Pupils at David Nieper Academy (DNA) will return to their classrooms over the course of the next week, bringing an end to several weeks of remote learning for many students.
Dr Kathryn Hobbs, headteacher of the academy, is looking forward to welcoming everyone back and has expressed her pride at how students, parents and staff responded to the challenge of remote learning.
She said: "As ever I am exceptionally proud of all our pupils, parents and staff.
"The vast majority of pupils have responded fantastically to remote learning and have been working very hard. They have stayed in touch with us, tried their best, completed lots of work and taken part in extra activities and asked for help when needed.
"None of which would have been possible without the amazing effort and determination from all of the staff at the academy."
Dr Kathryn Hobbs
Like all schools in England, DNA was closed to the majority of pupils at the beginning of January, staying open only for those who are eligible, such as the children of key workers.
Teachers had to respond quickly, and recorded lessons and organised live tutorials for those learning at home. Form tutors also maintained contact with their pupils throughout.
In addition, pastoral support managers and attendance staff worked with pupils and families and carried out home visits where required, to deliver free school meals, help with technical issues and anything students have needed support with to help them continue with their work.
Staff have also used the school minibus to deliver learning essentials, such as pens and notebooks, to students in their local communities.
Dr Hobbs said: "Our parents have worked very closely with us, making sure that we are aware of any issues. We have been delighted that so many parents have taken the time and trouble to contact us to thank us for our work, support and care and to let us know how their children were doing.
"It has been a David Nieper Academy team effort – which despite the many difficulties has also brought many new ways of working and many positives."
Lateral flow testing has been taking place at the academy for many weeks now and all students will be offered tests over their first week and a half in school.
After this, all families will be provided with home testing kits to allow for self-testing twice a week.
Dr Hobbs explained: "All pupils will be offered three tests over the first week and a half that they are in school. This will begin with the first test as they arrive at school.
"We get the results in 30 minutes so pupils will be able to spend the time outside in our newly completed grounds while the results are processed.
"We have been delighted by the parental response to our testing. All staff and pupils who have been attending school since Christmas have been part of our weekly testing regime and this has ensured that our academy has another layer of protection.
"Many parents of children who have been working at home have already given consent for their children to be tested and consent forms with full information have been provided to all families.
"Children will have a further two tests in school, which means they will be talked through the process and shown exactly what to do, which will be excellent preparation and experience to allow them to easily continue testing at home going forwards."
Students will return in a slightly staggered manner over the course of the next week.
Those in exam year groups - Years 10, 11 and the Sixth Form - will go into the academy on Friday (March 5). They will be offered their first lateral flow test, welcomed back and reminded about the Covid-19 Health and Safety precautions.
Students in these year groups will then start a full timetable on Monday (March 8).
Pupils in Year 7 will return at the start of the school day on Monday (March 8), followed by those in Year 8 at 11.40am the same day.
Finally, Year 9 will return on Tuesday (March 9).
Looking forward to welcoming all pupils back, Dr Hobbs said: "We are delighted that we will once again all be back together.
"We know that some pupils have found working from home again challenging and we know that all being back together in the same building is by far the best way for us to be able to effectively work with and support everyone, every day."
English teacher Miss Roberts has also expressed her excitement at welcoming all pupils back to the academy next week.
She has posted a series of letters explaining the plan for bringing students back to school.
You can view her post here: viewtopic.php?f=34&t=740
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