Blackpool schools are bubbling with more pupils

The school holidays may be looming , but many Blackpool youngsters have been rushing back to class.

Friday, 26th June 2020, 12:30 pm
Glad to be back at school.... The Year fives at St John Vianney Catholic Primary School. They are latest back at the school.

After three months of lockdown, the resort's schools are revelling in resounding to the roar of noisy pupils.

And, they are expecting the throng to rise over the next few weeks as more youngsters get used to smaller classes and their own socially-distanced classroom bubbles.

Elaine Allen, headteacher at St John Vianney Catholic Primary School, said: "It is wonderful to have the school full of the sounds of children again.

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Fun in the sun... back at school. St John Vianney Catholic Primary welcomed the latest pupils back to class

"The children love being in school – you only have to see them all to be able to tell. It’s as if they have never been away. The children are very eager to learn."

She added: "Our year six pupils are thriving as they understand that they are covering a lot of work quickly due to being in small bubbles of between 12-15 and receiving a lot of support from the teacher.

"All our pupils have been absolutely brilliant with the new rules and there have been no worries with this. "

Elaine said parents had been supportive throughout the lockdown and and worked with school to open up to more youngsters.

She added: "We have been able to offer flexible arrangements, including after school until 4pm each day for key worker families and we have responded to individual arrangement requests too.”

Andrew Galbraith, principal at Highfield Leadership Academy said most of the year 10s ae now back in class and added: "It was wonderful to see so many pupils back in school and they clearly enjoyed being back, seeing their friends and teachers again. Our new safety measures work well, and it is pleasing to see the pupils follow them so attentively.

“Thirty-five of the 45 pupils in Year 10 attended, which was really encouraging for the first day back. Of the 10 who are yet to return to school, six pupils are shielding and four families are happy with the measures the school has put in place to protect pupils but feel that their children will be safer at home for the time being."

Some Blackpool schools have even made their own videos to reassure parents about the safety measures and social distancing that have been put in place. to help them make an informed decision as well as boosting their confidence that the appropriate measures have been implemented within the school environment.

Highfurlong School now has five bubbles within the school and pupils are starting to return gradually.

The special school’s ‘Recovery Curriculum’ has been designed help pupils to understand the coronavirus pandemic and the effects it has had on them and will ease them back into their learning routines.

Dr Arif Rajpura, director of Public Health for Blackpool Council, said: "The opening of schools is important in supporting children’s welfare and education, and also allowing those who are caring for children to resume their normal working lives, and we greatly appreciate the work and dedication of our schools staff.

"I am very much aware that reporting of figures can create alarm and lead people to make decisions such as whether or not they can safely send their children back to school.

"But, the research suggests that the school environment is comparatively low risk and I would stress that parents recognise the importance of school for child development.

"There is clear evidence that the risk to children from COVID-19 infection is lower than in the general population which is why we are encouraging parents to send their children back to school if they can.

Working closely with the Diane Booth, the council’s director of children’s ervices, I will be monitoring how the pandemic is developing and will, of course, keep schools informed of any changes or developments in guidance."

Coun Kath Benson, Blackpool Council's cabinet member for schools, education and aspiration, added: "We remain committed to the wider opening of schools safely in partnership with the school unions, trust boards and governing bodies.

“Most of our schools have been open during this period and we thank the teachers and support staff for all that they have done.Schools have been working hard to make changes in work practices including reducing social contact, enhancing hand and respiratory hygiene, as well as increasing cleaning regimes.

"Many schools have been sharing videos demonstrating the safety measures that have been adopted and parents are receiving reassurance from these.

“The safety of children and young people in Blackpool is a priority for the council and the council’s children’s services team will continue to monitor the situation closely. "I would ask any parent if they have any remaining concerns about sending their children back to contact the individual school and speak to the teachers."

The council is [providing advice and support, including PPE and other equipment such as screens for schools.