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Chesham Primary is proud to be an inclusive school.
How to support children’s mental health and wellbeing through Covid-19
Unfortunately, Covid-19 has had a huge impact on family life. There is uncertainty all around us and you may find it difficult to discuss current issues with your child. The lockdown period has challenged all of us to learn about how to manage our responses and those of our children to the difficult events we face. Child Psychologist, Dr Chloe Paidoussis Mitchell, gives the following key advice:
1. Manage your anxiety first
One of the most important things you can do for your children is look after your own mental health. Notice what triggers your anxiety and take positive action to reduce it.
Self-soothing activities such as baking, gardening, painting, or anything crafty reduces stress and anxiety. Mindfulness and meditation, breathing exercises and good emotional support all help too.
Remember that feelings are contagious and children will quickly pick up anything negative (even if you think you are hiding it). So, moderating your emotions is a big comfort to children because they will feel reassured you are secure and contained.
2. Notice how your child manages stress
Every child is unique. For example, one child may regress, another may seem un-phased, whilst another may need more physical contact. Some children don’t know they are stressed and they act out stress with naughty and difficult behaviours, whilst others report headaches and stomach pains.
Everybody experiences stress in a unique fashion and giving yourself the opportunity to recognise how your child copes with stress will inform your strategy for supporting them.
3. Reduce your child’s anxiety about Covid-19
Stay calm and regularly have “check-in” conversations with your child to protect and nourish their wellbeing. This means, having chats that allow you to gauge how they are so that you can offer them reassurance if they seem worried. Just being there for them is a big support.
When we feel understood and emotionally held, we prevent anxiety from ballooning. This applies to children too, so it is vital that you give them permission to ask you any questions they have, whenever they want. Show them you are listening and follow their lead. Reassure them that they are not burdening you with their worries.
During these chats you can also catch misinformation from friends and you can gauge how their imagination may be running wild about the virus and this may be impacting their wellbeing.
Make time to check in with every child one-to-one and do this in an appropriate environment. If they ask you difficult questions, be truthful in an age appropriate fashion. If you don’t know the answer, explain that you don’t know and go and seek the answers together.
It is also really important you explain what you do to help yourself with difficult feelings. This reassures children that they can cope and they can copy your behaviours and practices. To counter-balance the crisis, it is really good to share stories of compassion and care. So many health workers, young people and scientists are helping others and this is a big comfort to children as it reassures them that many compassionate people are taking positive action together to help those more vulnerable.
4. Adjust your expectations
During this time, many children may feel confused or anxious about school closure, projects they can’t finish, plays they won’t perform, exams they won’t sit and friendships they may lose – especially if they won’t be returning to that school again.
It is really important that you accept what they feel. If they are anxious, upset, sad, worried, bored, frustrated or down, just let them. They are having normal human responses to the losses they are facing.
Normalise their emotions, accept them and empathise with them. You can really reassure children by acknowledging and giving them safe, non-judgmental space to talk.
If you are finding that you are worried about their learning and development, adjust your expectations. You can’t replicate the school academic timetable. It is more important during this time of unprecedented crisis that you show some flexibility, you create routines that work for you, and you involve them in their daily plans.
5. Establish good boundaries and routines
A good plan is reassuring for children. All children need structure and boundaries to thrive. Make sure you involve them in the creation of the plan and reward them for independent carrying out of the plan. You can display it in timetables and make sure you acknowledge how well they are doing with it. This will be a resilience building exercise.
As part of your routine make sure you get the balance right – so include time to connect with friends, time in solitude to self-care and rest, time with the family and time to do work.
Try to keep work in one place because this helps to maintain a work and home boundary.
Encourage them to practice self-soothing with drawing, playing, baking, sewing, knitting, crafting, colouring in, gardening and painting.
Use a feelings box where your child can write down their questions and feelings and you can discuss them as a family.
Make time for gratitude and celebrating good things about the day.
Have meals together, moderate screen time and reduce access to constant news.
Click on the link to access a free version of the story 'The Stay Home Superheroes' which you can share with your child to explain COVID-19 and the importance of staying safe https://www.sophiesstories.co.uk/stay-home-superheroes
A list of free online boredom busters! https://chatterpack.net/blogs/blog/list-of-online-resources-for-anyone-who-is-isolated-at-home?fbclid=IwAR2ZsCHPbkcm5cq8nJkMUrvm2ctOJgToeSzABTsgt8rXVA5dcAdmHv42zMY
The Starsteam website has excellent resources such as social stories to explain COVID-19 and other aspects of the situation to children with autism or other forms of social communication difficulty http://www.starsteam.org.uk/coronavirus-resources
COVID-19 Bury Local Authority advice for parents of pupils with SEND
Following Government instruction, Bury Local Authority have given the following advice to schools and parent(s)/carer(s) regarding SEND pupil provision and annual reviews for those children with EHC Plans.
Chesham Primary Additional SEN information report in light of COVID-19, school closures and SEND provision
Bury Inclusion Service have given the following advice regarding how COVID-19 measures will affect children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
Please note that this is based on information available on 30.03.20 and is subject to change.
What are the entitlements of children and young people with SEN when schools are closed due to Coronavirus?
All schools have been ordered to effectively close, retaining a skeleton staff to provide education for the children of key workers, and ‘vulnerable children.’
Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with an Education Health Care Plan (EHC plan). The majority of children with SEN, who receive SEN Support at school but do not have an EHC plan, would be expected to stay home unless they have a social worker or a parent/carer who is a key worker.
Do I have to send my child to school?
Despite schools staying open for some children, the guidance is quite clear:
‘If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.’
If you feel it would be too high risk to send your child to school because they, or someone else in your family, is at particularly high risk, there is of course no requirement to send your child in.
Under the Coronavirus Act, the criminal penalty for parents failing to send their children to school is to be temporarily disapplied.
If my child has an EHC plan, doesn’t the local authority have a legal duty to deliver provision?
From a legal perspective this remains the case. However, given the likely significant disruption to staffing, it may be very difficult for schools or local authorities to deliver precisely the provision in the EHC plan, particularly over the next few weeks.
The Government have just passed the Coronavirus Act 2020 which gives temporary emergency powers to the Government to issue a notice (a month at a time) that would modify the legal requirements on Local Authorities in relation to Education, Health and Care Plans. If this notice is issued it would be in relation to two key areas:
The absolute duty to make the provision in an EHC plan (section 42 of the Children and Families Act 2014) is to be temporarily amended to a ‘reasonable endeavours’ duty. This means that during the specified period the LA needs to do whatever it reasonably can to put provision in place, but if they cannot do so they would not necessarily be breaching the law.
Disapplying the duty to undertake annual reviews of EHC plans.
Again, if there could be a risk to the child or young person’s health, wellbeing or safety if they do not receive a particular provision or intervention, raise this with your school and Local Authority without delay.
What is the advice from the Secretary of State for Children?
On 24th March 2020, the Secretary of State for Children, Vicky Ford, issued an open letter to children and young people with SEN), their parents/carers and families, and all others who support them.
In this letter, the Minister makes clear that:
‘[…] nurseries, schools, special schools, colleges and other training providers should undertake a risk assessment to establish the individual needs of each child or young person with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. This assessment should incorporate the views of the child or young person and their parents. This will inform the decision about whether they should continue in school or college, or whether their needs can be met at home safely.
If needs are best met at schools or colleges, we will support their school or college to meet their needs, wherever possible. For those on SEN support, schools, colleges and local authorities have discretion to use the same risk judgement to decide whether home or school is the safest setting for these children. It is, however, important that as many children as possible remain at home during this time in order to help reduce transmission rates.'
My child was due to have an annual review. What will happen now?
Under the Coronavirus Act, the requirement to carry out annual reviews may be temporarily disapplied where this is considered to be ‘appropriate and proportionate.’
All annual review meetings, at Chesham, have been postponed indefinitely until further advice is received. However, staff will continue to complete the paperwork for the meetings and this will be sent out to parents during the summer term to keep them informed of their child's progress. We will also send out a parent and pupil’s views form, via email, to ensure that the contribution of parents and children is at the heart of the process.
If you feel there is an urgent need to amend the provision or placement in the child’s EHC plan, speak to the Local Authority about this to see what review mechanisms could be put in place (0161 253 5969).
My child is still attending school. How will my child’s learning be supported at school?
It is important to note the school will not be providing a full curriculum, they will be providing care for the children and incorporating education provision and a range of activities, but this will NOT be fully in line with their EHC provision.
How can I support my child’s learning at home?
If a child has an identified SEN (EHCP or SEN Support), the class teacher will take account of their needs when planning for and providing work to be completed at home. This may include:
Chesham Primary has provided a number of resources available to help you support your child at home during this period.
How can I help my child cope with the changes?
We understand that this is a significant change for many families. Please give yourself time to adjust to a new routine and above all, do not place too much pressure on yourself or your child to complete schoolwork. Maintaining positive mental health and emotional wellbeing is very important. The mental health charity MIND have provided some initial information which we are happy to share.
Who can I contact?
We realise that these are difficult times for everyone. If you have any concerns or queries please contact Mr Roche, Mr Hudson or Mrs McElroy at firstname.lastname@example.org
The following Government advice is for supporting your child's mental health and well being at this particular challenging time:
Bath University is running a free online course for parents: ‘Good practice in autism education’. It begins with a forum for people to share tips on being at home with a child, in light of our current situation. The course can be found at:
At Chesham Primary School, we believe passionately in the importance of inclusion and equality for all children and adults, and strive to ensure that these values are at the heart of our Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) practices.
We will always involve parents and children in key decisions, as well as planning and reviewing progress; we know that parents are the first educators of their child and that we need their knowledge and co-operation to plan effectively.
We know that the earlier we identify SEND and provide support, the more successful our children will be.
We are committed to providing expert support and resources for children with SEND to fulfil their individual potential.
Our starting point is to guarantee a whole -school approach to providing for the needs of children with SEND. In other words, we make sure that all staff have the knowledge and skills to support all children, including those with SEND, throughout our School.
If you have any questions regarding your child, then please get in touch with Chesham's Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO), Mr Roche (0161 764 4927).
In the attached document, you can read about our provision and how we support those children who have Special Educational Needs or Disabilities, and their families.
Please click on the link below.
This SEN Information report complies with section 69(2) of the Children and Families Act 2014; regulation 51 and schedule 1 of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014. The details of the report have been included from schedule 1 of the Special Educational Needs and Disability Regulations 2014, and section 6 of the ‘Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0-25 years’.
Please click on the link below to read our school's Special Educational Needs Policy.
Please click on the link below for an explanation of the process of identification of special educational needs at Chesham.
Bury's Local Offer
Information on services available in the local area, for people with special educational needs and disabilities and their parents or carers, can be found by accessing the following link:
Where can I get more help and information?
Bury SEND Information Advice Support Service (SENDIASS)
This is an impartial, confidential and free service which can help you through the SEND system. It has independent supporters who can visit you at home, give information by phone or support you in meetings. You can contact the Service at:
Tel: 01706 769 634
First Point (Family Support Services)
The service is run by Bury parents for parents and can offer a range of support and advice. The service can be contacted at:
Tel: 0161 641 4585
The SEN Team
The Team is responsible for the maintenance and review of Education, Health and Care Plans or Statements of SEN for children and young people who live in Bury. Since 2014 it has organised the transfer from Statements to Education, Health and Care Plans. The Team can be contacted at:
Tel: 0161 253 5969