Covid 19 updates
This is the government coronavirus link to find out the latest guidance for education during Covid 19 and for the return to full-time school from March 8th. It includes operational guidance about testing, public health advice, risk assessments, the school workforce, remote education and pupil well-being and support.
For the 2020-21 school year, the National Tutoring Programme will make tuition available to state-maintained primary and secondary schools, providing additional support to help pupils who have missed out the most, as a result of school closures.
The NEU have updated their Coronavirus and Schools website with new guidance for parents and carers about schools reopening. The advice covers topics like keeping children safe at school, children with SEN, communication with schools, child health and wellbeing.
Robert Halfon, the chair of the Education Select Committee, warned there would be an “epidemic of educational poverty” without more assistance for those most at risk of falling behind. The Sutton Trust (April 2020) identified significant gaps in home learning – 44% of pupils in middle-class homes were reported to spend more than 4 hours per day learning, compared with 33% in socio-economically disadvantaged families. Meanwhile, we need to be optimistic and plan for children returning to school , being mindful of the impact of the pandemic on our children.
The Recovery Curriculum
Schools are thinking carefully about the kind of curriculum that needs to be in place as all children return to the classroom. Many schools have designed a “Recovery Curriculum” based on the needs of the emotional, physical and academic needs of the children. In April 2020, Professor Barry Carpenter published: A Recovery Curriculum: Loss and Life for our children and schools post pandemic. In this he recommends five sensible ‘levers’ that can help schools recover following a ‘systematic, relationships-based approach to reigniting the flame of learning in each child.’ An article from Cornerstones explains how this can be put into practice in primary schools. Coventry City Council have provided some suggestions to support effective communication in secondary schools as part of a recovery curriculum.
Starting your first teaching job can be daunting and starting it this year will be certainly challenging but incredibly rewarding. The University of Brighton is here to support you every step of the way – starting now. To help you prepare for the beginning of your career here are some resources and advice that we hope will help you.
PUPIL MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL-BEING
The Covid-19 crisis will have turned many childhoods upside down and for young people who were already struggling, life will seem even more of a challenge. According to “The Children’s Society”, currently one in eight children aged 5-19 have a diagnosable mental health condition. The present crisis has resulted in heightened feelings of anxiety and worry and could exacerbate low mood and other mental health conditions. At school, pupils’ mental health and well-being may lead to increased anxiety, behavioural problems or increased conflict at home. Schools are aware that some pupils will require additional emotional and pastoral support when they return to school, so making time for pastoral care is a priority.
Resources to support pupil mental health and well-being:
- The British Red Cross have created new resources to help with the return to school and the recovery. The aim is to help children and young people prepare for the return, cope with the changes, reflect on the crisis and build their resilience. The resources are for primary and secondary pupils and there are lessons on staying safe, preparing for the future and coping with change.
- Place2Be have provided a range of activities for teachers to boost pupils’ well-being, particularly if they are finding the changes unsettling.
- The Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families has provided advice and support for children and young people during this period of disruption who may already be vulnerable or suffering from mental health difficulties.
- Mentally Healthy Schools have created free toolkits full of useful resources and guidance for school staff, parents and carers to promote children’s mental health and well-being. You need to register for free to access the resources. They also produced a toolkit focused on ensuring that the return to classrooms last September was a mentally healthy one. The resources are in two sections: one section is full of resources for parents and carers, featuring activities and tips for how to prepare their child for re-starting school ; the other section is focused on resources for schools for use when planning for the new school year.
- Amaze (a charity for families with disabled children and young people in Sussex) has created a new section on its website giving advice and support during Covid 19.
DEALING WITH GRIEF AND LOSS
The impact of lockdown and social distancing rules on our experience of bereavement means that people may not be able to engage with normal coping mechanisms, such as exercising, seeing friends, or the structure of daily routines. Teachers may be working with children or young people who have been bereaved. It is important to get an understanding of the basics of what has happened, to establish what the child knows and to get a sense of how the child is doing. Teachers need to create a space for the child to talk if they need to, but also need to create a balance between letting them know that support is there and maintaining a sense of normality.
Resources and organisations that support grief and loss:
- Education Support have provided videos and resources to support you and your pupils who may be experiencing grief.
- At a Loss can provide a list of organisations available to you by your postcode and type of support you are seeking.
- The Loss Foundation specialises in bereavement through cancer and also Covid-19.
- Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide
- Winston’s Wish provides support for grieving children.
- Child Bereavement UK
- Cruse Bereavement offer a free helpline and give advice and training.
- This website suggests book for children of different ages about grief
TEACHER WELL-BEING AND MENTAL HEALTH
Teachers are responsible for creating environments that foster successful learning and teaching, but this can sap energy and increase stress. The pandemic has taken its toll however the past year has also proven that the profession is creative, empathetic and resilient.
It is important that throughout this time education professionals care for their mental health and well-being. Pressures and worries can build up to a point where they have a detrimental effect on well-being, which in turn impacts on teachers’ ability to do their job. In the current circumstances, it can be challenging to balance well-being with managing uncertainty and changing expectations.
Resources and organisations that support teacher well-being and mental health:
- Education support is the UK charity dedicated to supporting the mental health and well-being of education staff in schools, colleges and universities. They have produced mental health resources for teachers, lecturers and support staff dealing with the Covid-19 crisis
- These are top tips from Education Support to help teachers look after themselves during this time.
- Psychotherapist, Ben Amponsah outlines 7 key strategies to help teachers and education staff to manage anxiety during the coronavirus crisis in this short video. There is also a downloadable Coronavirus Anxiety Self-Help Survival Guide
Further reading on the impact of Covid 19 on children and schools:
- This BBC article discusses how the pandemic is a crisis for today’s children, from their academic success to their social skills and mental health.
- This TES article discusses the impact of lockdown on the mental health of Reception and Year 1 pupils.
- This is an article from The Hechinger Report which discusses the impact of social isolation on children.
SETTING UP SYSTEMS FOR THE RETURN TO SCHOOL
Here are some ideas, resources and links to support school communities in managing the transition back to school.
Routine, structure and communication
A return, as quickly as possible, to regular school and learning routines will be essential for all children. Using a familiar communication method, like a newsletter, email or short video to inform families of what will be the same and what will be different with regard to systems, procedures and organisation, may be a welcome way for parents and carers to prepare pupils for their return to class. Classroom environments will need to provide nurture and structure with rules focusing on safety.
This is how a primary school in Shropshire has reassured its parents/carers and pupils about what the school have put in place to keep pupils and staff safe. It includes key information, photos, video and FAQs.
Resources to support transition:
- 2020 Transition, recovery and learning for primary children from Czone East Sussex.
- 2020 Transition, recovery and learning for secondary children from Czone East Sussex.
- Transition to school guidance for Early Years settings 2020 from Czone East Sussex.
- There are new resources from the BBC to aid transition from primary to secondary. These video clips and resources offer practical advice and emotional support to help take the stress out of the move to secondary school, and shine a light on the positive aspects of starting afresh somewhere new. There are also resources and video clips for children starting primary school to support and reassure children, teachers and parents/carers.
- The Education Endowment Foundation shares four practical, evidence-based strategies to support pupils moving from Year 6 to Year 7.
- TES have gathered together a collection of teacher-created transition workbooks, activities and presentation resources to support the transition from primary to secondary. The TES have also provided a selection of transition activities, booklets and lesson resources to support transitions within primary schools.
- Mentally Healthy Schools have created a toolkit designed to support Inset days for schools to work through, focused on well-being. It is split into four sections: Auditing your school; Planning for potential separation anxiety; Supporting staff well- being and Improving the school environment. They have also included some suggested resources to use in the first weeks of term.
Transition resources for SEND:
- Downloadable resources to support SEND children for returning to school from Reachout ASC.
- Zen Educate gives areas to think about along with some practical tips and resources on supporting SEND children to transition back to school.
PLANNING FOR INCLUSION
It is difficult to estimate the impact school closures has had. One thing is certain – the impact on learning will not be comparable for all children. It will also not be equivalent for every element of the curriculum. In a recent research review, Stewart et al (2018) reported that the summer learning loss is greatest in subjects that require factual and procedural knowledge such as maths and spelling, compared with reading. They also note that the summer learning loss appears to be greatest for children from disadvantaged backgrounds, children with learning difficulties and children for whom English is an additional language.
The unprecedented level of responsibility that students of all ages have had to embrace, is worth both celebrating and harnessing. Listening to positive feedback and allowing pupils to reflect on their experiences about home learning can be used to instil confidence in pupils’ ability to take ownership of their own learning. However many students with no, or limited access to the internet, and/or students with additional learning needs, may have made limited progress. Academic, physical and emotional levels will have widened and the need to differentiate learning will be greater now than before. Engagement and motivation will be crucial. Teachers will need to find creative ways to retain breadth in the curriculum, despite the need to focus on core subjects and concepts.
Resources to support planning in light of Covid 19:
Oak National Academy has provided online lessons in all subjects from reception to Year 10. It includes support for children with specific needs, activity clubs and weekly collective worship sessions.
This is the government link to online resources for teachers and parents/carers to get advice with remote learning.
The NCETM have a range of materials and guidance to support primary and secondary schools following the full opening this spring. There are also support materials to help teachers use the DfE National Curriculum guidance for teaching maths in primary schools, published in July 2020.
White Rose maths continues to produce daily ‘home learning’ lessons for Years 1-9. Every lesson comes with a short video showing clearly and simply how to help a child complete an activity successfully.
The National Literacy Trust is an independent charity working with schools and communities to give disadvantaged children the literacy skills to succeed in life. They have a range of resources, guidance and videos for students of all ages and teachers to engage children while learning at home.
Timstar have produced information about how to implement social distancing practices in science lessons effectively and efficiently to ensuring maximum safety for both students and teachers. They have also provided some practical ideas for secondary science lessons outdoors
There are assemblies provided by Oak National Academy for children of all ages, including one led by the Duchess of Cambridge speaking about the importance of mental well-being among children.
The Red Cross provides free teaching resources to help enrich curriculum subjects and connect human crisis with human kindness.
Stonewall, who work to provide LGBT equality, have produced home learning packs. There is a primary, secondary and SEND version of each pack, complete with suggested activities and supporting materials to support children’s learning.
With the need to increase social distancing, the case for outdoor learning has never seemed so relevant.
This is a link to the new University of Brighton Professional Learning Pack called Curriculum Based Outdoor Learning on school grounds in Primary and Secondary schools. It considers how you might optimise the use of the school grounds to deliver curriculum based lessons and so support the need for increased teaching space and social distancing.
Learning through Landscapes provides free outdoor learning ideas and outdoor lesson plans.
Muddy Academy has given free access to a database of over 150 outdoor learning lesson plans.
Creative Star provides practical ideas, training and resources for learning outdoors
Physical Education is a subject which supports children’s physical development whilst also contributing to their social, mental and emotional enhancement. Now is a pertinent time to celebrate the unique value of the subject.
In this article, Alan Dunstan a PE teacher, discusses how PE teachers can play a vital role in society post Covid-19.
The Association for PE has produced a FAQ document to support the teaching of PE in schools in light of Covid 19.
Leap, together with the network of School Games Organisers (SGOs), have collated a list of resources to help keep primary children active and meet the learning objectives from the PE curriculum during the pandemic.
The FA have produced a FA Learning YouTube channel, giving access to coaching webinars to support teaching and learning in PE.
The government has developed an action plan which outlines a range of new measures to strengthen the role of sport within a young person’s daily routine and explains how teachers and parents can play their part. It promotes a joined-up approach to physical activity and mental well-being, starting in September 2020.
For many children art can be an important tool to process what is happening around them. As psychologist Jocelyn Brewer said, “They’re mapping visual representations of the world without having to use the complex process of recognising and naming emotions.” The art making process allows students to tap into the mental health benefits gained from creativity and self-expression.
Sarah Crowther – The Arty Teacher – has developed a range of art resources. Her aim is to free-up staff from time-consuming lesson preparation to let them focus instead on delivering exciting, motivating, dynamic lessons, supported by excellent resources.
Access Art have free-to-access projects to those at home during the Covid 19 outbreak. They can provide a focus for creative exploration and respite time.