It’s ‘back to school’ week for most of the UK this week, and after 12 weeks of being at home, teachers and students alike can’t wait to be back in the classroom.

For us, back to school looks a little different as we never actually left! Portfield stayed open throughout the lockdown to support both our students and their families. Anyone who is on the autism spectrum can find a change in routine highly distressing and so, with the support of our teachers and volunteers, our classrooms were open to as many or as few that needed us.

During lockdown, we had just under 30 students still with us, this week we had more than 45 pupils! It’s lovely to see them all again and it’s clear that they’ve missed Portfield just as much as we missed them!

Of course, it’s not all easy-peasy and back to normal, we still have a lot of practices in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff.

Steps we are taking to stay safe

  • We are operating in our pod system. The same teachers and students will stay in their own pods each day to avoid any cross-contamination.
  • We are taking temperatures throughout the day, with a lower temperature cut off than the Government guideline recommends.
  • We’ve created our very own isolation booth. If anyone becomes a little bit under the weather at school, they can sit with a book or a toy and stay here with a teacher until Mum or Dad can pick them up.
  • We’ve closed areas such as the staffroom to help with social distancing measures.
  • We’ve got lots of 2-metre social distancing signs in the lunch hall so children can get their food safely.
  • All staff have got access to PPE when they need it.
  • We’re always reviewing our student flow and bringing in more staff members if and when needed to ensure everyone is supported and cared for, and no classroom is understaffed.

“We know that this time may be a real challenge to a lot of our students, especially as they rely on routine. We’ve worked hard to give students and their families lots of warning about any big changes and produced videos so we could walk the children around to show them what the new layout looks like. We know too that our children will miss doing a lot of their varied scheduled activities but, we’ve created lots of new breakout spaces to help.”

- Jemma Dudgeon, Acting Headteacher

If you have any questions or queries for our education team regarding safety guidelines or reintegrating your child back into Portfield, please contact our team at Portfield School on 01202 573808 for a chat.

Autism Wessex is registered in England & Wales under charity number 1000792 at Charity Hub, Portfield School, Parley Lane, Christchurch, BH23 6BP. We use cookies to improve your experience using this website.
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