Like many schools, Park Community School in Havant was having a staggered start to the academic year with Year 7 pupils arriving on today followed by Year 8 and 9 on Monday and Year 10 and 11 on Tuesday.
Not only did the school’s Year 7 pupils have to cope with returning to classrooms post lockdown but also the additional anxiety of starting secondary school.
Pupil, Jessica White, 11, said: ‘I was feeling a bit scared about coming to school today but I’m looking forward to seeing my friends again.’
New classmate, Kadie Nixon, 11, added: ‘It’s all a bit scary and I was really nervous this morning. I really enjoyed learning at home but I’m most looking forward to doing my English lessons.’
While parents, Gemma White-Horrell and Charla Nixon, shared some of their children’s anxieties they believed the time was right for pupils to return.
Gemma said: ‘I’m a bit nervous as it has been so long since the children were in school. It’s good to get them back to some form of structure. I have been doing home schooling but, with a baby and a son who is autistic, it has been a struggle.’
Charla added: ‘I’m excited that the children are going back and it’s good for them to get a bit of normality. I also work in a school and I know all the measures which have been put in place to make it safe for children.’
Fellow parent Leah Holt, whose son Kai was starting Year 7, was concerned that children’s education was starting to suffer.
Leah said: ‘My son was very anxious about coming in but six months is too long and he needed some normality back. Home schooling has been really hard when I’ve been working as well. We are not qualified teachers who are trained to teach.’
With schools closing their gates to the majority of children since March 20, many pupils were excited about being back in the classroom.
Oliver Brown, 11, said: ‘I love school and so it feels amazing to be back. I’m really excited to be back as I’ve not seen my friends since leaving primary school. I’m most looking forward to doing my maths lessons.’
Classmate, Angel Drain, 11, added: ‘I always loved school and so I’m pleased to be back. I’ve missed everything about school.’
For some pupils the return to routine was a bit of a shock to the system.
Brandon Winter, 11, said: ‘I feel quite tired as I was up at 7.10am and I have normally been getting up at around 10am. I do feel better about getting back into a routine.
‘I really like science and so I’m looking forward to being able to do experiments as we don’t have the right equipment at home.’
However, with teaching bubbles, one-way systems, designated year group zones and staggered break and lunchtimes, school is very different to the one children remember before lockdown.
Jacob Samphier, 11, is confident that pupils will adapt to the changes.
Jacob said: ‘I was in my primary school during lockdown and so have already had to do lots of these things. Once you have done it for a while you become really good at it.’