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Profile30th March 2023

From interrupted education to happy classrooms

Amelia Watt, a Year 1 teacher and Inclusion Lead at Ark John Archer Primary, has always been interested in children’s development. She reflects on the impact of the lockdown on children, how the school helped children recover, and their focus on reading. Amelia’s story is part of our #ArkPeople series.

Helping children throughout Covid-19

The most significant difference we saw in our children during the pandemic was their emotional well-being. We did a lot of remote learning where we spoke to them online, but it wasn’t the same. We had to rebuild relationships and ensure the children felt safe returning to the classroom because some returned with a certain level of anxiety. Some found it hard to return to school, having spent much time at home with their families, so being in a classroom was difficult, especially for young children.

We had to transition children back and get them into routines. That was at the forefront of everything we did, alongside no missed learning. While it was challenging, there were some lovely moments, and a day that sticks in my mind is when we sent learning packs to children’s homes. We hadn’t seen the children properly for a long time, so getting to see them and where they lived was so special.

Encouraging young readers

A big focus for us at Ark is reading to help close learning gaps that increased during the pandemic, as we know that literacy impacts children’s overall education. I lead early reading and phonics at school, where I do a lot of teaching and coaching for all teachers that teach phonics. I’m supporting teachers so they know how to get the best out of the children and can set up interventions for children that might need support.

I do assessments to see where children are, and I have lots of 1-2-1 reading sessions, which is lovely. The interventions help by understanding the child’s needs, such as sounds or building up speed and fluency. For example, we’ll do a challenge to see how many words children can read in a minute, which is effective and fun!

Personal growth

I’ve taught for nine years and joined Ark John Archer four years ago. I was working with reception children and expressed interest in broadening my experience to teach the national curriculum. I moved to Key Stage 1, and now I’m the Inclusion Lead working with children with SEND, with teachers and external agencies to support with speech and language, and occupational therapy. I’m ensuring the provision is suitable, offering pastoral support and building relationships with children so they have a safe space to come and talk to me.

We get a lot of encouragement from the network and in our schools to build our skills and develop. We run in-house learning sessions and have brought in external agencies to deliver training, such as the educational psychologists who trained us about children and their working memory, which was a great workshop.

I’m learning about the different aspects of SEND regarding zones of regulation, which is how we talk about our emotions, how we deal with them and how we regulate ourselves. I completed my NPQLT and started training for a National Award for SENco qualification.

Despite a tough few years, I’m invested in our children and know I’m making a real difference. Our children are now calm, settled and happy at school.