St Mary’s COVID-19 Curriculum Recovery Plan
Nobody quite knows how adversely affected our children have been by the absence of daily routine which schools provide. From the evidence available, we can assume some will have felt acutely the anguish caused by the lack of social interaction or feel loss from not being able to undertake the informal rituals of school life – the missed school journey or end of year production, we are talking about rites of passage for young people transitioning into the next phase of their lives.
It underlines that schools are so much more than places which provide education – they are about people. Our schools are communities; we embody values; we model relationships required for modern life to function: collaboration, getting on with others, friendship.
As we support all of our pupils as they return to school in September, our attention shifts as much towards helping children come back to us and each other as it necessitates considering the formal curriculum. Our recovery curriculum needs to balance how to learn best with what to learn.
Professor Barry Carpenter developed a model for a Recovery Curriculum, recognising that children and families have been dealing with a loss of routine, structure, friendship, opportunity and freedom. It is a way for us to welcome children back to school life and acknowledge the experiences they have had. Our aim at St Mary’s is for children to be happy, feel safe and to be engaged in their learning. As a systematic, relationships-based approach to reigniting the flame of learning in each child. Many children will return to school disengaged. School may seem irrelevant after a long period of isolation, living with a background of silent fear, always wondering if the day will come when the silence speaks and your life is changed forever. Our quest, our mission as educators, should be to journey with that child through a process of re-engagement, which leads them back to their rightful status as a fully engaged, authentic learner.
Professor Barry Carpenter’s “5 levers” model helps to lever children back into school life with support and time to heal.
Lever 1: Relationships – we can’t expect our students to return joyfully, and many of the relationships that were thriving, may need to be invested in and restored. We need to plan for this to happen, not assume that it will. Reach out to greet them, use the relationships we build to cushion the discomfort of returning.
Lever 2: Community – we must recognise that curriculum will have been based in the community for a long period of time. We need to listen to what has happened in this time, understand the needs of our community and engage them in the transitioning of learning back into school.
Lever 3: Transparent Curriculum – all of our students will feel like they have lost time in learning and we must show them how we are addressing these gaps, consulting and co-constructing with our students to heal this sense of loss.
Lever 4: Metacognition – in different environments, students will have been learning in different ways. It is vital that we make the skills for learning in a school environment explicit to our students to reskill and rebuild their confidence as learners.
Lever 5: Space – to be, to rediscover self, and to find their voice on learning in this issue. It is only natural that we all work at an incredible pace to make sure this group of learners are not disadvantaged against their peers, providing opportunity and exploration alongside the intensity of our expectations.