How different will school life be in September?

In our latest Talking Heads, we asked three independent school heads how school life will be different when they open their doors again in September
Gavin Horgan, headmaster, Millfield School

 

“Schools are human organisations. For teachers, witnessing the spark of understanding or enjoying a shared moment of triumph over adversity with a student is fulfilling. That has been very different in lockdown and often non-existent. September sees the full return of schools and it is long overdue. The prioritisation of pubs over primaries and eateries over education was wrong.

“We will deliver a full timetable, and a full programme of sport and extra-curricular activities. Of course, there will be new measures in place and we all acknowledge why, but the fundamentals of good schooling will be as they always have been.”

 


Sue Hincks, headmistress, Bolton School girls’ division

 

“From the moment lockdown began, I was desperate to know how things would safely resume again. It seemed that the country shut down with no thought of how to open up again. Whilst our national leaders have lurched from one announcement to the next, we in school have done our best to make the roller coaster as smooth as possible for parents and pupils.

“We have many key worker parents and so numbers attending at infants and junior level were high throughout last term. Meanwhile, all pupils in year 3 and above receive an iPad from the school so online learning took place in real time. We therefore have two well-worked models for the start of September and we believe that we shall need a combination of both at some point in the term.

Whilst our national leaders have lurched from one announcement to the next, we in school have done our best to make the roller coaster as smooth as possible for parents and pupils – Sue Hincks, headmistress, Bolton School girls’ division

“Over the summer we invested in screens and visors to protect staff and we are lucky that we have plenty of room to spread into. We put in external sinks and looked at increasing the amount of covered space outside so that the children can be outside more.

“The costs have been tremendous, and continued vigilance and flexibility are required to think through every eventuality. Thank goodness we are lucky enough to combine the resources and mental agility of five schools in one foundation.”

 


Douglas Robb, headmaster, Gresham’s School

 

“The rapidly changing landscape of the lockdown period taught us all to resist planning too far ahead! It is clear that government really want as near to normality as possible at the start of the academic year. We are certainly expecting as near to normality as possible within the classroom. It is clear to me that social distancing cannot apply in schools, however, extra hygiene measures and particularly hand-washing will be important.

“The area of compromise will be the extra-curricular activities. Sport will have to be reorganised and we are hoping to have a late cricket season to run alongside hockey in September. The chapel and its choir may be compromised but we will find a way to deal with that. The summer term showed us that anything is possible with lateral thought and goodwill. I am really looking forward to having the pupils back in school.”


Talking Heads: How has your school adapted its facilities to manage social distancing?

Talking Heads: How can schools support the wellbeing of teachers during the coronavirus pandemic?

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