On the return to school in September 2020, we have put children’s well-being at the centre of our thinking. We acknowledge that the children will have had different experiences during this time. However, the common thread running through all is the loss of routine, structure, friendship, opportunity and freedom. These losses can trigger anxiety in any child. We know that an anxious child is not in a place to learn effectively.
Professor Barry Carpenter has developed the Recovery Curriculum, as a response to the losses described above. It is a way for schools to help children come back into school life, acknowledging the experiences the children have had. We want children to be happy, feel safe and able to be engaged in their learning. We have decided that a way to achieve this for the children is to acknowledge the importance of helping them lever back into school life using the following 5 Levers.
We can’t expect our children 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.
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.
All of our children 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 children to heal this sense of loss.
In different environments, children will have been learning in different ways. It is vital that we make the skills for learning in a school environment explicit to our children to reskill and rebuild their confidence as learners.
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.
(Professor Barry Carpenter, CBE is Professor of Mental Health in Education at Oxford Brookes University. https://www.evidenceforlearning.net/recoverycurriculum/#mentalhealth )