Primary schools in Henley re-opened their doors to pupils on Monday after being closed since March except for vulnerable and key worker children.
Oxfordshire County Council has delivered hundreds of thousands of personal protective equipment (PPE) items to Oxfordshire schools including surgical masks, aprons, gloves, visors and sanitiser. This PPE equipment will help all local schools manage an immediate response in the unlikely event of a pupil becoming unwell.
County Councillor Lorraine Lindsay-Gale, Cabinet Member for Education and Cultural Services, said, “The health and safety of pupils, teachers and support staff is our number one priority. The teaching teams are incredibly dedicated. They have tirelessly provided education and assistance to pupils throughout the county, often through online learning, over these past few months. We will continue to support them by ensuring schools are safe, with the necessary social distancing and sanitation provisions in place, as increasing numbers of pupils come out of lockdown and return to the classroom.”
On Monday Badgemore Primary School re-opened for children in Year 6. Headteacher Tim Hoskins said, “A phased return is being carefully planned to welcome back the rest of the school later this term. We have remained open throughout the lock down for vulnerable and key worker children which has given us an opportunity to learn what the ‘new normal’ will look like.”
As with all schools, there will be a maximum of 15 children in each class and desks are being positioned with a 2 metre social distancing gap and tape will be going down too. IT equipment has been a huge part of Badgemore school’s successful home-schooling programme so they will be continuing this where appropriate.
Tim added, “In the short-term, the curriculum will focus on the children’s mental health and well-being to support the children manage their experiences over the last 10 weeks. At Badgemore, children will be taking advantage of our spacious grounds to do lots of outdoor learning and we will increase our Forest School sessions. This is going to be a strange time for the children, carers and staff, but the children that have joined us during lock down have loved coming in. Procedures will be different, but our priority has and always will be the health and well-being of our community.”
At Rupert House School (RHS) 68 children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 are back in school. Headteacher Clare Lynas said, “It’s lovely to reopen the school. The children seem very happy and it is wonderful to have them back on site. We are hoping to give them as relaxed an experience as possible, given the additional safety rules that now need to be in place. Our small classes have allowed us to invite all children in the relevant year groups back to work in small class ‘bubbles’ of under 15 (generally around 11) each with a teacher and a teaching assistant.”
Out of a possible 81 children invited, only 13 are staying at home. The pupils are enjoying working outside as much as possible and they are using Zoom and video lessons (for example for Music, Outdoor Learning, Science or Art) from other staff, working off-site, to provide as much of our usual broad curriculum as possible. The RHS Remote Learning provision continues to go very well for children in Years 2, 3,4, & 5. We have used Zoom to create regular live lessons, especially for the older children, and our edtech platform ‘Firefly’ has been a great success. ‘Future schools’ meetings for Year 5 parents and ‘Transition’ meetings for all parents at the end of term will go ahead over Zoom.
Clare added, “We plan to give our leaving group of Year 6 children as many of the traditional leavers’ activities as we can, in an imaginative, socially-distanced way. It is a pity that we cannot invite parents in to see these things until the rules on ‘gathering’ are relaxed. We do not know what/when the Government is planning for the next stage and that is really the biggest challenge!”
Gillotts School will be re-opening to Year 10 children on 15 June.