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  1. ITV Report

School life in the pandemic: how it's changed for teachers, pupils and parents

Our Education Correspondent Elodie Harper has been to see how one school is coping with life in the pandemic. You can see her exclusive report from Mile Cross Primary in Norwich here.

Everything has had to change at Mile Cross Primary School in Norwich Credit: ITV Anglia

When cameraman Tony Aldous and I arrive at Mile Cross Primary, the head teacher Stuart Allen takes our temperatures before we can enter the building.

The last time we were here - just two months ago, on the eve of lockdown - he shook our hands. A snapshot of how life has changed due to coronavirus.

Children at Mile Cross Primary school before Covid-19 Credit: ITV Anglia

In March we spent several days at the school, filming the rhythms of daily life, and in particular, focusing on the exceptional level of pastoral care provided to pupils and their families. From breakfast for all children on arrival, to the dedicated counselling offered to children and parents who need it, this is a school that believes in order to educate a child, you have to support all their needs.

And those needs are considerable. Mile Cross in Norwich is one of the most deprived areas in the UK, and according to Ofsted, almost two thirds of children here are eligible for the pupil premium.

So how is the school coping with lockdown? The answer is that it is still trying to meet those needs.

Mum Dora Price is relying on the school to help her cope with her children Credit: ITV Anglia

"They've been doing food parcels, I've been collecting food from the school, they give me any help I need with the kids, they give me packages, they help me in every way."

– Dora Price, parent

While we were filming this week, a steady stream of parents turned up to collect packs of school work for their children, as well as food. The variety of provision is striking - tins, packed lunches, boxes of cereal, fresh meat and vegetables - all of this is available to families for free. The head teacher told me some have not had to pay for a single meal during the lockdown.

The work given out is all printed, so that children without access to a computer can still study. Colouring pencils, art material and reading books are also provided on a weekly basis.

"We are here for them, we haven't gone away. So any parent can come in and any child."

– Ruth Pomeroy, Emotional Literacy Support Assistant
Ruth Pomeroy, who normally provides face to face counselling for children, now does so over the phone Credit: ITV Anglia

The school also attempts to support students emotionally. Ruth Pomeroy, who normally provides face to face counselling for children, now does so over the phone, and has even increased the number of pupils she is supporting.

But for all the staff's hard work, there is still no question that life for pupils is not the same in lockdown. And for now, the leadership team has decided not to open on June 1st, due to concerns about the health risk posed to pupils, their families and staff.

Head Stuart Allen is making sure the children are still supported during lockdown Credit: ITV Anglia

"I've been working at Mile Cross for 20 years now so I know full well what every single day missed means to those children and I will argue with anyone in the land that what we are trying to provide while they are at home, the support they are getting, is second to none."

– Stuart Allen, Head teacher, Mile Cross Primary School

All the parents we spoke to while filming said they trusted the school to make the best decision about when to open. But that does not mean there was not a sense of loss.

Amy Davis is in year 6 and doesn't know if she'll be back in time to say goodbye to her classmates Credit: ITV Anglia

"I don't know if I will be back in time to say goodbye, and it's really sad."

– Amy Davis, Year 6 pupil
Children are getting printed workbooks in case they don't have access to a computer Credit: ITV Anglia

Amy Davis is due to start secondary school in September and so is missing her final term at the school. She is also missing the pupils and teachers who have been like family to her for the past seven years.

She may well catch up with all her school work but she cannot get that time back.

Some things a school cannot fix.

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