This week, pupils and teachers returned to full-time classroom learning, which meant sports lessons, concerts and creative studies could resume again within the school. We spoke to staff members, including Senior Deputy Head, Susan Wessels, Head of Prep School Games and PE, Georgina Kingstone, and Head of Art, Sue Tansley, about how much it means to have pupils back in school.

While we have had overwhelming appreciation from parents who wanted to show their support for the adaptability shown by the whole staff here at Framlingham College during lockdown, teachers, staff and pupils are united in their agreement that it’s good to be back. Deputy Head of the Senior School, Susan Wessels, said: “It’s amazing to have the pupils back. They need each other. And we all need people. It’s the reason we teach.

“Having chatted to pupils over the weekend, they all said to me that the learning has been amazing, they just really miss their friends.”

We delivered a full timetable of lessons remotely for our pupils during lockdown, with tailored support offered to those individuals who perhaps found the switch to remote learning more difficult.

Miss Wessels added: “I think as a school we can put our hands on our hearts and say that the vast majority of our pupils have kept up. And those who might have struggled a bit have received extra individual support from the staff. I think as a school we’ve done very well to continue to teach our full timetable.

“But the things they have missed are the physical activity, exercise and socialising. And just actually moving around the site. If you think that working from home, all you are doing is just getting up, having breakfast, logging in and working all within the same place and seeing the same few people. Whereas here, they are constantly being stimulated all around the site, moving around and seeing posters and quotes on walls and interacting with their friends.”

One pupil, George in Year 10, added: “I love being back. I am really into music and I missed being able to play the trumpet.” The return to school has been especially valued by those pupils studying collaborative and practical subjects.

For the first time in 2021, the hockey pitches, tennis courts and green spaces have been filled with pupils running around, kicking balls and having fun together while getting physically active. While the sport and PE staff were quick to act during lockdown to put in place Strava challenges and set pupils self-directed exercises for physical and mental wellbeing, Head of Games and PE at the Prep School, Georgina Kingstone, is delighted to have the pupils back in school. She told us: “You could tell that missing out on those three afternoons per week has affected pupils. It’s noticeable. To see their faces on the first session back to school, they were all just desperate to get back out there.

“So, we have three weeks until Easter, which will be about re-engaging pupils with the sports and games they love. We are so lucky with our facilities here at Framlingham College. To have a swimming pool which pupils can access and the sports fields and sports halls.”

For teachers of creative subjects, which do not lend themselves easily to a switch to remote learning, the urgency to get pupils back into classrooms and drama studios was even greater. Head of Art, Sue Tansley, told us: “From an art point of view it’s great to have pupils back to be able to share the art resources and specialist equipment with them and get them away from staring at screens. Seeing them being active and physical with practical tasks is what doing a creative subject should be about.

“It’s going to be lovely to be able to share these resources with our artists and introduce them to techniques and skills they haven’t been able to learn at home.”

Mrs North concluded, “We have really enjoyed the vibrant energy and buzz back in every part of the College this week.”

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