At Roe Farm, we acknowledge that pupils will all have had different experiences as a result of the global pandemic and the resultant lockdown. A common thread running through all is the loss of the clear routine, structure, friendship, opportunity and freedom that all students need. For many pupils, they will not have been in school for over 5 months and their educational and social experiences will have varied greatly in that time. Therefore, we understand that returning to school post-lockdown will be a daunting time for our students and their families.
Professor Brian Carpenter has developed the conceptual thinking behind the term Recovery Curriculum. This is based on a holistic approach built around routines and a raised awareness of mental health needs and not a complete rewrite of the curriculum. It considers the 5 levers of recovery which are:
Lever 1 – Relationships
We can’t expect our students to return joyfully, and many of the relationships that were thriving, may need to be invested in and restored. We need to plan for this to happen, not assume that it will. Reach out to greet them, use the relationships we build to cushion the discomfort of returning.
Lever 2 – Community
We must recognise that the curriculum will have been based in the community for a long period of time. We need to listen to what has happened in this time, understand the needs of our community and engage them in the transitioning of learning back into school.
Lever 3 – Transparent Curriculum
All of our students will feel like they have lost time in learning and we must show them how we are addressing these gaps, consulting and co-constructing with our students to heal this sense of loss.
Lever 4 – Metacognition
In different environments, students will have been learning in different ways. It is vital that we make the skills for learning in a school environment explicit to our students to reskill and rebuild their confidence as learners.
Lever 5 – Space
To be, to rediscover self, and to find their voice on learning in this issue. It is only natural that we all work at an incredible pace to make sure this group of learners are not disadvantaged against their peers, providing opportunity and exploration alongside the intensity of our expectations.
Many children will return to school disengaged; school may seem irrelevant after a long period of isolation, possibly living with a background of silent fear. Our mission as educators, should be to journey with that child through a process of re-engagement, which leads them back to their rightful status as a fully engaged, authentic learner and reignite the flame of learning in each child.
Teaching and Learning Approaches
In order to engage pupils with learning and re-engage their love of reading, the first week back for pupils will be focussed around a class author. The whole curriculum will centre on a quality text which will be used to inspire and motivate pupils as they settle back into their routines. This low-stakes approach will allow pupils to ease back into learning without the pressures and pace that comes with a more traditional approach.
Time will also be invested in ‘recovery conversations’. There was something so momentous about the lockdown and the ongoing pandemic that it can’t be ignored. Everyone has a story to tell and many pupils (and staff) will want to share theirs. There can be a tendency to focus on the negative, but it is important to remember that no experience is ever black and white. Deliberately scaffolded conversations will be used to identify and acknowledge both negatives and positives.
Starting in the Autumn Term we will also be launching the Jigsaw approach to PSHE with all year groups receiving weekly sessions. This will cover many topics in an age appropriate manner and spark conversations that pupils might otherwise not have the confidence or vocabulary to ordinarily express. It will help pupils to understand that the feelings they are having as a result of the ongoing situation are normal and that talking about them is the first step to dealing with them.
Testing will play an important part in determining where each pupil is at in their learning and show gaps in knowledge and understanding that will need addressing prior to building on earlier foundations. A standardised test (Oxford National Curriculum Tests) will be conducted in the second week to provide a baseline for future assessments.
Once learning hits full throttle, we must ensure learners achieve their full potential. Part of this includes how to improve recall of facts and retention of learning; a skill that will have diminished greatly through lack of practice
in lockdown. The illustration opposite highlights just some of these and staff will be working on Rosenshine principles to avoid cognitive overload.
By investing time at the start of pupils’ return – through storytelling, speaking and being heard, and wrapping things up as a collective – we acknowledge what has happened, good and bad, and can draw out the most positive aspect of all: that it is good to be back together and
“Together We Make a Difference”