'Lots of smiley faces': Pupils return to schools hoping for normality

Parents and pupils at school gate

Children have returned to schools for the new term with Covid restrictions lifted. - Credit: PA

Schools have welcomed back pupils hopeful it will mark a return to near normality in the classroom.

Children returned for the first day of term to classrooms where restrictions have been lifted, with face masks requirements, rules on social distancing and class bubbles scrapped.

First day back at The Parkside School in Norwich.

Emmie Lou submitted a picture of the first day at The Parkside School in Norwich. - Credit: Emmie Lou

It follows a year disrupted by coronavirus, with some youngsters having not known anything but lessons under Covid measures.

Some 45pc of Norfolk parents were either ‘very’ or ‘quite’ worried about children heading back to the classroom, a survey found. 

Penny Sheppard, headteacher at Queen's Hill Primary and Nursery School in Costessey

Penny Sheppard, headteacher at Queen's Hill Primary and Nursery School in Costessey - Credit: Archant

Penny Sheppard, headteacher at Queen's Hill Primary School in Costessey, said she had talked through the easing of measures with parents who were “understandably cautious” but that the first day had seen children excited to be back. 

“I have been around every class and been greeted with lots of smiley faces. The children are very keen to get back into learning,” she said. 

“We are still being very careful, making sure the children are washing their hands, windows are all open, but it is starting to feel more like it used to, which is fantastic.”

Sarah Shirras, co-chair of Educate Norfolk and headteacher of St William’s Primary School in Thorpe

Sarah Shirras, co-chair of Educate Norfolk and headteacher of St William’s Primary School in Thorpe St Andrew. Picture: Simon Parkin - Credit: Simon Parkin


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Sarah Shirras, co-chairwoman of Educate Norfolk and headteacher of St William’s Primary School in Thorpe St Andrew, said: “We are all stepping slightly into the unknown as we have done so many times in the last 18 months, but our staff, children and their families have done a great job at dealing with these unknowns. 

“We are looking forward to a successful and happy new school year.”

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Some secondary schools and colleges have staggered the start of lessons over this first week to manage two in-school Covid tests for students. 

Looking smart for the first day back at school.

Looking smart for the first day back at school. - Credit: Louise Griffin

Daniel Elmer, deputy cabinet member for children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said: “We are anticipating that most children will be returning to a new school year which offers them much more of a normal experience with the resumption for many of after school clubs, music lessons, competitive sport, and mixing more freely with other children.

“As we all find ways to live with Covid, we must strike the right balance, taking sensible precautions so that children can continue with their lives and their education.”

Ready for first day back at St Peters C of E Primary School in Easton.

Ready for first day back at St Peters C of E Primary School in Easton. - Credit: Michelle Betts 


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