Year 10 students have made a welcome return to the classroom with social distancing measures in place at all times.
Year 10 students returned to school last week for some face to face contact with teachers, and at Somercotes Academy children have been praising the measures put in place 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.
The prospect of more children returning to school has been welcomed wholeheartedly by teachers at the 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 large percentage of Year 10 students at Somercotes Academy are back in the classroom. They are being taught in small groups, with social distancing measures and additional hygiene routines in place.
All seven TMAT schools have remained open for the children of key workers and vulnerable children throughout the Easter and May holidays including Bank Holidays. Staff at Somercotes Academy have been working hard throughout this period, supporting and teaching the children who have been attending school; contacting students at home to ensure support has been given when it is needed, and setting work and giving feedback using the Academy's Virtual Learning Environment, FROG.
However, teachers continue to be anxious to get all students back into full-time classroom learning, where staff can support and encourage them more effectively. The measures put in place for Year 10 are definitely a step in the right direction.
Frances Green, Principal of Somercotes Academy, said: "Since March 23, the Academy has been open Monday-Friday (including bank holidays and school holidays) to provide for the children of key workers and vulnerable students. Numbers in these groups have steadily risen and the Academy is proud of the high-quality provision offered by the dedicated teachers and support staff.
"While the majority of students are learning from home, using the excellent resources that staff create on the FROG VLE network, in the Academy it has been business as usual, with the students on site working in small groups and carrying on with their learning across the curriculum. In this 'lockdown' period, students have experienced socially distanced chemistry experiments, carried out creative writing, taken part in individual fitness challenges, and learnt more about the origins of VE day, among other experiences.
"We are delighted to be able to open our doors again to Year 10 students. Though the 25% rule limits the numbers of students able to be on site at any time, the majority of Year 10 have returned for a day a week and have been pleased to be back learning face to face with their teachers again.
"Staff have worked incredibly hard to adjust lesson resources and delivery methods to produce high-quality sessions which work alongside the online learning that students continue to do at home. This is alongside continuing the virtual learning for all other year groups. Year 10 students have responded very positively to the provision, with some asking whether they can come for more days! Students are reassured by being able to talk to their teachers again."
Year 7 student Larna Pennell (12) said: "The safety measures put in place by the Academy are really good and have reassured me about being back in school."
Year 10 student Callum Tudbury (15) said: "What I have missed about being in school is that your teachers can check your work and if it is not right they explain it again face to face to show you exactly where you went wrong."
Fellow Year 10 student Charlotte Wright (14) said: "I felt anxious about my exams next year and I have felt more reassured by talking to my teachers. I found the FROG learning platform was good with the scheme of work, as it gave me more structure to do my work."
Year 9 student Shaine Newell (14) only joined Somercotes Academy mid-way through lockdown and has been at school everyday since. He relocated from Lincoln and has settled in well. "I have been in school everyday. I really don't mind that, but it will be good to get back to normal," he said.
David Hampson, Chief Executive of Tollbar Multi Academy Trust, is delighted that all children could be back in the classrooms at Somercotes Academy 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.
Aspens Catering Manager Laura Meston serves Year 9 student Shaine Newell (14) with pre-ordered food at lunchtime with social distancing measures in place.
Students and staff are reminded of safety measures throughout the Academy.
Larna Pennell (12) sanitises her hands at one of the multiple handwashing stations throughout the Academy.