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How to help with learning loss and give behavioural support to children returning to the classroom


The closure of schools around the UK was unanticipated and has presented unique challenges for educational staff. During this time, a learning gap will likely have emerged, particularly affecting those who have struggled to stay engaged whilst away from the classroom and those with limited resources. Data shows that the proportion of students who accessed online learning in lockdown ranges between 35% and 90%.

As a result, teachers will notice students returning at different abilities and in some cases with emotional and behavioural issues. Although this is a similar scenario to returning to school after the summer holiday there are distinct challenges with such a prolonged period away from school. Therefore, teaching after lockdown needs to be approached with a new perspective. Founder of Ed Research Work, Sarojani S Mohammed, highlights “If any time is the best time to reinvent ‘school’ for the better, this time certainly has given us the impetus and rationale”.

Here’s how educational staff can reinvent what it means to come to school and help students make the transition back to the classroom:

dealing with learning loss when children return to the classroom

Understanding the learning loss

75% of parents agree that their child’s academic ability suffers over the summer holiday. However, remote learning does not equate to lost learning. Nuffield Foundation reports that 74% of primary students and 79% of secondary students have been completing most of their homework during the lockdown. This proves that although some pupils will be behind in the curriculum, learning can be efficient outside of the classroom. Also, some students will have benefited from learning at home as it has allowed them to absorb the information at their own pace.

For the students who feel anxious about being behind, educational staff should encourage them to do a self-evaluation. They may find their literacy skills lacking but the time in lockdown has boosted other areas of development. This will give them the confidence and motivation to keep progressing, no matter what pace that is at.

Embrace technology

Technology has a reputation for being a disruption to a child’s attention and many health experts advise limiting screen time to just one hour a day. However, we need to change the lens through which we look at technology and recognise its potential to stimulate immersive learning.

There are many benefits of online teaching and teachers have witnessed virtual learning enabling their students to become more responsive and confident in communicating what they need. It’s important that this progress is not lost and that digital learning continues in the classroom where possible.

Recognise the transition will be difficult

Sarojani advises that technology is not only a critical tool for interactive learning but will also prove essential for promoting social-emotional health and wellbeing. Returning to the classroom will be a challenge for most pupils, particularly for those who experienced a learning environment with less structure and interaction during the lockdown.

For teachers to help themselves and their students make the transition, they should outline behaviour expectations. This an effective behaviour management strategy for secondary teachers but can also be applied by primary teachers.

Focus on connecting students

To aid the social integration of students, teachers should focus on peer working. Peer-to-peer feedback, explaining learned ideas and group projects all help students feel more connected, however teachers must think of creative ways to implement these while observing social distancing measures.

Equip students with the information and tools to manage stress and anxiety

Just as it’s essential for teachers to provide students with resources and information that will help them understand the curriculum it’s important to educate them on managing emotions that could lead to behavioural issues. First, teachers should empower their students by helping them to recognise stress and anxiety and then equip students with practices such as breathing exercises. Here are some more techniques to help pupils manage stress and anxiety during Covid-19.

For some teachers, this may be the most challenging period they’ve experienced in their teaching career so far. Read our tips on how to look after your wellbeing during Covid-19.

Find a job where you can make a difference

During this time of uncertainty, many students will face challenges that result in learning gaps and behavioural issues, meaning the role of a teacher has never been more pivotal.

As the UK’s leading education recruitment agency, Teaching Personnel can help you find a job where you can make a difference. We also expect to play a critical role in the pupil catch-up tuition from September. If you would like to be part of our tutor workforce, please register today. If you are looking for a classroom role, why not browse our primary teacher and secondary teacher jobs here or narrow your search by subject.

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