Children go #Backtoschool for the first time in six months

By Sam Kail-Dyke – Wessex Learning Trust

After six months of home schooling, quarantining, and social distancing; the children in all thirteen Wessex Learning Trust schools were finally welcomed back on site this week as schools re-opened fully for the first time since March 23rd.

Schools had previously closed in a bid to stem the spread of
the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, but now – despite a tumultuous few months –
staff and students were visibly excited to be back in school, and in some ways
‘back to normal’. As soon as they walked through the gates and there were countless
happy faces, as well as anxious catch-ups between those who haven’t seen each
other for potentially six months.

For many of our learners, this week is of course mostly about settling into a new school, getting to know new places and names, and getting comfortable. Be they going into Reception, Year 5, Year 7, Year 9, or Year 12; all were welcomed with (metaphorical!) open arms. In order to help those children who were transitioning, many schools staggered their re-opening with some years coming back on Monday, and all others joining them later in the week. With school closures meaning no transition days could not take place last year, this move was greatly welcomed by many of the children.

Hamish at Draycott and Rodney Stoke First School looking proud to be back at school

It wasn’t just a big day for the children either, as for may
of our staff this was the first time they had been able to be back in the
classroom, teaching face to face, since schools closed. Despite their best
efforts with online teaching and distance learning, teaching is not the same
without the children there in the classroom with you.

By enlarge, little in terms of teaching has changed in our schools,
with teachers still delivering their lessons in their classrooms to their
normal groups of learners. We pride ourselves on the fact that despite the
adversity which we have all faced, we continue to be able to provide the
exceptional and enriching education you would expect from the Wessex Learning Trust.

Of course some things have had to be altered in the wake of COVID-19, with changes most noticeable when walking around the schools; for instance one-way systems in place in corridors, regularly positioned bottles of hand sanitiser, and staggered entry and exit points at the start and end of the day. Each year group is also kept within their own ‘bubble’ to ensure that groups aren’t able to mix and risk spreading the virus.

The new Year 2s on their first day back at Lympsham First School

Although not ideal, these measures are key to ensuring the
safety of our children and staff and will safeguard for tomorrow so that
schools can open and stay open and give children the contact and guidance which
they have been craving. Despite the changes, schools remain welcoming and
friendly places where children are sure to have fun and be able to learn. In
this vain, staff have made a particular effort to make sure that the changes
around the site aren’t too daunting, particularly for our younger students.

All in all, the first day back proved a huge success, and hopefully signalled the start of a gradual return to normality across society. Chief Executive of the Trust, Gavin Ball, hailed the success of the return and thanked staff and students for their “calm return to schools, and considerate understanding of the additional rules and measures in place to keep them safe”.

We can’t wait to see what all our learners are going to get up to this term, and we’re so glad to be able to see them all again!

If you have any photos of your children returning to school which you would like to share, tweet them to us @WessexTrust, or email them to skail-dyke@wessexlearningtrust.co.uk