We've been busy adapting our classrooms to make them safe for children returning to the junior school.
When the lockdown started back in March, Henleaze Junior and Infant Schools combined forces to offer classes for the small group of children who still had to come in. We all moved in to part of the infant school, and that's where we've been working every since, while the junior school stood empty. The children named our new school the Spacioius Sunshine School. We rather like the name, so we are still using it.
Now that we have a larger number of priority children requiring school places in both the infant school and the junior school, we've had to say goodbye to our hosts across the playground and move back into our own building. During the half term holiday, with the help of our site manager Mr Galliers, we adapted our classrooms by removing the excess furniture and arranging tables so that children can sit a safe distance apart from each other. We've marked out the playground with socially distanced queuing lines, just like at the supermarket, and made sure we've got plenty of soap, hand towels and disinfectant!
We've worked out that we can fit a maximum number of 14 children into our classrooms when laid out like this. When Year 6 return next week, we will only be able to have 14 of each class in at a time. We can just about manage that, because the rest of Year 6 are already in their own group at the Spacious Sunshine School. Children will be able to see their friends from other classes across the playground, but they won't be able to play together because we have to keep all of our classes protected in "bubbles". This means that we limit the number of people everyone comes into contact with during the day, and this helps to limit the risk of anyone passing on the coronavirus.
When children come to the Spacious Sunshine School (or SSS for short) they will have the same teacher every day, but maybe a slightly different group of children. Some of their group only come in once or twice a week, when their parents are working. Others come in every day, or just for half days. We have four groups: one for Year 3, one for a mixture of Years 4 and 5, one for Year 6, and one for the children who have been together since the start of the lockdown over in the infant school.
For part of the time in school, the teachers help them to do the Home Learning tasks that have been set on the website. We use our ipads and laptops, and children work independently, asking for help if they get stuck. Everyone has got their own desk, with their own bag of pens and pencils and their tray full of school books. As you can imagine, it's quite a job for the teacher to manage, with children all doing different work at different speeds. Some have finished it all by Wednesday, and others have not even started it by Friday!
We also build in lots of time for exercise and play and creative activities. We have a playtime in the morning and afternoon, as well as lunchtime. Each class uses a different area of the playground, and at lunchtime we can all spread out on the field. Lottie from Shine will be with us during Term 6, and every class in the Spacious Sunshine School will get a whole half day with her - so plenty of sport! Mr Barber, Mr Parr, Mrs Goulden and Mrs Adams will also be teaching groups this term, so children can expect some philosophy, some mindfulness, some German or some more creative fun.
The children who come in to the Spacious Sunshine School are often facing tough challenges, with parents working hard in essential jobs to keep the country going during this emergency. Those that have been coming since March have built up a really strong bond of friendship, across the years from 3 to 6, and this has helped them to stay positive and energetic throughout. The new children who have joined us this week have not been in school since March 20th, and we were worried that they might feel nervous about coming in. If hey were, they did not show it. They all responded brilliantly to the strange new rules. Everyone has obviously got used to standing in lines and washing their hands and not touching each other over the last couple of months.
SSS will continue throughout Term 6, and from next week we look forward to The Return Of Year 6!