Norfolk head says there is ‘little hope of a normal return for all’ in September

Matthew Try, headteacher at Hillcrest Primary School in Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt

Matthew Try, headteacher at Hillcrest Primary School in Downham Market. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk headteacher has said there is ‘little hope’ for a normal return for all pupils in September.

Pupils at Hillcrest Primary in Downham Market have created art pieces which are displayed on the ent

Pupils at Hillcrest Primary in Downham Market have created art pieces which are displayed on the entrance hall floor. Picture: Matthew Try - Credit: Archant

Matthew Try, head at 500-pupil Hillcrest Primary School, in Downham Market, said life is slowly coming back after the school completed its first three weeks of the new normal.

But he voiced concerns over social distancing measures, saying the school along with others across England, are ‘struggling with the uncertainty that the current situation has resulted in’.

The headteacher said while these restrictions remain in place, schools will have to continue part-time for the majority of children.

He added: “Even if the government reduce the distance to one metre, we will still not be able to accommodate a full class of thirty pupils in the one room at the same time.

Hillcrest Primary School celebrated the work of the NHS by creating a piece of artwork for display o

Hillcrest Primary School celebrated the work of the NHS by creating a piece of artwork for display outside the school’s front entrance.Picture: Matthew Try - Credit: Archant


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“Whilst we appreciate the government’s desire to get the economy moving, get people back to work and ensure that the pupils mental and physical wellbeing is supported with children back in school, it is hard to see what plan the government can come up with that gets around the logistical problem that having an increased number of ‘bubbles’ of children without the additional physical buildings or teachers to put them in.

“Short of building new classrooms by September or employing thousands of new teachers across the country, whilst social distancing remains a requirement, there is little hope of a normal return for all in September.”

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Staff at the west Norfolk school are currently planning for September to ensure they are ready to provide children with the ‘best possible learning’, although the head said this would initially be ‘catch-up education’.

Only 29pc of children returned to school on the first day back on the Monday, June 1, with numbers slowly increasing to 45pc by Thursday, June 18.

The new layout in a reception class at Hillcrest Primary School. Picture: Matthew Try

The new layout in a reception class at Hillcrest Primary School. Picture: Matthew Try - Credit: Archant

The school is planning as many summer term activities as normal, to help give pupils a ‘sense of normality even when things clearly are not typical’.

This includes a ‘unique’ sports day at the end of July, with a socially-distanced 100 metre running track made up of eight lanes that are two metres apart.

Hillcrest Primary in Downham Market hopes to hold a 'unique Sports Day' at the end of July, which wi

Hillcrest Primary in Downham Market hopes to hold a 'unique Sports Day' at the end of July, which will include a socially-distanced 100 metre running track of eight lanes that are two metres apart. Picture: Matthew Try - Credit: Archant

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