Catalyst Courier

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The importance of play

Last Monday we tuned into Reasons to be Cheerful “a podcast about ideas to fix the world” hosted by Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd. We were both humbled and proud to hear local headteacher Jayne Kennedy (Barlow Hall Primary) describing the many ways in which her dedicated team are supporting vulnerable children in their area, as so many of you will be doing in your schools and communities. Jayne’s story, representative of all our Manchester communities, reduced listeners to tears. This is just one of many inspiring stories behind the headlines. Follow the link in our ‘podcast of the week’ section below to hear the interview.

This newsletter and our website gathered a lot of interest last week and we value and welcome feedback and comments. One of our readers, a parent, challenged us on Twitter:  "I think we are OK for activities, school work, reading etc. What I think my KS2 son is missing the most is free playtime with his peers. Any suggestions for how to do this?" Always up for a challenge, we have turned our attention this week to the question of play, particularly social play, whilst we are distancing.

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Teenagers and the coronavirus pandemic

As the Coronavirus crisis continues, this week we received the instruction that we should all remain at home as much as possible and avoid any unnecessary travel or contact with others, even members of our family. Meanwhile, children and young people are encountering a host of new experiences as “home-schooling” begins for most children and “childcare at school” has started for a few.

The current situation is difficult for everyone, but there are particular challenges for young people in the 13 – 19 age group. Social interaction is important at all stages of development, but socialisation outside the family plays a particularly important part in adolescent development. Research suggests that adolescence is a key time for the development of regions of the brain involved in social cognition and self-awareness and that a lack of social interaction during adolescence has lasting consequences in adulthood. Lucy Thompson has reviewed the research for us and provided a summary for our Research web page. The impact and implications for our young people are described in this comment piece for the Guardian by Donna Ferguson: A survival guide for parents during family isolation

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Catalyst Courier #1

The global Coronavirus pandemic has escalated in the UK during the past week, causing widespread uncertainty and anxiety. The next few months are unpredictable and will bring unforeseen challenges to school staff, parents, and children and young people. As a team of educational psychologists we want to support you in whatever way we can. 

We do not claim to be experts in this situation as we are entering unchartered territory for everyone, but we will do all we can to support our school communities as best we can, to help you to stay in touch with your colleagues during the coming weeks and to provide resources to support parents and children at home as well as those children who are continuing to be directly supported in school. Please do use us as a source of support and do let us know if there is anything we can do to help.

Our COVID19 webpage will be updated as often as possible with resources and signposting to help us collectively through the coming days and weeks. Please do let us know the issues you are facing and your concerns. If we can help we will do so. Get in touch using our email:

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