Revealed: How Stoke-on-Trent schools are planning to reopen for pupils


Some schools will be phasing their reopening over several weeks and others will be teaching children on a rota basis as they struggle for space.

A StokeonTrentLive analysis has revealed a wide variety of solutions as primaries prepare to welcome back pupils across Stoke-on-Trent.

Although many plan to stick to the Government’s target of reopening to priority year groups on June 1, a significant number will miss that date.

At least 10 Potteries schools are opting to phase the return over a week, with one year group settling in first and others joining on later days.

Headteachers say they are doing everything possible to mitigate risks from coronavirus and ensure children only mix in small groups known as ‘bubbles’.

But some have found they simply can’t fit in all the pupils who want to return in nursery, reception, Year 1 and Year 6.

At Clarice Cliff Primary, in Fenton, youngsters won’t get back to school until June 8. And even then, it could be for just one or two days a week. Headteacher Diane Broadhurst outlined the challenges in a letter to parents. She said: “For just one year group of 60 pupils, we will need 10 classrooms. We only have 15 classrooms in total.”

Clockwise from top left: Clarice Cliff Primary, Fenton, Sneyd Academy, Sneyd Green, Newstead Primary Academy and Mill Hill Primary Academy

Other schools are also having to weigh up how much space they will require to keep pupils two metres apart.

But other schools, who surveyed parents, have found little appetite to send children into class as families feel safer keeping them at home.

John Hankey, headteacher of Ball Green Primary, said: “From 149 responses, we have established that 25.59 per cent of parents or carers of children in reception, Year 1 or Year 6 intend to send their children to school.”

Other plans drawn up by schools include:

  • Getting pupils to eat lunch in their classrooms. Some will provide hot dinners, while others will only have packed lunches. A number of schools will be using disposable cutlery, plates and cups;
  • Giving children zip lock bags containing equipment for their lessons. They will be told not to share these resources with their classmates. Some schools will also give pupils named desks;
  • Asking parents to wash children’s clothes every day;
  • Creating designated outdoor play areas for the small groups, with their own play equipment such as balls and hoops;
  • Only allowing one pupil at a time to go to the toilet and then wiping down the facilities afterwards;
  • Taking the temperatures of pupils and staff when they arrive. Some schools are planning to do this on a daily basis.

Another key focus will be on supporting primary school leavers.

At Maple Court Academy, in Bentilee, Year 6 children will spend their first day back at their normal school. But for the rest of the term, they will be based at The Discovery Academy, where they will be taught by Maple Court staff.

It will not only free up space for younger year groups, but will give them a taste of secondary school before they start there in September.

Schools planning to phase pupils’ return over several weeks include Priory CE Primary, in Trentham,  and Stoke Minster CE Primary.

Councillor Abi Brown, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said: “We have emphasised that the safety of children, their families and staff will always be our top priority. In line with this, we are working tirelessly with all education settings to plan for a safe, phased wider opening.”

But she added: “There will be no pressure on parents to send their children to school and no fines applied to parents who decide to not send their children.”





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