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This is what parents can expect as children prepare to return to Suffolk's schools for new academic year




The start of the new school year next week is set to be a 'crucial term for getting to some sense of normality', one of Suffolk's education chiefs has said.

Schools across the county will welcome students back from September 2, following the six week summer holiday.

While the Covid-19 restrictions have been eased somewhat since children were last in school, families have been asked to still be flexible and make sure they are familiar with their school's arrangements.

The start of the new school year next week is set to be a 'crucial term for getting to some sense of normality', one of Suffolk's education chiefs has said
The start of the new school year next week is set to be a 'crucial term for getting to some sense of normality', one of Suffolk's education chiefs has said

Adrian Orr, Suffolk County Council's assistant director for education and learning, said schools will have individual arrangements around staggered starts, wearing of face masks and social distancing, but efforts are being made for teaching to return to normal as much as possible.

"This is a crucial term for us getting to some sense of normality in education," he said.

"School leaders, the local authority - we all want children to have the smoothest return and a really great start to the new academic year, but that start might just look a bit different in different places based on space and staffing.

Adrian Orr, assistant director for education and learning at Suffolk County Council. Picture: Suffolk County Council
Adrian Orr, assistant director for education and learning at Suffolk County Council. Picture: Suffolk County Council

"What we won’t get is people thinking the pandemic is over, it is back to business as usual.

"The business as usual will be about curriculum, assessments, extra-curricular activity - arts, music, sporting activity and those enriching thing you couldn’t do or do remotely - that is where it will be business as usual.

"But keeping staff and children safe we will see a range of the measures we saw in the pandemic."

The council will continue to have weekly meetings with schools and sector leaders, and has a range of measures in place to tackle any problems.

The Department for Education has relaxed the need for school bubbles, but Mr Orr said "the contingency framework is about having things to not have bubbles or those things. The contingency framework does allow a head to retain a bubble system, but we have not picked up anybody that is wanting to do that. It could be really complex."

Instead schools will have systems in place if a positive Covid test escalates with more pupils or staff, and Public Health Suffolk is on standby with its outbreak team to go into schools if needed.

Schools across the county will welcome students back from September 2, following the six week summer holiday. Picture: iStock
Schools across the county will welcome students back from September 2, following the six week summer holiday. Picture: iStock

Instead of entire bubbles being forced to isolate, which before the end of the summer term saw hundreds of kids and staff having to isolate, additional testing is expected to be utilised to track cases.

Mr Orr said that the pingdemic around staff having to isolate should also be less of an issue as double vaccinated staff will not be required to isolate as a contact.

"The things you have to do in terms of isolation are moderated if you are double vaccinated," Mr Orr said.

"In the early iterations of the government guidance, teaching staff and school staff were not covered in the exemption from the ping thing, but of course that has been shifted now. The only issue will be if there are any staff who have not had their vaccinations, either because they are incredibly young or that they have chosen not to have them."

Schools are likely to begin assessments in the new term once pupils have had time to settle, while Mr Orr said there were likely to be "some quite innovative ways of filling gaps in the curriculum without a big label that says this is the stuff you didn’t learn when you were at home".

Any parent reluctant to send their child back has been urged to speak to their school as soon as possible, while families have been asked to continue their flexibility if short term changes are needed.

Mr Orr added: "I think the Suffolk sector is very well prepared for the start of term. As much as we love our children, parents are going to be pleased for them to get back to school.

"The sense from the sector is that they are geared up, they are positive about the start of term."

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