Headteachers looking forward to return to some sort of 'normality' next term after 'difficult' year

Education chiefs are looking forward to a return to some-sort of normality after an "incredibly challenging" year dealing with the impact of Covid-19.

Students Bradley Totney and Evie Bourton with principal Sukhjot Dhami at the start of last term at Beacon Hill Academy, Sedgley
Students Bradley Totney and Evie Bourton with principal Sukhjot Dhami at the start of last term at Beacon Hill Academy, Sedgley

Teachers had been forced to switch between learning in the classroom and virtual learning to ensure no student was left behind due to the pandemic.

And it was the same story for students who had to adapt when their group – or "bubble" – recorded a positive test which led to them self-isolating.

But now, as restrictions ease in what is expected to be for the final time, leaders in the sector have reflected on the difficult year as they look ahead.

Sukhjot Dhami

Sukhjot Dhami, headteacher at Beacon Hill Academy in Sedgley, said: "We're absolutely looking forward to getting back to some sort of normality – as to what that will be, we're still unsure.

"We're aware we will be doing some kind of testing when students return, but the details haven't yet been released to us and we'll find out more in the coming weeks.

"But students being able to go back to their full curriculum, carry out scientific experiments and other activities, is something we're very much looking forward to."

Mr Dhami said the year had been difficult but that the school had won in the Pearson National Teaching Awards in recognition of teaching efforts amid the pandemic.

He added: "It's been an incredibly challenging year and at one point in the school year we had 29 members of staff off and attendance had fallen significantly. But, as always, teachers and the teaching profession came together to develop new ways of teaching – never again will we have a 'snow day' – and because of that, and the things they've been able to achieve, we've gained recognition from people – and we've also won in the Pearson National Teaching Awards for our remote learning.

"It's definitely been a challenging year, but it's been a year of opportunity [with remote learning]. We have paired reading programmes where older kids help younger learners and we'll be able to return to stuff like that now. We've got friendship groups involving different year groups – they can socialise and interact in the classroom.

"We've not been able to do the mentoring programmes either [due to Covid-19] and all of those things we're looking forward to getting back to."

Hayley Guest, headteacher at East Park Academy, Wolverhampton

Hayley Guest, headteacher of East Park Academy in Wolverhampton, said this year had been worse than last when it comes to Covid.

Leavers' assembles had to be cancelled as the school moved to remote learning for the rest of the term due to rising Covid cases.

"The kids are so upset and of course parents are angry and frustrated," she added.

"I can't see us being back at school in September without any restrictions."

Meanwhile, schools in Wolverhampton are being urged to keep pupils in their "bubbles" until the summer break – later this week – to stop Covid-19 spreading.

The Government had said the school bubble system would be scrapped but Wolverhampton Council is asking schools to retain the bubbles until the summer break.

Councillor Dr Michael Hardacre, education chief in the city, said: ""We know that the system hasn't been perfect, with hundreds of children in Wolverhampton having to stay home because of a positive case within their bubbles, but it has played a role in minimising the spread of Covid-19 and stopping entire schools from having to isolate.

"Given the high infection rates among our city's children and young people, and the fact we are so close to the end of term, it makes absolute sense to keep it in place until the summer break."

Councillor Hardacre added: "The challenges thrown at our city's schools by Covid-19 have been unprecedented and I'd like to thank everybody for their sterling efforts which has meant, despite rising infection rates, they have been able to continue providing a first class education to our city's children and young people through the summer term."

Changes next term will see pupils, from August 16, no longer having to self-isolate if they are a close contact of someone who tests positive for coronavirus. Instead, children who are contacted by NHS Track and Trace will be advised to take a PCR test.

And from the autumn term, teachers who are fully vaccinated can remain in school if a close contact tests positive. Meanwhile, secondary and college pupils will be required to take two Covid-19 rapid tests on-site at the start of the autumn term and continue to take two tests a week at home until the end of September, to show that they don't have the virus.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News