Schools in Fakenham and Wells ready for Covid challenges
- Credit: Adam Mason/Astley Primary School/Neil Hunt Photography/Nick Dunmur
Headteachers in Fakenham and Wells have said they are managing to cope amidst the challenges of the coronavirus, but are ready for whatever comes their way as they return to the classroom.
Speaking with schools in our area, many have said they are not seeing the high rates of absences amongst the staff and are almost seeing business as usual as they look to get back to some sort of normality.
However, all have plans in place to react to any challenges that Omnicron might give them as staffing levels across the county feel the effects of the variant.
Headteacher of Fakenham Junior School, Adam Mason, said that he has a few support staff off with covid at the moment. But the combined effort from staff, parents and children are helping them to carry on as best as they can.
“I would like to say that the parents have been very supportive throughout, I put an email out on bank holiday Monday asking them to consider testing children even though we are a primary school,” he said.
“Many of them did so, that helps us know that as many children are as safe as they can be. We are pleased to have them in school, face to face.”
Mr Mason added that they are doing all they can to help their situation, such as staff wearing masks in communal areas, regular testing, and no whole staff meetings, with smaller socially distanced events taking their place.
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“All we can do is to limit the effect on the children and staff,” he added.
“At the moment, I am very pleased to say we have part-time teaching assistants who have said, ‘can I do some more hours for you’, that is because we are a team and we do all we can to support each other.
“What a wonderful team of staff we have who have been amazing throughout and have stepped up whenever asked to.”
The headteacher is also ready to take whatever challenges come his way in the coming weeks: “Everything is normal, normal lessons so life carries on for the children
“We might have to make some changes, and personally I’ve made a choice not to worry and to deal with whatever we face at the time knowing I have the support of my staff behind me.
“We will be the best we can be.”
Jen Goakes, headteacher at Astley Primary, in Melton Constable, said: “It's a positive feeling - children are happy to be back and staff are keen to welcome them. There is the usual enthusiastic buzz around school.
“Current staff absence is low, but we are aware there may be issues and we have contingencies in place.
“(We are) Absolutely fine - excited to be back and ready to adapt and be flexible as we need to.”
Alastair Ogle, principal at Alderman Peel High School, in Wells, said they only have a small number of teachers isolating at this time, as they look to make a good start to the term.
"I’m pleased to say that we have had a really positive start to the spring term,” he said.
“The students seem genuinely excited and happy to be back at school with their friends, and that is always wonderful to see.
“We only have a small number of staff isolating at home this week so our team are also feeling well prepared for the term ahead and are contributing to the positive buzz across the school corridors.
“We have one supply teacher in the school at the moment, with the remaining absences being covered by our own in-house cover supervisors."
Following the departure of Richard Evans from Fakenham Academy late last year, Gavin Green, the previous deputy head, is serving as interim head of school. He is being supported by Sapientia Education Trust CEO, Jonathan Taylor, as executive headteacher.
Mr Taylor said that staff are ready to create another positive atmosphere at the school: "The staff are upbeat and looking forward to another positive term.
“Currently staff absence rates are very low and we are not facing significant challenges from self-isolation. We are mindful that this could change and like all schools have contingency plans in place.
“We are fully staffed as we start the term and we have welcomed several new teaching members of staff and a new assistant headteacher who started with us this week.
“We are very much looking forward to pupils returning and getting on with our core business of providing a high quality, well-rounded education – underpinned by high levels of care.”