Three weeks on from schools closing due to the coronavirus pandemic, Chulmleigh Community College is getting to grips with an ‘unprecedented’ situation.
The Gazette caught up with staff and students at the college to find out what life under lockdown has been like as it remains open for some children, including those of key workers.
During the last week of term, an average of eight pupils attended the school, dropping to five during the first week of the Easter holidays as the school remains open, and showing most parents have been able to make childcare arrangements.
‘Term time’ has seen pupils in school keeping up with the academic work that has been set for pupils remotely.
The school said during the holiday period pupils have been doing craft-based activities, as well as puzzles and games that do not involve close contact – to ensure they have a break from school work as those at home do.
Executive headteacher Michael Johnson said it was an unprecedented situation and they felt for everyone in the community.
He said: “There is a very wide variety of school activities that have had to be cancelled, including Ten Tors, Sports Day and the Year 6 Transition activities.
“I have had meetings with local primary school teachers online, and intend to hold online meetings with head teachers of all primary schools soon.
“We are going to have to do things very differently this year, but are quickly learning how to adapt to ensure that our pupils receive the best possible education throughout this difficult period. Our pupils are very resilient and their reading targets and work continue to be set; they are communicating with teachers via the school email systems.
“This year, GCSEs will be awarded by teacher assessment. Historically, our teacher predictions have been very accurate and we expecting another year of great results for our pupils.”
The most poignant event so far was organising a leaving event for Year 11 with only two days’ notice. They responded indefatigably to this and head girl Ruby Cutler said: “Just as we were picking up momentum and preparing ourselves for exams, we suddenly have everything thrown into turmoil.
“However, the current situation and coronavirus shouldn’t be what we focus on. After five years, today we are finally coming to the end of this chapter of our lives, perhaps in unprecedented circumstances but nevertheless we need to focus on memories we’ve made, the shared experiences we’ve had, the knowledge we’ve had and the knowledge we’ve acquired.
“On behalf of our year, I want to thank every teacher who has helped, guided and put up with us!”
Outdoor education co-ordinator Susan Fraser-Smith said: “The cancellation of Ten Tors came as a huge disappointment for our pupils, who had spent the winter training for the event and were looking forward to achieving the end goal of completing the Ten Tors Challenge. “However, I was delighted by the mature response of so many of the pupils who responded by acknowledging how much they had enjoyed the training, and learning key skills, as well as sharing the experience with fellow pupils, staff and volunteers out on Dartmoor.
“We hope to provide some kind of conclusion to the training later in the year with an independent expedition for our pupils on Dartmoor.”