Worth-it’s support for schools and organisations through Covid-19.
What a strange time we find ourselves in due to the Coronavirus pandemic we are in the midst of. We want to assure the schools and organisations that we support and work with that we continue to deliver our training, coaching and consultancy supporting the development of wellbeing and resilience of children and young people.
Current Coronavirus challenges faced by schools
We are currently experiencing a VUCA environment. VUCA is a concept used to describe the Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity of the world after war. Now the concept is gaining new relevance in the current environment and situation as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are here to support schools navigate the VUCA situation successfully, using resilience and wellbeing strategies, grounded in the evidence-based approach of Positive Psychology.
Our motivation for this is as it always has been: to ensure the wellbeing and resilience of children and young people. This is needed now more then ever. There are rising concerns around how Covid-19 and the restrictions due to school closures and social distancing will impact on children and young people’s mental health.
We work with schools and organisations to support them develop whole system approaches to supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
How a VUCA environment can impact on school wellbeing
- Home life can be much more stressful for pupils during Covid-19 than schools are used to managing. This is due to many factors caused as a result of the pandemic such as; parents working at home and juggling childcare arrangements, trying to continue their children’s education and supporting more vulnerable family members; financial worries; worries about family members health; bereavement; too many people in the house; routines and structure that provide certainty may have become more chaotic, just to name a few. This can result in relationships being more fractious, communication being more volatile and perpetuating cycles of stress. This is combined by the safety net and security of school and positive peer relationships being removed due to social distancing.
- What can schools do to reduce volatility? Provide clear and simple communication; reduce pressures (perceived or actual) on parents to become teachers overnight; encourage parents to use the time to build positive, supportive, nurturing, loving relationships and positive communication. Use resources and teaching support to make learning fun, accessible and engaging. Improving engagement and relationships enables learning to be an opportunity to protect and promote wellbeing supporting the development of resilience during the current adversity.
- We are faced with unprecedented uncertainty, this is hard to deal with as an adult, a teacher or a school leader. Some of the questions that the children you work with are tackling now include: When will my schools be to open? What will this be like, will it be the same or different? Will my friends still like me? What schoolwork will need to be done, will I still know what to do? What about exam results or assessments? What about changing class or moving from primary to secondary school? What about leaving school? What about university or work and what will happen in future? And the most scary and uncertain of them all, what if someone I love catches the virus and dies?
- What can schools do to reduce uncertainty? Schools can prepare to help children and young people manage these uncertainties, this can be done through putting in place clear communication, processes and systems that help make the uncertainty seam less scary. Training staff in a school wide response in answering these or the relevant questions for your school community, encouraging a clear and consistent message from school to pupils. Engaging pupil voice ask pupils what they feel most uncertain about and what support do they need to help manage this, where possible and realistic provide that support. Communicate this support in ways that pupils will access, repeat this message, pupils may not ‘hear’ the messages until they need to!
- This may be the most complex challenge that has faced schools to date, everyone will be impacted. Many systems and processes will need to be developed at a rapid pace. Staff will lose loved ones, staff will be ill, children will lose loved ones and they will be ill, everyone will be stressed, everyone will be managing change at a family pace, some will be more comfortable than others in dealing with complex and rapid change. Not everyone will have strategies to cope. Some will cope better than others. Metaphorically, some will sink and some will swim.
- What can schools do to reduce complexity? The good news is that complexity doesn’t have to mean complication. Many simple solutions make a big difference in dealing with complexity. Create simple rules to help make decisions. Keep child wellbeing central to the core business of your school. Staff wellbeing is a priority, supporting them as they support the children will be key in tackling this problem. This can be done by providing clear communication; re-affirm the positives of your children, team or school community; focusing on the solutions not the problem; recognising and rewarding effort made; identifying and utilising all the resources or assets within your school and draw on them. Old systems and ways of working may become redundant, don’t be afraid of change, change is your friend, embrace it.
- Nothing has been more vague and ambiguous than it is now, none of us know what is going to happen. Ambiguity is the lack of clear meaning and the inability to decide because there are just too many options to choose from. A paralysing position many school leaders may find themselves in. While simultaneously children look to teachers to provide them with clarity and reassurance, the teachers look to leaders to have all the answers when there aren’t any, only more questions. Mixed messages, conflicts of interest, and multiple demands all create an atmosphere of ambiguity that makes progress towards the common goal of supporting pupils even harder. The good news is the more comfortable an organisation is in dealing with ambiguity the more resilient it is.
- What can schools do to manage ambiguity? The tension between ambiguity and structure can provide an opportunity to make a real difference to school culture and systems. A "one size fits all" or "best practice" approach may not serve the school or children in your care or community. The ability to evolve as you go along, learn and adapt, ‘be in the not knowing’ will help you find your own, maybe not always straightforward, but best way forward. Ambiguity helps you put the why and the how at the centre of your school. We support schools who make their why about supporting pupil wellbeing and resilience, we figure out the how together over time during the course of the engagement.
How we are supporting schools through Covid-19
We have been busy developing our offer of support into online training, coaching or consultancy that can be delivered remotely by our team of consultants.
We can support you now with staff or pupil wellbeing and resilience
- Provide remote resilience and wellbeing workshops for the children at school
- Provide remote resilience and wellbeing workshops for the children who are at home
- Provide topic specific workshops that can support with year 6 transition, year 10 or 11, or support pupils targeted groups of vulnerable children develop resilience and strategies for wellbeing
- Provide remote workshops for your parents, empowering them to support their children manage wellbeing and reduce stress
- Provide staff wellbeing training to support them manage stress and prevent burnout, supporting them to deal with the VUCA environment we currently face.
Help you prepare for the ‘new normal’ following the pandemic
- We can support you through consultancy and leadership coaching adapt to the VUCA environment
- Manage the challenges you are facing as a school to put pupil mental health and wellbeing at core of your school.
- Support you to manage staff or pupil transition back to school after the long break.