Social distancing and safety measures at Wensleydale School
Social distancing and safety measures at Wensleydale School

Secondary schools across the county prepare to return to new ways of teaching

18 June 2020

Schools across North Yorkshire have begun the gradual return to classes.

From 15 June 2020, that includes secondary schools.

Like the county’s primary schools, challenges around hygiene, social distancing and preventing the spread of coronavirus have been tackled by the county’s secondary schools. Additional challenges such as helping Year 6 pupils make the transition to Year 7 in September have also been looked at.

The hard work of staff has ensured every need is met and each child is as safe as possible.

Stuart Carlton, North Yorkshire County Council’s Corporate Director for Children and Young People’s Services, said:

It’s heartening to see the extensive measures staff in our secondary schools have put in place to ensure students are safe and happy.

Much like our primary schools, teachers are treading new ground in terms of social distancing, hygiene and cleaning measures. But everyone truly has pulled together to try to ensure a safe, happy and smooth transition for all pupils involved.

Case studies

Thirsk School and Sixth Form College

Thirsk School and Sixth Form College is also preparing to re-open for a number of their pupils.

Being a secondary school and sixth form, the school has faced different challenges to a primary.

Head Emma Lambden and her staff have solved logistical challenges and spoken to parents and students to create a safe environment for them to return to.

Emma said:

We’ve tried to keep parents in the loop at all times. We’ve done a survey and asked them for their comments. Based on their comments, I’ve been able to feed back and answer their concerns.

We have floor markings in areas where students will be travelling through. Our classes will be split into bubbles of no more than 10 in the secondary school. They will stay in the classroom all day and their lunches will be brought to them.

Luckily, we have plenty of outdoors areas, meaning students can safely go outdoors in their social bubbles.

Emma added that the curriculum will cater to all students and they will tailor their approach to each student depending on how much work they’ve done over lockdown to get everyone to a similar level.

Emma said:

The situation in our sixth form is slightly different as well, because we wanted those students to get the specialist subject teaching they need. But our sixth form is very small, with about five pupils in each.

The school is big enough to spread people about easily, and we are looking to only have a quarter of the year groups in at a time. Each class will be very small, with about five pupils in each.

Wensleydale School head Julia Polley
Wensleydale School head Julia Polley

Wensleydale School

From day one, staff at Wesleydale School have come up with solutions to the problems thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic.

From Google classrooms to helping Year 6 students transition by holding a virtual parents evening, Head Julia Polley has come up with solutions to ensure students get the support they need while remaining safe.

She said:

Right from the start we implemented Google classrooms, and we’ve had about a 75 per cent take-up on that throughout.

As students start coming back, we’ve done all the risk assessments and identified areas which needed amending. So, for example, all students can come in wearing non-school uniform, so they don’t need to worry about washing uniform fast for the next day.

The school day has been shortened to 10am to 2pm and students can’t bring anything in with them apart from lunch in a disposable wrapping.

Julia also added they have measures in place such as social distancing everywhere, hand sanitiser stations and staff remaining within the same social bubble of students throughout.

She added:

I’m really proud the students have engaged and taken on the challenge in such a way. They’ve all been absolutely amazing.

And the school is making an effort to ensure new students due to start in September aren’t at a disadvantage because of the pandemic.

Julia added:

We have a welcome video for all Year 6s to help prepare them for their new school. It’s really hard, as usually we’d be having induction days to help them feel settled. We’ve also had a virtual parents evening as well.

Julia added one of the main messages she wanted to get across was that there is no wriggle room on the rules and they are in place to keep everyone safe.

She said:

We made it clear to parents as well as students that there is absolutely no wriggle room on the rules, and they are there for a purpose.

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