Recovery Planning - preparing for the "new normal"

The new buzz-phrase in education is recovery planning with schools, government, charities and anyone else with an interested in education suggesting how to get back to some kind of normality when schools return in August or September, depending on where you are in the UK.

As with everything else there are many suggestions about what schools should and shouldn’t be focusing on with views and opinions ranging from cutting curricula drastically, scraping exams for next year, suspending league tables, teaching only key subjects to name but a few.

Depending on your point of view, some of these suggestions may have their merits, but as we at Chameleon always say, “teachers know their children and settings best and are in the perfect position to decide how to meet their needs”.

As professionals who have been working in education and public health for decades our own view when thinking about what recovery means would be to think about recovery in relation to any other trauma. If we think about physical trauma such as an injury or surgery the rehabilitation time is typically 6 weeks to many months. Starting to get over the loss of a loved one can take anything from a year to 3 years or more. Periods of difficulty with mental health vary greatly from just a few days to a life-long struggle.

One thing that the recovery period for any of these traumas never recommends is to give up all the things you enjoy. Just reflect for a moment on how children who love art, design and technology, PE or any other “non-core” area would feel if suddenly school was all about maths, English and science?

You may also find that there are some pupils that have been affected to a greater extent than others. Think about all the children ending their primary years with no celebration or the right of passage denied to the 15 and 17 year olds – no exams, no prom, no fanfare. The students that are a year away from “big” exams are also feeling shaky having missed so much teaching, so there’s lots to think about as you will be aware.

We believe, as you might expect, that a crucial part of a recovery plan is to acknowledge the trauma, disappointment and anxiety pupils have experienced and may still be experiencing. The next step is to have on-going, regular sessions to address and support their transition to what the new “normal” is. The government have acknowledged that supporting the mental health of young people is an important part of any school’s recovery plan. Our freely available “Life after lockdown” resources will provide you with material to support a few weeks of lessons. We have received well over 800 downloads to date of these resources showing there is real need out there. Thereafter our full teaching programme is available for 11-18 years with more details on the website.

A document produced by Professor Barry Carpenter that we’ve found very useful is click here