Schools set to bring education back "above all else" as Leeds pupils prepare to go back to school
Teachers are looking forward to putting education "above everything else" as schools prepare to return for the first time since the lifting of COVID restrictions.
After 18 months of disruption since the pandemic began in March 2020, teachers across Leeds have had to quickly adapt to the logistics of teaching remotely, via online platforms and constantly changing health and safety guidelines.
However, this summer they have been preparing for a more normal approach to the school day that doesn't include bubbles, keeping pupils apart and rigid classroom set ups. There will also be a more welcome return to creative subjects such as dance, drama, music and singing, school trips and having visitors in school.
It is essential for the development of children, says Hillcrest Primary headteacher Sam Done, who said reception children will have missed out on these for a year and the confidence, socialisation and resilience skills that they give to children.
His school will also be re-introducing the reading corner and independent use of resources after a year of children having to largely stay in their seats using their own personal equipment secured in plastic.
The principal at Hillcrest Primary said: "Coming back is all around pupil well-being, staff well-being and that of parents and families. There will be a focus on that in September. Whilst children are resilient, they are very intuitive and will have sensed heightened stress levels from staff which we would not normally have, and they will have picked that up from families worried about safety in schools."
Catching up on lost learning time is something the school says it has already addressed, and is hopeful there won't be a forced return to remote learning.
Mr Done added: "The trust (GORSE) is high performing and we have a well planned and well considered catch up and that was very successful so from September, it is business as usual as far as the curriculum is concerned and the most encouraging thing is, unless there is an extreme situation, we are unlikely to have to collapse bubbles and educate at home. There is no substitute for children being in the classroom.
"I have been in school over the summer and seen teachers and there is definitely a level of excitement around the things we took for granted, like having the classroom like they want it rather than following guidelines. We understood why we did it but there is a level of excitement around going back in September to a different level of normality and the more positive point of putting education first and bringing education back to being the main thing above all else."