Schools are safe places, say leaders

Schools are a safe place for pupils despite the rising number of coronavirus cases, leaders insisted today.

Ms Leslie has started increasing the amount of drop-in lessons that are being held virtually
Ms Leslie has started increasing the amount of drop-in lessons that are being held virtually

A number of schools including Bromley Hills Primary School in Kingswinford, Tipton’s RSA Academy and Wood Green Academy in Wednesbury have closed since reopening in September, with dozens of other schools sending pupils and staff home to self-isolate after positive Covid cases.

Councillor Dr Michael Hardacre, Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for education and skills, said about 90 per cent of children were in school.

He said: “Schools in Wolverhampton have reopened extremely successfully. Transmission comes from the home.

“Schools are safe environments for all of our children. The fact of the matter is that in Wolverhampton around 90 per cent of children are in school and are working successfully.

“I want to say thank you to all our teaching staff.”

Staffordshire County Councillor Jonathan Price said: “I want to reassure parents that schools have all of the measures in place to keep children safe.” Across Dudley, 22 schools have had to close since September due to coronavirus.

Dudley Councillor Sue Ridney, who is shadow cabinet member for children and young people, said at Christ Church C of E Primary School in Coseley where she is chair of Governors, all but two year groups were off last week. She said schools “have done everything they can”.

She said: “It’s a bit of a mix in Dudley, some schools have closed bubbles, it’s a mixed picture.

“The decisions have to be made by the headteacher and Governing body, it’s based on if they have enough teaching staff to cover groups.

“My own school, where I’m head of governors, we only had two year groups in recently.

Praise

“I think schools have done everything they can.

“If I want to be critical of anything, it’s of the testing system, we had an outbreak in the school that I chair and we had so many staff off waiting for their test results. And then they came back negative.

“The amount of testing we’ve had in Dudley has not been adequate, until recently Wolverhampton had five and Dudley had one.

“I’d like to praise the staff across all schools in Dudley as they are doing a really tremendous job under extreme conditions.”

Walsall Councillor Chris Towe said every secondary school and about 60 per cent of primary schools in the borough have been affected by coronavirus cases.

Virtual weekend classes among ways schools adapt amid crisis

Virtual evening classes and one-on-one calls are among ways one school is helping pupils through the coronavirus pandemic as cases rise.

Carla Leslie, headteacher at Ellowes Hall Sports College, in Dudley, said Year 11 had to be sent home recently after three positive Covid cases.

She said: “We’re following the same procedures. If we get a case we call the DfE who talks us through the system, but we know the system now.

“We do track and trace, check social groups, inform parents and send children home.

“It’s just ensuring students are still safe and doing what we’re supposed to, keeping them in their bubbles, getting support from their parents to make sure they’re isolating if they’re sent home.

Amazing

“We’re ensuring virtual lessons are up and running, and we’ve started listening to a few students, especially Year 11, as they’re anxious, they don’t know what’s going to happen with exams.

“We’ve started increasing the amount of drop-in lessons virtually so they can talk to people and their tutors have been calling them individually too.”

Ms Leslie said she believed the social impact was having the most negative affect on pupils.

“From next week, we’re using the catch up fund from the Government and teachers have signed up six days a week to do evening classes and weekend classes for catch-up lessons, with up to eight in a group, so it’s a lot more bespoke for students,” she said.

“They definitely prefer face-to-face, they all say that, but I think they have all been amazing, they have adapted as best they can.

“Since September, we’ve had a small number in each year group self-isolating, but we’ve had more since the October half term. Every year group has been affected.

Trying

“In the last couple of weeks we’ve had to send Year 11 home for a two-week period and that was because we had three cases over a two week period so we were left with a very small number of students.

“I made the decision to close Year 11 for two weeks to do a deep clean then we’re hoping they will come back.

“We’ve only had to do that with one year group.”

Leaders today urged that schools across the region were “safe places” and urged parents to continue to support them.

Councillor Dr Michael Hardacre, Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for education and skills, said: “Schools are safe environments for all of our children. This has been a trying time for everyone, particularly teaching staff and I would want to say thank you to all our teaching staff.”

County Councillor Jonathan Price, cabinet member for education, said: “I want to reassure parents that schools have all of the measures in place to keep children safe.”

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