It has been an absolute pleasure to welcome even more pupils back to the Prep School this week. At St Edward’s we never fully closed our doors, having remained open for children of Key Workers throughout the lockdown period, and we were able to welcome our first pupils back, in our Kindergarten, after half-term. Since then we have seen a return for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, and this week, Year 4 and Year 5 pupils also came into School on Thursday and on Friday. Last, but by no means least, Year 2 and Year 3 pupils will be back in from Monday.

Every child coming into School has been allocated to a designated ‘bubble’ of children from their year group, and everyone remains within their ‘class bubble’ for the whole day, including at lunch and breaks. A whole range of measures have been put into place to keep staff and pupils safe. For example, there are staggered drop off and pick up times, and in teaching areas desks and tables have been spaced out to be two metres apart in all directions. There are additional hand-washing and sanitising facilities around the site, and we are conducting regular temperature checks. We are also operating one-way systems to manage the flow of people around the buildings and teaching pupils to access the School via the outside rather than through corridors where possible. Extensive signage and multiple social distancing mats and floor markings have been installed to help to remind the pupils to try their best to maintain social distancing.

Children in Kindergarten, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 will continue to be in School for four days a week until the end of term, with Year 2 to Year 5 each having two days a week in School. On the days when they are not in School the year groups will continue to learn and thrive through our extensive programme of Distance Learning, which has been operating very successfully since lockdown began. You can find out more about our Distance Learning programme here.

As a School we are also committed to balancing the needs of both the children in School and those who continue to learn from home due to the fact that they are self-isolating or shielding. A big part of this is live broadcasting lessons from School over Microsoft Teams so that children at home can still be part of the class.

Headmaster, Mr Stephen McKernan comments:

“Since the beginning of June, we have embarked on a programme of phased return so that each one of our 300 pupils could have a return to School experience, well in advance of the end of term. We have done this in a measured way, allowing us to refine and change our processes as each year group came back.

As a School, we are acutely aware of the fact that face-to-face interaction and social coming together is so important and valuable in education. As such, it was extremely important to us to find a way to make a return to school possible for everyone.

One of the advantages we have is that we are fortunate to have the space and facilities available to help us achieve the return in a safe and practical way, and all the staff have worked incredibly hard to make it possible.

Right from the beginning of the period of Distance Learning our pupils have had daily contact with their teachers, and an ever increasing number of live lessons, as well as set task provision though our VLE. Consequently, it has also been really important to us to still be connecting with any of our pupils who have had to remain at home for whatever reason. We are broadcasting lessons to them at the same time as teaching in School, and still providing live assemblies through Microsoft Teams, along with continuing to make full use of our VLE.

The last few months have seen an exponential growth in the way we have been using technology, and we will definitely be taking a lot of the advances we have made forward into the next academic year.

I am very much looking forward to the last few weeks of term and seeing our School as it should be, full, once again, with children who are eager to learn and happy to be back in familiar surroundings with their teachers and friends.”

Prep School | 19/06/2020