Nationally, schools have played a major part in the Covid-19 response, providing a care service for the children of key workers and children who are vulnerable, as well as maintaining contact with their current students, providing work and finding new ways to teach, and continuing with safeguarding and free school meals. Schools have had to put measures into place individually, so every school response has been different.
At one local school, Manchester Health Academy, staff have worked exceptionally hard to support their student throughout the coronavirus crisis. With more than 900 students within 43 tutor groups, each student has received a weekly phone call from a teacher, with daily contact with more vulnerable students and more than 100 visits home taking place each week.
More than 150 laptops have been given to students, as well as access to the internet where needed, so that every student can access online learning.
One parent commented, “Miss Riches calls us every week and all of my daughter’s teachers have set work that is right for her abilities and have been on hand by email to answer questions. We couldn’t have really asked for more from school to be honest.”
The Academy has provided two counsellors to support both students and staff though the crisis, as well as web resources giving information and advice about mental health and wellbeing. Keyworker and vulnerable children attending the Academy have done lots of wellbeing activities, including sports, exercise, tending the Academy allotment, and helping to make PPE equipment for the NHS.
Teachers have organised competitions to keep students engaged, and Year 6 families who have children who plan to join the Academy in September have received a series of e-mails to help them to get to know the Academy from home, in place of the Academy’s usual transition programme. In excess of 5000 Free School meal vouchers have been delivered to families, while Revolution Youth have set up operations in the school’s Community Sports Centre to support over 150 local families with over 2000 meals each week.
“My teaching team have made around a thousand phone calls to our students to date while they have been unable to attend the Academy in person,” says Mr Green, “this has been a vital part of keeping our students engaged and feeling that they have not been abandoned during these unprecedented times. The team have worked a rota that has meant that we have been able to care for keyworker children throughout the school holidays too. I’d like to thank Manchester United Foundation and Revolution Youth for their kind help and hard work thee past weeks. These are very challenging times, but it is rewarding to feel that we are making a positive difference.”