I have just finished work with my group of nurture children for this academic year. Like everyone in education in September 2020, I had no idea how this year would work out. My colleagues and I work with children who have been recognised as having additional social, emotional, mental health needs. I was pretty fearful in September about how we would navigate through the year, how the bubbles would work, how the children would respond to the staff mask-wearing and constant hand washing and not seeing other children or staff. But we did all survive! And actually, most of the children thrived. At the end of every year, we write an end of year report about our work, we reflect on where the children were and how they are now. At the end of every year, I am always amazed and moved by the progress we see, but this year feels more significant. This year’s group missed out on massive amounts of preschool education before starting; many of them have missed time from schools in the first two terms due to bubbles going down with covid isolation and then further lockdowns in the winter. All of these are hugely significant. My colleagues and I measure our children’s progress on how settled they are, can they now play with others, can they begin to become regulated when they have a regulated adult with them, can we understand their speech and language, are they now talking to us and others, can they take part in class for some of the time with their peers, do they have an emotional understanding and vocabulary. The answer is yes, a massive YES. And that feels brilliant and quite remarkable.
As ever this year, I have seen teachers and teaching assistants and Sencos and headteachers doing a fantastic job. We don’t say thank you enough to the education staff; the last 18 months have been the most challenging time for everyone in education. My hope is education staff can finally stop and rest for some time over the summer, I know there is still much they will need to do for the new term, but my hope is they can stop for a time but also I hope they can feel appreciated and thanked for their amazing work.
In the last few weeks, I have had a new book published with Routledge, it is called supporting children with social, emotional and mental health needs in the early years. The book offers practical ideas and suggestions on how to support children with SEMH needs