Only 14 and this Dalston teenager is already one of many Londoners working from home


TfL free useHow do secondary school students cope with  being banned from seeing their friends? ELIZA WESTON talks about her online life. And teachers


WHEN MY SCHOOL shut down a week before the end of term the teachers set us work on line. I got stuck in — grudgingly. 

They used Google Classroom, an app where we can have a sort of group chat with them. They would set us assignments, according to our school timetable, and we did them as efficiently as we could. 

Yes, like so many adults, we are working from home. 

Trouble was that many of our teachers misjudged the amount of work we normally do per lesson. For example, we could never finish all the maths we were given. On the other hand, the physics teacher gave us so little we became bored. 

How did it go for my friends? Aurélie’s school said it was not allowed to use video chats because the teachers “don’t want the kids to be staring at a screen for so long”. No different from homework, then. 

What about Zoom? My school decided “child protection issues” were a problem — my friends and I think that is stupid. Apart from anything else, don’t they just mean child protection is a problem — after all, clear English is essential to an education.

Westfield©DA11: © Westfield shopping centre, Stratford London E15, 240814
Teenage trauma? Westfield shopping centre at Stratford, a 20-minute cycle ride from Dalston, is a no-go for shopaholics

Next came Easter holidays and I was utterly bored, until my parents made me look after my two-year-old sister, whose nursery had closed. 

My days went from Netflix to looking after a very full-on toddler. Yet boredom still settled on me and I found myself looking for something  to do: some drawing kept me amused for a while. 

In my house, my family has managed to keep the peace — well, so far — but many others have not been quite as successful. Friend Molly and her siblings are fighting a lot during the lockdown: one sunny day what started as a simple trampoline game became a fight, ending with a scratched eye and hurt feelings.

LonFields©DA17Aut: autumn leaves in London Fields Hackney 151017 © david,altheer@gmail,com
Once barbecue smoke hung over London Fields as families relaxed last autumn — in this time of virus visits to the park must be brief

To keep busy I have started several projects such as renovating a rocking horse for my little sister and helping my dad to build cycles at his shop, About The Bike, a short walk away. Sadly, as I have learnt, I am prone to lose interest during an activity.

I have spent hours on my phone chatting to friends. One updates me on the world of politics; others like to discuss what we’re watching on TV.

A horrible thought is haunting us: perhaps we’d rather be at school. 

Published 230420

* Backstory: How my dad beat the virus; Staying sane in Stokey; Hackney faith community fearsHelping NE London to stay clean

* Online youth hub: set up by Hackney council for residents aged six to 19 — up to 25 for “young people with additional needs”. Incidentically, comments Loving Dalston’s editor, don’t do what the children are doing in the website’s pic: keep your distance.

* Some names in this article have been changed.

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