Welcoming the children
Derbyshire-based Embark Federation has put together the Reconnection to Recovery and Resilience programme to settle children back into school. The federation’s headteachers worked with Sharon Gray OBE to help their pupils thrive when they return, bearing in mind they may have been affected by bereavement and stress. Anna Upton, head of the 240-pupil Chaucer School in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, sent out questionnaires to parents to share their concerns. “Parents have ideas for the return to school too – one came up with a video tour of what the classrooms will look like when they return so the children know what they are returning to and understand that it will be different from before,” she says. Each of the federation’s schools has a bespoke risk assessment. “It can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Matthew Crawford, Chief Executive Officer/Executive Headteacher and Trust Leader of Embark’s nine schools. “One of our schools is 300 years old with narrow corridors and small classrooms while others are large spaces and social distancing will be easier.” Sharon Gray believes investing in the pupils’ mental health is invaluable. “If we don’t get it right for some of our more vulnerable children at this stage, we are going to have huge catch-up and the impact for those children will be things like exclusion,” she says.