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The new headteacher at Thomas Gainsborough School has praised the support of her school community as she prepares to welcome all students back.

Helen Yapp became acting headteacher at the Great Cornard School in January after Wayne Lloyd stepped down following nine years at the helm – before being appointed permanently this month.

Mrs Yapp’s first full day in post ended with Prime Minister Boris Johnson sending the country back into lockdown and a comprehensive home schooling programme resuming.

But with staff encouraged to take live remote lessons from within their classrooms and a full testing programme now in place, she feels the school is ready for all students to return to school next week.

Mrs Yapp said: “It has been a challenging time for everyone involved in education but everyone – staff, students and families – have pulled together and I cannot thank them enough.

“We wanted our teachers to be working from school, wherever possible, to help keep things as normal as possible, whether students were in school themselves or working from home.

“I think this has helped with the wellbeing of my staff who were able to come into work every day and it has certainly fostered an approach that we are all in this together.

“Our students have worked tremendously hard and the parents have been amazing and supportive.

“We are very excited to have all the students back next week – there is nothing compared to that buzz in school.”

The school has planned a staggered return to school next week with testing taking place on a rota between Monday and Wednesday and the entire school back in classrooms from Thursday.

Reflecting on her first few months, Mrs Yapp added: “My heart has always been with Thomas Gainsborough School and I wanted to offer continuity when Mr Lloyd left.

“He did so much good work that we wanted things to remain in place, especially during the first few months of this year.

“It is also really important to keep building on his fantastic work and that is the intention of everyone connected with the school.”

Helen Yapp

“My heart has always been with Thomas Gainsborough School and I wanted to offer continuity when Mr Lloyd left.”