Lengthy School Closures Affect Every Child’s Wellbeing

POSTED: October 8, 2020Category: ArticlesBY: AISA P9

Article authored by Veer Shah, International Consultant, GL Education 

This will be a new academic year like no other. Although most students coped with lockdown remarkably well, teachers also suspect it wasn’t without emotional and educational costs. The problem is that it isn’t always readily apparent who has really struggled and what the consequences for their wellbeing and learning will be.

One common observation that some teachers have made is the damaging effect the months away from school have had on simple study skills. How to sit still, how to behave in class, how to listen and how to work together.

Nicola Lambros, Cognita Director of Education for Europe, is the author of a new set of interventions designed to support students following a prolonged absence from school, linked to our Pupil Attitudes to Self and School (PASS) measure. As she says, “Following an extended school absence the most important question we should consider is: ‘How do we motivate our students to re-engage with the curriculum we are offering?’ because learning without the guidance and support of teachers may have fostered feelings of failure in some, damaging their belief in their capabilities.”

Michael Browning, Head of Year 7 at Garden International School in Kuala Lumpur, says it’s easy to overlook fragile learners if attainment data isn’t cross-referenced with wellbeing assessments that seek to uncover a pupil’s emotional state of mind.

“Tracking the more vulnerable students has been more challenging during this period of online learning, so I put a lot of effort into celebrating success and recognition of effort to really encourage these students.” He says initial results are encouraging and attainment and progress do not appear to have suffered.

Jill Wilson, the Headteacher of The Gleddings Preparatory School in Halifax, also told us that it is impossible to guess how individual children will have coped. “Some of our children, even though they come from relatively fortunate backgrounds, will have struggled during lockdown but others won’t. The only way we can assess their wellbeing is scientifically – through the evidence.”

Jill has used GL Education’s PASS to assess pupils’ wellbeing for several years. This year, she plans to test much earlier than usual – at the end of September rather than in the summer term – because she wants a clearer understanding of how lockdown has affected children’s deeper attitudes to learning and school.

Yes, most children are extremely resilient, but most are equally good at masking what is bothering them. If a child’s wellbeing isn’t assessed alongside their academic performance post lockdown then how can schools be certain to sustain either?

About the author:

Veer Shah is an international consultant at GL Education, supporting international schools across Africa to understand and analyse formative assessment data. Prior to his current role, Veer worked as a Maths teacher and assessment coordinator in an international school and has also taught in the UK. Find out more about PASS and our new PASS Interventions at

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