Homeschooling: What effect is it having on children's mental health?

For thousands of children and young people across the North West the classroom has been replaced with a screen of digital faces staring back over the kitchen table.

Back in March last year, the optimistic view was that education would be disrupted for just a handful of weeks, however, almost a year on, and now into our third lockdown, children and young people are once again having to learn from home.

Some still don't have the equipment they need; laptops shared between siblings or parents; not enough desks or quiet places to work; and printers, textbooks, paper are often in short supply.

Uncertainty over exams and the lack of social contact for so long is also having a huge effect on mental health.

ITV News has spoken to one college in Wigan to get just a snapshot of how covid is affecting education for students and teachers there. 

Children returned to homeschooling after the Christmas holidays in England. Credit: ITV News

Caitlin Taylor is 17-years-old and in year 13 at St John Rigby College, studying History, Law and French.

William Powell is in the year below studying History, Politics and Law. They're both now learning from home via online classes sent by their teachers.  

Caitlin said: "I've found this lockdown a lot better than the others actually.  I think that's mainly because we have more resources now."

William added that he thought there was more of "a plan in place" this time and that in the last lockdown he didn't have interaction with his teachers.

The head of performing arts at the college, David Wall, said that it had been challenging few months for his staff.

David Wall's set up for homeschooling. Credit: ITV News

"We're having to retrain in new software, new equipment, new ways of working and that's really challenging," he said.

"There's so much more planning involved because you've got to have everything ready to show on screen and then because we can't just walk around and monitor the students with the work they're doing or ask them as many questions, therefore the marking has actually increased because we're having to collect more work in."

The Government still hasn't confirmed exactly what is going to happen with this year's exams.

And after last year's chaos, students tell us that that uncertainty is causing a lot of anxiety.

Caitlin said: "We need to know what's happening because its February and whether or not we have these mini-assessments there needs to be some strategy in place. 

"I know there's a lot of people in my class who've been very anxious and worried given the situation last year so there's definitely that element of anger because we haven't had the notice."

In a week where child mental health is being highlighted, the big question is, just how is all this affecting young people emotionally? 

Caitlin said: "I know a lot of my friends who are very positive and motivated, they have struggled. Everyone is feeling the same, everyone is in the same boat, we're all struggling."

Mr Wall said: "I don't know how some people are managing with children at home doing their home learning whilst they're trying to teach. 

"That is playing a big part in mental health and when you care so much and want so many good things for the students it really plays on you and I think we are starting to work more and more hours."

For support and guidance on how to help your child look after their mental health click here.