North Staffordshire school one of the first to reopen in England today – and children must wear face masks in corridors


Students at a North Staffordshire school are being asked to wear face masks as they were among the first in England to return to lessons today.

The JCB Academy at Rocester has reopened fully for the first time since the country went into coronavirus lockdown.

It welcomed 225 new Year 9 and 10 students, as well as new principal Jenny McGuirk.

And in order to safeguard both the children and teachers during the pandemic, a number of measures have been brought in.

These include:

  • Compulsory wearing of masks as students move between rooms
  • Hand sanitiser to be positioned outside every classroom
  • The three main year groups to be isolated from each other on the academy’s three floors
  • All year groups to have different break and lunch times
  • Travelling on buses to and from the academy seated in their respective year groups
  • The wearing of masks on buses
  • Compulsory sanitisation of hands when disembarking buses
  • Embarkation and disembarkation of buses to be phased to allow greater social distancing

Pictured left to right are JCB Academy students Josh McLaskie (14), Trystan Kelly (14), principal Jenny McGurk, McKenzie McDonald and Neve Fisher (14)

Ms McGuirk joins the JCB Academy from the John Henry Newman Catholic College in Birmingham, where she served as principal for nine years.

She replaces Jim Wade, who has just retired after becoming the first principal in 2009.  

Ms McGuirk – who taught at Blessed William Howard Catholic School in Stafford for five years until 2011 – said: “It’s now time to get back to the business of teaching, to build on the success of the last decade and to put the next generation of students on the road to success as we work with the challenges Covid-19 presents.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to be taking over as principal of a school which has made such an incredible contribution to education in its first 10 years and one which has been recognised nationally for its positive impact.

“The academy has been oversubscribed every single year since opening, has educated more than 2,500 students and propelled them into a diverse and rewarding range of jobs and further education opportunities.

The JCB Academy has reopened with a number of measures in place to stop the spread of coronavirus

“My mission is to build on the first 10 years of success and to continue to make the JCB academy a school to be proud of.”

Chair of governors Max Jeffery added: “I’m delighted to welcome Jenny McGuirk to the role of principal at the JCB Academy.

“There is a fabulous opportunity to build on the achievements of the past decade and the whole academy team is looking forward to working with Jenny as we rise to the challenges ahead.”

The £22 million JCB Academy – the brainchild of Lord Bamford –  teaches 13 to 19-year-olds with a core focus on engineering.





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