Community spirit helps school thrive during lockdown

Simon Martin, Headteacher at Debenham High School. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Simon Martin, Headteacher at Debenham High School - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Coronavirus has brought new and unprecedented challenges to teachers and pupils - but one Suffolk school has shared how it has kept pupils going.  

"It's a really funny time,” said Simon Martin, headmaster at Debenham High School.  

"It's really odd walking into a school with no children but the kids have been absolutely brilliant. 

“Our attendance is pretty much the same we have over 95% of pupils are attending every lesson every day.” 

Mr Martin said that the biggest loss for pupils at the moment wasn’t so much in the educational aspect of school but its social aspect.  

Students at Debenham High School during lockdown. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Students are continuing to work hard at Debenham High School during lockdown - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown


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“I struggle with the message that children are missing out on education and that they are not making progress and it’s destroying their life chances,” said Mr Martin.  

“It’s not ideal and it’s not as good as having them in school but the vast majority of pupils are still learning and engaging and doing what they need to do to make progress. 

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“The big difference is that social interaction, they are not seeing friends and there isn’t that down time.” 

As a result, the school has looked at different ways of helping pupils.

“What we found students and staff were missing were those more relaxed times, like form time,” said Mr Martin.  

“So we’ve reintroduced those and we’ve kept going with assemblies.  

“We have house activities and we’ve carried on with our quizzes to make sure we have still got that coherent community which we were really proud of before.  

“We also made a conscious decision that we would continue with practical lessons.” 

Students at Debenham High School during lockdown. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Pupils have benefitted from online practical lessons - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Students are still doing lessons like food technology and textiles but with live demonstrations from staff.

"It's very fun because it's something to look forward especially as times are so hard at the moment," said Year 7 pupil Seth. 

"I loved them because it was fun but we also learnt so much and my teacher did really well considering the circumstances and I looked forward to them every week," said fellow Year 7 pupil Max. 

Mr Martin said that parents had also contributed to the positive feeling at the school.  

“We have even had some parents who have donated laptops or donated wireless routers,” said Mr Martin. 

“We have had parents drive resources to other people. 

“In a way it’s been a really good community thing, that people have recognised others can’t manage as well as they can for various reasons.”   

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