Nursery, Reception and Year 1 children are back in the classroom at Pilgrim Academy with strict social distancing measures in place.
Nursery, Reception and Year 1 children returned to school last week for some face to face contact with teachers, and at Pilgrim Academy children have reacted very positively to the changes introduced to ensure their safety.
Extensive risk assessments have been undertaken at all seven schools within Tollbar Multi Academy Trust, where the children of key workers and those who are vulnerable have continued to be educated throughout the three-month long crisis, including the Easter and May holidays and Bank Holidays.
Theddlethorpe Academy has also been able to take in Year 6 pupils, but there is not the capacity to do so at either Reynolds or Pilgrim Academies under the current regulations.
The prospect of more children returning to school has been welcomed wholeheartedly by teachers at Pilgrim Academy, who all agree that face-to-face contact and the reassurance, guidance and support of a teacher cannot be replaced by online learning, no matter how helpful virtual learning can be.
At present, a percentage of pupils are back in the classroom. They are being taught in small groups, with social distancing measures and additional hygiene routines in place.
Andy Clark, Executive Head of Pilgrim Academy, explained the measures which have been put into place at all three of the MAT's Primary Academies in recent weeks to allow children to return safely to school.
He said: "We have had to make lots of changes over the last month. As soon as we received the details from the Government we started doing a detailed risk assessment to make sure we could be compliant with everything the Government was asking of us. That meant making lots of changes, and not just here at Pilgrim Academy, but at Reynolds Academy and Theddlethorpe Academy too.
"We all work very closely together and the key thing that has driven everything has been the risk assessment. Among the changes we have made is reducing the number of children in classes. The Government has stated we can have up to 15 children in class, but actually when you measure the distance between desks to ensure they are two metres apart you are realistically looking at up to eight children maximum, and in some cases just five.
"One of the things we had to introduce to ensure the safety of our families was to make sure that there was social distancing outside the gates, and we have markers on the fence to make sure everyone is two metres apart. The staggered starts mean that children are coming into school in a very orderly fashion and when they come onto the playground we have markers on the floors so that they know where to stand. This has worked well and we have a very orderly start and end to the day.
"There haven't been any large gatherings outside the school and we have asked that parents do not come onto site unless it is an emergency or a scheduled meeting, and parents have been very receptive to that.
"We have kept groups to a maximum of eight pupils, which again has worked well. Children are kept in bubbles and don't meet with other groups. They are taught in their bubbles indoors and outside and we have tried to teach outside as much as possible.
"As the weeks have gone by, more parents are seeing that the children are safe, happy and enjoying themselves in school and we are getting more and more calls from other families who are wanting to send their children back."
David Hampson, Chief Executive of Tollbar Multi Academy Trust, is delighted that the Prime minister has now announced that all children may be back in the classrooms by September for the start of the new academic year.
"The safety of our staff and students remains paramount of course, but getting them all back into school is vital for the future of their education," he said.
Pupils are safely distanced at two metres apart as they enter and leave the Academy each day.
Pilgrim Academy safety precautions due to Covid-19. Reception pupils Erin Drinkell and Daniel Fisher queue up at a safe distance to sanitise their hands.
Above and below: Pupils and teachers remain at a safe distance from each other.