‘We’re all in this together’ has become the slogan that epitomises the solidarity that has swept across the country as the fight against coronavirus continues.

For teachers the words also signify the unwavering support they have provided to the families of key workers to allow them to continue their vital work at this crucial time.

Doctors, nurses, police officers and delivery drivers all have children who attend Jewell Academy in Poole, Bournemouth and readily admit they have been able to carry on as normal because they know their offspring are being supported and cared for at school.

From remaining open during the school holidays and bank holidays to delivering food parcels to vulnerable families and making regular phone calls to check on the welfare of children at home, staff at Jewell Academy have taken a selfless stance during lockdown.

Here in this special report, published in the Bournemouth Echo, frontline workers express their gratitude to staff at Jewell Academy as teachers reveal how the everyday patterns and daily milestones that used to exist have temporarily vanished.

Daniel Smith, 39, an A&E charge nurse at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and his wife Emily Ellis Smith, 31, a Clinical Support Worker, also at the RBH, have three children and the eldest two: Presley Smith, 5, and Mason Ellis, 8, attend Jewell Academy.

Daniel (who is pictured above with his family) said: ‘’I do believe the teachers need as much praise as everyone else. It’s not just the NHS and the carers that need a clap, it’s everybody else who has provided support to allow us to do our jobs like the teachers.

‘’The teachers face a daily risk to coronavirus from the children that come into school. It would not be on purpose but it is still there.

‘’It’s a massive relief to know that our children are being looked after. All other forms of childcare have been taken away and Emily and I would have struggled to go to work without the support from the school.

‘’With both of us working at the hospital, without the school one of us would have to be absent from work to look after the children.

‘’The support from the school has not just been for us but also for the kids – there is some normality for them and they still get to see their friends.

Emily added: ‘’The teachers have been very brave to keep going in to school – they have been amazing especially to be open during the bank holidays and school holidays.

‘’The support of the teachers has been vital. We didn’t expect a pandemic in our lifetime and it’s been so important that we [NHS workers] could be there to support one another through this and know that we did our bit to support our colleagues. This has been possible because of teachers – we owe them a massive thank you.’’

Tessa Vaughan, 31, a Victims Bureau Officer with Dorset Police, has two children and her daughter Clara, 6, attends Jewell Academy. 

She is pictured above with Clara and said: ‘’The support from the school has been really, really good. I couldn’t ask for better.

‘’My daughter has extra needs and there has been a special needs co-ordinator (Senco) that I can email as and when.

‘’Knowing that Clara can go in to school and that there is a normality there for her has been so important during this time and really beneficial.

‘’It means that I can take my mind off worrying about if she is ok.

‘’My husband is also a frontline worker and faces a credible threat from coronavirus, I have more protection as my job is office-based.

‘’Knowing that Clara is being cared for and supported at school allows us both to concentrate on our jobs at this time. We can’t thank the teachers enough.

‘’As public sector workers, teachers are facing similar issues to us and we’re all trying to do the best job possible under strenuous circumstances. Knowing that teachers understand this and face a risk from coronavirus but are continuing to do a fantastic job has led to solidarity.’’

Kirsty McCarthy, a Year 6 teacher and Assistant Principal at Jewell Academy

Ms McCarthy, pictured above, said: ”As teachers it is our role to be there for the children not only in an academic sense but also in the emotional and social aspect.

It has been important for us to remain the constant in such unnerving times for our children, to show support and gratitude to our NHS and Key Worker families during this pandemic. 

Prior to the Covid-19 lockdown we would stand at the entrance of the school every morning to greet our children with warm smiles and positivity.

We would set the day out with learning objectives, busy play times, daily miles and whole school assemblies.

As a year 6 teacher, we were in the midst of creative writing, practising maths and grammar skills to be able to demonstrate all of our knowledge and understanding in SATs. We were looking forward to our residential trip, workshops and end of year performances.

This was all brought to an abrupt end following the outbreak of Covid 19 and school closures. 

We have had to adapt our approach to teaching, ensuring that children can still access the curriculum via the internet in the form of Google Classroom.

We have gone from seeing our children on a daily basis to hearing their voices when we call to check in on them and their families; it is reassuring and refreshing when we hear about the adventures and learning that has been happening at home.

For those children that we see in school it is important that we maintain structure and routine, whilst being there for their emotional and attainment needs during this uncertain time. We are incredibly proud of all of our children for coping in this unusual situation.”

Abby Taylor, Vice Principal at Jewell Academy 

Mrs Taylor, pictured above, said ”School life has dramatically changed for our pupils as well as our teachers and in the first week of lockdown, there was a lot of pressure to make the right decisions quickly.

”There was a strong sense of protection over our worried staff. I felt my main priority was to ensure that we could stick to the government guidelines whilst also reassuring and protecting our own key workers. 

”During the first week, registers needed to be completed by everyone, including parents, by using gloves, desks distanced in the classrooms with one child per desk, first aiders in each session, temperature readings of all and antibacterial spraying of surfaces recorded and regularly carried out throughout the day.

”There have been between three and twenty-eight students who come in on any given day, depending on their parents’ working hours. 

”I am currently constantly on call and also worked through the Easter holidays. I feel it is my duty to make vital and necessary phone calls, emails and online video calls to ensure the communication and safety between staff and students is consistent.

”We have now delivered safely, on our school minibus, food parcels to around 50 families with the support from our local food bank and staff.

”There is a very strong sense of social solidarity now; it has been refreshing to recognise how we all depend on each other, identifying our health service and key workers during these very worrying times.

”Many children have expressed to us as teachers, their fear and anxiety during the pandemic, many of whom have family working on the frontline of the NHS.

”Whilst teachers provide the everyday stability, routine and care that our children so desperately need, we as teachers are also demonstrating our thanks and gratitude for our frontline.”

 

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