I was really proud of the way schools responded to the announcement in March that we would be closing as part of the coronavirus lockdown. We didn’t have time to plan for this and we didn't expect it to last such a long time. However we rose to the challenge of finding ways to provide home learning for our students and I was pleased that my school focused on project-based learning that families could follow at their own pace. We were grateful to Robin Hood multi-academy trust (MAT) which uploaded weekly learning onto their website that meant we could focus on adapting these plans to work for our students and families.
We also offered lots of extra ideas for children to be creative while at home and many students really enjoyed these opportunities, which unfortunately have been squeezed from the school curriculum in recent years.
I was surprised when one of the students in my school submitted a drawing done on lined paper using a blue Biro; it made me realise that some of our families either didn’t have access to, or couldn’t afford to provide their children with, art resources. This was a sad realisation for me and when the National Education Union (NEU) suggested organising Create Boxes, I was immediately drawn to it. I shared it with my colleagues who also felt it was a great idea and I set about making this happen in my community. During lockdown I was volunteering with a local community hub and I got in touch with one of the organisers and asked whether the hub might be able to help out. Before I knew it my living room was filled with bags and boxes of donated craft materials, books and items of stationery. We also had a kind monetary donation from our parish council and we were able to purchase some paints, glue sticks and other much-needed resources.
One of my colleagues who was shielding stepped in to help sort the materials into bags for the families who we had identified as being in need; other members of staff then delivered these parcels to the families. We also shared the resources with another local school which created their own parcels to distribute to their vulnerable families.
The response was overwhelming – families got in touch to say how grateful they were and sent photos of children who were so excited to be able to take part in creative activities. The project was a huge success and brought a little joy to some of our vulnerable children during lockdown.
Lucy Coleman – Early Years teacher and NEU school rep