How can schools manage student wellbeing once schools return?
20th May 2020
Many students have been struggling with their mental health and student wellbeing as feelings of worry, uncertainty and anxiety emerge and remain during lockdown throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to recognise that while ‘getting back to normal’ is important and will be reassuring for many, school staff will need to consider those that may not find this transition so easy. What can you do to support these students?
Which students should teachers look out for?
Being able to identify more vulnerable students is key. Teachers will need to take into consideration how the following students can be supported:
- Individual children who have found the long period at home hard to manage
- Those who have developed anxieties related to the virus
- Those about whom have existing safeguarding concerns
- Those who may make safeguarding disclosures once they are back in schools
- Some children may also have experienced bereavements in their immediate family or wider circle of friends or family or had increased/new caring responsibilities
How can teachers support student wellbeing?
All students will have missed the routine of school, seeing their friends, and being supported by their teachers and other adults in the school. This can have a huge impact on student wellbeing.
Teachers may wish to provide:
- opportunities for children to talk about their experiences of the past few weeks
- opportunities for one-to-one conversations with trusted adults where this may be supportive
- some refocussed lessons on relevant topics, for example, student wellbeing or staying safe
- pastoral activity, such as positive opportunities to renew and develop friendships and peer groups
- other enriching developmental activities
The different experiences all students will have had at home will naturally play a large part in how easily they re-adapt to attending school and its routines. Teachers will need to strike an appropriate balance between reintegrating pupils into a reassuring and familiar work ethic to support their mental wellbeing on the one hand and identifying and taking time to address explicitly individual concerns or problems on the other.
If safeguarding issues come to light, they should be addressed using the school’s safeguarding policy, which may need to be updated in light of wider opening. Headteachers should consider how they might manage any increase in referrals as students return to school.
How can Impero help?
We have recently launched Impero Back:drop, our free digital safeguarding tool, designed to simplify the recording and management of student wellbeing. It enables teachers and safeguarding staff to access a history for each student, including pastoral, child protection, behavioural concerns, or mental health needs, as well as first aid incidents, medical requirements and a log of medicine administration. The system highlights patterns and connects external agencies for a single comprehensive view that enables early interventions and can flag warning signs of serious concerns including suspected home abuse or suicide risk.
Impero has created options within the software to support reporting specifically related to the current outbreak of COVID-19. This update will allow schools to see at a glance whether a student has suspected symptoms, and to track the health of the student body as a whole.
You can sign up for free here: https://uk.backdrop.cloud/signup/new