Ways to share
Emotional wellbeing support for vulnerable pupils
This Academic year has been disrupted and our expectations have changed. The following information, and links include checklists, advice and guidance and resources to use with children and young people in all settings.
Subjects covered and resources provided include transition recovery for primary and secondary learning, getting ready to go back to school, a resource for ‘My Lockdown Experiences’ (symbols), as well as support for early years, children in care, those affected by Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), young carers, those at the risk of exclusion, and those with health needs.
Here are some key things to consider for your most vulnerable students:
- Having safeguarding risk assessments in place for vulnerable pupils
- Up to date health care plans that reflect any changes since the lockdown
- Ensuring there are named staff assigned to support individual pupils’ well-being
- Making wellbeing part of the curriculum
- Updating Pastoral Support Plans
- Conducting pupil/parent/carer surveys about their experiences at home
- Considering whether part-time and/or phased return timetables might make it easier for some
- Offering some specific activities for pupils such as:
- Transition, Recovery and Learning (Primary)Transition, Recovery and Learning (Secondary)
- Getting ready to go back to school
Supportive adult relationships will be an important part of reintegration for vulnerable pupils from all groups. Research has shown that the potential of schools to support traumatised children, or to prevent an escalation of need is huge, and that it is through the school community that we can wrap our children in the safe and consistent place that will nurture and begin to create normality again. There is an evidence that a recovery curriculum helps pupils to be supported whilst the recovery resource gives strategies and practical techniques to assist them.
Supporting the reintegration of Early Years Early child development sets the foundation for lifelong learning, behaviour, and health. The experiences children have in early childhood shape the brain and the child’s capacity to learn, to get along with others, and to respond to daily stresses and challenges. This has certainly been a challenging time for our pupils so there needs to be careful planning to ensure positive well-being.
A young carer becomes vulnerable when the level of care given and responsibility to the person in need of that care becomes excessive or inappropriate for that child, risking a detrimental impact on that young person’s emotional or physical well-being, educational achievement or life chances. This will most likely have been exacerbated by the lockdown.
Children in care
This includes those children and young people known to Specialist Children’s Services, currently or previously in care, or adopted. It is important to give some time to reflect on those pupils you have identified as having experienced complex trauma/Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and who may have underlying attachment difficulties. This group includes Children in Care (CIC) and Previously Looked After Children (PLAC) – but it is highly likely there will be other children in your vulnerable groups who this also could apply to.
Here are some key resources for your school to use to help you plan for these pupils returning to school:
Those at risk of exclusion
During these unprecedented times, many families and their children will be experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety. It is important, therefore, to have this ‘in mind’ when preparing for their return. As you know, behaviour is a form of communication and expression of feelings can be difficult for some children and young people. Checking in regularly and considering this, is essential.
Adverse Childhood Experiences and Trauma
This academic year has been disrupted and our expectation has changed. We have had to adapt to rapid changes brought about by changing information. The reassurance of the academic cycle has shifted. This shift has presented us all with periods of anxiety, terror, alarm and fear. As school staff, the shift has not only affected our work experience, but has manifested worries and concerns about our family and friends. Barry Carpenter has recently produced a framework called the ‘recovery curriculum’ which highlights the importance of ensuring the support and approach are appropriate at this time.
Should a child have experienced an actual trauma, then a period of time adjusting to this is normal and most young people process this and accommodate the experience in an adaptive way. We also know that naturally processing trauma is more effective than formal treatment.
However, if the young person is still experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms a month on, then it is appropriate to seek formal support via the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Service (CYPMHS).
This guidance below will help to enable school staff to evaluate current practice and ensure the readiness of the setting to receive pupils. It provides key questions, aspects to consider and links you may find useful.
This is of course when the right support and guidance is given to the child. Within education we have the opportunity to ensure all children become resilient and life-long learners.
Those with health needs
- Making sure Health Care Plans are updated and understood.
- Gaining the pupil voice is vital – exploring their possible concerns about returning to school.
- Ensuring detailed risk assessments are in place.
- Ensuring the school has the latest medical evidence based on the child’s health needs.
- Following Government guidance.
Five ways to help children heal when schools reopen
- Hold a formal act of remembrance as a community
- Place relationships front and centre and build social capital
- Identify and support children in most need of social buffering
- Reaffirm boundaries, rules and routines as safety measures
- Re-evaluate and reaffirm core values, recognising all.
Supporting People with Adverse Childhood Experiences (SPACE) Matters website is a collaborative project across Kent and Medway to prevent and reduce the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Trauma Informed principles are available for Kent schools.
Other resources supporting emotional wellbeing for return to schools
Looking after staff wellbeing
Reintegrating back to school life can be a challenge at any time but that demand is even higher during the current climate of uncertainty. Here is information, resources and services that should support you, your colleagues and your school families in this process.
Emotional wellbeing advice and guidance for schools
Including universal support and guidance around transition.
Children and young people's emotional wellbeing flowchart
Information if you are concerned about a child or young person's thoughts, feelings or behaviour.
Emotional wellbeing support for primary-aged children
Advice and guidance to support primary-aged children during Covid-19
Practical and emotional support following bereavement
Advice and guidance for schools and young people following a bereavement, including the death of a child
Emotional wellbeing support for young people
Reintegrating back to school life can be a challenge at any time but that demand is even higher during the current climate of uncertainty. Here are resources to support young people, and support conversations with young people.
Special educational needs and disability practical resources
Children and young people with SEND may experience a number of difficulties and challenges during this time. Here is useful advice and guidance to support young people with SEND.
Emotional wellbeing support for parents and carers
Useful advice and guidance to help schools support parents and carers.
Emotional wellbeing advice, guidance and support for highly anxious pupils
Resources and guidance to support highly anxious pupils both remotely and during the reintegration to school.
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