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‘It was crucial to get children back in lessons’ - Four schools reopen to all pupils

PUBLISHED: 12:59 13 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:15 13 July 2020

Pilgrim Federation executive headteacher Mary Dolan. Picture: Ian Burt

Pilgrim Federation executive headteacher Mary Dolan. Picture: Ian Burt

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A group of four primary schools have fully reopened to offer the chance for all pupils to return to lessons ahead of the summer break.

Children enjoy new playground markings at Walsingham Primary School. Picture: Pilgrim FederationChildren enjoy new playground markings at Walsingham Primary School. Picture: Pilgrim Federation

Measures to allow for restrictions on teaching in small groups, together with senior staff returning to the classroom, has meant the Pilgrim Federation has welcomed back all years to its schools in Kelling, Walsingham, Blakeney and Hindringham.

Executive headteacher Mary Dolan said: “I was absolutely determined that we would get as many children back as possible because the governors and myself felt that it was so important that they weren’t missing any more of their education.

Pupils cut the rubbon to open new unisex toilets at Blakeney Primary School. Picture: Pilgrim FederationPupils cut the rubbon to open new unisex toilets at Blakeney Primary School. Picture: Pilgrim Federation

MORE: Headteacher ‘extremely proud’ of number of pupils back at school

“Our motto is that we all play our part to achieve excellence and that is exactly what’s happened. All of the staff have gone above and beyond to make this happen.

“For example, at one of our schools the secretary is shielding, but secretaries at the other schools have stepped up to do additional work.”

Pupils on the new playground tower at Kelling School. Picture: Pilgrim FederationPupils on the new playground tower at Kelling School. Picture: Pilgrim Federation

Despite all children being offered the opportunity to return, not all parents have taken up the offer. At Kelling 44 out of 53 pupils are back in lessons, with 29 out of 38 at Walsingham, 27 out of 35 at Blakeney, and 16 out of 35 at Hindringham.

However the reaction of parents has been positive, said Miss Dolan, who has returned to the classroom to teach year six pupils at Walsingham as part of the full reopening.

Children enjoy new playground markings at Walsingham Primary School. Picture: Pilgrim FederationChildren enjoy new playground markings at Walsingham Primary School. Picture: Pilgrim Federation

She said: “There were obviously concerns from parents who were going back to work, so they were greatly relieved and we were really pleased.

“And the children have all been delighted. It was an absolute joy to welcome them all back. They have adapted so quickly to the social distancing and changes. They have been so sensible, even the youngest children.”

Early Years teaching assistant Kelly Gillion with two of the nursery children at Hindringham Primary School. Picture: Pilgrim FederationEarly Years teaching assistant Kelly Gillion with two of the nursery children at Hindringham Primary School. Picture: Pilgrim Federation

Lessons are partly being held in school halls as well as classrooms to accommodate the return.

“We just felt it was absolutely crucial to get as many children back as we could. It seemed very unfair that some children were able to return and others weren’t,” she added.

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As well getting used to new classroom arrangements, returning pupils have seen other new developments in their absence.

A new Early Years teaching assistant has started at Hindringham, Kelling School has a new playground play tower and Walsingham new playground markings.

Meanwhile Blakeney has unveiled new open plan unisex toilets.

“The toilets were absolutely grim before, but the diocese supported us to completely refurbish them and they are unisex which is quite unusual but they have been really well received,” said Miss Dolan.


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