The Recovery Curriculum at Mexborough St John the Baptist C of E Primary School

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 - Rebuilding              2 - Reconnecting         3 - Resilience               4 - Relationships

As part of our approach we acknowledge the 5 losses that Barry Carpenter 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. 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, 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

  • Ask children about how they feel about being at school, what learning at home has been like for them and use the responses to help us plan.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Plan greater opportunities for outdoor learning and engagement with animals and nature to enhance well-being and re-ignite neural pathways.

  • Plan for short informal retrieval and assessment opportunities to identify gaps in knowledge. No formal assessments will take place until October half term.

  • Record individual core subject objectives covered in our recovery curriculum and accept that these may evolve.

  • Offer a universal PHSE curriculum to all children and specialised PHSE and pastoral programmes to those who need it.

  • Continue to deliver phonic, reading, writing and maths lessons daily.

  • Engage in an in-depth arts and literature curriculum which will engage, inspire and offer therapeutic support to all children regardless of need.


Entitlements in our recovery curriculum

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




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:

The universal PSHE offer will continue for the first half term. The Ealing grid for learning have developed a recovery programme which clearly links to the 5 leavers. It can be accessed here:


The Rotherham PSHE scheme can also be used alongside this. There is a curriculum plan and full resources for all key stages:


Week 3 & 4 – Relationships

Week 5 – Community

Week 6 – Transparent curriculum – resilience

Week 7 – Metacognition

Week 8 - Space to be me


Using picture books and art to support recovery

Picture books and art are engaging and powerful ways to support emotional well-being across all year groups. Across the first half term we will be using picture books as an art and PSHE driver. The following picture books will be used to deliver mini topics that last for a duration of two weeks. 



Opportunities and participation in arts can dramatically improve health outcomes and well-being, counter inequalities and increase social engagement. Arts subjects encourage self-expression and creativity and can build confidence as well as a sense of individual identity.

Through each picture book pupils will explore a different art technique. Over the eight weeks pupils will explore and express their feelings and ideas through:

  • Collaborative art (this could be through any chosen technique)

  • Pencil

  • Paint

  • Digital media or textiles


Daily Key Skills Learning

Teachers have prioritised key English and Maths learning that will be taught to help children 'catch-up'. These Key skills will be taught every day. To begin with sessions may need to be shorter and gradually built up over several weeks. Daily key learning includes:


Phonics – This may be two daily short sessions to begin with.

Reading – Shared and guided reading is an extremely high priority and will continue through the whole of school. Reading for pleasure will happen in every class every day. Class story can be used as a motivational and calming tool. This is a good opportunity to expose children to high quality text and develop inference at a whole class level.

Writing – The focus will be on basic writing skills (cohort specific). Pupils may need to revisit key skills which may have slipped. In the first half term writing may be linked to the texts above and PSHE themes. Teachers will aim to make writing interesting and fun and use shorter units of work to identify areas / key skills to develop. 

Maths low stakes quizzing will be used to assess pupils knowledge and skills. There will be a heavy focus on number facts, times tables and the four main operations (+ - x / ). We will continue to use White Rose Maths hub materials to plan for maths.


In addition to the above it is an expectation that pupils will access P.E, reading for pleasure and PSHE activities at the beginning of each day. This will be revisited and adapted throughout the first half term.