Back to school in Dunmow - children delighted to be back

PUBLISHED: 11:57 02 June 2020 | UPDATED: 14:10 02 June 2020

Children socially distanced at Great Dunmow Primary School. Picture: GREAT DUNMOW PRIMARY

Children socially distanced at Great Dunmow Primary School. Picture: GREAT DUNMOW PRIMARY

Archant

At Dunmow Primary, 53 per cent were back in class. At Dunmow St Mary’s, most of the year sixes went back, two thirds of the reception year and half of the year ones.

Children are being taught in “bubbles”. They will stay in the small groups - with the same people (including staff) all day - for lessons, play, and lunch. There will be no cross-mixing.

Children returned on Monday to Dunmow St Mary's Primary School. Picture: DUNMOW ST MARY'SChildren returned on Monday to Dunmow St Mary's Primary School. Picture: DUNMOW ST MARY'S

Many primary schools opened their doors again on Monday after the 10-week Covid lockdown - but it was up to parents to send their children to school or keep them at home.

The government has sanctioned back to school to start with pupils in reception, years one and six.

At Dunmow Primary, 53 percent were back in class. At Dunmow St Mary’s, most of the year sixes went back, two thirds of the reception year and half of the year ones.

Children are being taught in “bubbles”. They will stay in the small groups with those same people, including staff, all day - for lessons, play, and lunch. There will be no cross-mixing.

Both schools have remained opened for keyworkers’ children throughout the lockdown.

At Great Dunmow Primary, headteacher Kevin Watts said: “We have put them in friendship groups so they are with people they like and get on with well. It’s quite daunting for some children to come back to school after 10 weeks. Some parents were worried about how they would react.”

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Asked why he thought nearly half the parents had kept their children at home, he said: “Some felt the number of coronavirus cases were still too high and the number of deaths too high. They were happy with what we were doing but they felt the timing was wrong, it was too early.”

Mr Watts said the school had a 48-page risk assessment document and that the continual flow of advice and guidance from the Department of Education changed all the time.

He said the children were glad to be back.

“They say they have missed their friends. One boy said he was sick and tired of watching box sets on Netflix. It was ok being able to watch any film you like but he wanted to be socialable and talk to somebody. The children’s uptake on learning was very good but they have missed each other.

“They have done what they should do and stayed at home but a lot of them want their routine back. When there is no routine but waking up and going to bed, it’s quite difficult.”

At Dunmow St Mary’s, head Clare Griffiths said of the Monday session: “We have had such a lovely day. The children have been full of smiles. They really lined up beautifully on their spots and they were overjoyed to see each other.

“We had a one-way system where at one gate children were dropped off and went to stand on their spot on the playground. They were amazing, the parents were amazing. They were just wonderful and adjusted so well. People have all been at home so long, I thought it would be quite hard to reverse that.”

Takeley Primary School, which has also remained open for keyworkers’ children only, will start taking children back next week. A spokesman said the school would be open for year six children next week and the others, in reception and year one, would return in stages.


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