Shropshire headteachers vow to do all they can to run real-life open events

The headteachers at a Shropshire school trust have vowed to do all they can to run real-life open events as parents worry the current crisis will force them to choose schools online.

Wrekin College
Wrekin College

Tim Firth and Martin Stott, headteachers at The Wrekin Old Hall Trust, said staff have been working overtime on strategies and plans to allow for safely-conducted personal tours of both their schools.

It comes as they voiced concerns that abandoning these events altogether could add to the impact of the current crisis on the mental wellbeing of children.

Wrekin College in Wellington has already held a socially-distanced 11 plus open event with limited places on a pre-booked basis.

Applications for senior schools are due this month.

The school has also welcomed a small number of older students looking at sixth form options for 2021.

The trust is currently planning for an open day for both schools on November 14.

Pre-booked individual tours can also be arranged at both schools.

Mr Firth, headmaster at Wrekin, said the schools had developed online virtual welcome packs which were working really well but that in some cases this was simply not enough to allay all the anxiety connected to choosing and starting a new school.

“We believe it is important to continue to open the school in a safe and meticulously managed way to allow new parents and children to get a personal feel for what our school community is like,” said Mr Firth.

"For many families, this experience is fundamental to how reassured they feel.

“As parents ourselves we know how important this decision is and we believe it is made all the more difficult if you can’t visit the school you are considering for your child."

Support from current parents has been overwhelming and demand was also high among parents who wanted to visit with the 11 plus evening slots all booked a week before the event.

Mr Stott said he was very encouraged at how keen his team and families at the school were to be involved.

“As teachers, we have seen time and time again how the opportunity to visit a school beforehand makes such a huge difference to a child's overall happiness at school," he said.

"That official first day should be about making memories in an environment you are familiar with and we should be doing all we can to avoid it being one potentially filled with trepidation.”

Mr Firth said the current situation could change rapidly and leadership teams within the trust would continue to follow Government advice.

Mr Firth and Mr Stott both praised staff working across the trust for helping to create a safe environment where every effort was being made to minimise the impact of the pandemic on children's mental health.

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