Teachers are being advised specialist help is available for pupils who are struggling to cope with going back to school, as a poll for the children’s charity Barnardo’s suggests hundreds of thousands of children could refuse to go while others feel nervous, upset and scared.
The new poll suggests that the children of more than 440,000 parents across the UK could be refusing to return to school.
Almost a quarter of GB parents of children aged 18 and under surveyed (23%) say their children are nervous about going back to the classroom, and 4% say their children are refusing to return.
A tenth of parents surveyed by YouGov said their children were scared about it and 5% said their children are upset about going back to school.
Barnardo’s says there is a ‘trauma gap’ between some classmates who may cope well with the return to the classroom and others who may have not been previously vulnerable but are now struggling to cope because of the effects of Covid-19 and the lockdown.
Teachers who notice any of their pupils are having difficulties can get help through the England-wide See, Hear, Respond Partnership, which is led by Barnardo’s.
It is funded by the Department for Education and was set up to support those who have become vulnerable throughout the coronavirus pandemic. The partnership includes Action for Children, The Children’s Society and 55 local charities.
See, Hear, Respond supports children and young people with anxiety disorders related to bullying, hate crime and racism, or anxiety in general. It provides support to all children, including those moving to secondary school, or who have had fixed term exclusions and may also need significant help.
It brings together all the people required to help a child return to school, to identify the practical and emotional support they need.
Trained therapists work closely with children, parents or carers, and their school, to help them get back in the classroom.
They can also do group work with classes or specific groups of children.
Any teacher, child, young person, parent or carer can call the support line on 0800 157 7015 to request help.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said: “Returning to school may seem very difficult, but with the right support it means the best chance of a positive future. The sooner support starts, the better the return to school will be.
“Lockdown has been especially hard for vulnerable children who are now facing not only an ‘attainment gap’ but also a ‘trauma gap’ compared to their classmates. Barnardo’s specially trained staff are available through our See, Hear, Respond service to support them, and I urge teachers to get in touch if any of their pupils are struggling.”
Action for Children’s See, Hear, Respond Operational Director Kate Isham said: “The pandemic has triggered fear and anxiety for parents and children on a worrying scale, with families telling us they are feeling overwhelmed and uncertain how to navigate the crisis.
“With so many in desperate need of guidance, the See, Hear, Respond service means our frontline staff can help families get back on their feet and tackle the unstable weeks and months ahead with the support they desperately need.”
Dara de Burca, Director of Children and Young People for The Children’s Society, said: “The disruption children have faced throughout the pandemic is likely to have profound repercussions – not only on their educational progress, but also on their social development and emotional wellbeing.
“The return to school will be extremely difficult for some children and it is absolutely vital that support is available to help them readjust to school life and set them on track for a brighter future.”