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Returning to School

Returning to schoolThere have been a number of requests from parents/carers carers for advice to support their children in the current global situation, with some recurring themes. Feedback from parents and carers has indicated that they would value some clear and comprehensive information and additional support relating to home-schooling and the return to school.

Lucy Stevens and Fiona Quan (staff at Gloucestershire Healthy Living and Learning – GHLL) and Dr Melissa Parry (Educational Psychology Service) have created a brief double-sided leaflet with general advice and top tips.  In addition to this, a number of case studies are included with some suggestions and strategies from school staff, GHLL and Educational Psychology Service. There is a recorded example for primary aged children and secondary aged young people for each area, and the advice has also been typed for reference. The areas covered are:

  • Anxiety
  • Screen time
  • Bereavement and loss
  • Reconnecting and friendships
  • Engagement with learning tasks

The case studies provide some examples to try but these are not exhaustive,  as each child and young person, their situation or circumstances will be different.  Further individual advice and referrals to relevant services or agencies for more support may be required. Also, it is important to remember that school staff are available and happy to help – please do not be afraid to seek support from them!

Download return to school advice


Top Tips for Returning to School

  • Be aware of emotions
  • Emotional well-being is key
  • Organise and plan
  • Communication
  • Be creative

Returning to school can be challenging so it's important to consider these topics for conversation:

  • Engagement
  • Well-being
  • Anxiety
  • Friendships

Get advice on how to make being back as smooth as possible: Coronavirus and going back to school or college. 


Making Friends

Empathy Lab

Empathy Lab have released read-alouds for 2021. There’s a great collection of readings for upper primary and lower secondary about how it feels to be new or struggling to make friends. There’s an extract from 'Five Ways to Make a Friend' by Gillian Cross, and Matt Abbott reading his poem 'The Dinner Invitation', about Ahmed who has started at a new school in Y6 - how will he make any friends if no-one talks to him? Then there’s Cath Howe reading a chapter of Ella on the Outside, a tale that will strike a chord with anyone who has felt the pressure to please a new friend or has struggled to fit in. Steve Camden reads First Day from Everything All At Once, his poetry collection about life at secondary school. Discover sharp insights into anxieties about fitting in, first love, and hiding in the loos.

We especially liked the poems by Matt Goodfellow (‘Strest’ – the day Charlie cried)- good for Y6 and secondary - that explore the difference between inside feelings and what we show on the outside. They would be very useful to use with boys.

If you are working on the issues facing refugees and migrants, Wendy Meddour reads Lubna and Pebble, a picture book for young children with an unforgettable story that subtly addresses their experience.

For older children (Y6 and secondary) Sonia Beck reads the moving Did You See Me? by Kit de Waal , and Moniza Alvi reads The Camp from the poetry anthology A Country to Call Home, edited by Lucy Popescu.

On the Empathy Lab link you’ll also find great read alouds from previous years, including Joseph Coelho reading Elmer's Birthday by David McKee. The elephants pretend to have forgotten Elmer's birthday but things don't go entirely to plan...Published to celebrate 30 years of Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, helping children to understand that being different is just fine.


Case Studies for Primary and Secondary Age Pupils

Are you or your child concerned about:

  • Anxiety and Worry
  • Screen time
  • Loss and Bereavement
  • Reconnecting and peer relationships
  • School engagement and separation anxiety

Take a look at these case study examples and advice on these topics from our Educational Psychologist, or watch the following videos: 

VIDEO Primary Anxiety

VIDEO Primary Screen Time

VIDEO Primary Loss and Bereavement

VIDEO Primary Reconnecting and Peer Relationships

VIDEO Primary School Engagement and Separation Anxiety

VIDEO Secondary Anxiety

VIDEO Secondary Screen Time

VIDEO Secondary Loss and Bereavement

VIDEO Secondary Reconnecting and Peer Relationships

VIDEO Secondary School Engagement and Separation Anxiety


Tagged under: parents, carers, returning to school, post covid, anxiety, leaflet, screen time, loss, bereavement, relationships, engagement, wellbeing, friendships, Coronavirus, back to school, home-schooling