Head teacher tells of how her school is keeping going for key worker families during the lockdown

A head teacher has told of how her school is doing all it takes to stay open for key worker families and vulnerable children.

Kinga Pusztai, head at Newcomen Primary, has even personally prepared meals for the children with colleagues as the school stayed open during the Good Friday and Easter Monday bank holidays.

The children of key workers and vulnerable children have been kept engaged with a variety of educational activities including writing messages of support for frontline carers, learning first aid and even having a go at orienteering.

“We pride ourselves on being a family focused school with a strong community spirit,” said Miss Pusztai.

“Our absolute priority has been a clear and deliberate focus on the health and well-being of our wonderful families. This is what matters most.

“We are taking great pride in supporting our remarkable key worker families by ensuring the school remains open to their children for as long as they need us.

“We’ve had a myriad of exciting activities for the children organised by our phenomenal staff on a daily basis. We endeavour to offer them some form of stability – and joy – during this testing period.”

She said the school staff have been touched by the support the school has received. “Our children and their parents and carers have greatly appreciated the incredible effort the school has gone to and we have really appreciated their cards and gifts with heartfelt messages of gratitude that highlight just how much we are valued. This means so much to us.

“It was the right decision for the school to remain open during the Easter weekend. The children were treated to delicious lunches hand prepared by our reception teacher Kate Whitehead and myself and we were also able to distribute Easter eggs to our families after a very kind donation from Morrisons.”

She also explained how the school was engaging with children who were at home, saying: “Manageable homework packs have been provided to the children with a clear message to parents and carers that during this unprecedented time, absolute priority should be given to showering their children with love, compassion and reassurance.

“Parents and carers know their children best and know how to keep them motivated and engaged.

“The key point of any learning at home is for families to spend quality time together. The last thing we want is to cause any additional stress during these challenging times.”

The dedicated head teacher is looking forward to all the school – staff, parents, carers, governors and especially the children – coming back together.

“We are simply trying to do our best and to remember that the blue sky is always there even if we can’t see it sometimes,” she added.

“This is our new normal and we will embrace every day for the benefit of those we hold so dear. Our school motto is ‘simul ut unum’ – together as one. And so we will be once again.”

Councillor Alison Barnes, cabinet Member for children, praised Newcomen Primary but also staff and children at schools across the borough, saying: “Newcomen is an excellent school and this is great work, well done everyone.

“I’d also like to say thank you to all our primary and secondary and special schools right across Redcar and Cleveland who have stepped up.

“We’ve had reports of some exceptional work being done with the children, not only those actually at school but with those at home too.

“The schools staying open for children of key workers and for vulnerable children has been an absolutely crucial part of the response to the coronavirus lockdown.

“It means our children are supported and our brilliant key workers can do their work keeping us all safe.”