The head of a Newark primary school says their teachers are managing, but feel anxious as hundreds of children returned to school, despite the national lockdown.
Mr Steven Chamberlain, head at Barnby Road Academy, reported four times as many children returned for in-school learning than in the first lockdown.
However, despite an anxious situation, he said his staff were doing what was best for the children.
“It definitely is the case,” said Mr Chamberlain, when asked if there had been an increase in key worker children returning to school compared to the first lockdown.
“But the provision for critical workers between now and the lockdown that was enforced from March has changed.
“In terms of numbers, between March and May we had around 30 to 40 children in school, and now it ranges from 150 and 160. When we have all our children in school, including our nursery, it is 594 children.
“At the minute, we are working at around 25 to 30% of the population, whereas before we were talking around 5 to 10%.
The situation has obviously thrown up endless difficulties. The information regarding who is a critical worker is quite wide, but at the end of the day our job is to follow the government advice and make sure we are serving our community. If parents are saying they need a place, we are honouring that and doing our best for their children.
“They (the staff) are managing. Everybody is anxious, all of the teachers and the teaching assistants, but it is an anxious situation for everybody.
“We are always worried, but we are doing everything we can to ensure it is as safe as possible.
“The good thing is we have a large school, and lots of different access points, so are able to manage those sort of numbers in a safe and secure way.”
In-school learning numbers at the Mount Church of England Primary School, Newark, are also up from the first lockdown.
Head Mrs Claire Kent: “We had anticipated this, having seen the tier four school guidance (contingency framework) for schools in the south of the country before the current restrictions hit us.
“We have 43% of our children currently accessing on site learning. This includes children who come under various criteria as set out in the government guidance.
“We have all our staff working on site.
“Children on site are working within their normal bubbles and the children learning from home are accessing the same content from our website.
“In each bubble throughout the school day, there is a teacher and a teaching assistant allocated to home learning. This includes giving feedback to parents when pieces of work are submitted or offering support to families over the telephone.
“At the same time, there is a teacher and a teaching assistant providing on site teaching for the children in school.
“We have been thrilled with how the parents and children at home are engaging with the home learning and we have had positive feedback about how it has been presented to them.
“We have a fantastic team who have continued to work tirelessly for the children within our school.
“I feel privileged to lead such a wonderful team of people and feel super proud of how all our parents and children have embraced the changes.
Archbishop Cranmer Church of England Primary School, in Aslockton, a more rural area, also reported an increase in children attending on-site learning.
The head, Mrs Melanie Stevens, said the trust the school works under, Inspired, had seen a rise across most of their schools, including St Peter’s Church of England Academy in East Bridgford.
Mr Philip Owen, chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s children and young people’s committee, said: “We are aware that demand for school places has been significantly higher than in previous lockdowns.
“We are advising schools to help them follow the government guidance, in order to support families and children of critical workers, where they cannot be taught remotely, to ensure our schools remain resilient.
“All schools in Nottinghamshire are open, offering both face-to-face teaching and remote learning.
“Guidance from the Department for Education has advised that parents and carers should keep their children at home if they can.
“The Secretary of State for Health has said that if you are a key worker and your partner doesn’t work then you shouldn’t be sending your children to school if at all possible.”