Most children have been educated at home for over 3 months. In that time, shops have opened, as have pubs, but still schools haven’t been supported to get all children back to School. Each school has been left to muddle along without any clear National Strategy. In the meantime families have been left to struggle.
My son is in key stage two and isn’t in one of the year groups identified by the Government as being key to get back to school. We have supported him as best we can with schooling. As time went on, his school have directed us to web based learning delivered by the Oak Academy and the Hamilton Trust. In the last few weeks he has had a regular Zoom call with his class, and the school have started to use See Saw for the children to upload work and receive feedback from their teacher.
But school isn’t just about education, it provides children with their social networks, friends, fun and laughter. As time goes on more and more children are struggling and missing the social interaction of school. My son has taken to bringing a menagerie of cuddly toys to his ‘lessons’, all of whom contribute, especially in Maths. He isn’t the only child doing this, and others in his class are struggling in other ways with the social isolation.
Luckily, my son’s school has devised a way to get the whole school back in before the end of term and the whole school went in from Monday 6 July. My son almost sprinted into school on the day he started, he was so excited to be going back.
The classes have been divided into two, with 15 children attending Monday and Tuesday, and the other part of the cohort on Thursday and Friday. Wednesday, no children attend and this time is devoted by the staff to cleaning.
The school has borrowed gazebos from people in the local community and set them up on the school playground to establish outdoor classrooms, and these are also used as the ’dinning room’ . The classroom itself has been changed so that every child has an individual desk. They can only bring a coat, hat, lunchbox and water bottle into school. As soon as they arrive in the classroom they place their coat on the back of their chair and their lunch box, hat and water bottle on the desk. Each child has their own pencil and pen to use and no equipment is shared during the day.
The pick up and drop off times have also been staggered and different classes are using different entrances to the building. The school was thoughtful and filmed the classroom and how the children would walk into class before they attended, to alleviate any anxiety the kids may have.
Socially distant playtime is strange but the kids have already started making up new games they can play without touching one another.
They will only have 4 days in over two weeks, but this has already improved their spirits. Who knows what September will bring, but it isn’t their education I am worrying about. Every child’s wellbeing is at stake.