RESET, RECOVER, REBUILD- a think piece for leaders in primary schools.
With the new school year on the horizon, schools are looking ahead and planning how best to start what will be a unique academic year for all pupils, given the fact that the majority will have missed much of the previous year in school, learning what had been planned, because of the C-19 Lockdown. There are many and varied needs to be met before things in schools return to anything near “normal”.
The need for safe environments:
Of course, there is an over riding need to ensure the safety of children and staff, and those best placed to plan and organise the changes required are those leading the schools who know the limitations of the accommodation and the nature of the community served. Schools will need to reset for safety. However, there is also a need to recognise that there has inevitably been a psychological impact of C-19 on all children and adults in the community, and that this will affect all children’s learning in school, wherever they spent their time between March and September 2020. Some will have “lost” more than others, so meeting a wide range of needs in September is imperative. An understanding of the need to take wellbeing into account when planning for the academic year 2020/21 is crucial, as it is on this that effective future learning will depend.
The need to address mental well-being:
Much more than learning time has been lost during lockdown, and any planned curriculum for the coming year will need to take account of this and recognise that profound change will be needed, both to daily practices, and indeed to the very nature of the provision, to enable the community to fully recover for well-being, and rebuild effective strategies for learning deeply and retaining that knowledge as well as to regain lost ground and catch up.
Barry Carpenter (Oxford Brookes University) identifies 5 levers of a RECOVERY PLAN that should shape the curriculum intent for a holistic return to a sense of a new “normal”:
- Relationships, (children need to rebuild relationships with teachers and peers);
- Community, (the experiences of each will be different, and transition back to formal education will be along different paths);
- Transparency, (many will be all too aware of the gaps in their learning and need to co -construct their own recovery);
- Metacognition (relearning how to learn formally will be a priority for most);
- Space to just BE, (TO EXPLORE and ENJOY as well as to catch up).
The Anna Freud Centre for Children and Families at Reading is a huge source of wellbeing support materials for schools at this time. The link below is for a particular Toolkit that has been designed to help schools plan an effective September INSET based upon wellbeing issues.
Within the toolkit, one excellent resource is designed around Barry Carpenter’s work to help frame leaders’ approaches to resetting routines and structures, recovering friendships and social interaction and rebuilding life and learning for whole communities post pandemic. I highly recommend it for its thinking and practical suggestions and for recognising the need to meet the needs of all pupils and staff, some pupils and staff and also for the few who will require a longer, deeper, period of recovery.
This document is invaluable across all aspects of the notion of a re-designed curriculum. The practical activities suggested to help recovery for well-being include ideas for assemblies, Classroom Charters for Learning, Circle Time based upon friendships and emotions, mindfulness , creative activities rooted in the arts, as well as promoting pupil talk as a self-help therapy.