70% of children found not seeing friends the hardest part of lockdown

7 in 10 young people think the most difficult part of lockdown is having less contact with friends, reveals new research by the University of Cologne.

The study, conducted by Professor Clemens Kroneberg and his research team, found that school pupils suffer from limited face-to-face contact with their friends.

The researchers surveyed just under 600 children aged around 14 or 15 from schools in Germany with a 20-minute questionnaire about their everyday school life and leisure activities.

In addition, about half of the students received eight mini-questionnaires on their daily mood and activities sent to their smartphones over a period of four weeks during lockdown.

The student surveyed perceived the restrictions in leisure as significantly worse than independent learning in home schooling or everyday family life during school closures.

“During days on which they left home or had face-to-face contact with friends, young people were more likely to report being happy and excited and less likely to be sad, depressed, lonely, and bored.

“In contrast, online contact only – the most common interaction in the second lockdown – did not improve their mood. According to our results, parents can hope for better tempered children when they attend daily face-to-face classes,” says Professor Kroneberg.

Furthermore, the study revealed that on average, girls found the restrictions more stressful than boys and were more likely to report being sad, depressed, lonely, or worried.

For this reason, the researchers believe that online learning should not replace face-to-face learning as the limited contact with friends will have a detrimental effect on their mental health.

“School holidays feel no different to lockdown”

Young people worried about loneliness this summer, finds mental health charity, Mind


The start of the summer holiday could feel like another lockdown for many young people with mental health problems, says leading mental health charity, Mind. As schools break up for the summer holidays, there are increasing concerns over loneliness in young people, particularly those with mental health problems.


Mind’s latest report into the ongoing impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people with mental health problems across England and Wales has recently revealed that, among young people with mental health problems:

  • Nine in ten (88 per cent) told us loneliness made their mental health worse
  • Almost one in two (48 per cent) have not felt close to people recently
  • Two thirds (65%) of adults and more than two thirds (68%) of young people with mental health problems say their mental health has got worse since the first national lockdown. Nearly half (46%) of those adults and over half (51%) of those young people said that their mental health has got much worse since the beginning of the first national lockdown in March 2020


Louise Clarkson, Strategic Lead for Young People at Mind, said:


“Many of us often associate loneliness with older people, but we’ve also seen how it’s hit young people’s mental health hard too. Our report revealed that young people, who have struggled with their mental health through the pandemic, are more likely to be using coping strategies, like self-harm, than adults. Many young people have also told us how much they dread the summer holidays as they miss the social interaction with teachers and friends.


“At Mind, we’re determined to get young people the support they need, and most recently, we’ve called on the UK Government to invest in initiatives – such as #fundthehubs – which would provide young people somewhere to go when they first start to struggle with their mental health. We also urge anyone who is struggling with their mental health to seek support from their GP or speak to loved ones.”


Elsa is 19 and lives in Redbridge, East London. She began to experience depression and anxiety from around the age of 14, but didn’t feel supported at school. She said:


“The lack of resources available to my school meant the support wasn’t there. This was a huge factor in my mental health continuing to deteriorate until it became so bad and I needed help so desperately that we went through private counselling. I felt constantly misunderstood and didn’t get the support I needed. I am now really passionate about seeing a change in the way young people’s mental health is approached in schools.


“All staff need more resources and training to be better equipped to support students and create safe environments for everyone. I think this would make a huge difference to preventing mental health problems occurring and deteriorating. No young person should be left to reach a crisis point before people start listening or making the effort to understand. Better support within the education system would make a huge difference by catching problems earlier and giving the space for young people to feel listened to and empowered, something I rarely felt at school. Better support at school would have changed my whole mental health story as a teenager.”


Lily is 22, and lives in Southend, Essex. She studied at the University of Cambridge and has recently qualified as a teacher. She said:


“I think mental health support within schools is so important, especially given the impact the pandemic has had on young people. Pupils have faced both disruption to schooling, and the mental health effects of lockdowns and reduced social interaction, or even damaged relationships. I’m saddened but not shocked that Mind’s research found so many schoolchildren are worried about feeling lonely over the summer holidays. Our summer holidays, which would previously have been a period spent seeing friends and relaxing after the stresses and demands of term-time are over, could actually be a source of anxiety for many. It’s likely many teachers will be feeling that way too. Making sure well-funded services are available to young people is vital, and this should happen all year round, even – or especially – when schools are closed.”


Around 44 per cent of young people with mental health problems said they rarely or don’t ever feel optimistic, about the future, with one young person in the report saying “I really badly miss school. I hate the school holidays because they feel no different than lockdown to me. During the school holidays, I cry nearly every day and doing things like brushing my hair feels difficult. I just feel so lonely and crave any social interaction possible with my teachers and my friends.”


The charity is also concerned about how young people who struggle with their mental health were more likely to be using coping strategies, like self-harm, over or under-eating. Mind’s report also found that young people were coping by sleeping too much or too little (77 per cent of young people compared to 61 per of adults) and spending too much time on social media (73 per cent of young people compared to 49 per cent of adults).


Mind has produced information and support for young people to help them cope with mental health problems during the summer holidays and as restrictions ease. Here are some of their top tips:


  1. Keep talking and connecting with people – speak to loved ones or health professionals about how you are feeling. The more you open up, the more you realise you are not alone.
  2. Do things at your own pace – it’s OK to say ‘no’ to socialising if you need to and prioritise your own health and mental wellbeing.
  3. Try not to compare yourself to others – do what makes you happy. Happiness looks and feels different to everyone, so don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.
  4. Limit your exposure to news and negative discussions – put your phone down and go outside – it’s a cliché but it works wonders.
  5. Write things down – journal and write down any positive thoughts.



  • With many workers going the extra mile to keep us safe during the latest lockdown, GAMA Healthcare launches search to find the nation’s Cleaning Heroes –
  • £12,000 prize fund –


With the third lockdown upon us, a leading British business is supporting those on the frontline who are helping suppress the spread of the virus through cleaning.  GAMA Healthcare, Britain’s leading supplier of disinfectant wipes and infection prevention training to the NHS, has launched the Cleaning Heroes award to recognise and reward workers who have taken on cleaning responsibilities. While many of us stay at home, many thousands of workers are playing a vital role in limiting the transmission of COVID-19 by maintaining high hygiene standards. 


This year teachers and school staff have gone the extra mile to keep us safe, working overtime to ensure our kids can get back to school and taking on new roles to keep their classrooms clean.


With 64% of people more concerned about cleaning practices than before the pandemic, learning organisations are relying on staff to take on cleaning duties more than ever as we face this next wave of lockdown. Many employees have had to learn new skills in infection prevention cleaning, and with data suggesting the new strain of the virus is 70% more transmissible, keeping cleaning standards high is essential to keep us safe.


The search by GAMA Healthcare will look for the best workers who have taken on cleaning responsibilities to keep us safe over the past year, from sectors including travel and transport, delivery drivers, schools, community healthcare, supermarkets and hospitality. Those people who are helping to provide and maintain clean, sanitised and safe environments for the rest of the country.


People who are benefiting from this huge effort to keep the country clean, are being encouraged to enter someone they know who is working to help suppress the virus through cleaning. A winner will be decided by an expert in infection prevention at GAMA Healthcare and chosen from each region across the UK, with a prize of £1,000 per person. Running from the 11th – 31st January 2021, entries should be submitted via the GAMA website (, with entrants given the opportunity to say why the nominee should be chosen as a winner.


Dr Guy Braverman Managing Director & Co-Founder of GAMA Healthcare says: 


“The world has changed and COVID-19 has made us all more aware of how easily viruses can spread and the importance of infection prevention through effective cleaning techniques. We’re calling for businesses, business groups, professional associations and individuals to get in touch and nominate someone who has gone above and beyond to ensure standards of cleanliness are in place to keep the services we rely on operational. Improving surface hygiene is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of infection and protect employees and customers. We’ve got a wealth of products, training and awareness building skills – honed through years of supporting the NHS and we are proud to recognise the workers who have become Cleaning Heroes in the fight against COVID-19.”


Huge numbers turn to the BBC as Lockdown Learning begins

Children, parents and teachers turned to the BBC in their droves yesterday for the launch of Lockdown Learning.

On TV, Lockdown Learning on CBBC saw the slot average (0900-1200) increase by an incredible 436% (age 4+) while BBC Two saw an increase of 29% (1300-1500). Both channels were compared to their slot averages of each Monday over the last 52 weeks.

Yesterday, Bitesize Daily episodes on BBC iPlayer were requested 275k times, 12% more requests than on launch day in April 2020, whilst Bitesize online attracted an amazing 1.6m unique visitors.

Patricia Hidalgo, Director of BBC Children’s and Education, says: “These extraordinary numbers prove that people continue to turn to the BBC in times of need. We’re thrilled to be supporting so many families and teachers across the UK with our curriculum based and edutainment content on-air and online.”

Lockdown Learning sees the BBC’s biggest ever educational offering now reaching more kids across more platforms. On CBBC, viewers can watch Bitesize Daily Primary from 9am-10am, followed by edutainment shows including, Horrible Histories, Art Ninja, Our School, Operation Ouch and Celebrity Supply Teacher up to midday.

Over on BBC Two, the channel is supporting Secondary school curriculums with episodes of Bitesize Daily Secondary complemented by Shakespeare and classic drama adaptations alongside science, history and factual titles from the BBC’s award-winning factual programming units. This week students can enjoy Professor Brian Cox’s: The Planets.

This TV offer sits alongside a wealth of online content which parents, children and teachers can access when and where they need.
Please click here for more information on Lockdown Learning.

Curriculum relevant, and native language educational content for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is available on BBC Bitesize, with educational programming also available every morning at 10am on BBC Scotland.

Schools lockdown: statement from Cambridge Primary Education Trust

Statement from the Lesley Birch, CEO/Executive Principal at Cambridge Primary Education Trust, on the national lockdown and provision at their schools.


“We are once again faced with the desperately sad news that we are having to close our schools to the majority of Cambridge Primary Education Trust (CPET) pupils as the country is placed in a national lockdown. All our schools are closed today (5th January 2021), but will re-open tomorrow (6th January 2021) for some children as detailed in the Government guidelines.  


For those children unable to attend school due to new restrictions, we will be offering remote learning from tomorrow. As part of the offer, we will be using Microsoft Teams. Parents have received information about how to access this and each child has been given their log-in details. We will provide further communication regarding home learning and other procedures via each school. 


For those in school, the protection of pupils, colleagues and their families remains our single most important priority. Throughout this pandemic we have regularly updated our Trust-wide risk assessment that is personalised for each school and shared this with Trustees and School Advisory Boards. Clearly procedures for children or adults who show Covid-19 symptoms will continue to be strict, as are quarantine guidelines. 


We have prepared for this scenario. Having had to deliver remote learning during the last year, we have reviewed and reflected on what works and will continue to do so to enable us to offer a high standard of learning tasks to all our children. Clearly we have had to implement this plan at very short notice, and our staff have been working hard to do so since the formal announcement was made last night. I would like to thank them for once again stepping up and doing what they always do – putting the children first. 


I would also like to thank parents and carers for their continued support and understanding in these difficult times.”