A BUBBLE scheme has left children bursting with joy after being extended to the whole school, allowing pupils to return to the classroom for their final weeks of term.

Barnard Castle Preparatory School has successfully operated the initiative with Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils, along with the children of key workers.

Years 2, 3, 4 and 5 will now be joining the system of ‘bubbles’ of no more than 15 children, each with designated staff, where they will stay for the duration of the school day, to avoid contact with others, whether that is in lessons, break or lunchtime.

They will also be assigned their own entrances, exits, classrooms, play areas and toilets for the days they are allocated to attend school over the next three weeks before term ends.

Parents have been sent a safety video outlining the new measures being introduced to safeguard the health of children and staff.

At drop off, parents are invited to park in a bay in the school car park where they are asked a series of health questions and pupils’ temperatures taken before they are escorted by staff into school, maintaining 2m social distancing in the drive.

Floor stickers maximise the ability to maintain social distancing while moving around the school and desks have been placed 2m apart, with classrooms cleared of unnecessary items and equipped with hand sanitisers.

The school provides all classroom equipment, which is sanitised regularly and staff have access to PPE should the need arise, while domestic and maintenance colleagues are equipped with masks, face shields and gloves.

Parents send their children to school in clean clothes daily and the requirement to wear uniform has been lifted, though they are able to wear tracksuits, shorts and school polo shirts.

Headmistress Laura Turner said: “I have nothing but praise for the way pupils, parents and staff have engaged with our Learning@Home programme, which has minimised the impact of the pandemic on their academic learning.

“Pupils have enjoyed their on-line interaction but will certainly value seeing their classmates in person again. This time back in the classroom will allow them a sense of closure to this unprecedented academic year before, hopefully, starting afresh in September.”

At senior school the majority of students are continuing to benefit from the sophisticated home learning package developed in response to the lockdown.

The school introduced a holistic learning programme across the whole curriculum at the end of March, which has been developed using detailed feedback from students and parents.

So far, it has been successful in ensuring pupil progress, offering stability, while maintaining community engagement, promoting wellbeing and providing purpose.

Students have been able to maintain their academic, sporting, cultural and spiritual learning via a virtual learning platform comprising assignments, video and live-streaming contact with teachers.

A programme of activities, ranging from rugby coaching to baking, chess to debating, film club to music and a host of sports, are available to students, as well as a host of House competitions.

Headmaster Tony Jackson said: “We are continuing to follow Government guidelines and, working within those parameters, are organising some contact clinics for our Year 10 and 12 students.

“The strength of the Learning@Home programme is that it maintains our principal objectives – to engage the Barney community in learning that ensures progress is maintained, both academically and individually, and for us all to emerge stronger characters.”