Winterbourne Academy promises full curriculum as pupils return
PUPILS at Winterbourne Academy are able to study a full curriculum as they return to school this month, despite the need for new safety measures.
Many of those returning in September are going back for the first time since March.
Head teacher Jason Beardmore says that safety is the school's "top priority" but that it has been possible to maintain the usual teaching timetable, with the full range of lessons being taught with specialist teachers, despite the additional measures which will be in place to minimise the risk of coronavirus transmission.
Mr Beardmore said: “Although circumstances are challenging, we want to preserve the breadth of the curriculum offer as a core feature of the school experience, part of our moral purpose, and to reflect a sense of 'normality' for learners.
“Access to a full and broad curriculum is critical in order to continue to provide an education which is fulfilling, challenging and enriching for all learners.
"We must prepare students for the real world by providing diverse skills and knowledge and encouraging resilience and adaptability, keeping their learning and career options open.”
Like at many schools, year groups will become ‘bubbles’, and pupils won’t be allowed to mix between them.
But at Winterbourne each ‘bubble’ will have its own classrooms in a designated area of the building, with an allocated outdoor area and toilets, and movement outside these will be limited.
GCSE and A-level students will get priority in specialist classrooms, while children lower down the school will stay in their ‘home’ classrooms.
Break and lunch times will not only be phased, but take place in different locations around the school, which has had to invest in additional facilities to make this possible. There will be a one-way system on all floors, hand sanitising stations and wipes in all classrooms and offices.
In a recent letter to parents, Mr Beardmore acknowledged that the return to school may be an "anxious time" and said he hoped to make it as stress-free for families as possible.
There will be a focus on supporting pupils at the start of term, with different year group bubbles starting on different days so that they can have their own specific induction and a chance to get used to the new normal. Tutors will focus on student’s well-being, with extra support for anyone who is anxious or vulnerable.
As part of the new way of doing things, Winterbourne Academy had to find a way to say a special farewell at the end of the summer term to their Head of Biology, Steve Fitzgerald, who left the school after 36 years.
The solution was, perhaps predictably, virtual. At an online get-together his colleagues wished him all the best for a long and happy retirement.