Well-being of pupils more important than education says Leeds headteacher as schools settle into a new normal

Working on the well-being of pupils is going to be just as important as catching up on lost education says the headteacher of a Leeds primary school.

Monday, 24th August 2020, 6:00 am

Schools across the city are set to return with a new normal from September and preparations for that have been underway for weeks with each school being encouraged to take its own approach.

At Sharp Lane Primary in Middleton, headteacher Rebecca White knows the experience of home-schooling will have been varied, but, says finding out where pupils are mentally and settling them back into friendship groups will take precedence.

She told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "We have had a lot of discussions about how we will do this and from September what it will be like. We will start where we were going to be and look at any gaps- but working on friendship groups and a settling in couple of weeks, getting back in a school routine. We want to check where they are at in terms of home - there have been families that have had illness.

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Rebecca White, headteacher at Sharp Lane Primary School in Leeds.

"People were under pressure, there was a lot going on and you don't know what is happening with people. We were trying to give them things to do but not put pressure on and say that they have to do all of it, every single day. Trying to get that balance was difficult, some wanted more and some just couldn't do it."

Over lockdown, Ms White and the rest of the staff made several phone calls and even home visits to children and families but Sharp Lane was also one of the busiest schools in lockdown with 278 children - just under half the entire register - returning to school before they broke up for the summer holidays.

She added: "We will be in a really strong position because all staff and children have been in full time, it means that we have got children used to the routine. I feel because that worked so well, it is the same model with more children in the bubbles. It will help and it has been nice to have that contact with so many families and we know how they have been getting on."

There will be some changes, however. The school day will have a staggered start and finish but each class gets the same amount of time in school. Most classrooms have outward opening doors so there are more entrance points and a one way system will operate around the school grounds and paths are being widened to allow parents and pushchairs or prams more room.

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Ms White added: "We want to follow the guidelines but make it look as normal as possible so that when they come in it does not feel so different and that is what we ultimately want, that is where they are happiest - we want them back in school. The thing that I am looking forward to the most is seeing them back and seeing the parents. As a school we are central to the community and care about them and are here for them."

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Thank you

Laura Collins