Public Sector Focus


CASE STUDY: Being a primary school in the Covid-19 era

CASE STUDY: A primary schools perspective of going into coronavirus lockdown 

Our Lady Of Walsingham R C Primary School

Clare Johanson

As the parent support advisor and schools safeguard lead I work closely with all our vulnerable families or those families who just need a little extra support. As daily contact via school is not possible right now finding alternative ways to ensure these families are still fully supported has been a challenge. To tackle this issue, we offered some families a child care place in school during the COVID 19 closures whilst others families have been receiving a telephone call twice a week. These conversations are to make sure our families are keeping well and to ask if there is anything school can do to help them during this time. Having regular conversations and offering emotional support over the phone is proving successful so far as many parents say they appreciate just having that regular chat. 

Ensuring our families had food was a huge concern as school dinners can sometimes be a child’s main meal of the day. Gloria our school cook has been preparing lovely lunch packs which myself and the head teacher have been delivering along with some Aldi supermarket vouchers and a lolly to keep spirits up. These visits have enabled us to check in with all our children and ensure they are all doing well. School meals are not normally provided to children during the holidays. However, to ensure families have food and to lighten the financial stress food parcels were purchased and delivered last week to every family in receipt of free school meals. 

For the children still attending school fun activities have been offered along with some invaluable learning experiences. They have done many activities such as baking, arts, sports camps and planting in their new kitchen garden.  Every child attending receives a free breakfast and lunch regardless of their entitlement.  Our school continued to open over the Easter holidays to ensure all key worker children and vulnerable children were still cared for during over the holiday period. 

We are still getting to grips with this new way of operating but will continue adapting our working ways to ensure all our children’s needs are being met. Our head teacher Claire McKinnon has pushed schools extremely tight budget to ensure children/families are fed, cared for and fully supported during this time of crisis! 

Claire McKinnon

What kind of innovations have you seen the school undertake since this started?

 We had to react very quickly to identify those children who were key worker children and those who we deemed to be vulnerable. We have a number of children with additional needs who thrive under a routine and so had to take those into account too. Teachers prepared packs of work for 2 weeks to be taken home and then we officially shut. 

we then moved into the ‘lockdown’ phase the following working day which saw all staff in with our essential children - which initially was 30 - we quickly put together a staff rota and split children into EYFS and ‘Rest of the School’ - although there are different activities everyday we are simply providing childcare. On site we have on average about 15 children and we have 4-5 teachers/TAs. Our teachers are onsite twice a week and TAs once a week.

It’s very difficult to work from home without taking the class with you so this has been a real challenge for us all! We have enrolled with the Virtual College and are doing some whole school training on line and teachers are set a piece of work on the Monday to be completed that week.

Staff meetings are held weekly using Zoom which has been interesting but it’s lovely to ‘meet up’ even virtually. 

Our biggest challenge has been our Free School Meal families - we have over 70. Although the PM announced that there would be money available for FSM families through a National voucher scheme, nothing happened for the first 2 weeks. We are located opposite a well-known supermarket so we spent the first 10 days trying to source vouchers for there to send out to everyone - when they came myself and our Parent Support Advisor visited every child and handed chocolate eggs and vouchers over to them. Some of them were really struggling financially at this stage and were really grateful. Daily we asked for those who wanted a lunch to call and we delivered on average 9 packed lunches to them.  

Our school, kitchen headed by Gloria Burnett have been incredible.   Gloria helped me source food parcels on the last day of the Spring Term. I built these parcels up in school and then a dinner lady, Lyn Cunningham, really kindly then delivered them in her husband’s van! The same happened again during the school holidays.  

We cannot pay our teachers extra hours so I insisted that they take 2 weeks break and asked for volunteers from the teaching assistants to help instead for additional hours.   Many came forward and we are down to a skeleton staff of 2 TAs, 1 manager and 1 admin every day over the holidays.

The voucher scheme has started now though it is having a few major teething problems. 

It’s been a great team effort and we are all having a good laugh!

Are there any practices you’ve seen that you’d like to carry forward beyond the pandemic?

 Setting the homework electronically is great and I hope that will continue we have had a huge number of parents signing up to Twitter to follow the school and the school app has seen a huge increase as it is our key area of communication.

A huge success is that we have a 4year old boy with ASD who is absolutely thriving. He’s loving having the un of the school and being with older children and different staff.  His language has really developed and he just seems so happy. He makes it worthwhile getting up every day. 

All children attending and staff attending during lockdown can receive a free meal and this was introduced so that they don’t have to worry about shopping for lunch.   This is definitely a practice for staff that I would like to see continue afterwards.   Sharing food at a table even though social distancing has been a lovely moment each day.  



There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Leeds’ Clean Air Zone Plans Suspended for the foreseeable future

19/08/2020Leeds’ Clean Air Zone Plans Suspended for the foreseeable future

Leeds City Council have today (August 19) announced that their plans for a Clean Air Zone within the city may not have to go ahead due to lower e... more >
Apprenticeships on the rise across London boroughs

19/08/2020Apprenticeships on the rise across London boroughs

According to recent statistics by London Councils, apprenticeships directly created by London boroughs are up 14% on the previous  year. ... more >
Colleges set to receive £200m in Funding

19/08/2020Colleges set to receive £200m in Funding

Over 180 colleges are set to receive a share of £200m, in order to repair and refurbish buildings and campuses. The funding makes up p... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been th... more > more last word articles >

the raven's daily blog

Cleaner, greener, safer media: Increased ROI, decreased carbon

23/06/2020Cleaner, greener, safer media: Increased ROI, decreased carbon

Evolution is crucial in any business and Public Sector Executive is no different. Long before Covid-19 even became a thought in the back of our minds, the team at PSE were looking at innovative ways to deliver its content to our audience in a more dynamic and responsive manner. We’re conscious to take the time to both prot... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >


Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Being on the receiving end of some “thanks” can make communit... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues that community-led initiatives are a productive way of helping to solve... more >
Aberdeen's green transport fleet attracting international attention

19/06/2019Aberdeen's green transport fleet attracting international attention

Aberdeen City Council’s hydrogen spokesperson, councillor Philip Bell, highlights the Granite City’s determination to play a leading ... more >
A fifth of public sector workers have never received a thank you from the people they serve

13/06/2019A fifth of public sector workers have never received a thank you from the people they serve

A fifth of the country’s public sector workers say they have NEVER received a ‘thank you’ for doing their job as Public Service... more >


Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need to invest in technology to help make better use of their resources. Bu... more >
Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

17/12/2018Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

One of the public sector’s key technology partners has recently welcomed a new member to its team. Matt Spencer, O2’s head of public ... more >
New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

05/11/2018New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

The new chief executive of one of the new unitary authorities in Dorset has outlined his approach to culture and work with employees, arguing tha... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >