“No, I’m sorry but you can’t take books out of the library” and “remember to keep 2 metres apart” are two phrases no teacher used on a regular basis before March 2020 but they have certainly been uttered by many teachers up and down the country since. ‘New norms’ is another expression I am sure many of us have used in recent times too and at Littleport Community Primary School we are well underway with our plans for a full reopening of schools come September, which include a vast number of ‘new norms’. New routines and expectations have been well established with the children who attended our setting during lockdown, as well as our wider re-opening in June, and we are looking forward to welcoming more back in September when the government feel that it is the right time to do so. I continue to be amazed at how adaptive and resilient the children of our school have been to the changes in their schooling routine and as the academic year drew to an end I reflected on the exceptional work staff across the whole school undertook in response to the COVID outbreak. In many cases, staff had to learn how to adapt their practice to suit a new way of working. Even when we had all available staff planning, resourcing, teaching and assessing learning activities for the increasing number of children attending school in-person within their ‘bubble’ they went beyond the call of duty to make sure children learning from home still felt connected with us. This included arranging Zoom calls with their classmates, making safe and well checks where children had not engaged with the school, answering questions sent in via email regarding learning activities set, creating instructional videos, recording stories and filming virtual assemblies!
A huge thank you goes out again to the parents and carers who have done such a tremendous job supporting with learning activities at home. I appreciate how challenging this may have been at times. I also know that the efforts of the school were very much appreciated and we were grateful for all of the feedback we received from our school community
Some staff leading the bubbles within school also wanted to share their experiences:
Ms O’Dell (EYFS bubble)
Throughout this very daunting time for both parents and children, I would just like to start by saying, how truly amazing the children in my EYFS bubble have been. Coming back into school during such strange times, after being locked down 24/7 with their families has been a big step for them all to take. Seven weeks ago the children entered into school unsure of what school life would be. Within a week of being back, I started to see them relax. They have thrived from being back with their friends and the security of their learning environment. This small group of ten children have made me feel so proud, from how much they have progressed with their learning to how happy and relaxed they have been.
Ms Rabelo (Forest School Lead)
During the wider re-opening of schools, children have been attending Forest School sessions. During the sessions children have continued to run, play, get their hands dirty and experience manageable risks, all while adhering to new rules and expectations. They have been involved in different activities such as; woodland crafts, singing and games.
In the midst of all of these challenges, one magical moment came when a young squirrel decided to break the social distancing guidance and got up close and personal with our groups in the forest!
There is a lot to look forward to as the new academic year begins in September and we cannot wait to have a ‘COVID safe’, bustling school community again. At Littleport Community Primary School, we will be ensuring that due care and attention is given to prioritising the mental health and well-being of those returning to us. Some children will not have attended school for six months and we realise that this can present a challenge. We know that there is a lot of work to do as part of ‘curriculum recovery’, however, as a Research School, we feel well equipped to support our children as well as the network of schools we serve.
The resourcefulness and range of responsibilities taken on by teachers and school leaders during the pandemic has been inspiring and we will be here in September to inspire young minds as we always do each and every year to help them to ‘spread their wings and fly’.