'Emotionally challenging' times for students during coronavirus crisis, admits Leighton Buzzard headteacher

Vandyke Upper School's headteacher has reflected on the challenging period facing students during the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday, 27th March 2020, 12:13 pm
Updated Friday, 27th March 2020, 12:14 pm

Government announcements heralded a hectic period in schools ahead of the shutdown and the partial opening for children of key workers this week.

“It was one of the busiest few days I can recall,” said Tim Carroll. “Staff and students responded magnificently. Students in the middle of intense preparations for their GCSE and A-level exams were abruptly cast adrift with the cancellation of exams that they had been focusing on for a long time.

"Suddenly that focus was gone and it was emotionally challenging especially because what is to be put in its place has yet to be announced rather leaving students in limbo.

Tim Carroll

"So working with these students was a priority as the realisation dawned that the imminent school closure would likely signal the end of their time with us. And equally there was work to do to prepare students who will continue with us when school returns but who are about to enter an extended period of time away from school and need to be able to study at home.”

Mr Carroll added: “I am sure that parents and carers are reassured by the actions of headteachers and their staff in schools across the town as decisive action has been planned and communicated to guide children through the coming days and weeks and to support families.

"Schools will be open for key groups of pupils and arrangements to continue lunches for pupils entitled to free school meals are in place. The government announcement at 5.15pm on Wednesday (March 18) begged more questions than it provided answers for but schools have just got on with things, showing the sort of leadership sadly lacking in other quarters.”

“Central Beds Council is drafting plans to co-ordinate the work of schools as necessary and this is to be welcomed. I suppose however it begs the question as to why schools were not involved in the planning for what was always going to be a likely shutdown.

"Why were headteachers not party to plans to co-ordinate efforts that surely were in train weeks ago? Now is not the time to dwell on such questions however. The seriousness of the health emergency is such that we all must focus on playing our part in working together to support our young people and to help get through this unprecedented crisis.”

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