Rearranged classrooms, one-way systems and ‘bubbles’ – how Exmouth primary schools are keeping children safe

PUBLISHED: 08:00 14 June 2020

Exmouth primary school headteachers Stuart Dyer, Emma Jones and Rachel Pattison. Picture: Archant

Exmouth primary school headteachers Stuart Dyer, Emma Jones and Rachel Pattison. Picture: Archant

Archant

Pupils have been returning to very different-looking primary schools as the Government eases lockdown restrictions.

Brixington Academy Headteacher Stuart Dyer with Maths 'Rock Star' Oliver Murdoch. Ref exe 48 19TI 5142. Picture: Terry IfeBrixington Academy Headteacher Stuart Dyer with Maths 'Rock Star' Oliver Murdoch. Ref exe 48 19TI 5142. Picture: Terry Ife

Some schools in Exmouth have welcomed back as much as a third of their total intake after the Government said youngsters from reception, year one and year six can go back.

One-way systems have been put in place to help with social distancing and pupils from different groups are kept apart in ‘bubbles’.

In some schools, children are not coming together for assemblies and handwashing is timetabled.

At Brixington Academy, staff have offered children in nursery, reception and year one the opportunity to return to school, while year six children will be making their way back soon.

Withycombe Primay School's Headteacher Emma Jones Ref exe 10 20TI 9589 Picture: Terry IfeWithycombe Primay School's Headteacher Emma Jones Ref exe 10 20TI 9589 Picture: Terry Ife

School start times, as well as lunchtimes and playtimes, have been staggered to help with social distancing and Brixington is making ‘full use’ of outdoor activity space.

Headteacher Stuart Dyer said: “Children play with the same children who are in their classroom ‘bubble’.”

Lessons at Brixington – which take place in adjusted classrooms with desks separated – are about keeping safe.

New routes around the school have also been introduced.

Marpool Primary School headteacher - Rachel Pattison. Picture: Terry IfeMarpool Primary School headteacher - Rachel Pattison. Picture: Terry Ife

Mr Dyer said staff have been ‘brilliant’ in implementing the necessary changes, adding: “As a result, the returning children feel happy, safe, motivated to learn and positive about school.”

At Withycombe Raleigh Primary School, an ‘extensive’ risk assessment was undertaken and, during the late May bank holiday, staff prepared classrooms to meet Government guidelines.

Headteacher Emma Jones said: “The classes do look quite different, but the children have adapted really well, and school is still a happy place for those who are attending.”

Soft furnishings have been removed, desks have been arranged two metres apart and new individual stationery packs have been provided.

A one-way and ‘keep left’ system has been introduced and is signposted by tape on the floor.

Parents and visitors are no longer coming into the school grounds and children are now being met by staff at the gate, then escorted to their ‘bubble’.

Mrs Jones added: “We currently have 14 bubbles for children of key worker families, each with their own zone and supported by a teacher and teaching assistant.

“Bubbles are limited to 12 children and through careful planning of space within the school, they don’t mix with other bubbles.

“We also have staggered start and home times for the different year groups to avoid congestion at the school gates.”

Hand washing is timetabled every hour and children spend their time participating in learning activities with a focus on art, creative and physical activity.

Fortnightly home learning packs are still being produced for pupils being educated at home and online resources continue to be available via the school’s website.

Mrs Jones added: “I am so impressed and proud that the Withycombe team have been able to implement a whole new way of educating our children at such short notice.

“Staff have gone above and beyond to maintain contact with families and ensure that children have access to great learning activities.”

Marpool Primary School is also using the ‘bubble’ model where children belong to a ‘bubble’ led by their class teacher or a key staff member.

‘Bubbles’ have no more than 15 children in them and they have a home base where they spend most of their day.

Break times are staggered, and each ‘bubble’ uses a designated area within the grounds which is rotated daily for variety.

As at Withycombe, soft furnishings have been removed from classrooms and staff open doors and windows upon arrival for ‘maximum’ ventilation.

Each class base has a cleaning kit per ‘bubble’ which will be taken with them if they use another learning space.

Movement is limited around the school to the designated home bases, toilets and designated outside spaces. Where additional spaces are used, this is done in ‘bubbles’ and cleaned after each use.

Headteacher Rachel Pattison thanked her staff, teachers and support staff for being an ‘amazing’ team.


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