Schools across the UK have recently returned to business, some after a full year of closures. As children and staff return to school, the chance to reconnect with people is often positive. However, many pupils and teachers could need extra support during these challenging times.

Sir Peter Birkett is an ambassador for Arbor, which provides MIS software and support to schools of all sizes. He is currently working to bring the company together with Impact Education Software, which provides SEND management for education leaders. The PDF attachment looks at SEND education provision in the UK.

Arbor has also released a guide advising schools on how to create a culture of wellbeing to support mental health.

Supporting Children and Teachers

More than half of all UK teachers said they experienced a decline in their mental health during the first stage of the coronavirus pandemic. Of young people dealing with existing mental health issues, 80% claim these have been made worse over the past year. Some more statistics for mental health among children and young people in the UK are outlined in the embedded infographic.

With such high numbers experiencing a negative impact, it is essential that schools have the correct measures in place to offer the additional support that children and teachers require as they return to school and work.

Student Advice

Many students require a ‘safe space’ so they can express themselves and talk about how they are feeling. Integrating activities such as circle time in a tutor group, focused workshops on dealing with mental health, and regular one-to-one discussions can all help students to feel listened to and empower them to open up about how they are feeling. Students can also benefit from creative opportunities to express their emotions in other ways, such as through art or drama.

Teacher Advice

Dedicated mental health training for staff can help equip teachers to notice and assist students who may be struggling. The Mind charity offers advice on how to designate mental health champions – more about this can be seen in the short video attachment. 

Wellbeing workshops can help boost mood and provide a focus for forging connections. Showing gratitude for each other can also provide a boost; having a weekly ‘staff star’ award can help to ensure staff feel appreciated.