Schools find new ways to say goodbye

July 24 2020
Schools find new ways to say goodbye

SCHOOLS have had to find new ways to say goodbye to leavers – and their next challenge is how to welcome all pupils back in September.

Traditional end-of-year events, from leavers' proms and discos to residential camps, had to be cancelled, with video messages and socially-distanced events taking their place for many of the Year 6, Year 11 and Year 13 pupils completing their journeys through the area's schools.

Having first opened only for key worker and vulnerable children during lockdown, then to limited year groups, staff have put hours of work into preparing for September, when all children will be welcomed back to their classrooms.

Schools the Voice spoke to will keep children in separate ‘bubbles’ or ‘pods’, usually divided by year group or class, with more frequent hand-washing, and staggered start and finish times.

At Brimsham Green School, in Yate, head teacher Kim Garland said: “However different the school buildings may appear and feel in September, the school community itself will be back together, and that’s what counts. We are so relieved to be able to welcome everyone back.”

When pupils return, screens will protect the reception area, with new signs for hand-washing and markings on the floor for social distancing. In the classrooms, desks will now be in forward facing rows.

Deputy head Sue Marquis added: “One of the hardest things teachers will face in September will be remembering to stand two metres from students. A teacher’s natural inclination is to move next to students to help them with their work or to listen to something they want to tell us. It’s going to take some getting used to.”

North Road Community Primary School head teacher Sara Stillie said: “We are very excited to be welcoming our pupils back, as we have missed them all so much. Even though there will be many changes to daily routines and practices, we will be ensuring that the ethos and vision of the school remains.”

North Road primary year 6 leavers appeared together in this composite photo

Year 6 pupils at Tyndale Primary School, where a major rebuild is underway, will start the day earlier in September, from 8.15am with a free breakfast.

Head teacher Kirsty Borrill said: “I am truly proud to be leading such a dedicated and hard-working team, who share my vision to give the children of this community the best chance of success.”

A one-way system will be in place for staggered drop-offs and collections at Woodlands Primary School, with a ‘safe waiting zone’ for families with more than one child. There will also be an adjustment period to enable children to settle back into school.

Head teacher Rachel Dean said: “We are so proud of how our school community has responded during these challenging times and are positive that we will embrace the changes of the ‘new school norm’ together.”

Woodlands Primary staff made a video message for Year 6 leavers 

Traditional rites of passage for Year 6 leavers had to be changed this year.

At St Paul’s Catholic Primary School in Yate the usual residential camp, leavers' play and assembly were scrapped. The school managed to organise the traditional t-shirt signing by passing them between bubbles, storing them for 72 hours in-between, which took nearly two weeks.

The year 6 bubble also had an activity week and a leavers' mass.

And they will leave a lasting legacy of their time at the school after working with Gloucestershire artist Rachel Shilston to make a mosaic paving slab (pictured, top). 

Head teacher Maxine Sewell said: “It was a very different affair, with no singing, restricted movements and limited attendees, but there was certainly a sense of occasion to celebrate the children’s achievements and memories of their time at St. Paul’s.”

Iron Acton C of E Primary's leavers' service moved from the village church of St James to the school field. The end-of-year play was filmed and sent to families to watch at home.

At Brimsham Green School, Year 11 pupils made it back for a session staggered across one day before the end of term. Their leavers prom has been rescheduled for October. 

Iron Acton Year 6 leavers