Peterborough primary school head gives insight into school’s safety measures as pupils return

Senior staff at Barnack CE Primary School near Peterborough have assured parents that they are doing all they can to provide a safe learning environment for their children.

Friday, 4th September 2020, 7:22 am
Barnack C of E primary school Head of School Amy Jones and Executive Head Colette Firth in one of the school classrooms

Many of the city’s children are returning to school this week, or early next week, with some concerns raised about how safe the process will be and how schools plan to adhere to social distancing.

The Peterborough Telegraph went inside Barnack CE Primary school, which opens its doors on Monday (September 7), to speak to Head of School Amy Jones and Executive Head of Barnack as well Winyates Primary School and St Johns Church School, Colette Firth, about preparations for return to the classroom.

Staff at the school are working hard to be as prepared as they can and have spent both Thursday and Friday on site getting ready for the new term.

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Barnack C of E primary school Head of School Amy Jones leading a staff briefing

Amy said: “We are putting lots of new routines in place.

“Normally we would greet the children at the front gates and shake hands but we are now staggering the start and thinking about air high fives to still give us the same effect whilst being Covid safe.

“Each group of children will then head off into their own classrooms, which will form their bubble.

“These bubbles all have allocated indoor and outdoor spaces to ensure the children don’t interact with, or use the same area as, anyone outside of their bubble.”

The school caters for roughly 165 children, split into seven classes and plans to make full use of both indoor and outdoor space to maximise safety.

Inside the classrooms, desks have been laid out to ensure that all seats face the front, rather than towards each other, and all books will be handed out and then taken back in to be quarantined after use.

There are also protocols where the children will wipe down any equipment they use themselves.

Colette said: “We’ve completed a really robust risk assessment and have planned for all events.

“We have purchased enough laptops for a whole class to take home and use in the event of someone in their bubble becoming a confirmed case.

“This won’t be the first time we’ve tried this though, we had received really good support from parents that allowed around 75 per cent of our children to return to school before the summer holidays.

“This means that it won’t be the first time they have experienced these routines. The children themselves have been really good about it though, and have been very adaptable.”

The school is confident about its capabilities to cope in the event of a case of coronavirus being confirmed in a pupil or member of staff.

The school has created a robust online schooling system to support any pupils who might have to work from home.

All of the laptops provided have webcams and give the children access to online timetables and learning resources.

The webcams also give the capability for teachers to interact with pupils who need help.

Assemblies will not be possible at the moment and children are prevented from singing during worship but the weekly service provided by St John’s Church at the school will now take place online.

Colette added: “It’s like a military operation, a real logistical jigsaw, but we have worked really hard to provide the necessary sanitisers and all other precautions.

“The parents and children have told us that they are delighted our measures have meant they have not lost touch with the community.

“The governors have all been really helpful as well, along with Jonathon Lewis (Peterborough City City Council’s Director for Education).

“He has kept us up to date and been really good at sharing resources and ideas between schools.”

Amy added: “We realise it will be a trying year ahead but we feel ready and will be remaining very vigilant.

“The most important thing for us is gaining parents’ trust.

“Having the children back in will give them the connectivity that is important for their development and you can’t get online.

“There’s a feeling that it’s time to come back and we know from the way our Year 1s ran back into their classroom before the holidays that the children are really excited about it.”