Felsted School in Essex has made special provision for its international students who couldn’t return home because of the coronavirus shutdown.
The school opened Follyfield House, a senior girls’ boarding house, for the 13 boys and girls aged 14 to 18 who were unable to return home when international borders were shut because of the pandemic.
The children hail from Bermuda, China, Italy, Malawi and Russia and are looked after by the house team; Caolan Wukics, Lewis Mann and Isobel Nicholson.
The school has also been home to a number of trainee paramedics stationed with the East of England ambulance service down the road. The school was able to offer the service nearby accommodation in its empty dormitories.
Headmaster Chris Townsend said: “Operating as a ‘small household’ the main aim has been to ensure each student’s wellbeing, health and happiness, and to give them some structure to their day.
“As such a unique group, everyone has got to know and respect each other really well, blending numerous cultures, languages and experiences in the process.”
It has been evident that all the students who have had to stay at Felsted have approached this unprecedented situation with maturity and courage
– Chris Townsend, headmaster
Felsted uses Google for Education and was able to offer distance learning for students after the school closed its doors in March. Through the Easter holidays, the Follyfield students have taken part in structured days with time set aside throughout for an academic skills session, leisure time and socialising.
Student have been invited to use their holiday down time to ‘upskill’ themselves – one student decided to start learning French, while another enrolled for an online course which will earn her a diploma in business before starting university in Rotterdam this autumn.
In the afternoons, the house team have helped students bake bread and cakes and create art, and led them in pilates, hockey and tennis sessions on the school’s grounds.
In the evenings, the students who are spending the outbreak far from home, have directed mini films, held a quiz night and table tennis tournament, and a ‘pamper night’.
“It has been evident that all the students who have had to stay at Felsted have approached this unprecedented situation with maturity and courage, with some having to face challenging journeys in order to get home. They will certainly have a story to tell in years to come!” Mr Townsend added.
The school’s senior leaders have worked hard to secure repatriation flights for the 13 pupils and now all but five remain awaiting routes home. The school is now gearing up to use its design and technology workshops to produce visors for the local Broomfield hospital.