Professor of Mental Health in Education presents a new curriculum, to ease children’s return to school after lockdown

Friday, 26 June 2020

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Professor Barry Carpenter CBE, from the School of Education at Oxford Brookes University says children’s mental health should be paramount, alongside issues of safety and catching up on learning.

Professor Carpenter and his son Matthew Carpenter (Principal at Baxter College, Kidderminster), have created A Recovery Curriculum, offering signposts about what schools might consider, to create positive mental health in children as they transition back to school after lockdown.

Barry Carpenter is Professor of Mental Health in Education at Oxford Brookes, and has over 40 years of experience as a teacher, headteacher and writer on special needs education and is an education consultant to organisations and bodies in the UK and overseas. He offers a range of methods as part of A Recovery Curriculum, including exploring longer playtimes, which can allow for social interaction and the re-building of emotional resilience. Professor Carpenter says that best practice on an international level, can also be adopted in the UK.

Subsequent evidence from research studies from New Zealand have shown that there has been considerable impact on the learning and development of those children who were under 5 years old at the time of the earthquakes, such as speech delays and emotional immaturity. We ignore such related evidence at our peril.

Barry Carpenter, Professor of Mental Health in Education, Oxford Brookes University

"Throughout lockdown, children have been listening to reports about the spread of the pandemic and to the reported death toll in their country and internationally. Many children may return to school knowing of someone who has died. In this respect, we have much to learn from the experiences of those children affected by the earthquakes in Christchurch, New Zealand.

"Schools there, kept a register of the deaths within a family, or other significant traumatic events, to guide and inform staff as children returned. Subsequent evidence from research studies from New Zealand have shown that there has been considerable impact on the learning and development of those children who were under 5 years old at the time of the earthquakes, such as speech delays and emotional immaturity. We ignore such related evidence at our peril."

The research has involved analysing the loss children have suffered during the pandemic, the potential anxiety and trauma it may have caused, and the impact on their ability to learn. Finding ways to re-ignite children’s motivation to learn is another factor which Professor Carpenter identifies as key to the transition back into schools.

A Recovery Curriculum: Loss and Life for our children and schools post pandemic is available for you to read and download on the Evidence for Learning website.

You can also listen to Professor Carpenter on the Evidence for Learning podcast on YouTube.

Professor Carpenter and Matthew Carpenter will be giving a keynote address at the Department for Education’s RSHE and Mental Health Conference on 14 July.

Find out more about innovative teaching and research at Oxford Brookes School of Education.