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It has been another whirlwind four weeks for the education system up and down the country.

When I last wrote this column, we were just digesting Boris Johnson’s announcement that certain year groups could return to primary school – followed by 60 pages of national guidelines as to how that could work.

Two weeks later, hundreds of pupils returned and I am pleased to report that it has worked very well.

Of course, so much of this is because of the hard work and commitment of staff, not to mention the support of parents and school communities and the resilience of our pupils.

There were some tentative steps for all of us on day one, but they were quickly replaced by smiles and laughter as some form of primary school provision, in the traditional sense, returned.

I have since had the privilege of visiting all our 16 primary schools across the Unity Schools Partnership and it was wonderful to hear teaching to so many more pupils across our classrooms.

Not for one moment have we forgotten those year groups who have not yet been able to return to school.

Their home schooling continues to be a credit to both staff and students alike and this will continue.

But every single one of our primary schools has also been looking at the possibility of whether they could offer some in-school time for every pupil before the summer holidays.

Following some very close working by all our headteachers, it soon became clear that a one-size-fits-all approach would not work.

Some schools are close to capacity, in terms of staff or their actual buildings, while others might have a little more room to accommodate more children.

In keeping with our ethos, it has been great to see schools work so closely together – so our geographical hubs can adopt a similar approach.

But we also felt it was hugely important for schools to make the right individual choice for their families. Further announcements will be made by our schools in the coming days.

We have also planned for some secondary school pupils to return. While limited to just Year 10 and Year 12 students, and not all at one time, we have again been buoyed by seeing them gain some crucial one-to-one tutelage.

I know we are all thinking about what September might look like – and Unity Schools Partnership is already planning for a number of different scenarios while also waiting for national guidance.

I wanted to end this month’s column by paying tribute to Jim Cleaver, the headteacher at Wells Hall Primary School in Great Cornard, who sadly passed away at the end of May.

Last week, we were joined by Jim’s family, colleagues past and present, and staff across the trust to pay our respects via a digital memorial service.

The tributes were warm and evoked great memories of a great man.

Tim Coulson,
Chief Executive,
Unity Schools Partnership

We felt it was hugely important for schools to make the right individual choice for their families

tim coulson, chief executive, unity schools partnership