Last year – “pre-COVID”, if any of us can remember such a time, we were faced with mounting budget cuts and a way around providing PPA for the next academic year in what can often be quite challenging classes.
We came up with the idea of vertically grouping pupils into small pods of 7 or 8 and using our support staff and SMT expertise to deliver and develop half term blocks of well-being focused activities that would enable the remaining teachers to have their PPA and provide us with an ideal opportunity to further develop the four purposes.
Then COVID arrived with all its risk assessments, bubbles, uncertainty and an even greater need for addressing well-being for both pupils and staff. So time to rethink, instead of vertical groupings we went with splitting the classes and keeping the staff working within their bubbles; the strength of a school roll with over 50% of both ALN and PDG, does mean we have a wealth of necessary support staff.
Hidden talents were identified: including cycling, creative dance, cooking, Japanese culture, yoga, gardening, acts of kindness and sewing to name but a few. Having grouped the children we realised that we did need to supplement the staffing and so looking at what we were already able to offer, we brought in three further session providers: a sports coach, a musician and a forest schools’ practitioner.
We now have every Monday afternoon organised into these well-being activities, fully COVID risk assessed. Four weeks in so far so good, children are happy and engaged, adults are enjoying the time just being with the children and all the class teachers are having uninterrupted PPA time. In fact, it is a well-being win all round!
Alison Ellis, Head of Maesyrhandir Primary School