We had little notice of the closure of schools, two weeks before the Easter holidays. Within those first few weeks, our school’s role changed completely. Our immediate priority was how we were going to carry on with teaching remotely, so we loaned out all our school devices and then looked at how we could get hold of more. This included receiving laptops through Camden Council’s Digital Divide campaign. We also provided pupils with other resources they needed to learn, from stationery to books to Play-Doh.
Many of our pupils are eligible for free school meals, but we quickly recognised there was also a need from parents losing jobs. We helped our families with food vouchers and delivered food to those who were anxious about going to supermarkets. We started welfare calls once or twice a week to check in on how families were doing and provide support. Some parents came to rely on those calls. Some had never been in a situation where they’ve needed support before. Because we have good relationships with our families, we were able to be their first point of contact and help make a difficult situation as bearable as possible.
We were more ready the second time the schools closed, as we had done the preparation the first time around, so had all our support in place within a few days.