Schools prioritise pupil wellbeing over learning catch-up

Ninety per cent of primary pupils have returned to school in Norfolk.

Ninety per cent of primary pupils have returned to school in Norfolk. - Credit: PA

The return of all pupils to classrooms after months of home schooling has seen Norfolk schools prioritise pupil wellbeing over a drive to catch-up lost learning.

All primary school children have been back this week, but most secondary schools are phasing a return to allow time for Covid tests.

While primary schools have seen 90pc attendance, concerns have been raised about pupil mental health and wellbeing after so long out of the classroom.

Dereham Neatherd High assistant head Nick O’Brien.

Dereham Neatherd High assistant head Nick O’Brien. - Credit: Archant

Nick O'Brien, mental health champion in Norfolk schools and assistant head (student welfare) at Dereham Neatherd High School, said the focus for many schools was on re-establishing school routines.

“Young people thrive on routine and that is what makes schools work. So I think it is important that schools focus on that until Easter,” he told Radio Norfolk. “That is what is going to help young people get back to feeling normal again as much as possible.”

Schools are balancing reintegrating students back into classes with the need to address learning lost in lockdown.

Schools are balancing reintegrating students back into classes with the need to address learning lost in lockdown. - Credit: PA

Mr O'Brien, who joked that his headteacher had banned the phrase ‘catch-up’, said schools were balancing making up for lost time in core subjects with student’s wellbeing.

Rebecca Dewing, headteacher at Lodge Lane Infant and Garrick Green Infant schools in Norwich, said: “We have had a big focus on children’s emotional wellbeing in my schools, and all our schools in the Wensum Trust. 

Lodge Lane and Garrick Green Infant School head, Rebecca Dewing. 

Lodge Lane and Garrick Green Infant School head, Rebecca Dewing. - Credit: Denise Bradley


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“We feel that these three weeks that children are back before the Easter holiday is the perfect opportunity to give children the chance to reconnect with each other, with the school and the staff.”

She added: “We know there are going to be gaps to plug in children’s learning, but we also know that unless they are feeling emotionally happy, safe and secure, very little learning will be able to take place.” 

Many schools are prioritise pupil wellbeing and reestablishing routines as pupils return.

Many schools are prioritise pupil wellbeing and reestablishing routines as pupils return. - Credit: PA

The Norfolk Safeguarding Children Partnership has developed a range of back to school materials, under the banner It’s Ok to Not Be OK, It’s OK to be OK, focus on some of the issues young people might feel worried returning to school.

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Director of learning and inclusion at Norfolk County Council, Chris Snudden said the return to school was a “great opportunity to spend the three weeks before the Easter holidays getting back into the swing of school ready for a flying start to the summer term”.

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