“THERE is so much to consider, plan for, react to and adapt, and this puts great pressure on leaders as they have to, quite literally, think of everything.”

That’s what one headteacher of a Bracknell Forest primary school and nursery said after a ‘challenging’ week in which another national lockdown disrupted teaching plans.

The government announced a third shutdown for England on January 4, which effectively ‘closed’ schools to all but a selection of children.

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This came a day after Boris Johnson appeared on television telling parents they should send their youngsters to their ‘safe’ schools once term resumed.

For those in charge of classrooms, reacting to the schools u-turn proved “challenging.”

Phil Sherwood, headteacher of Uplands Primary School and Nursery in Sandhurst, told the News his school has been open for special educational needs children and children of key workers since Tuesday, January 5.

Speaking about how he and his staff reacted to the announcement of the lockdown, he said: “We moved exceptionally quickly to have a plan communicated to families by 23:00 (January 4) and were in school the following morning to welcome in pupils.

“Families said they were shocked and grateful that we were open as they had been calling their employers saying that they did not think we would be open due to the short notice, so I know we did the right thing and made a difference to families.

“The transition for all schools has been challenging due to the very short amount of time we, as leaders, were given to react to the Prime Minister’s announcement of a national lockdown.

“However, this was made easier by my incredible team, who stayed up with me into the early hours of the morning to action our remote education offer.”

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Mr Sherwood told the News the school already had a remote education programme in place prior to the lockdown for pupils to access if they were self-isolating, with a more comprehensive package ready to go in case of a national lockdown.

He added: “It was a case of reviewing and finalising these plans in a very short space of time, consulting staff on this and communicating it clearly to all stakeholders. This is something I feel we have done exceptionally well and I know other school leaders will have done the same.”

Schools have been open for a small number of children for just more than a week now, and one of the problems Uplands is facing from the latest lockdown is a funding gap.

With much of the school’s income coming from nursery fees, Mr Sherwood estimates Uplands could lose between £6,000 and £50,000 during this lockdown depending on what can be claimed back from the government.

Mr Sherwood said: “This is crippling for nurseries, and we desperately need government support to avoid closures, redundancies and huge gaps in the provision for pupils from the closures of nurseries.”

Despite these funding losses, senior leaders at Uplands have purchased 20 new laptops for the school community after being unable to claim for more hardware from the Department for Education.

Ten of these laptops are for Uplands staff to teach from, and ten are to support families who do not have electronic equipment to support their child’s remote learning.

The headteacher commented: “We are also expecting a delivery of 20 SIM cards to help our families.

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“Uplands is often seen as a leafy, well-off area and we often miss out on support and funding streams, so we have no choice but to help our pupils ourselves and do the right thing for them. This is something I am very proud of.”

These issues are just some of the daily challenges Mr Sherwood faces as headteacher of Uplands, but the headteacher tackles them alongside his team of “incredible” colleagues.

He continued: “Headteachers and school leaders have adapted quickly and done the right thing because they care about their schools, their staff, their families and their pupils.

“However, leaders are feeling frustrated with the lack of time given to us to react and the lack of consistency in messaging.

“For me, it is not about the need to react quickly as the government have a very difficult decision to make in a very short amount of time, but it is the implication that these moves are easy and we should be able to pull everything together at a moment’s notice.

“There is so much to consider, plan for, react to and adapt, and this puts great pressure on leaders as they have to, quite literally, think of everything.

“School staff (not just teachers, but everyone involved in a school) across the country are going above and beyond to support pupils, I would like to thank our incredible staff, who have rallied round and been so flexible.

“People might forget sometimes, but it is at times like this that we should all (as a school leader, a parent/carer or child) be so thankful for the amazing staff that we have at Uplands.

“We cannot underestimate their brilliance, dedication and care.”

If any businesses are able to support Uplands’ need for more tech hardware, please get in touch with Phil Sherwood at office@uplandsprimary.org