What is the difference between schools in Orkney and schools in England?
Schools in Orkney are quite different to ones down south as you would expect especially during these confusing times but how different actually are they?
Well firstly, there’s the size. In schools in England you can expect to see about three different buildings/blocks with classes in and the number of pupils can range. In some you get around 800 but in others you can get thousands: it just depends on if it’s grammar school or not. But in Orkney they are much smaller schools.
And then there’s the Uniform…
In Orkney there aren’t uniforms: you get to wear what you like. But schools in England aren’t like that: you must wear a uniform in primary school and secondary school and that sometimes includes blazers, ties, socks, and there’s a uniform for PE too. Brooke*, from Stromness, said “It’s nice not wearing a uniform. You feel comfy.”
Phones were a big issue down south too as people would go on them in class and so some schools have banned them. Louise, a school pupil in England, said “It’s a bit annoying because if you’re bored at break or lunch there’s nothing you can do except walk around with your friends”. Jamie said “if I want to get hold of my parents to ask something like can a friend come round I can’t, because phones are banned” However, Samantha Jane said “It’s got an up-side I guess: you talk to people more and socialize more and you actually catch up with friends”.
Being allowed into town is quite different as well. In England you aren’t allowed to go down the street and all the gates are locked so you can’t get out. If you do leave the grounds, then PSP (isolation) would be in order for a couple of days.
In Orkney you can go to nearby shops, which makes things freer and means you’re not limited to do certain things.
During these COVID times things make it even harder because in England schools are back full time. Jamie said, “I don’t really feel safe being back at school full time because although we are testing every morning, what if it gives a false positive or negative”? Whereas Jemima said “I like being back. I didn’t like being at home. I couldn’t see friends and if I didn’t understand the work I had to email a teacher and wait”!
The thing Orkney schools and English schools have in common at the moment are masks. Pupils have to wear masks all day, in classes and on public transport. Social distancing is difficult too as Maddy said “You just forget and stand next to someone, then jump apart when you realise, and that’s a pain”.
Sanitising is a bit different as well. In Orkney there are dispensers on the walls as you go outside and come in but in England you should be bringing your own and sanitising when you know you should be. Jasmine said “It makes my hands sticky, and some sanitisers don’t smell the best”
Classrooms formats have changed as well: in Orkney schools there is tape on the desks where you can’t sit so you stay 2m apart from everyone else. Ella’s opinion on this is “It’s horrible, you don’t feel like you can talk, and you have to stay silent plus one slight movement and it makes the loudest noise.” Robert’s opinion is “I like it. Teachers can’t tell if you’re laughing or not because they can only see your eyes”.
In general, as you would expect, the rules are different on phones, uniform and school grounds. But rules are in place for a reason…
So, the difference between Orkney Schools and England’s schools in these weird times and in the normal times are quite different but they are different in their own way and that good.
*names are changed for anonymity