PMLD Department – the Recovery Curriculum September 2020

Following the change in school circumstances from March 2020 a small number of pupils (four) from our PMLD cohort did attend school on a part time basis in the summer term. All pupils within the cohort were provided with home learning packs and access to online learning tools/virtual sessions. Many of the pupils have been absent from school for the duration of the pandemic and this will have significantly impacted upon individual learning and progress in all areas of the curriculum. Due to this it is vital that upon return to school in September pupils are provided with a range of opportunities to support them to be emotionally settled and to feel secure at school which will then prepare them fully of the learning they are to undertake whilst ensuring that all future learning has a positive impact upon pupils outcomes.

Both pupils and staff may be experiencing high levels of anxiety due to:

  • Anxiety about returning to school
  • Health anxiety (either for themselves or a family member)
  • Separation anxiety (after spending a lot of time at home with family)
  • Bereavement
  • Pupils may also experience general trauma from the lockdown.

The focus for the start of the autumn term is to be around promoting positive mental health and wellbeing for all of the children and therefore the curriculum will be modified initially to accommodate this, alongside our existing timetable. Some pupils will have been affected by lockdown more than others, all pupils who haven’t been at school will have missed the routine, seeing friends and the support from school staff.

On return to school we will follow the Recovery Curriculum, as advised by Barry Carpenter, an expert in the engagement model.

The Recovery Curriculum:

  • Puts the child at the centre with a personalised approach
  • Focuses on ensuring children are seen, safe, soothed and secure
  • Promotes “mental wealth” (supporting the new RSE curriculum)
  • Aims to rediscover and build positive relationships and a love of learning
  • Follows the five areas of engagement – on returning to school we will be observing how students:
  1. Initiate
  2. Realise
  3. Explore
  4. Anticipate
  5. Persist

“Curriculum is the servant of the child, not its master” – Barry Carpenter

When students return to school we will be considering what is important to students, and what is important for students. This will require a personalised reflection of how each student is presenting on their return to school. Communication, sensory, wellbeing, health and care needs may all have changed during lockdown – we will be flexible in our response to this.

As most of the pupils will be re-adjusting from a couple of months at home, they may need to re-build emotional resilience in the classroom. To facilitate this, we are planning a return to school project – happiness boxes. Over the first few weeks back in school students will have the opportunity to design, create and fill their own happiness boxes. These will be readily accessible to the students throughout the day and will contain resources known to be soothing to the student.

This will be supported by plenty of changes of position and physical activities throughout the day. We will listen to students and follow their lead, responding quickly to any changes in presentation. We will all welcome children positively and reassure them that we have missed school just as much as they have.