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

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

Talking to children about coronavirus

The Children’s Commissioner 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 book, Coronavirus: A Book for Children (Download), published by Noisy Crow books, contains child friendly information about the virus.  It has been illustrated by Axel Scheffler and presents the information in a warm, familiar and accessible format.

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.

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. You can read 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. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 video lessons, resources and activities 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.
  • MindEdAnna Freud or Place 2 Be webpages
  • 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 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 including a section for parents and carers.
  • 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
    • the Mix on 0808 808 4994.
  • Children and young people can find 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 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.

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. They also have easy read factsheets.

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

MindEd have bereavement support information for parents and carers:

They also have resources aimed at professionals supporting bereavement including breaking bad news, using the telephone to break bad news, communicating with children about death of a parent etc. 

Bereavement Awareness Training

Child Bereavement UK can provide free online Bereavement Awareness Training for those working within the education sector. They invite voluntary donations so that they can continue to provide support to pupils, parents and families, and training and resources for schools. Children's understanding and responses to grief and bereavement, vary according to their age and level of understanding, the training reflects this premise and 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

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 worry and anxiety.

Learning how to tolerate 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. 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

Future Learn – online training for staff

In association with Reading University Future Learn have online training COVID-19: Helping Young People Manage Low Mood and Depression exploring practical ways to help young people manage their mood and maintain healthy habits during the 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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