July News from Hungerford Primary School

Well here we are at the end of the first week when we have been able to welcome back children from every single year group. In total we have seen about 240 children return, some full time and some for part of the week and of course we have three groups of children of key workers. This is about 67% of the whole school population.

It has been quite a challenge to do this as the children have to be in groups of no more than 15 children which cannot mix with each other so the whole school has had to be rearranged and we even had to buy a marquee to use as an additional classroom. Two groups use this during the week and they absolutely love it. We have also been lucky enough to have been given the use of a fabulous mobile classroom at The John O’ Gaunt Secondary School called “The Pod”. Mr Hawthorne, the new headteacher, was only too pleased to be able to help us out.

 

It has also meant teachers and teaching assistants having to work with children from different year groups. However in spite of all these obstacles the staff have made this all work beautifully. Most importantly the children have loved being back in school (although they might be reluctant to admit it). It was very important for us at Hungerford Primary that as many children as possible had the opportunity to come back to school before the summer. It just didn’t feel right that they wouldn’t get to be in school from March until September.

Our emphasis now is not on trying to catch up academically but on engaging children with fun activities and giving them plenty of opportunity to talk and play with other children. They have all had very different lockdown experiences, some good, some bad but they will all have had to be isolated from family and friends. Some may be quite nervous and concerned especially if their parents or grandparents are in a vulnerable situation such as having to shield themselves or are working at a care home or hospital. So going out of the house and into a classroom has been quite difficult for them. But it has been good to see how these nervous children have become so much more confident even after just a week or two back in school. They have also become experts at handwashing!

Watching them working, talking, joking and playing with their friends and having the opportunity to make new friends in their groups has been wonderful and hearing their chatter and laughter can’t help but raise a smile.

Our parents have been fantastic at showing their appreciation to the teachers and support staff both for preparing the school for children to come back and also for the way they provided quality home learning opportunities for the children.

Now that week one is done we have 2 more weeks before the end of term and during this time we will be planning for every child to return in September now that the government has issued its new guidelines. There are still a few questions that need answering but the teachers, children and I’m fairly sure the parents, are really looking forward to next term, whatever that may look like.

One of the things that the Coronavirus lockdown has shown us is just how many of our families don’t have access to suitable technology at home for children to use to help them with their learning. We loaned out 28 of our own laptops to families who didn’t have one or something similar at home. We are now hoping to develop a “Technology lending library” to help families and we are very grateful to West Berkshire Council who have generously provided us with 3 brand new laptops to loan out to families who would benefit from having one.

Mr Dominic Boeck visited the school this week to hand over the first of the laptops to two of our children, Stanley and Finley

David Mayer

Headteacher
Hungerford Primary School

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