School staff and parent/carer special - Friday 29 May

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Healthy Lives - Banner 1 May 2020 - FINAL

A safe and responsible return to nursery or school in Tower Hamlets

Many nurseries and schools in Tower Hamlets will begin to increase access for more pupils, or reopen, from the beginning of June. Like parents, we want to see local children back in a safe learning environment so that they can catch up on learning and not fall behind.

A decision about whether a nursery or school will increase pupil numbers is made by the relevant headteacher and governing body – they will only increase pupil numbers, or reopen their school, where it is felt that this can be managed safely.

As a local authority, we are supporting all of our nurseries and schools to understand and manage the risk of infection and we have worked closely with partners to develop options for a safe and responsible return to nurseries and schools.

The decision to send your child to school remains yours, and we recommend that you do send your child to school where you feel able to. It is the best place for them, to learn and to socialise.  

From 1 June, some schools will begin to offer places for:

  • Nursery
  • Reception
  • Year 1 and 6
  • Face-to-face support for Year 10 and 12 pupils

Your school should contact you to tell you about their plans but, where necessary, you should contact your child’s school directly for further information.

Alternatively, you can call our Family Information Service on 020 7364 6495 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm). If you have specific medical questions about sending your child to school you should contact your GP (eg someone in your house is shielding).

Since 23 March many of our schools have actually stayed open, and remain open, for vulnerable children and the children or key workers. We’ve also run hub schools, which have taken children from multiple schools under one roof; holiday childcare schemes for up to forty children at once, and; operated Phoenix Special School for approximately fifty pupils a day. In all of these education settings, we have experienced no cases of coronavirus infection, and we will extend the careful approach taken here to the phased reopening of all schools in our borough.

Our schools cannot eliminate the risk of infection entirely, but we are adopting sensible measures to manage and reduce the risk. The first defence against infection remains self-isolation. If your child, or someone in your household, has coronavirus or symptoms of coronavirus - do not send your child to school. If a child, or member of staff, becomes ill whilst at school then they will be isolated and sent home.

For the latest information visit: 

Here's a selection of helpful and informative resources...

TES article


School reopening - key mental health questions answered

Some school children could begin returning to classrooms from early June, but will the social distancing rules affect their mental health? TES asks Dr Rina Bajaj, a counselling psychologist who works with the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families, about what we can expect in the next few months.

Some key points covered about how schools can manage the transition are:

  • clear communication about timelines for opening the school
  • clear guidelines around what social distancing measures will be put in place
  • explain to children why social distancing is important and continue to have age appropriate conversations about the coronavirus

Questions answered >

Unexpected endings


Unexpected endings and transitions

Below are some helpful tips on managing unexpected endings and transitions. These are taken from a practical guide to support pupils managing change during periods of disruption. It was produced by the Anna Freud Centre, a world leading mental health charity for children and families who have developed and delivered pioneering mental health work for over 60 years. 

Communicating honestly

Teachers, parents, carers and school leaders can encourage pupils to look to the future positively, whilst avoiding making unrealistic promises about when activities will resume or what the future will hold. While honesty and openness about the future is key, optimism and hope that things will get better are also important for promoting a positive outlook and managing worries and anxieties.

Normalising worries and anxieties

It is important to remind pupils that it is normal to feel worried or anxious when activities and supportive relationships end during times of change and uncertainty. It is important to encourage children and young people to talk about their feelings or worries and to give opportunities for discussion about concerns.

Focusing on accomplishments, rather than losses

It can be helpful to frame an ending as a moment of transition and growth, rather than as a loss and final closure. 

Sustaining social support networks

Sustaining social ties with friends, siblings and other loved ones (online and by phone) is important to help young people feel connected and supported. 

Full handout >

Support for schools and colleges


Advice for schools and colleges

Schools and colleges everywhere have had to work in new ways and develop new relationships during lockdown. The Anna Freud Centre has published a series of resources to help support staff and to provide them with information about how to work with children and young people, including those with SEND, along with materials to share with parents and carers.

Resources on staff well-being and managing unexpected endings and transitions can be found, along with coping with anxiety and worry, and how to look after ourselves and each other.

Access resources >

SEND parents


Easy read advice for parents of SEND children

This guide provides advice for SEND children and young people on how to look after their mental health and well-being during COVID-19. It helps to explain what the virus is and how to manage the anxiety around it, including ways to stay well, such as:

  • Keeping in touch with people
  • Looking after your body by eating healthy food, drinking enough water and exercising at home
  • Looking after your feelings by thinking of things that make you happy and talking about your worries to someone you trust
  • Thinking about your new routine, making a plan of things you want to do in the day and making sure you get enough sleep
  • Doing things you enjoy
  • Finding time to relax
  • Enjoying nature
  • Try not to be worried by the news

Full resources >

Schools in Mind


Schools in Mind

Schools in Mind is a free network from the Anna Freud Centre, for school staff and allied professionals. It shares practical, academic and clinical expertise regarding the well-being and mental health issues that affect schools.

The network provides a trusted source of up-to-date and accessible information and resources that school leaders, teachers and support staff can use to support the mental health and well-being of children and young people.

Support network >

6 ways to cope with lockdown loss


Six ways to cope with lockdown loss

Coronavirus has brought loss into all of our lives. Even if we have been fortunate enough not to lose someone close to us, we are all dealing with loss of some kind.

In only a few short weeks, life has been turned upside down. Many of our routines have changed overnight. Many of the people we rely on have become distanced from us, or are only available on our phone or through computer screens. 

BBC Bitesize, with the Anna Freud Centre, looks at how we can find ways forward in these strange times by:

  • Taking time to adapt
  • Feeling its OK to not be OK
  • Making sure we have things to look forward to
  • Realising doing some things differently are actually better than before
  • Holding each other in mind
  • Looking to the future

Full article >

Good days in unusual times


Helpful reading from the Anna Freud Centre

This book is for all children during these unusual times. It is not much fun when you cannot do the things you usually enjoy. In this book, the Anna Freud Centre team give you tips on how to take care of yourself and have good days during this unusual time.

Have good days >

TH Healthy Schools logo


The Healthy Lives Team want to support you with all aspects of health and wellbeing. We will be sending you regular newsletters that will be relevant whether you are at home with your children, working from home or at school. 

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Coronavirus updates and advice

The council is supporting the nation's efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus, while running our most critical services and supporting our residents, including those that are vulnerable.  

We are regularly publishing advice for residents, local businesses and more at 

We are also sharing updates with our subscribers in regular emails, and publishing stories on social media using #TowerHamletsTogether.

Sign up to our 'health and wellbeing - coronavirus' newsletter to get regular updates delivered to your inbox.

 Sign up for updates >

Stay at home

More on staying healthy, happy and entertained at home

In addition to the highlights featured here, the council has put together a whole host of resources to help families and individuals stay happy, healthy and entertained while they spend more time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic.

From online Idea Store materials to educational activities, learning a new skill or hobby, taking a virtual museum or zoo tour, keeping fit or just having pure fun, we've got it all in one place.

More activities and resources >

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