This is how school looks in Doncaster after more pupils returned to lessons last week

It’s school – but not as we knew it.

Thursday, 25th June 2020, 12:59 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th June 2020, 1:03 pm

These pictures of pupils at play in Doncaster this week show how youngsters in reception, year six, year 10 and year 12 are managing back at their academies after the Government gave our schools permission to re-open to more pupils for the first time since lockdown.

The pupils are kept 2m apart, and in bubbles – a new word in the language of schools for small groups who are sharing a teacher, a school entrance and a classroom.

And with attendance still not mandatory, year groups are still incomplete.

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Intake Primarty School pupils after the return to lessons. Submitted picture - Intake Primary School.

At most schools in the borough however, while it is not business as usual, teachers and pupils are making the most of what is the current normal – and those in charge say they have been impressed with the way children – and their teachers – have coped with the new arrangements. And they described how they have been moved by the smiles on the faces of children as they are re-united with friends they have not seen for three months,

Outwood Academy (Adwick) has now been back for two weeks. With one way systems, hand sanitising stations, and even socially distanced hand basins in the toilets, pupils in each year group are back only on certain days.

Principal Andrew Scruby said the school was open to years 10 and 12 and have had 75 per cent of students attending the masterclasses and tutorials they are now running in the building.

Intake Primarty School pupils after the return to lessons. Submitted picture - Intake Primary School.

He said: “Students and staff have been extremely positive about the sessions.

“As an example day, yesterday we had 92 students accessing provision.

“Students have adapted to the academy modifications impeccably; maintaining social distancing, working within zones, and prioritising hygiene routines.

“The academic master-class sessions have been delivered into classrooms using technology, enabling subject specialists to deliver and communicate with multiple bubbles without coming into physical contact and risking transmission routes.”

Intake Primarty School pupils after the return to lessons. Submitted picture - Intake Primary School.

They have also set up an inclusion centre to support children back into school if they need help.

They also still have vulnerable children and key workers’ youngsters.

Helen Broad is executive principal at Intake Primary Academy and Atlas Primary Academy, at Hyde Park, both run by Astrea Academy Trust.

She said the biggest challenge had been been organising the rooms in terms of setting up furniture, and finding room to store furniture that was not being used in the new classroom arrangements.

Using the hand sanitiser at the entrance to Outwood Academy Adwick

Groups of children, or bubbles, are all using different entrances, and another challenge was to make sure that all the parents knew which entrance to bring their children to and then pick them up from.

Each returning child has been put into a bubble, sharing a teacher and classroom space. The largest in Ms Broad’s schools is 13, in a year six group.

But once the children have arrived, she feels they have coped well with the different circumstances they are operating in.

“The chidren have been brilliant in terms of returning, in hand washing, moving around school and social distancing,” she said, “Even in the playgroud they have been great in social distancing, even when they are playing together.

“Before we had heavy rain, they decorated the playground with children’s drawings, and welcome back messages.

“It was fantastic to see the smiles on their faces on the first day when they saw friends again, in their bubbles. Children were skipping into school and couldn’t wait to come in.

“The yard is marked for distancing, but it was lovely to see them so happy. It has brought back some normality to their lives.

“Some of the teachers are teaching different groups than before, but they have had such a positive attitude.”

She said the school was also having to make sure children did not share equipment. They have their own pencil cases and their own pencils inside those.

They also have to have their own building blocks, play dough and arts materials.

Ms Broad is also pleased with supportive messages that her schools have received from parents since more children were allowed to return.

But so far, only around a third of the pupils who are eligible to return have been back in lessons. It is expected that this number will rise week by week as time goes on.

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