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DR. MAX PEMBERTON: To hell with Covid! Children have to go back to school


The past week has been an emotional roller coaster ride for A-Level and GCSE students.

I have every sympathy for them embroiled in a vortex of struggles as politicians, exam inspectors, and teachers play the blame game on the outcome fiasco.

But while I do not doubt the distress caused and their concern for their future prospects, it becomes meaningless when compared to the psychological impact of the coronavirus pandemic on hundreds of thousands of younger children.

As always, disadvantaged teens are most affected, those who have not had access to online or home tuition for nearly six months.

If children don't go back to school – full-time, not part-time – we risk condemning an entire generation to forget about education and worsen their prospects in life (file photo)

On March 23, her educational and social development was effectively put on hold. For many without the stability of the school there was no structure to this day, and they have since lost the habit of learning and the self-discipline required of belonging to a school community.

And of course, they will be scared and afraid because of what they heard or read about the pandemic.

Many will live in chaotic houses with no gardens or parks nearby and have been with siblings and parents for weeks who find it difficult to deal with.

At best, their surroundings will not be stimulating; in the worst case, violent or have been exposed to alcohol or drug abuse.

Dr. Gavin Morgan, educational psychologist and member of the government's Sage committee, warned of the devastating effects of limited social interaction on children's development.

"We know how important play is for children's development," he said. “If you can't play with your friends, your sanity will suffer. Children may have developed a secure bond with their teachers and have been denied access to these numbers. & # 39;

A social worker I spoke to this week who has just resumed home visits said some of the children she sees have gone "wild".

Experts who call this a "social crisis in the making" do not underestimate the problem.

For this reason, the continued reluctance of some teaching unions to open all schools in September is a shame.

The demands on teacher safety and work practices are a smoke screen. This is a brazen politicization of a crisis where children are definitely not the number one priority.

We can't be complacent, of course, but the health risks are minimal. Children appear to have strong resistance to this strain of the coronavirus – so far only one previously healthy child has died in England. And there are no cases in the world where a child passed the virus on to a teacher.

For many without the stability of the school there was no structure until today, and in the meantime they have lost the habit of studying (file photo)

For many without the stability of the school there was no structure until today, and in the meantime they have lost the habit of studying (file photo)

So I say to hell with Covid-19. If children don't go back to school – full-time, not part-time – we risk condemning an entire generation to forget about education and affect their prospects in life.

And there is another aspect to this crisis. The summer holidays are a distant memory for me – but a beautiful one. I remember endless days of trampling around, exploring with friends, having water fights in the garden, and eating strawberries until I felt sick.

Six long weeks of vacation gave us time to play and be children.

It would be a couple of weeks before we got back to school before we could shake off that summer feeling and get going again. Teachers know that after the summer vacation children return to an educational level below their pre-break level – a phenomenon known as "educational regression".

My mother, a special needs teacher, helped set up a summer school for children so that people from disadvantaged backgrounds wouldn't fall too far behind.

And on the children's wards where I worked, we made sure that even children who had become very unwell receive regular lessons. We knew that a few months of missing classes would have a lasting impact.

Thanks to the pandemic, many children did not have a proper summer vacation or enjoyed the developmental benefits that it brings. Instead, they went through an extension of the lockdown (albeit with fewer restrictions over time).

But what they will have experienced is educational regression.

I was impressed with Keir Starmer's insistence on schools opening in September, regardless of what teacher unions – traditionally Labor supporters – say.

He recognizes that the education gap between rich and poor has widened since March and we run the risk of losing advances in social mobility.

If all of the school-age children are not back in the classroom next month due to the machinations of the unions, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will no doubt leave and they can claim his scalp.

I couldn't care less about the career of a minister. But we cannot allow the future of Britain's poorest children to be sacrificed on the altar of politics in this way.

Dr. Max prescribes …

A touch of honey

It is a staple for kitchen cabinets and the remedy for all kinds of health and beauty ailments.

But only now does modern medicine give honey the respect it deserves.

Honey is the home remedy for all kinds of health and beauty disorders, but now it is getting the respect it deserves in modern medicine (file photo)

Honey is the home remedy for all kinds of health and beauty disorders, but now it is getting the respect it deserves in modern medicine (file photo)

Research in the British Medical Journal found that honey was more effective than over-the-counter medicines at treating the symptoms of a sore throat, tickling cough, and nasal congestion. My favourite? Shropshire Ling Heather Honey.

Stop losing NHS veterans

When retired doctors returned to the front lines to help during the pandemic, I wrote that it was a welcome breath of fresh air on the wards.

And now, colleagues are telling them to stay on track to tackle the Covid-19 backlog – the millions who have missed treatments because the NHS focused on the pandemic.

A survey by the British Medical Association estimates that it could take more than a year to clear waiting lists for routine voting.

I desperately hope my older colleagues stay, but I doubt it. Many left the NHS early on tax penalties for pensions if they stayed through no fault of their own.

We have lost their expertise and the NHS is all the poorer for that. You had something that no textbook can teach you: experience. We should hold on to it.

Find solace in crazy theories

Why do conspiracy theories become so popular in times of crisis? Robbie Williams, the former Take That singer, has spoken of a bizarre conspiracy theory called "pizzagate" in several online videos.

It first surfaced in the 2016 US presidential election with allegations that a Washington, DC pizzeria was implicated in the child sex trafficking of senior Democratic politicians (which reminds me more of the claims of a VIP sex ring made by the discredited fantasist) . Nick & # 39; aka Carl Beech).

Robbie Williams, the former Take That singer, has spoken of a bizarre conspiracy theory called "pizzagate" in several online videos.

Robbie Williams, the former Take That singer, has spoken of a bizarre conspiracy theory called "pizzagate" in several online videos.

Although the claims have been fully debunked, Williams appears to be convinced of them.

He is not alone in the obsession with conspiracy theory.

Madonna, boxer Amir Khan, Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton and Hollywood actor John Cusack have made a number of insane claims over the past few months, including the assumption that Covid-19 was caused by 5G telephone poles.

Social psychologists suggest that, instead of making the world seem even more frightening, conspiracy theories offer security and, paradoxically, comfort to "believers". They provide "explanation" and focus for our anger, fear, or fear.

They help us avoid the harsh reality that life is unpredictable and random – as this pandemic has shown us.

Listen to fight dementia

Lifestyle changes could prevent or delay four in ten cases of dementia, according to a large study – with hearing loss being the greatest risk.

Many people are surprised by the evidence of the strong link between deafness and dementia. In fact, doctors still don't really understand why there is such a clear link.

But given that we know the two are interrelated, and what burden dementia will continue to be on the NHS and social welfare, given our aging population, should we not be doing more?

At least I want to see a public awareness campaign and better access to NHS hearing tests.

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