Telford headteacher ‘delighted’ to get this far, but ready to rest

Teachers and school pupils are preparing for a well-earned break amid one of the most challenging starts to an academic year in recent times.

Dr Gill Eatough, chief executive of the Learning Community Trust (LCT), which runs three Telford schools
Dr Gill Eatough, chief executive of the Learning Community Trust (LCT), which runs three Telford schools

With pupils being forced to get used to new coronavirus measures – including social bubbles and staggered learning times – staff have faced equally difficult tasks, undergoing additional training and using Covid-19 safeguarding techniques.

Telford headteacher Dr Gill Eatough said she had “never seen anything like this” in more than 20 years of teaching.

Dr Eatough, chief executive of the Learning Community Trust (LCT), which runs three Telford secondary schools – Ercall Wood, Hadley Learning Community and Charlton – was able to keep all schools fully open.

“I can’t believe we’ve just done eight weeks,” she said. “As CEO of the trust I’m just delighted we’ve got to this point and kept the vast majority of our young people in school, with all our schools being fully open since the start of term.”

Despite Year 8 students at Charlton School in Wellington having time off due to a teacher contracting Covid-19, LCT was able to operate above the national average for attendance at about 93-to-95 per cent.

Dr Eatough said: “We’ve had some cases in schools and we’ve learnt to manage that really well.

“We’ve had some students self-isolating but we’ve got home learning up and running so we’re supporting them through this. We’ve had to close some social bubbles in secondary schools, but overall we’ve learnt to manage it .

“I’ve been a headteacher for more than 20 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.

“I’m really proud of our staff, pupils and parents, who have been incredibly supportive and understood the challenges we’ve faced.”

Exhausting

Dr Eatough said one challenge had been separating age groups.

“We haven’t been able to have mixing across age ranges,” Dr Eatough said.

“Often you have friendships across age ranges but we’ve had to separate these. That’s been a big change, but pupils have adapted and got used to this.

“The other big thing has been not going on all the trips and visits.”

Half-term comes as pupils on their last day at Hadley Learning Community took part in a fundraising event for Breast Cancer Now, where pupils and staff could wear pink clothing and wigs.

Dr Eatough added: “I think everyone needs a break, I think the staff need a break, it’s been exhausting for them.

“I think everyone’s looking forward to a week of catching our breath and having a bit of space from each other, and then we get ready for whatever comes in the run up to Christmas.”

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