Dr Julie Greer, Headteacher at Cherbourg Primary School
Julie shares the variety of ways in which they incorporated pupils' voices during the first few months of lockdown.
Incorporating pupil voice during coronavirus
We regularly use an Issue of the Month as a way of giving children their right to have a say in decisions that affect them, locally and globally. Usually a question is proposed to the whole school, which is discussed in classes and a representative brings the views to a forum. As it is a familiar strategy, it was a good way to involve the children and their families in considering what would need to be done to ensure they felt that their school continued to be a safe place to learn, in the midst of this pandemic.
It was important for children and their parents and carers to have some sense of control over what happens next and to really think about what safe might mean in the context of this unseen threat.
Through our online learning platform, all children were sent the Issue of the Month and parents and carers were also emailed a copy, as were staff and governors. Really thoughtful answers have come back in a variety of ways; PowerPoints, voice messages, and emails. There was lots of evidence of families discussing the Issue together too.
The children were asked to write down their ideas to reduce touching and keep clean across a number of aspects of normal school life. Their solutions have been invaluable as our plans for the next twelve months evolve. Ideas included:
The use of individual bum bags to carry personal pens, pencils etc
A worry monster in each class
A class hygiene monitor
Doors propped open where possible
Staggered start and end to the day
All children stressed the importance of hand washing and washing clothes. This was encouraging as this a key message to get across, in order to reduce the use of hand gel inappropriately.
Children’s concern and anxiety comes through in many of their answers. One child in Y3 described how people should go round in a bubble; an inflatable balloon with air inside. In responding online, we recognised the creativity of his solution, but talked about the importance of human touch for our brains and our wellbeing and asked him to think about ways to achieve this safely.
One child reflected many people’s confusion; ‘’Maybe we should wear masks. I don’t know.’
In a lighter response, a child in Y3 left a voice recording which offered a solution to making lunchtimes safe; ‘Go home for lunch and eat all the chocolate!’ A welcome giggle in a serious time.