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Headteacher warns parents school will be radically different after reopening

PUBLISHED: 18:32 21 May 2020 | UPDATED: 07:27 23 May 2020

Cawston Primary Academy headteacher Kay Swann, who has written to parents to outline how life in the classroom will change when schools reopen. Picture: Jacob King/PA Wire

Cawston Primary Academy headteacher Kay Swann, who has written to parents to outline how life in the classroom will change when schools reopen. Picture: Jacob King/PA Wire

Archant

A headteacher has written to parents warning how life in the classroom will be radically different when her school reopens to pupils.

New pupils beginning school life at Cawston Primary Academy in 2019. Picture: J Mawe PhotographyNew pupils beginning school life at Cawston Primary Academy in 2019. Picture: J Mawe Photography

Schools across Norfolk have begun informing parents about new measures that will radically change school life when the phased reopening for reception, year one and year six pupils begins on June 1.

In a six-page letter to parents, Cawston Primary Academy headteacher Kay Swann outlines the problems implementing changes designed to keep both staff and young pupils safe.

She states the school has 58 children in reception, years one and six that with social distancing and class sizes will take up six of its seven classrooms and need six teachers and six teaching assistants. The school only has eight available at the moment.

MORE: Everything you need to know about school reopenings

Pupils would be taught in small groups or ‘bubbles’ with the same teacher, never mixing with others, and desks spaced out by two metres.

Children eat lunch in segregated positions due to social distancing measures. Picture: Jacob King/PA WireChildren eat lunch in segregated positions due to social distancing measures. Picture: Jacob King/PA Wire

She adds: “We will have clear rules and an updated behaviour policy in place to ensure children keep two metre distances, walk in a one-way system in school, and keep to their own ‘bubble’ for lessons and playtimes.

“Any child who breaks these rules will be isolated and sent home.”

Play areas will be spaced out for playtimes, but she adds: “You will understand this will be difficult to enforce especially with our youngest children.”

Parents are told that most pupils will be in groups of 10 and therefore will not necessarily be able to be with their friends or class teacher.

Cawston Primary Academy headteacher Kay Swann. Picture: Antony KellyCawston Primary Academy headteacher Kay Swann. Picture: Antony Kelly

MORE: Seven out of 10 parents in survey believe schools should reopen in September

Mrs Swann said: “I want our school to reopen. I want our children to be able to return to their classroom, their friends and their education. I want to lift the burden of home education. But only when it is safe to do so.

“Teachers are not being obstructive or ‘squabbling’ and any criticism does not take into account the practicalities of managing pupils and staff in a Covid-19 secure environment.

“We may be living with coronavirus for a long time and want our risk management school systems to be sustainable.”

She added: “We are also aware of the concerns and fears that our parents have of returning their children to school at this time.

Parents have been told they have the choice whether to send their children to school when some primary years return in June. Picture: PA ImagesParents have been told they have the choice whether to send their children to school when some primary years return in June. Picture: PA Images

“Whilst we will make every effort to make it as safe as we can, the conditions we are required to meet to do so will be very difficult to implement practically on a day by day basis with little people moving around.”

Earlier this week Debbie Whiting, head of North Denes Primary School in Great Yarmouth, also wrote an ‘open and honest’ letter to parents about what lessons will be like for children going back to school.

She said: “It is important because I wouldn’t want you to think that your children are missing school, their friends and normality – as we all are - and so just decide on that alone to send them back.

“School will not be school in that sense and lunch times and break times, class times and the teaching staff will all be different.”

MORE: ‘School will not be school’ - Headteacher’s ‘open and honest’ letter to parents

The Nar Valley Federation of Church Academies, which includes schools in Castle Acre, Narborough and Sporle, has also written to parents warning: “Normal school lessons and education will not be possible to deliver.”

It said the stringent safety guidance meant its pupils will not necessarily be with a member of staff that they know, not necessarily be taught in their home school and not all groups will be led by a teacher.

Anne Neary, executive headteacher, said: “At this time we cannot say whether or not we can meet these requirements and at this time cannot confirm any re-opening to reception, year one and six pupils. Your safety and the safety of our staff and your children is of utmost important to us and is paramount.”

She added: “There will be no pressure to attend and you have our absolute support in making whatever decision for your child you feel comfortable with.”

JOIN OUR ONLINE DEBATE ABOUT SCHOOL REOPENINGS

Headteachers and the Norfolk representative of the biggest teachers’ union are set to join parents for a virtual video debate of the reopening of schools.

With reception, year one and year six pupils set to return to school from June 1, how schools can operate successfully and whether parents feel safe sending their children will be discussed at our latest Open House debate, taking place online via video conferencing platform Zoom from 11am on Friday, May 22.

Those taking part will include Binks Neate-Evans, executive principal at Bignold Primary, Angel Road Junior and Angel Road Infant; Sarah Shirras, head at St Williams Primary, Norwich, and Mel Fearns, head of St George’s Primary in Great Yarmouth. Scott Lyons, district secretary of the NEU for Norfolk, will give a teacher’s perspective.

Parents are being invited to join the debate too. You can register in advance for the webinar by CLICKING HERE

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Alternatively if you wish to take part, please email steve.anglesey@archant.co.uk


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