A E-ACT Insight by Emma Martin 23 February 2021

Following on from the Prime Minister’s announcement that all schools will re-open on 8 March 2021, our Educational Psychologist Emma Martin, shares below what E-ACT academies will do to help pupils ease back in.

We feel it is incredibly important for young people to be back in schools and in front of their teachers, where we can give them the support they need.

We work with many vulnerable children and families and know they have faced significant challenges during lockdown. Whilst some children have flourished with the opportunities of home learning, many families have struggled with the immense task of juggling home learning alongside other family pressures.

Schools have an important association with children and young people’s mental health. For many children, school provides an important routine and rhythm to the week. Children and young people have been missing friends and their teachers during lockdown and these connections are a key part of wellbeing.

The wider re-opening of schools gives us an opportunity to help children and young people make sense of their recent experiences. We will support our children’s mental health by helping them to normalise their feelings through daily check-ins, circle time and promoting all aspects of the curriculum, not just maths and English.

We will also help our children to focus on re-establishing and re-building relationships, which will help foster a sense of belonging and can have a positive impact on attainment. The wider reopening of schools will provide important opportunities for play and socialisation for all ages, as well as engagement in formal lessons – learning, in all its shapes and forms is important for wellbeing.

Throughout lockdown we have continually considered ways to support pupils’ mental wellbeing.

For our most vulnerable children attending school we have used emotion coaching and relational approaches to behaviour through our Relationships and Recovery Curriculum. For children at home, staff have worked tirelessly to maintain connections through live teaching and regular welfare calls.

When all our children return, it is really important that we place emphasis on socialisation and allowing time for the re-establishment of routines and relationships. Most importantly, we need to listen to children and young people about their experiences to help them settle back into school life and re-focus again on achieving their aspirations.