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Following what has been a challenging term for many parents, juggling their jobs, their children’s education, and all the other challenges which parents have faced in light of the pandemic, many were delighted to see the children have a smooth return to school, and a step closer to normality.
Dunsford Community Academy, a member of the Learning Academy Partnership and based in Exeter, had prepared extensively for the return to school. In particular taking into consideration how overwhelming it could be for some of their pupils.
To prepare, the school: Held Care and Share sessions for parents to engage with one another, to ask questions and to give them a space to consider what they are doing to look after their own wellbeing; Provided a dedicated support section of the website where parents can access information about different avenues of support; Year 5/6 children created a beautiful Welcome Back banner to welcome children and parents back to school; and have resumed Forest School sessions, individual music tuition and PE sessions in partnership with Spires College.
Speaking to some of their pupil’s parents about their experiences of lockdown, and the long awaited return to school, staff were delighted to hear children had enjoyed their first few days back.
A parent with children in year 4 and 5, said:
”Thank you to all staff for making the children’s first day back such a happy and glorious one. Seeing them all come out with beaming faces, despite last minute nerves was wonderful. They exclaimed about how fun their day was and how nice it was to be back! It was so wonderful to see and all your efforts made a difference – from the lovely Tom and Jerry animation on Facebook this morning, to the cheery welcome sign and extra outside time!”
A parent of a Year 5 child said:
“The lift in the village was tangible. It felt like a real celebration. It was so nice to see so many children. We’re still very conscious of being socially distanced but having everyone back to school felt like a good day.”
Speaking about her son, in Year 2, another parent said:
”He’s been so happy to be back with you all and it’s felt like an absolutely seamless transition. The video sessions throughout this lockdown have been absolutely essential for us in keeping up the connection with the children and the wonderful staff and I think this has made a huge difference to the return this time.”
Parents also reported on how their children found the day:
“Best back-to-school day we’ve ever had”, according to the children. “Coming back after a long time at home, we have felt so loved and celebrated. Thank you.”
”This second period of home learning over winter has been tough for children and parents but we have really appreciated the great efforts and warm support of the team at Dunsford. The regular calls, assemblies and care and share sessions for parents really helped us to stay connected. My children were so happy and excited to be going back to school this week and have received a warm welcome. Thank you Mrs Guntrip and all the staff, you couldn’t have done more.”
Sharing her thoughts on the return to school, Mrs Guntrip, Head of Academy at Dunsford, said:
“It has been brilliant to see all the lovely smiling faces of our wonderful pupils back in school. The past few months have been different from what we have been used to, but families and pupils have done an excellent job of remaining positive and making the most of the circumstances they are in.
“We are already in full swing, with all the pupils back in class, and working hard to ensure every pupil is feeling fulfilled and happy. We are making special efforts to ensure all our pupils are up to speed with their learning and progressing so their learning is not disrupted.”