Peterborough head teacher offers a glimpse of schooling in the New Normal

A Peterborough head teacher has praised parents and pupils for their ‘superb’ efforts during lockdown.
Pupils at St John's School celebrate the end of termPupils at St John's School celebrate the end of term
Pupils at St John's School celebrate the end of term

Colette Firth, executive head teacher at Barnack, Winyates and St John’s schools in Peterborough was full of praise for staff, pupils and parents as class broke up for the summer holidays. Some pupils at St John’s celebrated with ‘mocktails’ on the last day of term.

The three schools were among the only ones in the city that opened to all year groups following the lockdown.

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Speaking to The Peterborough Telegraph, Mrs Firth said: “We looked into what we could do, and we made the decision we had some flexibility in what we could do.

Colette FirthColette Firth
Colette Firth

“We wanted as many children in class as we could, as long as we could do it safely. We are lucky that our classrooms are accessible from outside, which has meant we have been able to create micro-climates for everyone, with lots of small bubbles.

“It has worked really well. Any parent who wanted their children to come back to school has been able to have a place - they have made the decisions.

“It has been about being creative in school, but it has been a huge success.”

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Barnack broke up for summer on Tuesday, while the others finished on Friday - but staff have plenty of work on over the summer, with the expectation that social distancing will still need to be in place in September.

Mrs Firth said: “Jonathan Lewis (Director of Education for Peterborough City Council) has done a great job bringing everyone together from different schools. We have had the opportunity to share what we have been doing, and also to learn from others.

“Working together in times like this is so useful, especially as we expect to be in a similar position in September with social distancing.

“We have been lucky in that all our staff have stayed well.”

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To ensure social distancing continues for the pupils, there has been a change in the school day.

Mrs Firth said: “We have done things differently. For example, the school chef delivers the dinners to the pupils, who have lunch in the classroom.

“We also have cameras in the class so the pupils who are still at home can take part in the same lessons.

“The classrooms have been set up differently to allow for social distancing, but all the pupils have done really well with it - they have been superb.

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“We have handed out 100 laptops to families who needed them during the pandemic, and I have to say most of the parents have been brilliant with home schooling the pupils.

“I know parents have felt part of the school like never before. While some have been grateful to be able to send pupils back to schools, I know some have wanted to carry on.

“There have not been many pupils who have not engaged with school during this.”

The school has also worked to help youngsters who are both leaving and joining the school in September.

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Mrs Firth said: “We have set up a transition project to allow children to see what school will be like. Staff have been running little lessons online. Its been fantastic to see little three year olds talking to their teacher.

“The secondary schools have done a great job as well, with Q&As with the teachers, and virtual tours.”