Grove Road Primary School has put the children’s well-being at the centre of our thinking in both preparing and delivering our Recovery Curriculum. Whilst feedback from parents regarding home learning has generally been positive, and at Grove Road we were fortunate to have all children return to school in June 2020; we recognised and acknowledged that the children will have had different experiences during this time. However, the common thread running through all is the loss of routine, structure, friendship, opportunity and freedom. These losses can trigger anxiety in any child. We know that an anxious child is not in a place to learn effectively. With this in mind, the school community has thought about the most effective way to support the child’s ability to learn. This approach will encompass and support the academic expectations for the children. We have embedded this approach since the first Lockdown return in June 2020 and quickly reverted back to and addressed the key losses on the return in April 2021 after the third Lockdown.
Our approach is based upon the research of Professor Barry Carpenter, who has developed the Recovery Curriculum, as a response to the losses described above. It is a way for schools to help children come back into school life, acknowledging the experiences the children have had. We want the children to be happy, feel safe and be able to engage in their learning. A way to achieve this was to acknowledge the importance of helping lever the children back into school life using the following Five Levers:
Lever 1: Relationships - we can’t expect all 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. We 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.
(A Recovery Curriculum: Loss and Life for our children and schools post pandemic. Barry Carpenter, CBE, Professor of Mental Health in Education, Oxford Brookes University. Matthew Carpenter, Principal, Baxter College, Kidderminster, Worcestershire)