they need and if someone needs extra support then we are here for them.

“If someone misses school without a reason then there will be a phone call straight home. If we can’t get through then there will be a knock at the door if a student continues to miss school.

“But the pandemic completely changed our system. We couldn’t keep an eye on them like we had before and that was hard.

“In some cases it has had a devastating impact, not just on education but on mental health. We definitely don’t want to see a lockdown where schools close again.”

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Forest Gate Community School remained open for disadvantaged children and those of key workers during the first lockdown, which started in March, but many pupils stopped coming in to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Ofsted inspectors arrived just three weeks before lockdown when the school was busy preparing for its inevitable closure.

Despite managing self-isolating staff and students and planning how to support vulnerable pupils, the school still came out with the top rating.

Inspectors described staff as having a “strong sense of social justice” and giving extra support.

“We are proud of the way we treat all of our students,” said Cynthia.

“We have a high number of students who have no recourse to public funds or English as a second language.

“But we will make sure we can provide uniform, PE kit, lunches if some families are struggling to afford that.

“The pandemic with home learning has thrown inequalities into the spotlight.

“We have tried to make sure students who need it have access to laptops and dongles for home internet, things many people take for granted.”