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Helping Students Succeed Within Their New Normal

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Helping Students succeed within their new normal

When schools closed back in March, it was almost impossible to believe that it would be a six-month wait to see all pupils returning to their classrooms.

And now, as teenagers across the country head towards the end of their first term back at school following the COVID-19 pandemic, much has been made of the need to give children the support required, whether that’s academically, emotionally, socially or in their physical health and wellbeing and how schools can access the £650m catch up funding to best support their learners.

Ofsted has started their interim visits with inspectors speaking with school leaders about learners returning to full-time education, how pupils have picked up the curriculum, remote learning and using catch-up funding, as well as how pupils with specific issues like SEND are being helped. 

Recent research by the Nuffield Foundation and the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) estimated in September that children were on average, three months behind in their curriculum learning.

The survey also found that almost half of pupils need “intensive catch-up support”, with those from the most deprived schools and institutions with the highest proportion of pupils from BAME backgrounds “in greatest need”. 

In addition to focusing on academic activities to help pupils, the report highlighted that supporting pupils’ emotional, mental health and well-being was going to be vital during the Autumn term. 

The findings coincide with the release of the Education Policy Institute’s annual report, which found that for the first time in a decade, the disadvantage gap has stopped closing, with the gap now reporting to be 18.1 months of learning behind their peers by the time they finish their GCSEs.

There is no doubt that this year has seen unprecedented challenges for schools, parents, carers and pupils, with many going above and beyond to ensure that children and young people across the UK are given the best support possible.

But now, as we face another term – and possibly school year – of uncertainty, as teachers, children and even whole year groups are required to isolate, what can we do to not only ensure a consistent and high-quality education for our young people but provide the much-needed support they need for their personal wellbeing?

World learning company, Pearson has shared some advice that may help:

Embrace blended learning

Online and digital became a core element of lockdown learning. 

A recent article in TES reported that initial teacher training providers have started to embed remote, online learning into their programmes whilst Pearson’s recent Global Learner Survey, which collated the views of 7000 learners worldwide, highlighted perceptions that COVID-19 was a turning point for modern learning. 

The findings revealed that 87% of UK learners called for educational institutions to maximise learning through technology with 63% of those in the UK going so far as to say that more primary and secondary students will attend school virtually (online) than attending a traditional school within 10 years (up from 56% in 2019). 

Whatever the future may bring, merging the two approaches moving forward can bring with it great results.

Each school will embrace blended learning in different ways, however using technology that aids developing knowledge and understanding, such as the Pearson Revise free app, together with face-to-face class time to open up more student engagement using supporting materials, has proved very successful for many.

Support your pupils’ mental health and wellbeing

A recent survey by Pearson revealed that parents think it’s important that schools focus not only on children’s academic progress (96%) at school, but on their aspiration (95%) and mental health and emotional wellbeing (95%) too. 

The Mental Health Foundation has referenced the range of challenges schools will face as children and young people return to the classroom.

They may have experienced loss and bereavement during lockdown or witnessed ill-health amongst relatives, whilst for many, friendships and social relationships will have been impacted by long periods away from their peers.

High levels of anxiety resulting from the level of uncertainty and unpredictable changes around COVID-19 in general, will also need to be carefully managed. 

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There is however a huge amount of advice on how you can best support your pupils. 

Clinical Psychologist, Dr Helen Care, shared advice for teachers on returning to school with Pearson as part of a series of articles in their dedicated Mental Health and Wellbeing Zone.

Communication is central to much of this, with a need for school leaders to recognise that staff groups, students and parents will need to feel listened to and heard in order to feel confident in the school’s leadership. 

And it’s not just about students, it’s vital to recognise and support staff in a school too.

Pearson, along with many other organisations provide a host of information and advice on how best to support the mental health and wellbeing of all school staff as well.

A range of resources, from Pearson and other organisations are available to support the health and wellbeing of students and teachers in their new Wellbeing everyone in schools, students and teachers alike.

Use resources that promote independent learning

Resources like revision guides, workbooks and test papers are ideal to support school-home sharing and aid accelerated learning.

Pearson’s latest Catch-up 2020 Revision packs are a good example of this.

Not only do they include workbooks and guides but a diagnostic knowledge check-test to help students quickly identify the topics and skills they need to cover, pointing them in the direction of the materials they’ve missed.

Dedicated planners included in each pack allows pupils to plan their learning both independently and with teacher guidance.

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Paul Stevens-Fulbrookhttp://teacherofsci.com
Paul Stevens-Fulbrook (TeacherOfSci) is a Science teacher, writer and education blogger based in Brighton, England. He started teacherofsci.com to help support teachers everywhere with the everyday struggles that they are all faced with, both in the classroom and at home.
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