Emerging from the Pandemic: Schools at the Heart of our Communities 28 Mar 2022

This week we observed the two-year anniversary of this once-in-a-century global pandemic and how it turned our lives upside down.

In our next three blog posts we’ll reflect on how much has changed in the world of teaching. We’ll have a look at how schools have coped over the last two years as they’ve had to introduce changes at break-neck speed. And we’ll also examine which of the newly developed strategies and changes will last well beyond Covid.

Since the Prime Minister announced on 23rd March 2020 that we could only leave our houses to get food or medical help, we’ve been pinballing in and out of lockdowns with ever changing guidelines and restrictions. Very small children can’t even remember a time before face masks and hand gel became staples of our day-to-day. And older kids’ lives have changed beyond all recognition.

We’ve all made unprecedented changes to the way we work, shop, travel, and socialise. And it looks like the changes to how we work will be long-lasting. Schools are no different in this respect.

 

In the March 2020 announcement, schools were told to close to all but the children of key workers and those most vulnerable. Staff suddenly faced having to adapt to delivering virtual lessons and home learning resources. Teachers had to learn to use unfamiliar technology, apps and platforms while parents grappled with their own jobs at the same time as ensuring their children could access their work. All at lightning speed.

 

Here at Thank a Teacher, we’ve seen many thank you messages for schools showing gratitude for all they’ve done during and after the pandemic. Here’s one sent by the head of Perry Wood School to her staff:

“Perry Wood Primary school staff are amazing. They went above and beyond during the pandemic and have continued to support the community. They’ve set up a family hub to help with housing, bills and writing CVs for jobs.”

This school in Worcester has found the needs of the families in their community have ramped up significantly during the pandemic. Those needs have continued as the effects of Covid remain.

 

Headteacher of Perry Wood Primary School, Suzanne Beston told us:

“Everyone pulled together and prepared to drop everything to support the families and children. Staff have worked so hard to strengthen relationships with parents.”

Perry Wood Primary School is located in an area with high levels of deprivation and communication between the school and families has not always been easy. An unexpected side effect of the pandemic has been an improvement in this respect.

“We now have regular online communication with parents as well as a return to face-to-face. Parents can send messages if they have any concerns and staff are really good about responding very quickly – even out of school hours – to reassure them.”

 

Like many schools across the UK, staff at Perry Wood also stepped in to support firstly with signposting other services, and later helping to deliver them.

“We took the decision to bring services to us, so families don’t have to go searching for what they need. We have a dedicated unit where parents can access housing advice, the school nurse, behaviour support and help with CV writing. It’s a safe place they can come to without judgement. They get a cup of coffee and a friendly face.”

 

Perry Wood School has also become a Thrive ambassador school – an approach that helps support the students’ social and emotional development and embed strategies to managed distressed behaviour.

“Some of our neurodiverse children mask their condition at school and families have reported that they will then dysregulate when they get home. We bring parents in for an hour’s session so they can pick up some of the same activities and use them at home.”

Through Yoga, arts and crafts and cooking, the school helps children who have mental health conditions, children who have suffered a bereavement or other trauma, and those displaying traits associated with neurodiversity.

 

As the UK begins to put the pandemic behind us, schools across the country continue to provide support for those who are struggling. School staff have always been willing to go out of their way to help, but now more than ever, we’re seeing schools as the heart of our communities. The contribution they make goes way beyond delivering curriculum.

The headteacher at Perry Wood sent a thank you message via Thank a Teacher to the rest of the staff at the school. She wanted to show them how much they are appreciated for all the hard work they put in.

We’ve been told by many recipients of our thank you messages that they were so touched by the thought and so happy to receive them. And don’t forget – National Thank a Teacher Day is on 26th May. Let’s show school staff how much we care. Can you think of someone you’d like to thank? Send them a message here.

You can also register your interest to be the first to receive our free downloadable class resources for National Thank a Teacher Day.