Pandemic Recovery: Emotion, Language and Health in Schools

In the context of Covid-19, schools across the country have been designing Recovery Curricula, considering how best to support pupils’ emotion and health through a recognition of their diverse experiences of the pandemic and the multilingual backgrounds that inform their emotional and experiential responses to the pandemic.

'Pandemic Recovery: Emotion, Language and Health in Schools' was funded by a grant from the School of Advanced Study’s Public Engagement Fund and hosted as part of the 2021 Being Human Festival, whose theme was ‘Renewal’.

Over the course of several weeks in October and November 2021, the writer and workshop facilitator, Neela Doležalová led a series of creative workshops with pupils at the Gearies Primary School in East London. In the workshops, students from Years 4 and 6 were invited to explore the language of emotion through a multilingual perspective (in their own languages, in translation, and in British Sign Language with actor Mia Ward). The students wrote their own poems and stories, which were recorded by professional actors – a selection of which are included in the recording below. These recordings were played back to pupils at the school in November.

A subsequent online panel discussion, chaired by Dr Zaahida Nabagereka (Lit in Colour Manager at Penguin Random House) explored the role creativity and multilingualism can play in the Recovery Curriculum, taking into account the diverse experiences of students throughout the pandemic. Questions addressed in the panel, included:

  • How can educators inclusively support the mental health and emotional wellbeing of pupils in this recovery?
  • ​When addressing difficult and complex experiences, what opportunities and challenges are presented when we embrace the multilingualism of our classrooms?
  • What is the role of arts and performance in implanting an effective educational recovery programme for pupils across schools in London and the UK?

The audio recording and transcript from this discussion can be found below. Panellists included:

Dr Jessica Bradley (University of Sheffield)
Neela Doležalová (Writer and workshop facilitator, The Space Between) 
Farzana Khan (Healing Justice London)
Dan Lea (Deputy Head, Gearies School)

TRANSCRIPT      AUDIO RECORDING