Back to School – Back to Normal

If you have school-aged children, then you may have found that the last few months have been – to put it mildly – challenging. A recent YouGov poll [www. yougov.co.uk] found that a third of UK parents haven’t coped very well. They’ve struggled with home schooling, citing discipline, motivation and finding adequate time as the main issues they faced. Others said that they couldn’t access the resources they needed, including things like laptops and help from schools.

The Summer holidays are usually a time for families to leave the school gates firmly behind them and take a nice long break. But no doubt for many parents this year has been a different story. For some children the drastic changes to routine, the isolation from their friends and teachers, and the move to online lessons, being taught or supervised by one or more parent, and even having exams cancelled, risks causing long-term damage to their educational progress. Some parents may have felt pressured into continuing learning through the holidays to give their children a chance to catch up. And not everyone can afford private tuition, which puts the better-off pupils at a distinct advantage. The Institute of Fiscal Studies warns that any further prolonged school closures “are almost certain to increase educational inequalities.” [www.ifs.org.uk]

The impact on children’s mental health also cannot be ignored. School is one of the key focal points in children’s lives, giving them stability, meaning, selfworth, esteem, and a purpose. When children are not with their classmates and friends they are not learning how to interact, and much of this learning is done in the playground. In June the government advisory group Sage warned that both children and teachers will need a lot of psychological support once things return to normal because their lives will have been so badly disrupted by school closures.

The current plan* is for all schools in England to fully re-open at the start of the Autumn term in September 2020 and for all children to return full time. This includes those with special educational needs and disabilities, and those who have been shielding.

The only exceptions are if they or someone close to them has Covid-19 or is displaying the symptoms. Should a school have a suspected coronavirus outbreak, teachers will liaise with local health teams with the aim of keeping as much of the school open as possible. And should it be necessary to close completely then they are expected to have a homeworking plan ready to go.

It will remain to be seen just how well both educators and families deal with the new version of daily school life come September. Many teachers will have spent their Summers working on their back-to-school strategies which this year will look and feel very different from previous years with a plethora of additional measures needed to make sure children, parents and staff feel safe.

Whatever the new school term looks like for you and your family, we wish you all well.

[*Advice correct as at 6/8/2020 – please check www. gov.uk for the latest updates]

Author: Helen Say cblservices.co.uk

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