Woolpit Primary Academy opens doors to all pupils for first time after coronavirus lockdown
Staff and pupils at Woolpit Primary Academy are celebrating this week after the school reopened to all year groups for the first time since March.
The school opened its doors to around 60 per cent of its pupils on Monday, three and a half months since all schools were ordered by Government to close to help stop the spread of coronavirus
Headteacher Sarah Clayton said: “I want as many children as possible to return to the school and get back into a structure and a bit of normality.”
The school has reduced the size of classes in order to make it easier for children to socially distance and one way systems have been put in place to enter, leave and walk around the school.
Staff and children are also being encouraged to wash their hands regularly and clean items after use.
“We have had to put some changes in place so there are obviously things that we are all having to get used to,” said Mrs Clayton, who only took up the role of headteacher eight weeks before lockdown began.
“It has been a long time for children to be away from school so they were a little bit anxious but also excited. It is a new normal but the children and staff have adapted really quickly.”
But she added that the time spent away from the school had allowed staff to review how the school works and develop new ideas to move it forward.
“When I first came to the school in January, the school was in a really difficult place and it didn’t have a good Ofsted result,” she said.
“We were on a mission to turn the school around from day one and staff have been absolutely incredible in doing that as we are all desperate to make the school the best that it can possibly be.
“Over lockdown, we’ve done an incredible amount of school improvements as it has given us the opportunity to take stock.”
Mrs Clayton said staff had been working on the school’s reading curriculum as well as with parents through a questionnaire which was distributed before lockdown.
“One of the biggest projects we have in the pipeline is to work on what we offer mental health-wise. That was something we wanted to do before coronavirus but now it seems particularly appropriate considering what the children have gone through,” she said.
And teachers have also been keeping a watchful eye on their pupils during lockdown, with classes having taken place online as well as in children’s front gardens.
“We did lots of mental health support and we’ve been in contact with staff and children the whole way through,” said Mrs Clayton.
“I’m really proud of the constant work staff have been doing and I’m also really grateful to the community who have helped a lot in delivering food boxes to families who need it and to the Poorsland Trust, who have supported a number of our children with buying them laptops to enable them to access the online learning.”
Mrs Clayton is now leaving lockdown behind her and looking forward to the new school year starting in September.
“I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t found lockdown a challenge but working in a school is always a challenge and I know that every school has worked their socks off to do the best they can,” she said.
“I’m really excited to bring the lessons we’ve learned into the school in September and the most important thing for me is to give children the sense of being back to normality and help them enjoy their time at school with their friends.”
For more pictures, see this week's Bury Free Press.
More by this authorRhoda Morrison
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