Schools in Wales are focusing their Covid-19 recovery efforts on providing additional human resources to support the most vulnerable pupils as they seek to get back on track after interruptions in their education due to the pandemic.
In the summer, the Welsh government announced that as part of its accelerated learning programme, Recruit, Recover, Raise standards, schools would receive £29 million to spend on helping pupils to adjust to the disruption of partial school closures in the spring and summer. Local authorities are informing schools how much funding they will receive and headteachers can decide for themselves what this is used for – as long as it is spent on human resources, rather than equipment.
The Welsh government has said this will result in the equivalent of 600 extra teachers and 300 teaching assistants being recruited throughout the next school year, targeting extra support at Years 11, 12 and 13, as well as disadvantaged and vulnerable learners of all ages. This includes the poorest children and families, learners with special educational needs, learners from BAME communities, learners in Welsh medium schools who live in non-Welsh speaking households and those in Year 7, because of the disruption to the transition from primary to secondary schools.
Guidance notes make it clear that the funding can be used to provide support to enable pupils to be emotionally ready to progress in their learning again, saying: “…the most disengaged learners will need coaching and emotional support as well as support for examination preparation and skills.”
Headteachers are also urged to follow the learning guidance from the Welsh government about returning to classroom-based learning this term. This says: “Learners who are not content, safe and secure will not learn effectively. Practitioners should continue to focus on supporting well-being as a foundation for learning.”
This is why the Thrive Approach® focuses on promoting wellbeing and helping to prevent mental health issues – because we believe that once a child is secure in their relationships and able to process and articulate their emotional needs, they can then learn and make progress with attainment outcomes.
Sharon Gray, a Thrive® trainer and independent consultant with Wholehearted Learning, wrote the Thrive Reconnecting after Lockdown webinar and has been heavily involved in helping schools to develop a recovery curriculum to support children as they return to classroom-based learning. Sharon, a former headteacher who was named Teacher of the Year at the Pride of Britain Awards in 2013, believes that schools now have an opportunity to help pupils of all ages to reconnect and rebuild emotional resilience with a strong focus on relationships.
In a guest blog for the Thrive Approach website Sharon wrote: “Without a doubt, resilience is a skill which all our children need to develop, and by coming together as a community through this pandemic, and by providing the right relational support, we can help our children to develop resilience.”