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South Holland schools plan for return of youngsters, with 'blended learning approach'

Head teachers in South Holland and the Deepings are planning ahead for the full return of children to classrooms across the area in September.

After a summer term when only Reception, Years 1, 6, 10 and 12 youngsters were allowed to have face-to-face teaching in school, heads have confirmed their expectations to welcome back all year groups after the holiday.

But schools also plan to continue using virtual learning tools, adopted during the coronavirus lockdown for pupils and students working from home, to support classroom time and in case of any future area or national lockdown in the autumn.

Gedney Drove End Primary School.Photo: SG170713-130TW.
Gedney Drove End Primary School.Photo: SG170713-130TW.

Karyn Wiles, executive head of Gedney Drove End, Holbeach St Marks and Sutton Bridge Westmere Primary Schools, said: "We plan to have all of our children back in the classroom in September, although the Department for Education (DfE) has asked us to consider how we can ensure they continue to receive an education even when they are not in school.

"So we have plans in place for a ‘blended’ learning approach should we need it.

"If a child, class or even a whole school needs to isolate, or we have a local or national lockdown, we have a range of virtual learning platforms that we have trialled this term that can be rolled out to our families in September.

Holbeach St Marks Primary School.
Holbeach St Marks Primary School.

"Nothing can replace the effectiveness of children being physically in school, but we do understand there may be occasions in the autumn term when we need to switch to a virtual approach."

Richard Lord, head teacher of the Deepings School, said: "We do not currently have any plans to teach our students virtually in September.

"We have learnt a great deal about remote learning during the school closure and will definitely look to benefit from this in the future to support home learning and assist with intervention.

"This will also be our default plan to teach students if we have to close a 'year group bubble' within school, or if there is a local lockdown enforced in the autumn.

"As it stands, we are looking forward to welcoming back all of our students for face-to-face teaching in line with government guidelines and the guidance we have shared with our parents, carers, students and staff."

Michele Anderson, headmistress at Spalding High School, said: "We are not planning on virtual learning in September and are expecting all of our students back in the classroom with their teachers.

"However, to protect against the impact of a possible future local lockdown, we are improving our IT provision.

Headmistress Michele Anderson with students at Spalding High School in May 2019.Photo supplied.
Headmistress Michele Anderson with students at Spalding High School in May 2019.Photo supplied.

"This will not only help us to ensure that our outstanding teaching and learning can be continued, should South Holland ever be put in lockdown, but also support any student who might need to self-isolate and not attend lessons in person.

"This is not unusual at the moment and all schools have been tasked by the DfE to make contingency plan for local lockdown and remote learning 'just in case'."

Lucy Conley, executive head teacher of Spalding and Bourne Academies, said: "We are all very much looking forward to welcoming our students back to school in September, with them being required to attend every day at both Bourne Academy and Spalding Academy, albeit with a staggered start over the first three days in September.

Students at Spalding Academy, with executive head Lucy Conley, in July 2019.Photo: 030719-3.
Students at Spalding Academy, with executive head Lucy Conley, in July 2019.Photo: 030719-3.

"Alongside classroom learning, students will continue to do homework and catch-up tasks using our online platform and we will be training all our staff to be able to use this from September.

"I have informed all parents and students that we will start to use our online platform if there is a further national or localised lockdown and students need to be taught from home for a further period of time, although we all hope this will not be the case in the future."

Martin Smith, interim assistant director for education in Lincolnshire, said: "The Government expects all pupils to return to school in September and school leaders are currently planning how they can achieve this in the safest way possible.

"We are assured that the vast majority of children and young people will return.

"However, schools have been asked to make contingency plans for any pupils who need to self-isolate.

"It is up to school leaders to decide the nature of these contingency arrangements, but it is possible that some may use virtual lessons, given that these have been used successfully during lockdown."

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