From providing home learning to implementing a Covid-safe environment within school, it has been a challenging time for head teachers and their staff.
And Arundel CE Primary School is no exception, having had to weather the Covid storm like schools across our area. But despite the difficulties the virus has brought, head teacher Andrew Simpson is determined to take some positives out of this most unusual of years.
He invited me along to the school, in Jarvis Road, to have a look at the facilities and to see how the school and its pupils have been coping during the pandemic.
What struck me straight away was, despite the fact areas have to be blocked off and people around them are wearing masks, the childen looked happy and engaged.
We saw several classes participating in lessons inside, while outdoors a year-six class was running around the school’s huge field during a PE lesson.
Despite only being a one-form-entry school and having just over 200 pupils enrolled, Arundel CE Primary boasts the field, a prayer garden, outdoor playground and a forest where activities like den-building take place.
Mr Simpson said of the last year: “It’s definitely been tough at times, but I am so lucky with our staff here.
“They all know me and they all come in and work really hard for our parents, as they have done all the way through the lockdowns.
“They do it because we the parents had to juggle working at home, too.”
Prior to Covid hitting, the school had already invested in technology to provide online learning, something for which Mr Simpson said he was really grateful.
He said they will continue to use it even now children are all back in the classroom, to enhance their learning.
“It’s made us look at learning in a different way. Learning should be all hours of the day,” he said.
“Using technology has allowed certain children to flourish and communicate in different ways. It allows children to work independently more.
“We were very lucky we had already invested in it, which meant we could get online learning up and running very quickly.”
Like a lot of other schools, one of the measures put in place to make the school more Covid-safe was staggered drop-offs and pick ups, something Mr Simpson said he thought the school might keep even in a post-Covid world. He said it made for a calmer start to the day for the children, and made it much less crowded for parents.
The loss of fundraising opportunities at the school had been tough, coupled with the drop in income from breakfast and after-school clubs.
Mr Simpson said he completely understood people using them less due to changing working practices and hoped that by the next academic year the school would be able to start hosting fairs and other events again.
But for now, he said he was looking to the school’s future with positivity: “The aim now is to make sure that things we have learned this last year are put into practice in our school. And I think we’re well on the path to do that.”