Our first week back
As thousands of children return to the classroom this week after a long spell in lockdown, Mrs Webster, Headteacher at Pilgrims School explains how the youngsters – and their teachers – have taken it all in their stride.
There has been much made of the Government’s decision to reopen schools this week to certain age groups – attending alongside those Key Worker children who have been in school since the start of the lockdown period.
But despite the debate, and once we were given the go-ahead to reopen, there has been no doubt in the minds of our staff that we could – and would – provide children with a happy and welcoming reception when they walked back into the school playground for the first time.
Colourful bunting was erected to create zones where the children could play, gazebos provided shelter on the field so classes could be taught outside and decking areas were extended out from each classroom to give the children additional space.
One of the main concerns about school’s reopening has been how to implement socially distancing, with such young children.
Obviously, staying two metres away from everyone else is a lot to ask of our very little people. However, our staff have been extremely creative with ways to encourage the children to play at increased distances from each other.
Each classroom has a reduced number of children and they remain in their set “bubble” throughout the day which restricts who they mix with. They also have set play areas to stay within during break times – one for each bubble.
Snacks and meals are brought to the classroom so the children do not have to flow around school as much as they used to. And, if they do, they follow arrows which have been added to the floor.
You might imagine that such new additions to daily life would increase the potential for anxiety among the children but we have found the opposite to be true. It just feels like a new ‘game’ to them.
What’s more, we had totally under-estimated just how excited the children would be to see friends again and their happy smiles and energetic waving lifted us all after such a long period of separation.
Since our return on Monday the main focus in lessons has been making sure the children are happy and feel safe.
This started with ensuring their parents were aware of what was expected and how the school would operate so they could discuss this with their family and make informed decisions.
Mrs Webster and Mrs Quince then put together a ‘Welcome Back’ video which parents and the children could view before returning so that everyone could take on board the new arrangements.
Our Pastoral & SEND Co-Ordinator is in school and always available to those children who may need additional encouragement or support. However, so far, the children are just so happy to be back learning alongside their friends.
Feedback from parents has been overwhelmingly positive and staff have been praised for the welcoming and smooth start to what has become a “new normal”.
This feedback has been really important to the staff who have worked so hard throughout the lockdown – and who continue to do so – and we are extremely grateful to all of you who have taken the time to send words of encouragement.
The entire school staff have pulled together during this period (whether from home or in school) to keep Pilgrims open for key worker families, provide home learning to children remaining at home and prepare to reopen safely.
And we are thrilled to see that, even with restrictions in place, Pilgrims still feels like Pilgrims.