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A day in the life of a primary school near Norwich during coronavirus lockdown

PUBLISHED: 09:28 23 April 2020 | UPDATED: 16:00 23 April 2020

Penny Sheppard, headteacher of Queen's Hill Primary School and Nursery. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

Penny Sheppard, headteacher of Queen's Hill Primary School and Nursery. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

SOPHIE WYLLIE

As hundreds of children get used to remote learning from their homes, vulnerable pupils and those of key workers are continuing to go into schools and nurseries.

Schools and early years providers have had to adapt to this new way of teaching, which initially involved a cluster system so that schools could work together to support one another and ensure there were enough school places.

Queen’s Hill Primary and Nursery School, in Costessey, taught on average 18 children per day during the Easter holiday period and 43 in term time.

Its headteacher, Pennny Sheppard, has provided a snapshot of daily life at the school, where she said her teachers were working beyond normal hours to support children in the school and at home.

She said: “We are now into a well-established routine for childcare at Queen’s Hill. Children and parents queue at the school entrance on two-metre spaced chalked lines and are welcomed into breakfast club from 7.45am and the core day from 8.30am, one child or family group at a time.

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“We have six class bases with up to 10 children in a group called a pod, the children are with their siblings so that if their family becomes ill, only one pod is affected. The challenge for the staff is exactly the same as many families will be having up and down the country, coping with nursery children alongside nine-year-olds.

“Keeping everyone safe is our priority. It’s better now the weather is warming up, but we were having to have the children in coats to keep warm as we turned the school heating off and opened all the windows and doors.

“The younger children found it difficult at first when they couldn’t play with some of their normal toys, we only have out what can be easily sanitised throughout the day. They have also found social distancing very difficult, a strange concept when you are four-years-old. Like everyone else, hand washing is key.

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“The children in school are accessing the same learning activities that have been set for those that are at home. Each teacher sets five daily learning activities.

“A normal day starts with Joe Wicks followed by a phonics or English activity. The younger children have differentiated phonics lessons which have been filmed by their teacher/teaching assistant. After outdoor activities a bit of maths and then it will be lunchtime - in their pod. The afternoons tend to be more relaxed, just as they would be at home with singing, arts and crafts and storytime.

“At the end of the day children are called one by one as parents arrive to collect them. We are open till 6pm so parents know they don’t need to rush if they are required to stay on at their workplace a little longer.

“As we all are, the children are missing their friends and their school adults but as 11-year-old George said, ‘it feels very strange without our friends but at the end of the day, we’re still learning’.”

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