Schools ‘excited’ about the return of all pupils in September
SCHOOLS have had to find new ways to say goodbye to leavers – and their next challenge is how to welcome all pupils back in September.
Traditional end-of-year events, from leavers' proms and discos to residential camps, had to be cancelled, with video messages and socially-distanced events taking their place for many of the Year 2, Year 6, Year 11 and Year 13 pupils completing their journeys through the area's schools.
Having first opened only for keyworker and vulnerable children during lockdown, then to limited year groups, staff have put hours of work into preparing for September, when all children will be welcomed back to their classrooms.
Amanda Flanagan, head teacher of The Manor C of E Primary school in Coalpit Heath, said: “We are very excited to welcome all of our children back to school in September. All children will be returning to their new classes and will work in these groups as part of a ‘bubble’.”
“The whole team have really missed those children who have had to continue their learning at home, although their teachers have loved catching up with them through telephone calls, receiving emails with their work attached and seeing all their fabulous home learning on our online platform.”
At Iron Acton C of E Primary School, head teacher Mike Riches is hoping for good weather to enable use of outdoor areas.
He said: “As a small school, children usually mix with each other throughout the whole school, but this won’t happen in September. They will be kept to their bubbles throughout the day, to limit the number of people they are in contact with. This will be tricky in a small building, but we have plenty of outdoor space, so we plan to maximise this.
“The staff have been phenomenal. They have worked tirelessly to put the well-being and the education of the children first. We are so pleased with the high number of children who returned and have had the opportunity to re-integrate into school life. We cannot wait to get going again in September despite the new restrictions, but we are committed to making things work in new ways.”
Iron Acton primary leavers
At Watermore Primary School in Frampton Cotterell, the usual Year 5 and 6 class swaps for Maths and English will not take place in September. Children will also have some time with their ‘old’ teachers before ‘moving up’ to the next class.
Primary school staff had to be creative to send their leavers off in style with traditional end of Year 6 celebrations scrapped.
At Frampton Cotterell C of E Primary, Year 6 pupils opted for a water fight and barbecue for their last day. Their leavers service was streamed live on Facebook so that parents could take part.
Head teacher Pete Barnard said: “I’ve been incredibly proud of every single family and how they have responded to lockdown, home schooling, returning this term and the manner in which they’ve shown great resilience throughout. Our community continues to show what an amazing spirit we have here at Frampton.”
At Iron Acton C of E Primary the leavers' service took place on the school field instead of St James church, with families socially-distancing, and the end of year play was filmed and sent to families to watch at home.
Kirsty Robson, head teacher at St Michael’s C of E Primary in Winterbourne, said: “Whilst our Year 6 have had a very different leaving experience, we have made it special for them. They enjoyed a fish and chip lunch (below), special online leavers' service which included a video from all of the staff wishing them well in their future endeavours. They left the school with a clapping guard of honour by the teachers.”
The Manor C of E Primary had a socially distanced sports morning for its leavers, and a cinema afternoon, with popcorn. A member of the school's friends association who is a professional photographer came in to take photos of the pupils' final days at primary school (main picture), and Year 6s left for the final time through an archway of socially-distanced waving ribbons, described by Mrs Flanagan as "a truly special moment".
Pupils and staff also said their farewells to Sue Calvert, a teaching assistant at The Manor for 27 years, who is now retiring.