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Coronavirus shutdown: unexpected moments of joy

It's an anxious time, but Sarah Watkins has enjoyed some precious peeks into the lives of her pupils

  • Coronavirus shutdown: unexpected moments of joy

My school, Ledbury Primary in Herefordshire, is a values-based education school.

Our headteacher, Julie Rees, is author of The Little Book of Values and our school acts as a model for other schools using values-based education.

Our values inform absolutely everything we do, from curriculum planning to breaktime. At this time of nationwide crisis, our senior leadership team has come up with solutions that are steeped in our values system.

It’s been incredibly challenging for our headteacher, but she’s ensured that everyone plays a part and is cared for.

Some of our vulnerable pupils are attending school, while others are being supported in the community.

You can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach here, as the changed school is just too bewildering and hard to cope with for some vulnerable pupils.

Some children of key workers are also attending, although many parents have arranged childcare that ensures that school is not needed.

Parents have been very understanding and know that the childcare provision should only be used if absolutely necessary, thereby keeping everyone safe.

Staff who have underlying health issues or young children are working from home. Staff who are fit and well are in school on a rota system.

Everyone at school is maintaining safe distances. Temperature-taking and handwashing are crucial parts of the daily schedule.

In terms of home learning, a simple work pack was sent home with all pupils last week, and pupils are in touch with their teachers via social media.

In Early Years we use Tapestry and it has been amazing to see photos and videos sent in from the pupils in nursery and Reception.

Children have photographed their maths and English work, but a child also uploaded a video yesterday of her riding a bike in the garden for the first time without stabilisers.

It’s been joyful to share these precious moments.

I have swallowed my pride and recorded myself reading a story (it’s not as easy as the CBeebies presenters make it look!). Parents and carers said that their children were overjoyed to be able to see their teacher virtually so I will make this a regular thing.

My main aim is to work with parents to provide some normality for the children at this confusing time.

Reading has a huge priority at Ledbury and we tend to read at least four picturebooks a day in class, so virtual storytime helps to keep that connection between teacher and pupils.

In line with our values-based education approach, we are advising parents to take this first few days to adapt to the new reality.

There must be a transition period – families need time to adjust.

It was important for us not to overload families with homework. It’s a stressful and anxious time for them and they need our love and encouragement most of all.

Sarah Watkins has taught every year group and was previously head of school. She is an SLE (English) and currently teaches Reception.

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