Supporting the wellbeing of children and young people
Local authorities have continued to support vulnerable children and young throughout the period of children and young people whilst learning at home. Further information on the definition of vulnerable children and young people is provided at Annex D. Given the wider impact of the pandemic, the wellbeing of all children, young people and staff will continue to be the central focus for schools. The Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) approach is key to that, ensuring that local services are co-ordinated, joined up and multi-disciplinary in order to respond to children and young people who require support, and everyone who works in those services has a role to play.
Guidance on support for continuity of learning and Curriculum for Excellence in the Recovery Phase both reinforce the importance of wellbeing as a critical focus in recovery. Balancing progress in learning with children and young people’s social and emotional needs should be a priority. The guidance on support for continuity in learning also highlights the expected impacts on children and young people who have experienced domestic abuse, and those who are in need of care and protection as a result of lockdown, and an increased need for support for mental health and wellbeing. Children and young people may not immediately disclose these concerns, and therefore there is a need for a sustained approach.
Local authority and health board partners must be engaged in local planning to ensure that the health and wellbeing needs of children and young people in school can be met. This will be particularly important in GIRFEC planning, prevention activity including surveillance (vison screening) and immunisations, and health developmental interventions.
The psychological impact of the outbreak and the necessary public health control measures are likely to have had significant social, emotional and developmental effects on many children and young people and, consequently, achievement. Many children and young people may experience anxiety about returning to school, many of them will also have enjoyed the experience of spending more time at home. Children and young people may need additional time and support as they return again to the school environment. For some children and young people who were unable to access therapeutic support, the return to that support will have been welcome, but the changes within school environments, and routines, may continue to impact on their wellbeing.
It will be important for schools to be able to recognise that children, young people and staff may be affected by trauma and adversity, and to be capable of responding in ways that prevent further harm and which support recovery. The National Trauma Training framework and plan are designed to support the development of a trauma-informed workforce and may have relevance to school plans. Schools should ensure that all staff, including catering and cleaning staff, are aware of safeguarding procedures.
As would be usual, if there are any concerns about a child or young person behaving or acting in a way which doesn’t align with school policy or procedure, their behaviour or actions should be discussed with them to resolve those concerns as quickly as possible. If that does not resolve the concerns, then the usual school and authority policy and procedures for dealing with concerns should be implemented, within the context of positive relationships and behavioural approaches, including discussing the matter with the child or young person, parents and carers as appropriate.