Longer term lessons learned as Sleaford school children return this week from lockdown

There were celebrations as staff and students reunited in Sleaford area schools at the beginning of this week in the first step of the government’s coronavirus roadmap to lift lockdown.

Mrs Mason’s class in Year 6 at William Alvey School celebrate their return. They enjoyed their daily Microsoft Teams meetings during lockdown, they kept up with their live lessons and completed all the set work on ‘Seesaw’, but it wasn’t the same as seeing their friends face to face. EMN-211003-150417001
Mrs Mason’s class in Year 6 at William Alvey School celebrate their return. They enjoyed their daily Microsoft Teams meetings during lockdown, they kept up with their live lessons and completed all the set work on ‘Seesaw’, but it wasn’t the same as seeing their friends face to face. EMN-211003-150417001

Hundreds of children in Sleaford and district were returning to school for the first time in more than two months from Monday this week.

After only catering for key worker and vulnerable children in class, schools were delighted to be able to open their doors fully again, with one head saying attendance was even higher than pre-lockdown.

Most primary school pupils returned on Monday, but Sleaford secondary schools have seen a more staggered approach as pupils and staff are given twice-weekly lateral flow tests. Selected year groups arrived in a phased return for their first tests at the town’s three secondary schools on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, starting with the Years 11, 12 and 13 as the key exam years.

Martin Smith, assistant director for education, said on Monday: “It’s likely that most primary school pupils are now back in school, but we expect many secondary schools will have adopted a phased return.

“Lockdown has undoubtedly had an impact on pupils’ learning and being back in school will help them get back on track.”

Principal of St George’s Academy, Laranya Caslin, said: “Things have gone very smoothly here. The students have returned and settled back into our routines well.

“Mass testing is going even better than expected and we now have all seven year groups back in school.

Callum Clay, headteacher at Church lane Primary School in town said it was great to have all of the children back in school. “They all got on like they had never been away,” he said.

“We need to remember that children are incredibly resilient. We talk about how schools have had to change the way we work, but so have the children and they have done fantastically well to adapt during this period, but you could tell some children were desperate to get back to school to learn face to face with a teacher and with their friends.”

William Alvey School head Stephen Tapley agreed that it was lovely to have all the children back, adding; “In fact our attendance was 98 per cent, which is higher than pre Covid days.”

he said there was more positive news about the degree in which children might have fallen behind while working from home. He said: “It is a little early to say but it would appear that the children’s efforts at home has meant there really isn’t a noticeable loss of learning either which is great news.

“Our teachers have even said that they feel like they have a closer relationship with the children having used Microsoft Teams calls to show everyone their pet, the sharing of special dress up days, home activities, treasure hunts and family chats.

“Although it has been hard work and we are all glad the children are back in school there are certainly new strategies we have learnt that we can use as we slowly and hopefully return to normality.”