COVID-19 Well-being support for pupils

COVID-19 Well-being support for pupils and families (including Bereavement Support)

Providing additional emotional and pastoral support for pupils when they return to school

The government have just released new guidance called Pastoral care in the curriculum as some pupils will require additional emotional and pastoral support when they return to school, so making time for pastoral care is a priority.

A new post, “How a tailored programme can help schools reopen” has just been published on the teaching blog.  Embark Federation led a Reconnection to Recovery and Resilience programme which focused on the social, emotional and mental health needs of children and staff.

Coram Life Education has launched a free teaching toolkit to support children’s health and wellbeing when they return to school. The toolkit is designed to build children’s resilience, self-esteem and kindness and includes practical resources in line with new government guidance, such as lesson ideas for smaller class sizes and to use outdoors.

Access the toolkit: Back to school with SCARF

Talking to children about coronavirus

The Children’s Commissioner has created a children’s guide to coronavirus which aims to answer children’s questions about coronavirus, tell children how to stay safe and protect other people and how to help them make the best of their time at home.

Children’s guide to coronavirus | Children's Commissioner for England

The below book, Coronavirus: A Book for Children has also been published by Noisy Crow books, containing child friendly information about the virus.  It has been illustrated by Axel Scheffler and presents the information in a warm, familiar and accessible format.

Coronavirus: A Book for Children

Supporting pupils’ mental health

The government has published additional mental health guidance: Guidance for parents and carers on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.  This advice is to help adults with caring responsibilities look after the mental health and wellbeing of children or young people, including those with additional needs and disabilities, during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Negative experiences and distressing life events, such as the current circumstances, can affect the mental health of pupils and their parents. Teachers should be aware of this in setting expectations of pupils’ work where they are at home.

Where they are providing for children of critical workers and vulnerable children on site, schools and colleges should ensure appropriate support is in place for them.

The Department for Education guidance on mental health and behaviour in schools sets out how mental health issues can bring about changes in a young person’s behaviour or emotional state which can be displayed in a range of different ways, and that can be an indication of an underlying problem. Support for pupils and students in the current circumstances can include existing provision in the school (although this may be delivered in different ways, for example over the phone) or from specialist staff or support services. You can ready the guidance on mental health and behaviour in schools.  Social connections, alongside exercise, sleep, diet and routine, are important protective factors for mental health. 

In relation to children and young people’s mental health, the government are signposting schools to the following  webpages:

  • MindEd - a free educational resource for frontline staff from Health Education England on children and young people's mental health. Now includes a Coronavirus Staff Resilience Hub with materials on peer support, for managers and senior leaders, on stress and fear and trauma and bereavement. Pre-existing, bitesize content includes death and loss(for parents and carers with Easy Read PDF); loss and grief (for professionals including teachers); and trauma and coping (for parents and carers with Easy Read PDF)
  • Good Thinking digital mental wellbeing resource for London, which breaks down advice for children and young people by specific groups
  • Rise Above for Schools - a free website for teachers which hosts a range of mental health lesson plans suitable for Year 6, KS3 & KS4. Content is written by teachers and is accredited by the PSHE Association.
  • Anna Freud Centre, particularly Mentally Healthy Schools resources and their Schools in Mind network on supporting young people’s mental health during periods of disruption.
  • Place 2 Be on improving children’s mental health.
  • The Childhood Bereavement Network includes content specific to COVID-19. The organisation also has a hub for professionals supporting bereaved children, with membership currently free until September.
  • Local NHS mental health crisis support lines (for all ages) can be found via a simple age and postcode search here.

Schools may also wish to signpost the following resources to parents and carers:

  • The Government’s online educational resources for home education with a section on mental wellbeing.
  • PHE’s guidance on supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing
  • Virtual Oak National Academy for reception – Year 10 pupils, which offers daily online lessons, a weekly assembly with a pastoral focus and extra-curricular activities to help families maintain a routine at home (NB. intended to complement, not replace, existing schools’ online learning offers)
  • BBC Education online learning content, also for reception to Year 10 pupils, to support home learning, with weekly wellbeing tips provided via their social media pages.
  • The Think Ninja app has been made freely available to young people (aged 10-18 year olds) across the UK and updated with specific mental health and wellbeing content related to the pandemic.
  • MindEd, Anna Freud or Place 2 Be webpages and the Starline parent helpline for home learning.
  • Rise Above is a website co-created and produced by young people to help build resilience and support good mental health in those aged 10 to 16. The content has been adapted to the pandemic and includes new mental health content based on insights from young people who are learning from home.
  • Every Mind Matters includes an online tool and email journey to support everyone to feel more confident in taking action to look after their mental health and wellbeing. It also includes a section for parents and carers on looking after children and young people during the pandemic.
  • Children and young people who are caring for someone with a mental illness can self-refer to the NHS Volunteer Responders programme using this link if they are having issues shopping for food or picking up prescriptions.
  • Children and young people can access free confidential support anytime from voluntary and community sector organisations by texting SHOUT to 85258, calling Childline on 0800 1111 or the Mix on 0808 808 4994. Children and young people can also find online information on COVID-19 and mental health on the Young Minds website. For support with an eating disorder, children and young people can ring Beat’s Youthline on 0808 801 0711.
  • Local mental health crisis support lines (for all ages) can be found via a simple age and postcode search here.

More information from Buckinghamshire Council

Supporting families who have suffered a bereavement

The Educational Psychology team has curated some really helpful guidance for you on how best to manage bereavement and grief during the COVID-19 pandemic. It covers different situations and the difficult emotions bereaved people may have to deal with.

Managing bereavement and grief

Cruse, a national bereavement charity, has a dedicated helpline manned by experienced volunteers. Call 0808 808 1677 Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5pm (excluding bank holidays), with extended hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings, when they’re open until 8pm.

Cruse also has a number of easy read fact sheets on:

grief and isolation

grief and trauma

coping with talk of death and dying

funerals and memorials

The NGA have produced information for governors to help support schools with bereavement.

The government have provided the below bereavement resources:

Please see below links on bereavement support information for parents and carers, co-created by parent experts by experience with a professional author, accessible on the MindEd website in the Families section - commissioned by DfE in 2016.

Death and Loss  (for parents and carers with Easy Read PDF)

Loss and Grief (for all frontline professionals including teachers)

 Trauma and coping (for parents and carers with Easy Read PDF)

They have added an End of life Care and Bereavement programme to the Coronavirus elfh Hub that has resources aimed at professionals supporting end of life care and bereavement.

Practical Support After a Bereavement
Sudden Death and Bereavement
Children and Bereavement

The link here will take you to a list of important related topics, under “end of life care and bereavement psychological aspects" the heading of “communication skills in end of life care” including breaking bad news, using the telephone to break bad news, communicating with children about death of a parent etc. 

MindEd is planning to create new top tips for teachers and schools in the topic of bereavement, loss and trauma, PTSD in Covid, to add to the webpage based top tips MindEd Coronavirus Resilience Hub format. This resource has already attracted 13,000 unique users in less than a month.

Bereavement Awareness Training for Education Providers 

Child Bereavement UK can provide Bereavement Awareness Training.  The training has been designed for and by those working within the education sector. It provides a basic introduction to supporting a bereaved student.  The webinars are free of charge, but they inviting voluntary donations so that we can continue to provide support to pupils, parents and families, and training and resources for schools.

Individual sessions are targeted towards Nursery, Primary and Secondary settings. It has been our experience children's understanding and responses to grief and bereavement, vary according to their age and level of understanding, the training reflects this premise.

Each training session focuses on:

  • Developing awareness of grief and bereavement,
  • Children's understanding of death,
  • Current models of grief to build an understanding of children’s responses to grief
  • Factors affecting grief.
  • Means of communicating effectively with those who have experienced bereavement,
  • Provides practical ideas for managing children’s responses to their grief
  • Creating a bereavement aware culture, policies and procedures which may assist
  • Developing awareness of local and national pathways for support

The training is suitable for all staff working in schools; teachers, LSA, mentors, SENCO, Head Teachers/Principals, Governors

The sessions are approx. 1.5 hrs. with time for Q&As

For more information: Child Bereavement UK – bereavement awareness training for education providers

Resources to help with anxiety for pupils and families

Worry and anxiety are common problems at the best of times, and when it takes over it can become all-encompassing. Psychology Tools have put together this free guide to help you to manage your worry and anxiety in these uncertain times.

Living with anxiety and worry

This situation is one of extreme uncertainty. We don’t know what will happen, how long it will last or what things will be like when it’s over. One thing we do know, however, is that worrying about it won’t change the outcome. Learning how to tolerate the uncertainty is a huge part of building healthy coping skills for ourselves, which we then want to model for our children. Practicing mindfulness helps bring us back to the present.

The following websites and apps may be helpful:

 NSPCC resources for families

The NSPCC has created a number of resources to support parents and carers during this difficult time. Topics include:

  • Talking to a child worried about coronavirus
  • Parents working from home
  • Children staying home alone
  • Lockdown and separated parents
  • How to cope with tantrums and other difficult behaviour

The advice can be found on the NSPCC website

Future Learn – online training for staff

In association with Reading University Future Learn have launched online training

COVID-19: Helping Young People Manage Low Mood and Depression

This course explores practical ways to help young people manage their mood and maintain healthy habits during the coronavirus pandemic.

Helpful Apps

Blueice – for managing emotions

Catchit – Learn to manage negative thoughts and look at problems differently

Chillpanda – Breathing techniques to help you relax

Cove – Create Music to reflect emotions

eQuoo – emotional fitness game

Feeling Good: Positive Mindset – Uses audio tracks to help relax your body and mind

Thrive – Use games to track your mood and teach yourself methods to take control of stress

Calm – Meditate, sleep, relax

Headspace – Meditation, sleep, healthy mind

Aura – Personalised meditation

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