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7th Jul 2020
Newton Flotman Primary School head teacher Adam Riley with parents Jessica Bauer left and Rachael Graver sm

A south Norfolk primary school is ensuring that all of its pupils have the opportunity to attend school before the summer break – with over 80 per cent of children expected to attend classes this week.

Newton Flotman Church of England Primary School is using a rota system coupled with a twice-weekly deep-clean to enable all children to have face-to-face contact with their teachers this term, in bubbles of a maximum of 15 pupils.

New head teacher Adam Riley, who joined the school at Easter, said that he was determined to bring children back into school for the emotional and social benefits, as well as the educational gain.

“We thought it was really important to offer all pupils the chance to come back into school before the summer holidays,” said Mr Riley.  “We have enough space at the school, and because we are able to, we want to do it for the community and for the children.

“It’s really important to get them back into school both socially and emotionally, and to give them some grounding and a gradual route back to normality.  If we didn’t do this, some of the children would have been out of school for six months by the time they came back in September.”

Aside from key workers’ children who are in school every day, pupils at the school attend on a rota basis, with half coming in on Monday and Tuesday, and the other half on Thursday and Friday.  The whole school is deep-cleaned on Wednesday and at the weekend.

“It has been very much a team effort which has enabled us to do this,” said Mr Riley.  “Some children have been anxious on returning, but they quickly settle, by the end of their first day back they are happy and relaxed.  Children are very resilient, and seem to have taken the disruption in their stride.”

Dropping her two children off at the gate on Monday was Jessica Bauer.  Her younger daughter Molly, six, who is in Year One, has been attending the school since it re-opened at the beginning of June, whilst seven year-old Amelia, who is in Year Two, returned in mid-June.

“We were confident that the school had taken good health precautions, and there is no doubt that going back to school has had emotional and health benefits for the girls,” said Mrs Bauer.

“Molly was very excited about going back to school and couldn’t wait, and once that happened, Amelia was constantly asking when she could go back.  Since they have both been back at school, arguments at home have stopped.

“We have had great support from the school, with good communication and the opportunity to ask questions of their teachers.  Because they have gone back gradually, returning in September won’t be such an anxiety for them.”

Another parent dropping her child off at the school gate on Monday was Rachael Graver, whose six year-old daughter Grace is in Year One.

“I wouldn’t have sent her back if I didn’t think it was safe,” she said.  “I have confidence in the school, and the benefit of her going back to school far outweighs the risks.

“It’s better for children to come to school than to be stuck at home.  She was missing her friends and her teachers, and the interaction with the other pupils.  She is definitely happier now she is back in school.

“I was concerned about how Grace would find the necessary changes that the school has had to make, but she said that she would rather it be different and be able to go back than not to go back at all.”