Headteacher’s express concerns about how the pandemic has affected pupils

Headteacher’s from Bishop Gore and Pontarddulais Secondary Schools attended the Education Scrutiny Panel meeting last month to discuss how they are using the monies they have delegated as part of the behaviour strategy. The Panel was keen to know how schools are using these monies to reduce referrals to Education Other Than At School Services (EOTAS), to re-introduce pupils back into schools after attending such services and other behaviour related issues.

Members were pleased to hear that both schools integrate pupils into mainstream after a period in EOTAS using a hybrid approach with bespoke timetables including a mix of mainstream provision. Impact of the work being done at both schools has reduced exclusions, EOTAS referrals, improved educational outcomes and has increased pupil confidence.

Headteacher’s from both schools shared concerns however, in relation to how the pandemic has affected pupils and schools including:

  • The negative impact on some pupil’s mental health and wellbeing, with some pupils having experienced additional trauma, like bereavement and financial worries
  • Some vulnerable pupils did not participate in blended learning opportunities (unwilling/reluctant/too anxious to engage in online learning)
  • Pupils identified with additional needs including SEBD, were unable to access the support usually received in the school setting

The Panel shared these concerns and recognised that schools are working to address these issues now that pupils are fully back in school, but felt it was important to emphasise the importance of continued support to schools on these matters.

Members were very pleased to learn that the good practice shown by schools is being shared through a number of formal and informal mechanisms using online platforms.

Cllr Lyndon Jones, convenor of the Panel has written to Cllr Robert Smith, Cabinet member for Education Improvement, Learning and Skills outlining the panels thoughts. He also requested for a written response back, welcoming Cllr Smith’s views on the points raised by the Headteacher’s on how the behaviour strategy could be improved.

This letter has been published on the council website. Here you will also be able to view the response letter once received from the Cabinet Member, all reports presented and a recording of the meeting.

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