Inside the school leading education’s new normal

After what has been a disorienting and at times difficult period of home-schooling, parents are educators are turning their attention to the challenges to getting children back to school and restoring some semblance of normality.

This, of course, is easier said than done. The idea of enforcing social distancing amongst 30+ over-excited children stuffed into cramped classrooms presents dizzying logistical challenges. It is, perhaps, unsurprising that the National Association of Head Teachers is sceptical

“These proposals, as they currently stand, are likely to prove impractical and unworkable in most schools,” Quote by Head of NAHT via The Independent

and that the Department for Education has been forced to revise their stance, saying that it is the “ambition” for primary schools to fully reopen before July with September looking increasingly more realistic. [Source]

Amongst schools that have re-opened, the constraints are many: pupils restricted to a handful of hours in the classroom and limited contact with teachers and friends leaving many questioning whether this ‘new normal’ represents any real progress.

Thankfully, at The London Acorn School, we’ve been able to take a different approach. With a focus on building our curriculum around children’s developmental needs, an insistence on small class sizes and an emphasis on time spent in nature, we’ve always prided ourselves on offering a gentle introduction to learning and as of 24th June, all classes have returned to school with children enjoying the opportunity to re-connect with their teachers and one another and resume learning largely unencumbered.

This is how it’s working…

We staggered returning classes to enable teachers and classes to get used to new routines and to give us time to prepare the space (tables spaced out, PPE and cleaning materials in place). We have adapted the timetable to ensure the same teacher is with the same group of pupils throughout the day.

We have ensured that learning happens outside wherever possible and have increased the number of forest school sessions for each class to 2 per week (we are very fortunate to be situated in Morden Hall Park, 125 acres of National Trust parkland).

We have adapted the curriculum to focus on recovery and children’s wellbeing, focusing on addressing any anxiety resulting from the pandemic with an emphasis on stories to address worries. Teachers are also keeping a close eye on and tracking children’s wellbeing.

Additionally, we are working very closely with parents to ensure a seamless transition scheduling zoom calls to discuss individual returns to school and continuing to discuss progress.

…and we’ve seen very positive results. Both parents and pupils are delighted to be back and happy with the degree of normality we’ve been able to achieve.

With limited spaces still available for the coming school year, if you like the sound of our ‘new normal’ we’d be delighted to host you for a “socially-distanced” tour or the school.