Inside the ghost school

shiptonschoolSchool had a spring in its step as we started term three. Christmas was a distant memory, the daffodils at the front of the school were starting to bloom and the sun was finally shining.  Staff were teaching exciting lessons for the children, subject leaders planning the curriculum to fit to the new Ofsted framework and our Year 6 children were looking forward to their residential visit to Kilvrough in Pembrokeshire.

Then came news of the Covid-19 virus moving into England.  Suddenly, our whole focus changed!   Our first aim was to teach our children and not to stress them at all about the changes that may lie  ahead.  We started to look at how we could provide support for families for the day they would have to teach their children at home.

Monday 16th March was the date for the children to set off on their residential.  That weekend there were concerns from parents “should we let them go?”  As many said there would be 50 children and five staff in the middle of the countryside away from everyone – they would be safe.  We waved them off and that week staff managed to keep any news of the outside world away from them.  Little did they know when they got back on the Friday it was to find out that school had closed that day!

Following government guidance we were open for Key Worker children so staff attended on a rota basis.  We started with about 15 children, but as more parents started to work from home, or were laid off from work our average number of children was nine, ranging from 5 to 11 year olds.  Quite an age range to cater for but the staff planned some fun activities alongside the English and Maths.  The weather was kind and Forest School, gardening and sliding in boxes down a cardboard slope led to an enjoyable time.  Governor and staff meetings continued by online meetings, but our main aim was to support our families. Work has been shared by emails, and staff have phoned families to see how they were getting on, offering any further help that we can.

As I write this we are still in lockdown, there are lots of different stories in the media as to how and when schools might reopen…….. but we will await official guidance from the government.

Julie Hemming

June – July 2020