by Rebecca Brooks
AUK Education Policy Advisor

In England, some children are already returning to school, and wider opening of schools has been announced in Wales. At some point all children will return to what is likely to be a ‘new normal’ in our nurseries and schools.

Preparation will be the key to ensuring our children’s transitions back to education are as smooth as possible. Here are five areas that you might find it useful to raise with your child’s school before they go back.

  • ‘Keeping in touch’ during a long break from school is important for many adopted and care-experienced children. If your child hasn’t heard from key members of staff, including support staff, during lockdown, then now is the time to ask for a postcard, an email, a phone call or a video message as part of the preparation for transition back to school.

  • Our Home Learning During Covid-19 report highlighted that families are having very different experiences of the lockdown. It will be helpful for your child’s school to have an understanding of your child’s experiences. Consider writing a short letter, outlining what has gone well, what has been difficult, what work or learning you have managed to achieve, what your child is looking forward to about returning to school, and any worries about returning. Include your child’s views in an age appropriate way where possible.

  • The physical environment of school is likely to look quite different, with toys and equipment removed, or taped off, and children’s work areas re-arranged to maintain social distancing. As children will be working in ‘bubbles’, there will be many who return to a different classroom than the one they left. Ask your child’s school to send photographs or videos of classrooms, work spaces, and common areas so that your child can familiarise themselves with the changes ahead of time. If possible, ask for photos of your own child’s work space, with name labels visible.

  • Social distancing will mean that children are in smaller groups, perhaps in different rooms and with different members of staff. Ask the school to consider placing your child with a member of staff they know well, in a room they will be familiar with, and preferably with one or two friends. Children who will find transition the most difficult need to be prioritised in this planning, to ensure that the change from the normal routine is limited as much as possible.

  • Some children will find adhering to new routines around social distancing very difficult. Ensure that the school shares its plans about the routines it intends to put in place well in advance so that you can begin to prepare your child. It may be necessary for the school to complete a risk assessment in some cases, and to make reasonable adjustments for children who will find adapting to the ‘new normal’ particularly difficult.

For more ideas around supporting transition back to school, take a look at our short vlog here: