Helping Children With Medical And Mental Health Conditions Get The Best Out Of School

Children and young people's views about returning to school as lockdown is lifted.

survey

Phoenix Education Consultancy wrote a blog post for us on the findings of their survey exploring children and young people's views on returning to school as lockdown is lifted.
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Thinking about a right return to school – for all our children

In March 2020, Gavin Williamson made the announcement that schools were going to be closed for the majority of students in the UK. For many children and young people this came as a significant change in their daily lives and routines.

For others, who were medically unwell prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, it made little difference to their everyday lives. Soon, the a national effort of teachers meant that there were a range of online learning resources including worksheets, videos, quizzes and other accessible learning materials in a range of subject areas. The creation of the online virtual school, Oaks Academy and the BBC’s bitesize showed us what could be done if there was a vested interest in supporting children accessing school when they were unable to attend.

For those working in medical settings, whether that be hospital schools, pupil referral units (PRU), alternative provision (AP) or home tuition, it reiterated the idea that these children are routinely marginalised from school life despite their being potential solutions available.

Shortly after the initial announcement in March, there were rumblings about a potential return to school for more children. In an effort to understand these children’s needs Sarah Dove from Phoenix Education Consultancy administered a survey exploring some of their worries and what they felt were the solutions. Over 2063 children and young people responded to the survey, some attending mainstream school, others pupil referral units, alternative provisions, hospital schools and some not attending school prior to the pandemic. 135 children told us about their medical conditions with the majority being anxiety disorders that prevented access to school; this was followed by Autistic Spectrum Disorder and then asthma.

Some key findings of the survey include:

· The biggest worry of all children, irrespective of medical need was Covid-19 and potential implications on themselves, families and their teachers.

· Children were worried about pressures from teachers to complete school work which they may not understand and have not covered the content

· Children were worried about how they manage the transition

· A number of young people felt that not being able to be close to their friends (play or hug) would be difficult with one child describing it as weird

· Children in PRUs/AP are likely to be need additional strategies to explain why they may be worried about other children coming near them. This will need reiteration and delivered in a way that takes into account their expressive and receptive language skills

· Children with pre-existing medical conditions express concerns relating to a return to school more frequently.

· Children in year 6 are likely to need additional support and planning for transitions into secondary school

The findings of the survey can be found here.

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