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One month to the new term - how will schools welcome back all pupils?

PUBLISHED: 13:30 11 August 2020 | UPDATED: 06:39 12 August 2020

Pupils at Queens Hill Primary School in Costessey following the partial school reopenings in June. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Pupils at Queens Hill Primary School in Costessey following the partial school reopenings in June. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

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Preparations are underway in schools in readiness for all pupils returning to different looking classes next month.

Prime minister Boris Johnson sees new measures being implemented to ensure children can return to school safely in September during his visit to a school in London. Picture: Lucy Young/Evening Standard/PA WirePrime minister Boris Johnson sees new measures being implemented to ensure children can return to school safely in September during his visit to a school in London. Picture: Lucy Young/Evening Standard/PA Wire

Every pupil will be expected to be back in school when the autumn term starts at Norfolk schools on September 7.

Boris Johnson has said it is a “moral duty” to get all children back into classrooms next month with his expectation being that schools should be the last places to shut in any future local lockdowns.

MORE: What school will be like for your children in September

The Department for Education has issued extensive guidance for the safe return of pupils with teachers asked to minimise pupil mixing by putting classes or whole year groups into “protective bubbles”.

Schools are also being asked to:

Worstead Primary School headteacher Nick Reed. Picture: Brittany WoodmanWorstead Primary School headteacher Nick Reed. Picture: Brittany Woodman

• Organise classes or whole year groups into “protective bubbles” to minimise the number of contacts between pupils.

• Stagger start and finish times, without shortening teaching hours.

• Avoid assemblies or collective worship with more than one group.

• Introduce more frequent hand-washing, promote good hygiene and introduce through cleaning procedures.

Worstead Primary School headteacher Nick Reed in a socially distanced classroom with pupil Izzy Williams. Picture: Brittany WoodmanWorstead Primary School headteacher Nick Reed in a socially distanced classroom with pupil Izzy Williams. Picture: Brittany Woodman

• Keep pupils with Covid-19 symptoms, or with family members with symptoms, away from school.

• Pupils should wear school uniforms as normal but only take essentials items like lunch boxes, books, and stationery.

• On school transport children should remain in “bubbles”, apply social distancing while over-11s should wear face coverings.

Norfolk schools have already in the process of implementing detailed preparations of how the new term will look.

Headteacher Penny Sheppard at Queens Hill primary at Costessey. Picture: Bill SmithHeadteacher Penny Sheppard at Queens Hill primary at Costessey. Picture: Bill Smith

Nick Read, headteacher at Worstead Primary, said: “The planning process for reopening in September is a significant piece of work, and it is important that we get it right. This is because every single school is unique and different and the guidance is general.

“The space and staffing numbers at Worstead are challenges to reopening fully, but they are not insurmountable.

“There will also be a significant effort to assess what every single one of our children needs to bounce back academically as well as socially.”

Penny Sheppard, headteacher at Queen’s Hill Primary School in Costessey, said preparations were going well following current national and local guidance.

Twins Danny and Ollie in the playground at Queens Hill Primary School in Costessey. All pupils will return in September. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA WireTwins Danny and Ollie in the playground at Queens Hill Primary School in Costessey. All pupils will return in September. Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

“We also know that this advice will change as we learn more about the ways in which the virus spreads,” she said.

“As it currently stands, primary aged children are deemed less of a risk of spreading the illness so I foresee our children being in their class bubbles with staggered play and lunch times well into next year so that if there is an outbreak, as few families as possible are affected.

“Our current plans will be reviewed mid-September as it is only when we put them into action that we will know how effective and practicable they are.”

She said the school was concentrating on minimising contact between adults and was also looking at ways to mark traditions, like harvest festival, remembrance day and carol concerts, within the guidelines.

City of Norwich School where year groups will be zoned and the usual timetable will be replaced with a temporary timetable. Picture: CNSCity of Norwich School where year groups will be zoned and the usual timetable will be replaced with a temporary timetable. Picture: CNS

“Primary school teachers are a creative bunch and we have already come up with a number of ideas to ensure that children and their families can still have those important primary school experiences, albeit remotely,” she said.

At Northgate High School in Dereham parents have been told students will be in year group bubbles with the school zoned to avoid mixing. While the full curriculum will be followed, some practical lessons like music and PE will be modified.

Leaving times will be staggered and lunch will be 30 minutes instead of 55, with pupils asked to bring packed lunches.

MORE: School reopenings risk new coronavirus spike, UEA scientist warns

Similar plans at City of Norwich School says year groups will be zoned within the school with teachers moving to the students. The usual timetable will be replaced with a temporary timetable based on three longer periods and a shorter period for academic and welfare catch-up.

In a letter to parents, headteacher Joanne Philpott said: “Whilst it is not possible for any school to ensure an entirely risk-free environment, I would like to give you every assurance that we are and will be doing everything we can to minimise any risk from Covid-19 to students and staff.”

Jim Adams, chief executive of Clarion Academy Trust, which oversees Hobart High School in Loddon and Pakefield High, near Lowestoft, and a spokesman for Educate Norfolk, said: “Parents have been very supportive.

“I’m sure there will be some anxiety about full opening up, I think on the whole they have appreciated our thorough and regular communication and updates.”


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