Every parent’s goal is to make sure their children’s time at school is filled with happy memories, making friends and skills that will set them up for life.
But in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, it’s understandable that mums and dads have never been more anxious to wave their kids off at the school gate.
“That’s our job as teachers – to be clear and communicate with families to put their minds at ease,” explains Fiona Lee-Allan, principal of The British School of Málaga.
“It is understandable that families are feeling very anxious, which is why we have been transparent with them throughout the entire process and issued a very detailed protocol on what we are doing they can expect going forward.
“Our priority is making sure our pupils not only have a safe return to school but a happy one. We understand that coming back to school is going to be a daunting thing, but we’re here to support parents and pupils cope with the changes.”
These adjustments include social bubbles for the primary school classes, mandatory face coverings for Year 2 and up, as well as staggered pick up times and a strict ban on visitors, who instead will be invited to connect with the school over digital hangouts.
And while Fiona acknowledges that the five months since pupils left classrooms may have been some of the toughest of their lives, she’s also been delighted with the resilience and independence her students have shown.
“In many ways, the school is stronger than ever,” she says. “We had assemblies, registration and even sports days during lockdown and we’ve made sure that our ethos and hard work has continued throughout.
“We even had a dedicated Wellbeing Team and a site for parents, children and staff to access whenever they are feeling anxious so they always have the support they need.”
Fiona adds that despite the challenges of having to learn from home, pupils attendance was consistently ‘amazing’ and pupils are now reaping the benefits of an increased digital awareness.
“I want parents to feel reassured that there are no gaps in their children’s knowledge – if anything they are more motivated and independent than ever before.”
This year will see the school introduce Chromebooks – pupils will be given the option of buying one this year before the personal tablets become mandatory in 2021. “Evolving and using technology will ensure that students are prepared for life beyond school. The real benefit is that Chromebooks will put the learning in the pupils’ hands so learning will be student driven and personalised.”
Fiona admits that while some parents are still nervous to introduce technology to their children’s daily lives, working with equipment like personal tablets and interactive whiteboards is completely safe.
“We have the most amazing filters that allow teachers to be seeing 100% of what the child is doing. Everything is completely secure and supervised, while also allowing children to self motivate and exercise independence in their learning.”
Technology aside, Fiona promises that most of school life will continue as normally as possible, with the exact same timetable as previous years and a full range of subjects and extracurricular activities on offer.
“It is important to remember that we are the same people, with the same visions for learning and school ethos as before.
“Our main goal is that all the children are smiling when they walk through the doors this September – and keep smiling the whole school year.”