Whilst we continue to provide a challenging curriculum to develop positive and resilient learners, we must acknowledge and adjust our teaching and learning to enable our pupils to return to the routine and structure of school life.
We recognise that pupils will have had differing experiences during COVID times and all will have suffered some kind of loss.
This could be loss of everyday routine, loss of socialisation, loss of opportunity or loss of freedom and choice. Some children may be dealing with the loss of a loved one or changes in circumstances. All these experiences can cause anxiety and impact upon a pupil’s mental well being.
At New York Primary School we have always placed pupil well-being at the centre of all we do. We understand that anxiety prevents effective learning so we need to take a recovery approach that will strengthen pupil mental health and promote learning and progress to ensure that our pupils are happy, healthy, confident and successful. We want our pupils to embrace new learning and have a sense of worth.
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.
- Lever 1: Relationships – we can’t expect our students 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 students 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 students to heal this sense of loss.
- Lever 4: Metacognition – in different environments, students 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 re skill 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.
Professor Barry Carpenter, CBE is Professor of Mental Health in Education at Oxford Brookes University.
Below is a link to his podcast on the Recovery Curriculum.