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Coronavirus shutdown: we received 100 requests for school places but only 15 turned up

And they're going to have a brilliant time, says headteacher Kevin Harcombe

  • Coronavirus shutdown: we received 100 requests for school places but only 15 turned up

When, on Wednesday, the announcement of school closures was made, ‘except for children of key workers’, we awaited the list of said key workers eagerly.

The first promised deadline came and went, then the second.

The list eventually arrived in the early hours of Friday morning and, I have to say, teachers were only mildly surprised that there weren’t many jobs that were not key workers and we’d probably not be closing at all.

Subsequently on Friday we received 100 requests for a school place – nearly a third of our numbers and making a mockery of the social distancing aim of the planned closure.

That percentage was replicated in other local schools.

Office staff – working the phones at full pelt for eight hours - whittled that down to 48 fairly genuine cases.

On Monday only 15 actually turned up. They’re going to have a great day because teachers have been given the freedom to teach whatever they like as long as it benefits and engages the children – ie not much national curriculum.

Staff are working on a rota, though all are touchingly keen to come in.

Am I insisting they do paperwork and planning while they’re at home? No. Most paperwork serves no purpose, and what, exactly, would they be planning for?

A group of three teachers were overheard discussing – at a socially acceptable distance of 2m from each other - how colleagues in other schools were being given masses of pointless work to do at home and one of them said, ‘I work here because I still have a life, which I didn’t have in my previous school.’

That pleased me greatly because that’s what I aim to do - and it has the added benefit that happy staff don’t get sick. Touch wood.

Kevin Harcombe is a Teaching Award winner and headteacher at Redlands Primary School, Fareham.

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