Ron Dearing UTC has welcomed students back to school with stringent safety measures in place.
Year 10 and Year 12 students returned under the school’s Phased Re-opening Plan after learning online at home since March.
The safety of students and staff is at the heart of the Phased Re-opening Plan, which was developed following consultation with the Department for Education, teacher trade unions, staff, the school’s Parent Teacher Association and its Governing Board.
Students wear face coverings while adhering to two metre social distancing rules, as well as undergoing a temperature check by a member of staff before entering the building.
Principal Sarah Pashley addressed students before their lessons began and outlined the school’s “new normal” arrangements, including wearing face coverings in all areas of the school except offices and classrooms.
Sarah said: “It’s great to welcome our students back. It still feels strange, but over the past couple of months it has been like the Mary Celeste with just 15 students who are vulnerable or children of key workers, so we’re really glad more students are coming back.
“The primary concern is everybody’s health and safety and avoiding the transmission of Covid-19.
“Our students usually behave impeccably anyway and they’ve turned up and done everything that’s been asked of them, and the staff have responded amazingly.
“The students have engaged really well with their online learning, but it can’t replace face-to-face learning, so the sooner we can get the school back to full capacity, the better.”
The phased return for Year 10 and 12 students includes a combination of face-to-face teaching sessions and online learning at home. Year 10 students will receive one day per week of face-to-face learning, while Year 12 students will receive one face-to-face session per week of every subject they study.
Students must bring in their own packed lunch and water bottle and they’re provided with a Covid-19 kit, which includes hand sanitiser, tissue packs, wipes and a face covering.
Sarah said the school had followed comprehensive Government guidelines and additional measures insisted upon by the school’s Governing Board and had passed its Covid-19 health and safety inspection with flying colours last week.
Year 12 student Carter Lees, 17, who is studying physics, maths and double engineering, said: “It’s great we’re getting back to some sort of normality. I found it quite difficult working from home, so I’m really glad to be back.
“The staff are doing their best for the students, as they always do, and they’re putting our safety first. They’ve done everything they can to make us feel safe.”
Fellow Year 12 student Tegan Green, 17, who is studying maths, art and digital technology, said: “I was nervous, but coming back has been really good and better than I expected. I feel the staff have prepared us well for coming back.”
Jacob Tevenan, 16, who is studying maths, further maths, physics and digital technology in Year 12, said: “I felt quite comfortable learning at home because it helps to build my ability to solve problems by myself. I want to go to university and a lot of that is self-taught, so it was good experience. But it’s good to be back, seeing people and communicating with each other.”
Year 10 student Harrison Hewitt, 15, said: “It’s really good to come back because it will help my education and it’s good to see my friends. I managed OK at home, but I’ll be able to learn a lot easier in school.”
Fellow Year 10 student Bradley Noble, 15, who has continued to attend school throughout the lockdown period as his parents are key workers in the care and retail sectors, said: “The whole experience has been very different. It’s nice to have my friends back at school with me.”
Parent Neil Agnew dropped his 15-year-old daughter, Liyah, a Year 10 student, off at Ron Dearing UTC for her first day back and praised staff for their efforts.
He said: “They’ve been brilliant and kept us in the loop all the way. Liyah has had great support whenever she has wanted it and I’m impressed with the way the staff have dealt with everything.
“I’m very confident they’ve done everything they can to make it as safe as possible for our children.”
One of the school’s Founding Partners, RB, and Major Partner Arco, have supported the school with scientific and health and safety advice ahead of re-opening. In addition, Delta Plus and Arco have donated face coverings and hand sanitiser for students and staff.
Sarah said students who have not yet returned can do so at any point until the end of term and parents can call the school on 01482 222299 to arrange this.
To read more about Ron Dearing UTC’s Phased Re-opening Plan, click here.