How schools welcomed children back after lockdown
SCHOOLS have described the challenges of welcoming back children who had been home learning for two months during the latest lockdown.
COVID-19 testing has been put in place, for everyone in secondary schools and teachers in primaries. And staff have faced the challenge of getting back into the classroom routine.
Head teachers at schools in the Yate and Sodbury area say the return to school has gone smoothly so far, with many staging welcoming events such as delayed World Book Day celebrations.
At Woodlands Primary in Sundridge Park, Yate (pictured above), head teacher Rachel Dean said: “We celebrated Woodlands World Book Day together, when all pupils had returned to school.
"This not only promoted reading across Woodlands but also helped the children feel part of the school community.”
Tyndale Primary (below) deputy head Katie Parkhouse said: "It’s fantastic to have the pupils back where they belong, in the classroom. Although, it's important to note that we’re not telling Tyndale pupils they’re behind and need longer at school to 'catch up'. We’re constantly telling our pupils that they can do it, we’ll help them every step of the way and we believe in them."
In Chipping Sodbury, Raysfield Primary head teacher Claire Hill said: “The school feels alive again; it is great to hear the business of children chattering, laughing and learning in every classroom.”
At Old Sodbury Primary School, business manager Jenny Jackson acknowledged the role that parents have had to play through lockdown, saying: “The feedback on the provision of online learning has been extremely positive and we are grateful for how well families managed over the past 2 months.”
For some children, the return to school after so long at home has been challenging, and schools have put additional support in place.
At Brimsham Green School in Yate, assistant head teacher Jo Hewitt said: “Our pastoral team made contact with many of our students prior to return, including home visits to support them with the transition."
She said every pupil was able to voice any feelings or worries they had about going back with either their tutor or head of house.
Yate Academy head teacher Izzy Ambrose said that for some pupils it was an anxious time.
She said: “We were in close contact with all students on a weekly basis during lockdown through weekly phone calls and have worked closely with students and parents to ensure the transition was a positive one.”
There is recognition at all the schools that children who have been away from their peers need extra time to catch up socially.
Raysfield Primary School outdoor classroom
At the Ridge Junior School in Yate a focus on outdoor activities has helped.
Head teacher Philip Bout said: “During half term we had a new outdoor amphitheatre installed and the staff will be taking the pupils out as often as possible for drama and creative activities.”
The latest challenge to add to year group bubbles, hand sanitising, one-way systems and remote learning has been COVID-19 lateral flow testing: a complicated organisational task for secondaries, where all pupils and staff have to be tested twice per week.
School leaders are now looking ahead hoping that, despite working within new restrictions, the worst is now behind them.