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Teachers asked to avoid phrases like 'catch-up' to prevent pupil anxiety as schools return


The Department of Education has issued new guidance on phrases teachers should avoid as schools return (Danny Lawson/PA)

The Department of Education has issued new guidance on phrases teachers should avoid as schools return (Danny Lawson/PA)

The Department of Education has issued new guidance on phrases teachers should avoid as schools return (Danny Lawson/PA)

Teachers have been asked to avoid using terms like "catch up" or "missed work" to avoid creating "unnecessary pressure and anxiety" for pupils returning to school, the Department of Education has said. 

New guidance has been issued ahead of some pupils returning to classrooms on March 8, advising teachers of the importance of language and the impact it can have on children when referring to time spent homeschooling.

"The 'catch-up' narrative can place unnecessary pressure and anxiety on children," the guidance said.

"Language is important and frequent references to 'missed work' or 'lost time' or 'catch up' will potentially increase pupil anxiety."

Schools have also been advised to be open to "recovery conversations" about experiences of the pandemic when pupils return.

"Children will want space to talk about their Covid-19 related experiences and ideas but they also will need time to think about other things and get away from the dominance of the Covid-19 outbreak," the guidance said.

"Teachers may wish to reaffirm how well children have managed during the period of remote learning. Pupils in Years 1-3 will have had a wide range of experiences during lockdown; school should be a place where they feel immediately welcome, experience togetherness and see the critical role they play," it continued.

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Pupils in primaries one to three and those in pre-school will be the first to fully return to class, followed by pupils in years 12-14 on March 22.

Pupils in other years have not yet been given a date of when they will return to school.

It's along with guidance for primary schools on the curriculum which states that the long-term effect of the "current unprecedented disruption on learning is difficult to estimate".

"The department appreciates that children will have had very different home experiences during the period of remote learning," the department said.

Schools can adapt the curriculum to meet the needs and interests of pupils as they returned to class, they added, while supporting children to "reconnect socially, build positive relationships and engage enthusiastically with learning".

"The vision is for a balanced day where children are able to play, are ready to learn and feel able to re-connect."

"Whilst it is important not to underestimate the task facing schools, evidence indicates that missed knowledge content in itself is not likely to be a long-term problem for pupils," the document said.

An initial focus will be getting pupils used to routine, interacting with others and sustaining concentration again.

"One of most significant consequences of remote learning for children is the lack of social development that comes with being part of the school community," it said.

"Positive relationships are vital for child development.

"Children may have experienced variety of loss during the pandemic, including the loss of relationships with their peers.

"Many relationships that were thriving, may need to be invested in and restored."

The department has also advised that physical education (PE) and outdoor play should be "central" for pupils after many children had reduced physical activity when out of school.

"The department recommends that schools should provide children and young people with at least two hours of curricular PE each week and this recommendation has never been more important," the guidance said.

Separate advice on the practical and logistical arrangements for the reopening of schools would be provided at a future date, said the department.

Belfast Telegraph

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