How has your school adapted its facilities to manage social distancing?

In this month’s Talking Heads, we asked heads how they have adapted their school facilities to keep pupils and teachers safe

st margaret's school

We have used some of our larger rooms and halls to accommodate our distanced ‘bubbles’, which helps us to keep desks apart and ensure the same desk is used each day by the same child. Blessed with a large campus, we have also created more teaching spaces outside. For our youngest pupils we have created a fairy garden where they can learn and eat safely.

Areas of the outdoor play and junior school have also been reserved for different ‘bubbles’. We have also turned our orchard into an extension of our dining facility so that pupils and staff can eat outside and our ‘bubbles’ can stay apart.

Lara Péchard, head, St Margaret’s School

To limit the amount of kit and the need for changing, children will come in their sports kit and trainers. They will be provided with a picnic-style meal or a barbeque, which will be eaten outside or in their classroom. Due to the guidance, we are unable to educate our nursery children in their normal space. Instead the mornings will be spent learning in the woods and the afternoons will be based on our playing fields. Bell tents will be erected to ensure children have shaded areas in which to learn. Furthermore, we have a mains water supply, perfect for filling paddling pools.

For reception and year 1, most of the resources in the classrooms have been removed, including all soft furnishings, ensuring as little clutter as possible. Each child will have their own set of resources. We ask that no toys are brought in. Young children may need a comforter, but we ask that this is limited to one. If in doubt, we will head out! Outdoor learning is important to us. Where possible, we will take our lessons outside. Each class will have access to its own area of our woodlands and the wider grounds.

One reception class will move to the nursery classroom. Their tables and chairs will be moved to ensure that they can still complete their teacher-led learning, but they will be able to use the wider classroom for child-initiated learning. The other class will therefore have sole use of the reception hall for their child-initiated learning.

Sophie Baber, headteacher, Brookham School

For year 6, remote teaching will continue in the morning. The reason being, the government guidance imposes severe limits to us. Year 6 are taught by multiple teachers throughout the day, rather than one teacher. If we returned to lessons in school, it would preclude specialist teaching for almost all subjects. It would also require the rewriting of our current timetable and the reallocation of teachers.

This would have an immediate significant impact on our provision to other year groups. Supporting children’s emotional wellbeing during their re-integration to school is very important to us. Therefore, after lunch, children will return to school for an afternoon of outdoor activities in their normal forms. This is a way to offer them the opportunity to socialise, stay active and collaborate, albeit within the government’s guidelines.

Phillip Evitt, headmaster, Highfield School

Previous Talking heads article: What’s your best headteacher hack?

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