By Sophie James on 14 Jun 2021
Every child has the right to thrive, however we know that as a result of Covid-19, children and young people have missed opportunity’s, time and experiences within school and been exposed to other influences and events. We know the impact that lockdown and school closures have had on our children (if you would like to read more about this, see this link).
We know that many families and pupils have had to cope with new experiences that have impacted on them such as home educating, bereavements, anxiety, a decline in mental health and potential financial difficulties. Some pupils may also have been exposed to added stresses within the household such being victim to or witnessing abuse and/or domestic violence.
As restrictions are slowly beginning to lift and life is returning to a more “normal” reality, schools are now fully re-opened and running in a more “normal way”. However, as schools have re-opened we have seen a rise in children needing to access mental health services such as CAHMS. We have also seen pupils refusing to come into school, having to have reduced timetable and overall poor attendance due to anxiety and depression that has increased as a result of the pandemic.
Because of all this, now is the time to review your procedures and ensure that you have appropriate practices set for the summer break. Due to changes in routine over the last year and possible of lack consistency, for many it is likely that again, come September children will struggle to get back into the routine of turning up to school on time and regularly. This is because anxieties and stresses both for pupils and parents may resurface. Therefore, now is the time to start putting some plans and procedures in place and get ahead while you can.
You could begin by setting the expectations and standards for your school prior to the summer break, for example; most schools have been more lenient than usual when it comes to pupil attendance as a result of Covid-19, understandably. Schools should continue to do this, but also consider putting into your assemblies or getting across to pupils in someway the standards in which will be expected come September. In particular, there may be a tendency for some families to consider taking leave of absence during term time next year. Because of this, ensure that your message is clear regarding requesting leave and that statutory action could be taken.
Examples of how you can prepare and support you students:
- Set clear expectations for pupils returning in September, before breaking up for Summer.
- Identify pupils who may need some extra support, reassurance and encouragement before returning.
- Make frequent contact with parents via phone calls, letters or parent apps reminding them of return dates and offering support if necessary.
- Consider hosting virtual drop in session/meetings
- Put plans and targets in place for pupils you believe may struggle In September to ensure that their attendance is monitored and supported
- Make phone calls to your vulnerable pupils throughout the summer holidays
- Consider completing home visits over the holidays, especially towards the end, to prepare pupils for their return to school. Here you can address any barriers prior such as confusions about return date, lack of uniform and anxieties about returning
- Review and prepare your escalation of interventions for when pupils return
- Make sure all pupils know who they can talk to in school and be heard if they need to
- Provide information to families and pupils of where they can go to for help if they need to when school is not open.
In conclusion, we need to remember that everyone has been affected by the pandemic in different ways and to be understanding and empathic of this. As a school community we need to be able support everyone appropriately including pupils’, families and staff. And remember to ensure that your staff’s wellbeing is addressed, that they have the training and supervision support in order to take on the challenges in the new school year and are able to respond to pupils needs as well as their own.
Links and Resources for further information:
If you want to know how Education Welfare and Safeguarding team can work with you over the summer, during the holidays and transitioning back into school in September, visit our dedicated Right to thrive webpage.
Right to thrive page brochure?