The New (Normal) Academic Year

Many parents have greeted, or are preparing to greet, the start of the academic year with both relief and uncertainty. Relief our children are back at their school or university, or perhaps taking the brave step to attend a new one. There is also an overriding sense of relief that we are returning to some semblance of routine, even if it is the ‘new normal’.

However, those of us who have experienced the highs and lows of this summer’s educational rollercoaster are still feeling a little giddy. Uncertainty surrounds what will happen next, and how we should behave during these unprecedented times; and what exactly is the ‘new normal’?

What can we do to help students?

The support process for the academic year should begin now.

Let’s not view this as a return to normality. Here at Newton Bright we see this period as the ‘end of the beginning’. As we wander in a dizzy state away from the turbulent summer, we need to offer emotional support more than ever. Students, teachers and parents need our support now not at the end of term/semester.


Calmly explain to students what is happening to them, proactively search for thoughtful and practical solutions in a caring and non-judgemental manner. Encourage students to get those worries out of their system. Suggest that they write a letter to you, or even themselves, outlining their worries.

Healthy mind, healthy body

A lovely phrase that never goes out of fashion. Find some kind of physical exercise you enjoy. Hate running? Don’t run!

Just received a social media notification on your phone? First breathe in for 7 seconds and out for 11 seconds, then check your phone.


Do you have something to say? Tuck in your tongue and take a step back, we all have an opinion but just because you are speaking doesn’t make you right.

Listen to our children, listen to our teachers and lecturers, ask caring questions, not the dreaded ‘How was school today?’ Try instead, ‘tell me something that made you happy today’. It works for students as well as teachers!

Be there for them

I will always remember calling a student who had just started school in the UK for the first time one September, he was distraught as he had just received a detention for wearing the wrong coloured socks during PE. It might seem trivial, but put yourself in their socks and cast your mind back to how important those events seemed and what effect they had on you.

Take a step back, listen and be there for them.

Many students have found it difficult to manage their emotions, shown signs of anxiety, depression and even developed eating disorders. The added stress of the uncertainty over exam results has exacerbated the problem. Their lives will continue to be disrupted during this academic year and it is important to be there for them.

Let’s make caring the new normal.