Hassenbrook Academy slams media over Covid-19 coverage

JOANNE Williams, head teacher at Ortu Hassenbrook Academy, has called for more positive press on schools re-opening this month after lockdown.

She has spoken out after Ortu Hassenbrook Academy re-opened at the beginning of September, after being closed since March 21st.

The school has introduced a number of new COVID regulations to keep staff and students safe.

These include three different student bubbles, an emphasis on increased cleaning around the premises and introducing more cleaning staff and sanitising stations. 

Staff at Ortu Hassenbrook Academy have also been reviewing the practices they have put in place to ensure what they are doing is working efficiently. This has included changing tutor times back to morning rather than the afternoon and stopping split lunch times. 

Joanne is keen to celebrate the hard work staff and students have put into this challenging transition – and wants to see more of this publicised.

She said: “There’s just not enough positive media about how well education has been doing and has done. The negative press when lockdown prevented us staying open was a travesty.

“Trying to deliver education now, in this context, is a huge challenge for schools. I don’t read enough about what schools are doing to make their systems work and to keep their students separate. Equally, there’s not enough coverage of how positively we are working with our communities and our children.”

Following pupils’ return earlier this month, the school has kept an emphasis on continuing with specialist subjects, such as PE and the arts. This has worked extremely well since re-opening.

Joanne said: “We felt that, particularly for younger students, they need time to do those more hands-on subjects, so school is still a positive experience and not all about keeping distance and not moving. If that was all we were doing, it would make for quite a miserable experience.”

Ortu Hassenbrook Academy has also maintained a focus on psychological care for students following lockdown. This has included additional support for students, along with tutorials and mentoring. Joanne also credits good communication from home as key to helping students transition back into school life. 

“I absolutely think having everyone back is the best thing to do. We needed to see the children. Necessary though it was, trying to deliver lessons online, make phone calls and have home visits this was not an enjoyable experience for anyone in education.

“We knew that we had to lockdown and that this was essential to deal with COVID. But it was never something teachers were overly keen on. We get our inspiration and satisfaction from teaching and seeing children learn, and from building relationships. All this is very difficult to do online. So, we are all very happy to be back with our students to give immediate feedback in the classroom.”

New Year 7 student Abigail Hemmings, aged 11, said: “The new system is different and not what I was used to at primary school. I was a bit worried about moving around, mixing with other children. But it’s been a relief because we don’t mix bubbles and there’s a limit to our movement around school.”

Louisa Pond, another Year 7, agreed. “I feel very safe and welcomed at this school. The one-way system is working well, and you stay in one room for most of the lessons. I’m not worried about anything!”

Graycie Griffin, Year 11: “I never thought I would have missed school this much. Hassenbrook Academy has made me feel safe and ensured that whatever happens, I’ll still get my education. It was nice to see friends and teachers with everything going on in the world. There is amazing support for us when it comes to our exams, but also our mental health. The staff really cares about us.”

Another Year 11, Grace Catterick, said: “Since coming back to Hassenbrook, I feel relieved and more confident in my learning. Doing interventions has helped me gain confidence. Seeing friends and teachers has me feeling more comfortable and at ease with school life once again.”

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