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Will the shutdown have affected pupils’ behaviour?

It’s more important than ever to give children the opportunity to express how they feel, says deputy headteacher Andrew Smith

  • Will the shutdown have affected pupils’ behaviour?

I work in a school in the Ribble Valley, Clitheroe. We’re proud of our children, proud of our family culture and proud of what we do.

Our pupils’ behaviour is generally impeccable.

Yes, we have children who make wrong choices; children who are sometimes in the wrong place at the wrong time. But all in all, behaviour is excellent – more than excellent.

Will the shutdown have affected behaviour?

The children will have felt worried about not seeing their friends.

Y6 pupils will have worried that they’d done their last day at primary school. Y2 children will have worried that they’d completed their last day in infants.

Others would have worried about missing sports day, the summer fair, the summer disco and, lest we forget, rounders, rounders and more rounders.

Upon return, what will behaviour look like? How will we move forward when nobody seems to know which direction forward is?

Of course we have a written behaviour policy, but what will implementing this look like day-to-day?

Behaviour, as we all know, is communication. There is always a reason for why that behaviour is presenting itself. As primary educators and role models for our pupils, it’s our job to observe, check and challenge children’s behaviour, but how can we do that when we all have to stay two metres apart?

At our school we’re aiming to welcome children back to a safe, warm environment where love, respect, care and kindness are obvious through the language and behaviour of the adults.

Virtual hugs will be all the rage; a smile never hurt anyone.

It won’t be the same school that the children left and this may upset some, but we’ll aim to celebrate the here and the now, while not forgetting the past.

It’s all about taking the good things forward as we all change.

Our children will be given the opportunity to express how they feel through specially designed daily wellbeing lessons.

We’ll celebrate happy things but also dedicate time to allowing everyone to share their worries, however small they seem. Even the children who aren’t in school will be able to get involved, through various methods of communication.

We’ll be hosting daily briefings for staff with the aim of identifying any problematic pupil behaviour.

Incidents that may have been dealt with at a teacher level in the past will now be discussed as a team.

The happiness of our pupils is key if we want to move forward.

If pupils are upset we’ll find out why and act on it. If someone’s angry we’ll try to identify the reason. If someone’s worried we’ll identify the trigger and see if we can do something differently to take this worry away.

If we see someone happy (and we hope we will) we’ll share their happiness with everyone in this brave new world we find ourselves in.

Andrew Smith is deputy headteacher at St Michael and St John’s RC Primary in Clitheroe. Follow the school’s Twitter account here.

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