A north-east headteacher has told of the challenges and benefits brought on by the changes to the school environment as a result of lockdown.
Pupils around the north-east have just completed their first term back at school after learning online for months during the pandemic.
Inverurie Academy, along with St Andrew’s School, is due to move into the new £55million Inverurie Community Campus after the October break.
The community campus has a swimming pool and a number of fully equipped sports halls and a multi-functional theatre space.
Inverurie Academy’s headteacher, Mark Jones praised the way people had pulled together and pointed to the “resilience” shown by the community.
He said: “Thanks first of all to our parents and carers who have sent young people into a situation which is different. Thank you to the young people who have turned up a dealt with the adaptations that we need in order to stay as safe as we possibly can be
“The community have also come together as well, it’s been different to see young people back after six to nine months of lockdown, and above all also thanks to my staff team who have dealt with their own anxieties to support young people.”
Mr Jones spoke of measures put in place to make the school community safe such as hand sanitising on arrival and staggered start, finish and break times and a one-way system.
He added: “There have been situations where young people have been asked to wipe down surfaces at the end of a class so that space is ready for the next set of young people to come in a learn as well.
“On top of that thing like trying to reduce the amount of sharing of resources whether that’s pencils or pens or jotters or textbooks and thinking about some of those things that we would have taken for granted before that we maybe can’t do so now.”
At the new community campus secondary pupils will have a dance studio, ‘social staircase’ areas as well as other break out spaces, a balcony, an amphitheatre and even a hair and makeup/theatre dressing room learning space.
St Andrew’s School will benefit from its own dedicated section of the facility, including multiple sensory rooms, a sensory garden, a warm water pool, a therapy pool and even a dedicated rebound therapy space.
The campus’ sports and leisure facilities are run by Live Life Aberdeenshire on behalf of Aberdeenshire Council.
And Mr Jones said it was a “wonderfully exciting” time for the school, and highlighted the “marvellous facilities” in the building.
Mr Jones went on to say: “The reality is we are in a new normal way of learning that can have its challenges but also its benefits as well.
“We’ve seen a huge amount of creativity come out of young people’s use of technology so for example somebody who might be quite shy in the classroom setting may be able to produce a wonderful video where they can use their creativity to explain a concept or subject and that’s been wonderful to see as class teachers as well.”
It comes after Aberdeenshire Council’s director of education and Children’s Services, Laurence Findlay highlighted the efforts of staff and pupils throughout the area for their efforts during the first term back.
He said: “Well it has definitely been a team effort! As well as all of our wonderful school staff, thanks to our Children’s Services teams and others who continue to go the extra mile every day to help keep our children and young people safe, happy and healthy. Well done, stay safe and let’s look forward to creating more first-class learning experiences regardless of the challenges the next few months may present to us.”