Schools, Children and Evolve – A Statement of Support and Intent
Over 8 million children are experiencing a school year like no other. Over half a million children started their academic journey with a Primary school in September 2020. A similar number made the transition to secondary education in 2020. Normally, these transitions would be familiar and well-managed. But these are not normal times.
Evolve trains and provides Health Mentors to provide both physical and virtual support for schools. Health Mentors work with all children, and particularly the most vulnerable. They support and develop children’s physical, mental and cognitive health and their emotional well-being. The aim being to ensure that children are fit and ready to get the most they can from learning and life.
During the lockdown, this work has continued with Evolve Health Mentors being an integral part of the school solutions for their vulnerable children and those of key workers. And, as children started learning from home, Evolve created and delivered a mass of online content to supplement the virtual education provided by schools.
Behind the scenes, we are developing “HE:RO at Home”, a series of online interventions and resources which will deliver well-being support services through lockdown and self-isolation. HE:RO at Home contains the core elements of Project HE:RO and will further include a selection of physical activity challenges, mentoring workshops and webinars, “Personal Best My Effort” challenges, and our Classroom Movers programme.
There are many challenges ahead. There is hope on the horizon that restrictions will ease throughout 2021, but we will still experience restrictions on education and family life across the country until cases begin to decrease and vaccination is rolled out more widely.
At Evolve, we have realised we have people and skills which can make a difference over the coming months and years. We have kept an ear to the ground and talked to school staff, parents, the children and our wider networks. These conversations are giving us an insight into the specific challenges that schools will face, as they are asked to manage COVID-19 rules and restrictions whilst helping children to catch up on months of missed education.
We plan to respond to these challenges in four ways:
- Ongoing Services – To provide Health Mentors and associated resources to support the continued learning and development of children as part of the school’s response to the pandemic.
- Information Gathering – To take soundings and gather data to build a picture of the evolving physical, cognitive and mental health of children as they return to normality after lockdown.. This provides information to inform support plans around school management of COVID-19 cases.
- Transition Support – To develop and be ready to deliver interventions which will smooth the transition from lockdown to education. These will mesh in with other school initiatives and help the children ready themselves for the learning and development challenges ahead.
- These resources and interventions are expected to cover elements such as:
- Bereavement and other trauma – being a useful part of the restorative journey for the most vulnerable.
- Cognitive assessment – a set of engaging interventions to establish where children are at in terms of cognitive readiness. And then to kickstart cognitive improvements.
- Physical health – fun activities to increase physical activity, to assess physical condition.
- Informing – children are facing a situation where the overall broad plan of their education and its delivery has been interrupted. They, and their parents, will crave information about the facts:
- The fact that things have been interrupted and what that means in terms of what has been missed.
- The new plan for “catch up”, as developed by the authorities and implemented at the school.
- How future national lockdowns could impact on their children’s education
- Details of how they can still support children’s wellbeing through a very challenging time for them.
- Extended Services – To modify and develop the existing HE:RO and other Health Mentor services to embed priorities and additional interventions required due to the lost lockdown period.
Throughout the lockdown, transition and reopening periods the Evolve and wider school staff have seen many things and learned many lessons. We constantly examine all these experiences, to see if we should update or change our practice.
Evolve will continue to remain flexible in its approach to supporting the children, schools and communities we work with. If you would like to find out more information on how we may be able to support you please contact Michelle Rihoy using Michelle@evolvesi.com or call her on 07966 750313.