Lockdown has felt like an eternity, and like many I have really missed the community aspect of school life.
Restrictions have resulted in all of those wonderful community activities being cancelled and, in our case, all of the big fundraising activities stopped I have really missed the carnival float, school discos and coffee mornings which is something my school reputation is built upon.
That being said, I really feel like we are beginning to move towards a place where some of these activities can begin to restart and we can begin to build our community back together and away from the online meetings.
We have started to introduce “volunteers” back into classroom bubbles. We have been very selective about how we do this to ensure that current guidance is followed and that the risks are clear in our risk assessments.
All volunteers can then make an informed decision on whether they wish to come back or not. We have found that this change is helping to support our teaching and learning and demonstrate that things are slowly getting back to normal.
We have also been acutely aware that many parents have made decisions about their children’s school based on not being able to visit. We have made the decision to now open our school up for visits after the main school day.
Planned in advance this has allowed some parents, for the first time, to see what the next seven years are going to be like for their children. I have pondered over what community fundraiser activities we could start to do for a while now and, while the online stuff for fundraising did mean we raised a bit of money, I really wanted to start to pull our community together.
We launched our tentative first steps into community fundraising by organising an Easter Decoration Walk. Families were invited to turn their front gardens or windows into Easter-themed areas and families purchased the walking map so they could go around the village and vote on their favourite.
The winner got a lovely hamper of chocolate donated by our local supermarket. We felt that this was a good first step back as we did not want large groups mixing and it was a welcome introduction to our Early Years parents who had not seen any of our events before. The event was planned in under four weeks and was a success. It is something we are looking to build upon each year.
As restrictions are looking like they will be eased before the end of the school year we are looking at holding a scaled down version of our Summer Camp. There have been lots of considerations in holding this event which you should consider. They have included:
• What to do if the restrictions are not lifted?
• What is the feeling amongst the community holding a large scale event so close after restrictions are lifted?
• What part of our events do we need to not do or we feel is a step too far at this point?
We looked at these points and the general community feeling is becoming one of wanting to return back to normal and start holding events. Not everyone will feel the same and we must understand that viewpoint, listen and support them.
We also decided that the full camp over was probably a step too far but the evening would be a nice introduction back to normal. Every step of re-opening and building your community will be different and will have their own advantages and concerns but by managing these carefully we can return to “normal”.
Phil Burton, business manager Hallbrook Primary School and Cosby Primary School