Rebecca, Head Teacher
Ilmington CofE Primary School
On the news of the first lockdown.
We didn’t know what to do. We heard things in the news at the same time as everyone else and suddenly, as school staff, we were expected to know the answers. It was unprecedented — we had to adapt to these new restrictions that were unheard of. There was initially a lack of support and information from the central government and we tried our best to be a source of knowledge for staff, families and children —but also not having a clue, because day to day, the guidelines were different.
On the challenges of running a school during the pandemic.
The biggest challenge was not being able to plan anything longer than 24 hrs in advance — you wouldn’t know which staff members you are going to have to support the children. We learned that we had to keep everything clear and simple. We scaled everything down so it was manageable. By the third national lockdown, we had learned a lot of lessons from the first one, particularly with how to support the children in their learning. We invested in new online platforms, became more organised with Zoom meetings, as the staff became more confident with all the new technology.
We also had to look after the well-being of the staff as well as the children — everyone is susceptible to being poorly so you have to bear the needs of everyone. But we all helped each other. When you work in a small school, you have a job description but you do so much more. One minute we are teachers, the next minute we are plumbers or cleaners!
On leaving lockdown.
Undoubtedly, there will be a legacy of children dealing with loneliness and isolation and how this past year affects their mental health. However, what we found from the first lockdown is that children are more resilient than we give them credit for. Children will bounce back, and there will be an abundance of support for those who are struggling more.
As a school, we have become so quick on our feet and more swift to react to situations. We’ve learned to adapt and use our initiative. The only thing constant in life is change — you have to be flexible and ready for anything. You’re never really in control. You just have to learn to ride the wave.
To find out more about Ilmington CofE Primary School, visit their website.