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A good news Covid story

The hard work of Montpelier based Bristol primary school St Barnabas CE VC Primary School, to ensure that its pupils’ learning continued despite the Covid-19 pandemic has been recognised by a national education award.  On Friday 22nd January 2021 St Barnabas were, announced as the  winner in the Covid-19 Response Champion schools and colleges category at the international  education trade show BettFest 2021 

The awards paid tribute to companies and schools whose response to the Covid-19 outbreak had positive impacts on the education, health and wellbeing of the student population, with the Albany Road primary school forging partnerships throughout the surrounding St Pauls and Montpelier community to raise funds. Members of the congregation at St Agnes Church in St Pauls were among those who donated funds to help ensure that that all children at the school had the laptops they needed to learn at home.

Debbie Fisher, Co-Headteacher at St Barnabas, said: “Covid-19 has presented many challenges to schools across the country but St Barnabas has built on the tradition of unity and solidarity in its communities to meet those challenges and succeed......Our staff have worked tirelessly across the last 12 months to make sure children can learn, whether they are with their teachers in the school or learning at home during lockdowns, including working with partners like Byteback in Bristol to take donated machines from Epic and get them fully ready for our children to use when they were learning at home.”

The laptops helped with the school’s  response. This including running a  pilot  online school for Year 5 pupils in the summer of 2020.  Children from that school talking about how they had  learnt working from home with their teacher Mr Giorgos Georgiou won the school the award.

From January 2021 all classes of children onsite and offsite are supported daily  in their  learning through a technology called Google Classroom,  accessed via the laptops. They work in the Google Classroom whether they are at home or in their classes at school, because their parents  are critical workers or they are priority children for the school. 

 In the first 2020 lockdown St Barnabas, provided weekly learning packs for every child during term time and throughout the Easter holidays and made sure paper, books and other learning materials were provided to children’s homes until the laptops could bridge the digital divide. 

The school also ran a foodbank that fed 20-30 families each week and this was sustained into 2021 in partnership with St Werburgh’s Community Centre. The school ensured that the 60% of school families eligible for free school meals had supermarket vouchers to spend between March 2020 and August 2020 and again  over Christmas and into the 2021 lockdown. When the vouchers weren’t available the school made sure high quality food parcels were taken to families homes. 

Giorgos Georgiou, who teaches the Y6 Scorpius class and who piloted the approach in the summer of 2020, said: “All our children now have the same access to good computers at home as they would have using our Chromebooks in school. It was clear as soon as we started piloting the online school in the summer of 2020 that this would ensure our children had high-quality learning experiences every day of the school year, whatever happened in the wider world with the Covid-19 virus.”

Kate Matheson, chair of governors, said: “Our St Barnabas children have been the real winners because of the high quality of teaching the school has been able to provide them all....Our community’s united response to the barriers the school faced has led to success. It is how St Pauls and Montpelier has responded to the many challenges that we have faced over the decades. Those struggles are written on the murals our children pass as they walk to and from our school.”

We can't wait to be back running our Bristol Holiday clubs and launch the new Saturday clubs in partnership with this awesome school.