Published: Friday, 10th July 2020

The Leader of Medway Council has visited a local primary school to show his support for local schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cllr Alan Jarrett accompanied the council’s Director of People Children and Adults’ Services, Ian Sutherland, on a visit to Lordswood School in Lordswood Lane on Friday, 10 July.

They met head teacher Jayne Lusinski and some of the pupils in reception, Year 1 and Year 6 who have returned to the classroom. Social distancing guidelines were followed at all times.

Lordswood School is part of the Griffin School Trust and this week pupils have been taking part in the annual Griffin Arts Festival which has been a virtual celebration of the arts, engaging the whole school community with cultural experiences.

During the Coronavirus pandemic the school has welcomed children from another school within the trust and their catering team has prepared food hampers for children from different schools. Staff have also delivered food hampers and work packs to some of the school’s most vulnerable families.

More than 70 per cent of primary schools in Medway reopened in the first week and now all schools are open for pupils in selected year groups, as well as for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

In the weeks leading up to reopening, Medway Council worked closely with maintained schools and academies to provide support and advice to head teachers making decisions on the safe return of its pupils. 

Head teachers made their decisions on reopening around classroom sizes and the number of classrooms, based on the availability of staff and outside space. With the council’s support, schools which were able to safely reopen put extensive plans in place to welcome children back into the classroom.

Thank you to Medway's children for adapting so well during the pandemic 

Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “It was fantastic to visit Lordswood School and find out how the children were finding being back in the classroom. I was pleased to see that many of them were happy to be back learning with their friends and that measures had been put in place to keep them safe.

“Medway’s schools have dealt with the challenges of COVID-19 incredibly well. We have stayed in contact with schools and headteachers throughout the pandemic and we will continue to support them wherever we can. It is great news that all of Medway’s schools are open for pupils in selected year groups, as well as for vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

“I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you, and well done, to all headteachers, teachers, school staff and the schools team at the council for their continued tireless work ensuring all children in Medway remain supported during the pandemic and for working together to get children back into their classrooms as soon as it was safe to do so. We must also thank all of Medway’s children, and their parents and guardians, for adapting so well to all of the changes they have experienced in recent months.”

Embracing a new way of teaching

Jayne Lusinski, Head of Lordswood School, said: “Since lockdown our amazing staff team have adapted rapidly to ensure we successfully catered for our key worker and vulnerable children in school, as well as taking a creative approach to educating children at home.

“Staff and parents have embraced our new way of teaching with many having to learn how to use new technology. We have been utilising social media and Zoom which has been able to connect whole classes and year groups. We also created our own YouTube channel to share weekly celebration assemblies, story time and tips for parents to support their child’s learning at home. We will be looking to develop this further in September.

“Following daily updates and guidelines from our Trust and Medway Council, we opened our doors to more children from years R, 1 and 6 at the beginning of June. Mindful of the community’s and staff anxieties, we have effectively extended our provision to a third of our children, whilst continuing to provide opportunities for a broad and balanced curriculum to those a home.

“I would like to thank every one of our Lordswood families for working in partnership with us. I am looking forward to the school being full with happy, enthusiastic children in September.”

In preparation for September, the school has invited all children into the school, in small groups, to say farewell to their current class and to spend time meeting their new teacher. Children who will be going to Lordswood School for the first time in September have also been able to meet their new teacher on Zoom and watch the school’s virtual transition videos on YouTube.

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