It will be important to continue to prioritise the health and wellbeing of children and young people when considering their learning as they return to school, or continue to learn at home. The Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) approach provides a framework for the continued consideration of children and young people’s wellbeing needs, including those which have increased, or emerged as a result of the pandemic, and will underpin the staged intervention approach of the authority and partners, including health, social care, allied health professionals, health visitors and family nurses.
It is likely that there may be a continued need for increased support for children and young people who are care experienced, those in need of child protection and those who have been affected by domestic abuse, bereavement, trauma, loneliness, isolation, and separation as well as for those living in poverty, including as a result of the economic impact of the pandemic.
Tools such as the resilience and vulnerability matrix (below) will be of assistance, alongside local and national data, in identifying these needs. Local authorities will also wish to continue to be mindful of their corporate parenting responsibilities in considering the needs and support for care experienced children and young people.
A rights-based, child-centred approach to assessment, intervention, and planning to meet needs will be essential. Children, young people, parents and carers will continue to be important contributors in the assessment, intervention, and planning process. The holistic needs of children, young people and their parents and carers should be considered, particularly individuals’ family circumstances.
- GIRFEC wellbeing resources (SHANARRI) - includes resilience and vulnerability matrix
- National child protection guidance and supplementary national child protection guidance
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): supplementary national violence against women guidance
Mental health and wellbeing
Specific attention to the mental health of children and young people will need to be considered. As part of the return to school, it will be normal for staff, parents and carers, children and young people to be anxious. However, some may experience more extreme reactions, exacerbated by their experiences during the pandemic, their previous needs and resilience’s. It will therefore be important to be alert and sensitive to individual children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing needs. Relationships will be key to establishing and maintaining positive mental health and feelings of wellbeing, and it is important that appropriate time is made available to enable children and young people to reconnect and rebuild relationships with one another, their teachers and other school staff.
It is important to recognise that teachers and other staff already have universal skills to support children and young people’s mental health, for example active listening and responding with warmth and empathy. In addition, many teachers and early years workers have specialist knowledge in areas such as nurturing approaches , and trauma informed strategies, which can continue to be built upon and utilised in these circumstances.
Children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing are being and will continue to be supported when required through targeted support from educational psychologists, school nurses, counsellors and clinical psychologists. Access to specialist support will be assessed in the normal ways using the Getting it right for every child guidance and informed by the Additional Support for Learning legislation.
Counselling provided through schools is being delivered in line with the joint national agreement. This enables the provision of in person counselling, and where that is not possible, for the provision of counselling using technology where face to face provision cannot be made. For online provision, approaches should be provided in line with professional bodies’ standards and competences. Additional community mental health supports are currently being developed to offer further preventative support.
In supporting children and young people’s mental health, schools and education authorities may wish to signpost parents and carers to sources of support, for example Parent Club which provides information on supporting children and young people's mental health at home across a range of ages and stages of development.
- supporting your child's mental health during coronavirus: Parent Club
- mental health and wellbeing : supports for practitioners, parents, carers & young people - Wakelet
- Association of Scottish Principal Educational Psychologists
- working online with children and young people
Children and young people on the shielding list
There are particular considerations for children and young people who are on the shielding list. Coronavirus (COVID-19): shielding advice and support - gov.scot) provides general advice for those who are shielding and this is regularly updated. Further specific advice and guidance on the arrangements for those who are shielding or clinically vulnerable is available from Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance on reducing the risks in schools.