One year on from COVID-19 at Swaffham Primary Academy
17 March 2021
One year on since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived upon us, Mrs Nicola Kaye, headteacher from Swaffham Church of England Primary Academy shares her experiences and challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been a challenge for us all but we have gained more as a school than we have lost over these last 12 months. Our actions and response to the pandemic have brought us closer together as a school community. Our school is very different to the one we had pre-COVID. Now we have a much higher focus on mental health and wellbeing. We have forged closer links with our parents, carers and the local community and we have emerged as a stronger school.
Like all schools, we have made a lot of changes to the way that we operate since the first government announcement back in March 2020. Children are taught in bubbles and movement around the school is carefully controlled. In addition to installing more sinks, purchasing huge quantities of hand sanitiser, cleaning products and painting lines to support social distancing we have invested in our outdoor spaces. We installed two gazebos which give us outdoor learning space and a place to relax and enjoy the fresh air. We have adapted our timetable and curriculum to give our children more opportunity to take breaks and learn outside as well as practise mindfulness and explore aspects around developing positive mental health. Our teaching and support staff have worked tirelessly to establish where each child is at in terms of their learning and adapt their teaching and our curriculum as needed to move children’s learning forward in a fun and engaging way.
We have found that the periods of lockdown when most children were learning at home actually brought our school community together. We kept our school community feel alive through the use of zoom and videos where we have been able to share learning and celebrate achievements across the whole school. Just because our whole school hasn’t been in our building all the time hasn’t stopped us from having weekly class assemblies, celebration assemblies and daily collective worship. I am in complete admiration of my team of staff who have become very proficient with technology very quickly and done such an amazing job of delivering remote learning alongside teaching pupils who were in school.
I feel blessed to have such wonderfully supportive parents and carers of the children who attend my school. Although we have not been able to have conversations at the school gate like we used to, our lines of communication have grown stronger through our questionnaire feedback, zoom and class dojo.
I am full of optimism for our school community’s future. The children are truly our best asset. They have shared their excitement to be back learning with their teachers and peers again and I know that all my staff and our school community will continue to support them to SHINE, LEARN, BELIEVE and BELONG to achieve their very best and to be confident, happy and resilient learners.
Pictured top left, Nicola Kaye. Other pictures are of other staff and children from Swaffham Church of England Primary Academy.