education support

Practitioner Insights: Back to school after the coronavirus lockdown – Tips for schools and educators

Practitioner Insights: Back to school after the coronavirus lockdown – Tips for schools and educators

As schools reopen their doors in the coming weeks, the transition will of course be challenging for everyone involved. Drawing on the experience of our Education lead practitioner Gail McNelly, this post focuses on how we can begin to identify and respond to these heightened challenges, namely safeguarding, child protection and wellbeing concerns in order to support everyone at school.  

  1. Recognise the challenges facing pupils and their families

While generally experiences have been varied during the lockdown period, we’ve seen how families living in precarious situations, facing financial hardship, and going through other challenges including mental health and wellbeing have borne the brunt of the lockdown. Some of these families have felt particularly isolated and fearful, while others have experienced loss and bereavement. Together with reviewing policies and procedures as things continue to change, it is vital that school staff are aware of the different challenges that families have faced in order to identify how best to safeguard and protect wellbeing at school. You could begin by engaging and regularly checking in with pupils and their families to find out about their concerns.

  1. Introduce creative check-ins and wellbeing activities

In our recent Motivate to Educate (M2E) survey, 75% of parents indicated that Covid-19 has impacted on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of the familyincluding 50% indicating an impact on family communication. Thus, in addition to these wellbeing activity ideas for schools by Place2Be and Young Minds, Gail suggests that checking in with pupils through an “emotions meter” and “emoji game” could be very helpful for pupils and school staff alike – this is something that Kineara will be developing further. Talking to children about any concerns they may have, what they liked about lockdown, what they didn’t like about lockdown is important – and integrating this into a group activity could be even more effective. “Teachers could check-in with pupils by integrating it with the register,” suggests Gail.

  1. Connect with pupils in a way that resonates with them

Some pupils may be reluctant to share things or even follow guidelines during this time which can impact further on their safety and learning and those around them. If you are supporting a pupil 1:1, show that you are here for them. As you get to know your pupil, try to engage in a way that resonates with them. Don’t ignore the elephant in the room – ask them how they are feeling about the pandemic and acknowledge this without minimising or dismissing their concerns. Try to have open conversations by doing different activities like reading or drawing together – this will help to break the ice and allow them to express themselves better.

  1. Adapting to digital teaching and learning

“Although different organisations including Kineara were running online check-ins and other virtual services, it hasn’t been easy. We were giving them tips and sending ideas for different family activities which some of them were doing. However, a lot of  parents were even scared to go out for a walk because of the virus so I did do some work around that,” explains Gail. One parent and survey respondent who took part in our M2E programme highlighted social distancing as a barrier, “We can’t do many activities outside like swimming, going to church, clubs and cinema due to social distancing.” This means that it may take some time for pupils to be back in school every day, particularly pupils with SEND, which could result in a combination of in-school and virtual teaching – the NSPCC has put together this helpful guide relating to this including how to undertake remote teaching safely.  In the coming months, this reality could also mean a wider review on adapting teaching and other services in the mid to long-term.

Are you a school or service that has adapted the way you deliver? Do you have any suggestions, feedback or advice you would like to share? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch today.

Helpful links and resources

NSPCC has put together this transitioning back to school resources pack

Young Minds has a range of resources for schools, teachers and support practitioners including tips to support pupils during Covid-19 and the transition back to school

EEF has launched a range of resources to support schools to address the impact of Covid-19 school closures on pupils’ learning and support home learning.

My Tutor has shared this interview with NHS Psychologist on what parents can do to prepare their kids to return to school 

Support, guidance and activity suggestions for schools by Mentally Healthy Schools

5 ways to help keep children learning during the COVID-19 pandemic by Unicef

Posted by kineara in Education
GPS, snack bars and fully charged phone: A practitioner’s survival guide

GPS, snack bars and fully charged phone: A practitioner’s survival guide

In the busy, complex and varied world of family support, our practitioners have to be prepared for anything. Here is our ultimate guide for surviving a day in the life of a Kineara practitioner.

 

Properly functioning GPS, and plenty of data

Ever had that sinking feeling when you’re on your way to an appointment and your map app has taken you in the wrong direction? Sandra was recently driving to a meeting and found herself green fields around farm yard animals, until she realized her data had failed her miles before and her GPS had gone haywire.

Snack bars

I was lucky enough to overhear an important conversation in our office yesterday about which snack bar really is the best go-to when you’re feeling hungry, you’re on the move, and in-between appointments. There was no consensus on brand, but a definite agreement that snack bar in your pocket is an indispensable part of a practitioner toolkit.

 

Charger bank

Equally important is a charger bank to make sure you never suddenly run out of battery while on the move. Being constantly on the go from appointment to appointment, how did support workers even manage before the mobile phone came along?

 

Umbrella and comfortable shoes

Of course, this is a given. Anyone who has trudged the streets of London in the winter knows an umbrella is a must, and comfortable shoes will always be top choice over our new stylish favourites – running to catch that bus or standing in line at the housing office with our clients calls for comfort all the way.

 

Coffee shop loyalty card

For Liz, that on-the-go coffee from her favourite place keeps her going through the day, and why not make sure you get that 10th coffee for free?

 

Your favourite podcast or playlist

And finally…to help you wind down after a heavy day, our practitioners recommend keeping your favourite podcast ready or a playlist with your best loved songs to accompany you home. Self-care is just as important as the care we offer our families, and this is a tip to help you switch off from the pressures of the day and enjoy your evening…before the new day rolls around.

Are you a support worker or practitioner that can relate to our guide? What tips would you share for getting through a busy day? Let us know!

 

Our team is growing! We currently have an open vacancy for a housing support practitioner. If you would like to join our team to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives, get in touch with us.

Find out more about our impact.

Read more about the work of our practitioners, including how to support pupils through the stress of exams.

Posted by kineara in Community, Education, Housing