The government have stated that it is of the upmost importance that from September, children return to school, full time. As parents ourselves, we understand that for some of our children, and indeed us, that can be easier said than done.
Some children have been shielding with families for months now. Some have adjusted to their new routine, and may have found it more tolerable than the usual school routine! Some have been coping (or not), with mental health issues, family difficulties, even death. It is wrong to suggest that all children will be skipping back to school, full time, very soon. We know some of our children are going to need so much more support to enable this to happen. Thankfully, we know that our schools and indeed, the Local Authority, understand this too.
Ultimately, we all know it is essential to get education up and running again, and get our children learning again. But it will be very different to how it was before, and is going to be a learning curve for everyone. Below, we answer some of your questions and hope that they help you feel a little more informed about the September return.
The key message is- its all unknown, and everyone will be doing their best. We all need to work together, to make this as successful as it can be for our children. We will support you to work with school and others if any issues arise. And as always, if you need us at all, you know where to find us.
The guidance says that whatever support a child was getting before, should be reinstated when they go back to school. Adults/ staff don't have to be as strict with distancing when it comes to children, but should take precautions, and should try not to be face to face for prolonged periods, and keep distance where possible.
Schools have been open for some children through lockdown, including special schools. They have found ways to manage it really well and still keep people safe. The medical advice currently is that children are less likely to get very poorly, if at all, and so the social distancing concerns for them are much lesser than for adults. Children who are very young will of course, not know how to socially distance, and so adults can support with other means of keeping safe, such as modelling good practice with hand washing and catching sneezes/ coughs. Older children who are able to understand social distancing will be encouraged to do so. Those with SEN will be supported to use social distancing measures as appropriate for them, but, schools will be employing bubble type grouping, and so limiting their exposure to higher numbers of other people.
The ability to fine parents for not sending children to school has been activated again, so, in essence, yes. You could risk a fine if things get that serious. However, this should be a very last resort. Schools know there are going to be some children who struggle to get back in, and they should work with you and your child, alongside other professionals who can help, to get your child accessing education again. You should be afforded the time to do this work, and should be supported to do this.
Obviously, children have lots of learning to catch up on. However, the Department for Education are very keen that this should go hand in hand with a dedicated emotional health and wellbeing curriculum too. We have spoken to lots of schools in particular, who have already developed a fantastic wellbeing offer for their returning students, offering nurture interventions, mindfulness, counselling, key worker support etc. Staff have been offered training and they have the support of the local authority and health teams. Here at IAS, we have also developed a wellbeing offer for schools who choose to subscribe. Check out what we have been doing and find out more here.
There is profound acknowledgement that when children do go back to school, they will all be at different stages in their educational journeys. Some will have done lots and lots of home learning, some only a but, and some (like ours!), not very much at all. The government advises that when children are back in, and settled, teachers assess their pupils to see where they are up to, where the gaps are, and plan for the children to ensure that this learning is revisited and forms part of the childrens curriculum. We know that children with SEND could be at an even bigger disadvantage. Their planning, whether this be at SEN support, or EHC plan level, should always involve you as parents and carers, so you can have your input and raise your concerns at this stage too.
What about cleaning uniform? transport? dinners? Check out our previous bulletin that contains all this information here