“I really hope things will get back to normal as fast as possible so that my A levels won't be affected and I can go to university in the normal way.”

Gabriel, 16, is in his first year of A-levels at SFH6 – the joint sixth form of Forest Hill and Sydenham Schools. He’s also a passionate break dancer, but found he lacked motivation and had to push himself hard when the first lockdown began.


“Not sitting my GCSEs, having studied so long for them, was a real anti-climax.

When the exams got cancelled I wasn't really worried, it was just a strange feeling as the sense of anticipation disappeared. I actually wanted to take the exams because I like challenging myself and I had worked hard revising for them. My school at the time (Forest Hill School) did everything they could to support me in the circumstances, and my final results in August were pretty much what I expected.


“As a break dancer, I have had to make a huge adjustment in how I practise. This has been one of the biggest challenges for me. Before the pandemic I would usually practise with lots of other people, including my friends and my teacher. When the first lockdown happened in March I found it hard to progress and enjoy what I was doing without their guidance and encouragement. I’ve felt frustrated by not having proper contact with my dance teacher. Initially I found it hard to motivate myself, but as time has passed I have learnt how to push myself more and got into a bit of a new routine.


“Despite it being a challenge, my dancing really helped me with my worries about school during the pandemic. It gave me something to focus on and helped to distract me. Once I was able to motivate myself, I felt I could improve in my dancing. I started to enjoy it more than I ever have before. It’s been a huge pressure release for me, and has helped keep me strong physically and mentally.


“I wonder how my school will continue to be affected by the pandemic. This term we have already had to spend two weeks at home because of a COVID outbreak and I am worried that this will happen again. I think it has been really hard for the school and especially my teachers because they are coming into contact with hundreds of kids a day, so are at high risk.


“It feels like there needs to be more support for schools, such as providing more laptops for students in need. Also, the idea of basing exam scores on an algorithm involving past exam results instead of the students themselves felt to me very mistrustful of the schools and teachers.


“I really hope things will get back to normal as fast as possible so that my A levels won't be affected and I can go to university in the normal way. I don't want to pay £9k a year to sit at home on Zoom.


“I am really lucky as my parents have been able to continue working, so we haven't been hit financially and they have been able to continue supporting me, but I know this isn’t the situation for a lot of young people, which is really awful.”


Gabriel spoke to us in December 2020.