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The Recovery Curriculum: Reset, Recover, Rebuild

Focus on Mental Health & Wellbeing

September 2020

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela

The COVID-19 pandemic paused ‘normal’ education for our children on 20th March 2020. Until September 2020, the majority of our children in our school did not attend full-time educational provision. We acknowledge that as a result of this our children will return having had very different experiences to each other in terms of formal and informal learning at home. Initial focus around returning back to school is that we can’t pick up from where we left off in March. Work towards a recovery curriculum will aim to ensure that all pupils are supported to feel happy, safe and emotionally ready to learn. The neuroscientific evidence tells us that without emotional security, the ability for a child’s brain to engage in ‘new-learning’ is vastly reduced.


We aim to deliver a curriculum which covers the 4Rs which are important to our school community at this time:

1 – Reset   2 – Recover   3 – Rebuild   4 – Relationships

As part of our approach we acknowledge the 5 losses that Barry Carpenter (A Recovery Curriculum: Loss & Life for our children and schools post pandemic – Carpenter & Carpenter 2020) states can trigger the emergence of anxiety, trauma and bereavement in any child. These are:

  • Loss of routine
  • Loss of structure
  • Loss of friendship
  • Loss of opportunity
  • Loss of freedom

The overall impact of these losses cannot be underestimated. Initial focus around returning back to school is that we can’t pick up from where we left off in March 2020. Work should take place towards a recovery curriculum with an immediate response to:

  • Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Friendships and relationships
  • Transition
  • Staying safe (online)
  • Loss and bereavement


Carpenter uses 5 levers of recovery and we will refer to these in our thinking and planning for the recovery curriculum:

  1. Relationships – we will explicitly plan for investing in and restoring relationships.
  2. Community – we need to listen and understand what being at home has been like and listening without judgement about what learning, in its widest sense, has been for children at home and in the community. We will acknowledge the value of all learning and not simply that which may be classed as academic or which has been set by school.
  3. Transparent curriculum – we will share our curriculum and thinking behind it with children and parents.
  4. Metacognition – we will make clear the skills that children need to recall, or relearn, to be able to be a successful learner in school.
  5. Space – we will give children the time and opportunities to enable them to just ‘be’; to rediscover their strengths, talents and successes and to find their voice as a learner once again.

Planning and delivery of the recovery curriculum

Pre September:

  • During the Summer Term staff will make transition phone calls to every pupil’s parent/carer in their new class. As part of the conversation class teachers will ask a series of questions so as to ascertain possible support needed (be that academic or social/emotional).  This information will then be analysed and used by class teachers to plan for appropriate tiered support across the relevant phase.
  • Creation of a Wellbeing Team, led by members of the senior leadership team. Parent/carer survey carried out, online wellbeing platform established and advice in line with survey responses given.

September Onwards:

  • Class teachers will ask children how they feel about being back at school, what learning at home has been like for them, what their successes have been and use the responses to help us plan. Individual support.
  • Teach and model rules, routines and boundaries in line with the school values and behaviour policy. These expectations have not changed but we recognise that some children may find them more challenging to stick to when they come back to school. Where this is the case we will plan for success for these children through timely intervention and support plans.
  • Engage in daily check in with all children and monitor emotional regulation at the start of the school day. Pastoral staff will be ready with appropriate regulatory activities should they be needed to help children to settle into learning as quickly as possible.
  • Staff will complete class Pyramid of Needs document to support the planning of therapeutic interventions.
  • Plan for lessons which match children’s attention spans and rebuild resilience in learning as needed, over time.
  • Limit cognitive load by planning in small steps, building effectively on prior learning which will be assessed in a low-stakes manner.
  • Monitor lesson pace to match pupil engagement on a lesson by lesson basis, and allow pupil voice to guide planning and curriculum discussions.
  • Where possible, plan opportunities for outdoor learning and engagement with nature to enhance well-being and re-ignite neural pathways.
  • Plan assessment opportunities to identify gaps in knowledge. The assessments will be delivered in a manner appropriate to the age and stage of each pupil.
  • Record individual core subject objectives covered in our recovery curriculum and accept that these may evolve.
  • Offer a universal PSHE curriculum to all children and specialised PSHE and pastoral programmes to those who need it, delivered through our Learning Mentor provision.
  • Continue to deliver daily phonic, reading, writing and maths lessons.
  • Provide regular and consistent opportunities for pupils to accelerate their academic skills/knowledge base.
  • Ensure those children requiring additional academic support receive this in a timely manner – please also see East Dene Primary Catch-Up Curriculum.
  • Wellbeing Team to continue offering support to parents/carers with information and advice linked to mental health and wellbeing.

Entitlements in our recovery curriculum

We have divided our curriculum into 3 tiers of entitlement as follows:

Tier 1 – All children and families will receive


Universal offer/Actions to be implemented

  • Daily check in – with a member of staff. Each class to use emotional barometers pre- register.
  • Strong rules / routines and boundaries (behaviour policy)
  • Jigsaw and Chameleon recovery PSHE
  • P4C sessions to support pupils to think critically and build resilience
  • School values underpinning all learning
  • Arts and cultural curriculum – picture this.
  • Daily key skills learning in line with individual needs
  • Where possible outdoor learning to reconnect neural pathways.
  • Peaceful corners set up in classrooms to allow children ‘time out’ should it be required.
  • Access to physical and mental well-being support.
  • Families to continue to access the school’s online wellbeing team – resources and advice to be shared on a regular basis.
  • Regular communication to inform parents/carers of their child/children’s progress as well as any social/emotional needs.


Linked to the 5 losses:

1 Routine

2 Structure

3 Friendship

4 Opportunity

5 Freedom


Tier 2 – Some children and families will need


  • Identification and delivery of personalised interventions
  • At risk pupils identified for post and pre-register check-in with our Learning Mentors.
  • Focused school based intervention in the classroom
  • Pastoral support and individual pastoral programmes
  • Use of Mental Health & Wellbeing  resources on an individual basis (JKe & BT)
  • Specialist school based therapeutic interventions to focus on individual needs
  • Access to online workshops to support specific needs.


Tier 3 – A few children and families will need


  • A longer and deeper recovery period including multi agency support (Early Help, MIND, CAMHS, ED PSYC)
  • Home-school link worker
  • Virtual meetings with external partners to offer support.
  • Specific programmes/resources for use at home.





Our recovery curriculum sees PSHE as an imperative part in preparing pupils to be able to access learning effectively in school.

Our universal offer will be as follows:

Week Resources Content School Values Link
1 – 8 Jigsaw Recovery Package 1. Coming together

2. Coronavirus – what do we know? Address misconceptions.

3. Belonging and feeling safe in school.

4. Reconnecting with friends.

5. Finding the positive.

6. Managing worries and fears.

7. Gratitude and appreciation.

8. Loss and bereavement.

1. Respect



4. Kindness

5. Responsibility

6. Empathy


1 – 8 Chameleon PDE (as an additional support) 1. How are you?

2. Managing disappointment and loss.

3. Kindness during lockdown.

4. What can we learn from lockdown?

5. Getting back on track.




4. Kindness

5. Responsibility

6. Empathy



The new Rotherham PSHE Scheme of Work will be used for the remainder of the academic year covering a range of topics including, The Caring School, Keeping Myself Safe, The World of Drugs, Growing and Changing. Please see individual year group long term plans for overview of coverage.


All actions detailed in our ‘Entitlements in our Recovery Curriculum’ will be evaluated for impact on a half termly basis.  These actions will sit alongside our School Development Plan and will inform future decisions as to how best we can support our pupils.

In addition each year group in KS1/KS2 will assess each child’s understanding of the key objectives delivered during a PSHE unit of work.  Assessments will be made using the RoSIS PSHE Assessment Descriptor document and judgements will be made as to whether a child is working towards the expected standard, at the expected standard or above the expected standard.  In EYFS staff will continue to teach PSED (Personal, Social and Emotional Development) using the basis of observations to form detailed judgements about each child’s progress in this prime area.

Additional Resources

Barry Carpenter’s original think piece

This article considers a range of opening scenarios but the suggestions made are relevant here.

This is a link to the wordless books focused on the experience of the pandemic

This is a link to a Bereavement Box