Pupils say goodbye on strangest of last days

It was the strangest last day of school most children will ever experience, coming amid a devastating pandemic and only a few weeks after many of them returned to their classrooms.

Charlotte Bugler leading her spread-apart Year 6 class on their final day of primary school at Lawley Village Primary Academy School in Telford
Charlotte Bugler leading her spread-apart Year 6 class on their final day of primary school at Lawley Village Primary Academy School in Telford

For many schools, yesterday was the last time for a while that pupils will be on site as the latest disjointed term came to an end.

Many children are still being educated at home, with most pupils having been sent home from school when the coronavirus lockdown came into effect back in March.

Certain year groups did return as the lockdown was eased, albeit in reduced numbers as some parents opted to keep their children away for the time being.

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Now the 2019/20 school year is over, teachers will be reflecting on how they managed to keep children safe in recent weeks, and devising preparations for when they return in September.

At the Lawley Village Primary Academy in Telford, the goodbye was an especially significant one for the Year 6 cohort, the new school's first ever group to 'graduate' and move up to secondary.

The Year 6 pupils came in without uniform and held their emotions in check as they went through their lessons.

The school's adaptations for the coronavirus lockdown include staggered drop-off and collection times, a much stricter handwashing regime and tables spread further apart during lessons so the pupils could maintain their distance.

The school playground has been divided and pupils have been taking turns to eat lunch in bubbles.

'The children have coped incredibly'

Executive head Laura Hopley said the adaptability of her staff and the pupils made her proud.

"The children have coped incredibly with their return to school," she said.

"We’ve been really impressed at how open the children have been about their experiences of lockdown and how resilient they have been to the changes they have faced.

"Some have found it harder than others, but all those who’ve returned to school have had open discussions with staff to help them process the last few months. Support has been offered to those remaining at home too.

"It has been very different – not being able to teach in the same way we would usually, for example close, one-to-one support. We’ve had to be mindful of the emotional needs of the children in school and at home and put those at the forefront of our teaching, whilst trying to ensure any gaps in learning are addressed quickly and effectively.


"Staff have had to adapt to a whole new style of teaching – almost overnight. Online lessons are a completely different way of working for staff, who get so much of their knowledge of the children from the close, daily interactions they have within the classroom.

"I couldn’t be more proud of the way my staff have responded and worked throughout the crisis."

She went on to say that the effects of the pandemic will still be felt and in unpredictable ways when the new school year begins in September.

"The children are going to come back with a myriad of experiences and needs. Some will have had a wonderful, nurturing time during lockdown and learnt new skills, others will have been unable to access the same level of support.

"We don’t know how many will be impacted by the loss of a family member due to Covid-19 until they return, and exactly what gaps they will have in their learning.

"It won’t happen overnight, but I have full confidence in my team that we will get the children back to where they need to be.

"We will continue to provide a broad, balanced and exciting curriculum to engage the children into their learning – it’s what we do best."

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