Return to school is positive despite Covid fears - Black Country headteacher

"It was a bit scary when we got our first Covid cases as you want to do everything correctly, but the guidance we received was very good and we've really had a lot of support."

Headteacher Carla Leslie
Headteacher Carla Leslie

Headteacher at Ellowes Hall Sports College in Gornal Carla Leslie said the first two months of the new school year have been positive – despite the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

As half term begins, she has reflected on the past eight weeks since term began at the school, which is run by The Invictus Trust.

"I feel we have been very lucky. We have had a very low number of Covid cases, we've been following guidance and trying to limit the spread as quickly as possible," she said.

"It was a bit scary when we got our first cases as you want to do everything correctly but the guidance was good and we had a lot of support. I do think we've done very well managing it, it helped as we have the seperate zones in our school for year groups, keeping students in their bubbles and there's been no crossover which has been great.

"Students have been really happy, they wanted to return to school. It's amazing the way they've adapted and they say they feel grateful being back in the classroom and actually talking to teachers again in person.

"We've hardly had any behavioural incidents either. The children are really enthusiastic about their learning - being off for so long.

"The trust bought us all cameras too for the classroom so we could set up virtual lessons. So even if a child is off they can still join in with the lesson. That's had a massive impact.

"Staff have been amazing as well. They've been ensuring time with students to discuss mental health and wellbeing – it's been brilliant. I feel like we've ended before half term on a real high. The staff and students have gone away happy."

On top of this, the school launched an initiative to help those pupils who would struggle over half term with the absence of free school meals – after the government voted in parliament against extending the free school meal voucher scheme over half term.

Each pupil at schools in the Invictus Trust – The Crestwood School in Kingswinford, Leasowes High School in Halesowen, Pedmore High School, Kinver High School and Wombourne High School – who normally claims free school meals has been given a £15 Asda voucher to ensure they can enjoy lunch over the half term holiday.

Carla added: "We also asked staff to donate food and toileteries and in 24 hours my office was full. It's been amazing and so humbling. We put a message out on Facebook asking people to let us know if they were struggling, and then the prefects bozed up the goods and donated mini gift boxess. They said some of their faces, they were just over the moon."

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