Loneliness is an increasingly detrimental issue that strikes the most vulnerable groups in society the hardest, with children and seniors being especially susceptible. Yet, it spares no one. 45% of British people report sometimes feeling lonely, and as many as 18% feel lonely all the time. Loneliness is not only an issue of scale; it has also been labelled as being worse for us than obesity and physical inactivity, having negative effects on both mental and physical health. So what do school communities need to know to help tackle this issue?
How can teachers and leaders take advantage of what’s beyond their schools’ walls? In the Innovate My School Guide 2018/19, an eclectic selection of educators share their own community-oriented successes - here’s a sneak peak...
When it comes to stress, anxiety and worries, our natural instinct is to protect children from them; why? It’s a natural process we need to go through, and an important life skill we need to be able to manage. If we don’t fail, we don’t learn. Part of failing is feeling sad; part of feeling sad is knowing how we can move on and be positive again. It’s important for children to experience a healthy amount of stress and anxiety. If they don’t experience it, how will they learn to manage it?
Seating plans for a classroom are even more complicated than organising who sits where at a wedding reception. Like so much else in education, you need to define your objectives. It is not just about making sure sworn enemies are not seated side-by-side. Instead, you have to think about the individual needs. Is the child with ADHD better sitting right in front of you, where you can keep an eye on them, or by a wall where they only have a child on one side of them? Is it best to have a child who experiences sensory overload in a quiet area, on a separate single table, or should you put them with a small, sympathetic group who may be able to provide support?
In an ever-changing and turbulent climate of expectations in education, the demands on educators is at a premium; a premium which is quickly becoming unsustainable. Many teachers, who are good at and passionate about their jobs, feel unable to cope with the changes and demands being placed upon them. Many schools have tried to introduce various initiatives to address teacher wellbeing, such as wellbeing-centric days, meditation activities, away days, and so on. Each of these initiatives, even with the best intentions, have no real-long term impact, and that is why the key to teacher wellbeing rests with middle leaders.
With the warmer weather approaching - and the prospect of enjoying the great outdoors becoming more of a reality - schools need to be helping children prepare for the season ahead. Thankfully, Boots are once again bringing their Soltan Sun Ready Schools programme to UK classrooms - minimising workload and budget concerns, while maximising pupil health. This year, the leading pharmacy chain are even going so far as help fund school trips!
Is the answer to community reinvention sitting at a school desk? In the year that the UK has appointed the first ‘minister for loneliness’, it seems that perhaps we - as members of a community - need to take some responsibility for anyone struggling within our own locality. Let’s use retirement as an example: it is often seen as a time of happiness, ‘me time’, starting new hobbies, however many issues can hamper the enjoyment - poor health, lack of money, bereavement, distant families, inadequate support and, subsequently, loneliness.
The library should be the beating heart of your school, and the most valuable resource in it is - of course - the librarian! Sadly, however, sometimes children need more encouragement to come into the library. They may be reluctant or struggling readers, or reading may not be seen as ‘cool’ by their friends. Here are five steps to change this.
A few years ago, I began to use Twitter to develop my pedagogy. Looking back, I believe it was one of most significant decisions I have made as an educator. We should not feel confined in our classrooms or institutes. Once I started using Twitter, it proved to be a big game-changer.