Mental health the focus for Yaxley primary when children return to school

Mental health will be the focus at a primary school in Yaxley when all children return to school next week.

Friday, 5th March 2021, 7:39 am

Monday sees youngsters who have been remote learning during lockdown return to classrooms across England, including at Fourfields Community Primary School where staff will be making sure the pupils feel secure when they come back.

Those returning will join around 100 children of key workers who have been going into school every day over the past two months.

Headteacher Sue Blyth said: “Parents have been doing an amazing job at home. I’m not sure how parents manage full-time day jobs and look after children.

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Fourfields headteacher Sue Blyth EMN-191127-150204009

“I’ve been doing a lot of Facebook Lives and they’ve been asking me questions. We’ve done a lot of that as well as sending out information.

“We’ve also been sending activities alongside home learning and I’ve done an assembly to tell children at home what to expect when they return and to say ‘don’t worry, we’ve got this in place’.

“And children of critical workers, it’s easy to think they’ve been the lucky ones and have been getting the teachers’ attention, but they’re worried what it’s going to be like when everybody is back. They’re thinking ‘will my friends still want to be my friends?’ It’s about managing that and finding out how they feel about it.

“Staff have been ringing children at home and parents have been good at raising concerns and had discussions on Zoom. Conversations have been more around mental health than the academic side.

“I said to the parents we’re not talking catch up. Who are they behind? All over the country children have been at home. I feel saying they’re behind is negative.

“We’re going to celebrate having them back and the next three weeks up to Easter will be making sure they feel secure, how to socialise again and how to sit at a desk again.

“They’ve been doing activities, then going outside, then going back to home-schooling. Parents won’t have been as full on as they’re working, so we don’t know if they have the stamina to do maths for an hour.

“I’m mindful we will have to do learning in shorter chunks, have them outside and organise sporting activities and PE. We will really find out what the impact has been on them as people, rather than the academic side.

“If they’re not happy they won’t learn.”

Ms Blyth said the school will be ready to welcome all children back having had to go through the same process in September, with social distancing and cleaning arrangements well established.

And there is a great deal of relief to have some sense of normality returning after a difficult period for teachers who have had to combine remote and face-to-face learning.

She added: “The combination of the two for teachers has been all consuming, more so than having 30 children in class.

“We are really lucky as no parents are saying they’re worried or not sending their children back. I think parents are relieved. This has been worse than the first lockdown as it’s been in winter. Expectations of remote learning from the Government also ramped up which has made it harder for parents and children.

“Parents have been brilliant and seem to be really confident in them returning and we are relieved, excited and want to get cracking with it on Monday.”