Welcome back to school: Portsmouth gets ready to have all pupils back in the classroom

Preparations are underway in Portsmouth as teachers get ready to welcome all ages and year groups back into the classroom in September, following the coronavirus lockdown and summer holiday.

All early years settings, schools and colleges will be following national and local coronavirus guidance and implementing measures such as regular hand washing, one-way systems, staggered break times and frequent cleaning. Exact measures will vary to suit the building and requirements of staff and pupils at each nursery, school or college but the key aim is to ensure that all children and young people can feel confident about returning to the classroom.

Portsmouth City Council is also working closely with schools, health professionals and partner organisations, to provide information, advice and support to young people, parents and carers before the start of term.

Cllr Suzy Horton, Portsmouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Families & Education, comments: “Starting school this year will be extra special as many young people have been away from the classroom since lockdown began. Families and teachers have done an incredible job supporting learning at home, but schools are now really looking forward to having lively classrooms and children learning alongside their friends again.

“Each school will have their own individual plans and procedures in place and will be talking to families about how the school day will work. There is also a wealth of resources available to support the emotional wellbeing of young people as they return to school life. Our aim is to ensure that families have all the information and reassurance they need to feel confident about September.”

To help welcome students back, Portsmouth City Council has published tips for preparing for going back to school, information about how schools are getting ready for September, and guidance on where support and advice is available for those who may be feeling anxious about starting or returning to school this year.

Fiona Chapman, Executive Principal, Ark Charter Academy, comments: “School is such an important part of life for young people and we can’t wait to have our school community back under one roof. At school, pupils have access to all the tools and support they need to learn and young people thrive when they’re with their peers. When some students returned to school in the summer term, we saw how eagerly and quickly they settled in. It underlines how resilient young people are and how well they can cope with change given the right support. Our priorities in September will be helping all pupils settle back in and looking after their health and wellbeing.”

Portsmouth City Council is working closely with schools and its health and social care partners to ensure that no children feel excluded from returning to school in September. If parents and carers have concerns about their child’s ability to cope, they are being encouraged to talk directly with the school who will work with families to address their concerns and, where appropriate, create an individual ‘Welcome Back Plan’ that meets their child’s specific needs.

For more guidance and support for families in Portsmouth as they prepare for the return to school visit: www.portsmouth.gov.uk/welcomeback. Families can also find out more about the national coronavirus safety guidelines at gov.uk/backtoschool.

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