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From Virtual to Real Life: What Concerns to Consider for Pupils and Staff

Some children have been socialising and living through a screen for the past year. It is important to understand the impact this has had on a range of factors, such as their interaction with friends and how they have had to adapt to accommodate the new learning style.

There is also the concern that less time interacting socially will have had an impact on their behaviour, and this is something teachers need to be aware of as schools have been welcoming back more and more pupils into the physical environment.

Potential issues for children

Children who have not been in large groups of people for the past year may find it difficult to reintegrate socially and may develop anxiety around the idea of socialising with people in a face-to-face setting.

School provides students with a clear behavioural code and a daily structure, both of which are likely to have been different in their home learning environments. Therefore, pupils are likely to require a period to adjust back to fulfilling the expectation of the school, and this may be reflected in their behaviour.

Difficulty communicating with peers and staff are possible, and codes of conduct may need to be reinforced to ensure pupils communicate kindly and appropriately with each other, despite perhaps being out of practice.

Gaps in learning may be an issue for pupils returning to school. Some children may have thrived in their home learning environment, while others may have struggled, and it is essential for teachers to understand and tackle this issue in the coming weeks.

There has been an increase in eating disorders and self-harm among young people during lockdown. The government has increased access to mental health support for children, and it is vital that the school community is aware of the mental wellbeing challenges facing young people today.

Potential issues for teachers

The move back into a classroom setting will also be a big change for teachers. It is important to consider the difficulties they might face during this time because the wellbeing of the teacher can have an impact on the wellbeing of the pupils.

Currently, there is a degree of uncertainty about the future of the school day with the possibility of extending the school day or altering the holiday schedule being suggested by the government.

Social anxiety disorder is on the rise in the general population, and this could impact the wellbeing of any teachers who could be suffering as they move back into a classroom setting.

The requirement to provide final exam grades which are fair and accurate rather than their students sitting GCSEs and A-Levels.

The need to offer hybrid lessons in classes where some students are unable to physically attend can increase the workload for a teacher, as they will be required to tailor the delivery of the subject material to suit the classroom learners and the home learners.

Finding the right support

Our latest webinar - From Virtual to Real Life: Rebuilding Pupils’ Emotional Wellbeing After Lockdown – provides headteachers, senior leaders, teachers, and TAs with practical guidance on how to support children with re-establishing real-world relationships.

It was developed by experienced psychotherapist, consultant and international speaker, Dr. Aaron Balick, and will explore what impact the extended period of online social interaction may have had on children and how schools can help support their transition back into school life.

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