Health and wellbeing are an integral part of Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) and in recent years, has been a key focus for The Scottish Government, with this being one of three core curricular areas. Education Scotland state that “The development of knowledge and skills embedded within health and wellbeing are central to healthy development, rewarding and fulfilling lifestyles across the life stages, and the employability prospects of learners”. (Education Scotland, 2013, p4).
Education Scotland argue that Health and Wellbeing should be intertwined throughout all aspects of school life, with a particular emphasis on pupils ability to understand their emotions and use strategies to help them learn the social and emotional skills which can help them to “embrace change and challenge with optimism, develop emotional resilience in dealing with competitive and challenging situations and express themselves creatively, individually and in groups” (Education Scotland, 2006, p8).
Due to the ongoing global pandemic, there has been a growing concern surrounding the mental and emotional wellbeing of young people, which has led to an increase in the need for appropriate interventions to be put in place. The World Health Organization (WHO) (2020a) highlighted that many children are showing signs of mental illness and further studies show that, during lockdown, children exhibited several problems, such as anxiety and emotional and behavioural disorders (Jiao et al., 2020; Spinelli et al., 2020; Xie et al., 2020). Furthermore, a United Nations report on May 13th, 2020, underlined how, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the emotional problems of children intensified by family stress, social isolation and interruption of school which occurred in critical moments of their emotional development (United Nations, 2020, p6). Other prominent researchers including Jiao et al. (2020), Jiloha (2020), Leung et al. (2020) and Qiu et al. (2020) are also in agreement and conclude that the period of prolonged lockdown is generating feelings of fear, worry, sadness, loneliness, or stress among children ages 3 to 18.
So much of the educational experience designed for learners is centred and designed around face-to-face classroom-based learning. Without this face-to-face interaction with their peers and teachers, students are in danger of becoming less connected socially and emotionally as they spend a growing amount of time in front of a digital device. Making the educational adjustments to ensure that children and young people feel supported in their learning is fundamental to raising attainment for all (Scottish Government, 2017, p11) which has been a key aim for Scotland’s educational system (Scottish Government, 2017, p3). In these uncertain times, teachers have a duty to create a safe space online for students, where they feel comfortable to discuss their thoughts and feelings in order to manage and control these emotions in a productive manner. Therefore, having regular emotional check-ins with pupils is crucial in maintaining a forum to engage in discussions surrounding strategies and resources which would help manage these emotions during both these unprecedented times and in the future.
The aims of this inquiry includes the following:
- To increase digital engagement in a period of extended Remote Learning.
- To create a safe platform for pupils to discuss their feelings and emotions without fear of judgement.
- To provide opportunities for pupils to explore useful strategies for managing and controlling these feelings and emotions.
- To explore the impact of the planned emotional check-ins in further engagement and health and well-being.