At Buckingham Primary School, we pride ourselves on placing the well-being of our children at the centre of all we do and we acknowledge how difficult the past 12 months have been for our children, parents/carers and our staff.
We were so pleased to welcome all of our children back to school in September and were extremely proud of how well the children settled back into new routines. As the children entered the school grounds during the first days back, it was clear from their enthusiasm and smiling faces that they were as keen as we all were to return to full school opening.
Below, is how we responded to the initial lockdown in the spring of 2020 and we are currently working on how we will respond to the second full lockdown in the winter of 2021.
To support our vulnerable learners, our pastoral team liaised with parents over the summer break and school visits were arranged in late August and were on hand to support children on their return.
However, no matter how excited the majority of children were to return, we recognise that the children’s experiences over the past 12 months will differ hugely, possibly impacting on their mental well-being and academic progress.
Professor Barry Carpenter’s ‘Recovery Curriculum’ considers the loss that children (and adults) have experienced during the initial lockdown, that of routine, structure, friendship, opportunity and freedom. Such sense of loss can subsequently impact on children’s well-being, resulting in anxiety, trauma or bereavement, signs that parents may have witnessed within their own child.
We want our children to feel safe and secure in school, and support their journey back towards their usual happy and confident learning routines. With this in mind, the children’s return to school will be underpinned by Professor Barry Carpenter’s ‘Recovery Curriculum’ which suggests 5 Levers to acknowledge the loss experienced by children:
Lever 1: Relationships – we can’t expect our pupils to return joyfully, and many of the relationships that were thriving, may need to be invested in and restored. We need to plan for this to happen, not assume that it will. Reach out to greet them, use the relationships we build to cushion the discomfort of returning.
Lever 2: Community – we must recognise that curriculum will have been based in the community for a long period of time. We need to listen to what has happened in this time, understand the needs of our community and engage them in the transitioning of learning back into school.
Lever 3: Transparent Curriculum – all of our pupils will feel like they have lost time in learning and we must show them how we are addressing these gaps, consulting and co-constructing with our pupils to heal this sense of loss.
Lever 4: Metacognition – in different environments, pupils will have been learning in different ways. It is vital that we make the skills for learning in a school environment explicit to our students to reskill and rebuild their confidence as learners.
Lever 5: Space – to be, to rediscover self, and to find their voice on learning in this issue. It is only natural that we all work at an incredible pace to make sure this group of learners are not disadvantaged against their peers, providing opportunity and exploration alongside the intensity of our expectations.
We have responded to these levers in a variety of ways, such as:
- We provided an opportunity for all children to meet their new teachers in the summer term, including those not attending school. Parent meetings took place for children transitioning into F2, allowing parents to share key information about their child and start to establish the trusting parent teacher relationship we value so much.
- Staff training during Inset (Sept 2020) supported teachers in identifying signs of anxiety and strategies to support children. In response to potential increased levels of anxiety, we have adapted our safeguarding CPOMs reporting system to enable teachers to report concerns related to mental well-being. This will enable the school’s pastoral and safeguarding leads to support staff in responding to need, prioritise intervention and support parents.
- Zones of Regulation are used across the school to help children recognise and manage their levels of anxiety and well-being. These help pupils identify and understand their feelings and gain skills in consciously regulating their actions, which in turn leads to increased control and problem solving abilities and readiness to learn.
- We place a strong emphasis on identity and belonging and children will have the opportunity to form and re-establish relationships through class discussions, team building activities and PSHE.
- Our team have reviewed areas of the curriculum that were not taught in school over the Spring and Summer term and sequenced teaching over the Autumn term to address gaps in skills and knowledge. English and Maths assessment midway through the term will support teachers in planning the curriculum to ensure gaps are addressed. We neither assume that all children will have gaps or will have covered the curriculum through remote learning and we will continue to challenge our children to maximise their progress, based on assessment outcomes.