Dozens of schools in Wolverhampton are opening their doors over the Easter holidays to support vulnerable children, those with the most complex special educational needs and the children of 'critical workers'.

Just over half of the city's 117 secondary, primary, nursery, academy, special, independent and free schools are operating during what should have been the Easter break, with some even set to open their doors on Good Friday and Easter Monday. 

Councillor Dr Michael Hardacre, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: "The response of all our city's schools to the coronavirus crisis has been exceptional; their work is ensuring our city's children and young people have every opportunity to continue to learn, whether that is in school or at home."

Among those open over the Easter holidays is Dovecotes Primary School in Pendeford. Headteacher Gill Beddow said: "We are proud to have the opportunity to support our pupils and wider community through these uncertain times. 

"We continue to care for the children of key workers and aim to ensure that school remains a safe and enjoyable place to be – even in the holidays. Easter activities have been enjoyed and we even celebrated a pupil's birthday with party games – adapted to ensure social distancing was maintained! 

"We've also been able to provide food hampers to children who are eligible for free school meals, each containing a week's worth of lunches thanks to our wonderful kitchen team. Our teaching staff have gladly helped assemble the boxes and filled them with supplies, and for families who were self isolating, we went out to deliver the hampers to their doorsteps to ensure no child was left behind.

"I would like to say a big thank you to all of our staff who have gone above and beyond to ensure Dovecotes has played its part in supporting the country, and to a local retirement home which has donated Easter eggs for the children in school to open on Easter Sunday.”

Green Park School Headteacher Lorraine Dawney said: "We are currently open to up to 20 children a day, who are able to still coming to school in their usual way with help from our wonderful drivers and passenger assistants. 

"When the children arrive they go into smaller groups now and are offered a wide range of activities throughout the day, including singing, music, arts and crafts. They also get to enjoy the sunshine in our green space and forest school with staff who are trying their upmost to support their education, health and care needs.

“Children at home have access to a wide range of ideas and activities via our website and Facebook page, and we are sharing staff videos each week of stories or ideas of things families can do with pupils whilst staying safe at home. We have also made lots of rainbows and displayed a stay safe message for everyone to spot in our local community.

"The staff team have learned lots of new IT skills over the last couple of weeks as we all keep in touch via conference calls, email and texts, and I’m sure these skills will come in useful when we are all back doing our ‘normal’ jobs. Staff working from home are getting to collaborate with each other in different ways than they usually would. They are busy planning events for all our pupils and parents when we are back together. They've all risen to the challenge offered to them and are coping amazingly.

"We are adapting to the new way of life but really looking forward to seeing every one of our Green Park Family once all of this is over and we are all safe again!"

The Royal School Principal Mark Heywood said: "We are welcoming more than 25 students of key workers and our vulnerable children from Reception through to Year 13 each day, including some from other schools in the area that have had to close, while the boarding provision remains open for our vulnerable unaccompanied asylum seeker children and international students who could not travel home. 

“The school’s students have been engaged with flexible educational activities in the mornings and having fun through personal development activity in the afternoons.
“We are glad to be able to support our community’s key workers, looking after the children who need to attend school. Parents are grateful to the unwavering commitment of staff who relentlessly give their all to provide stability for these young people from our cleaners, catering and all our teachers who have also stepped up to help the families of key workers in need at this time. 

“I am in complete admiration of our staff and pupils who have tackled the current situation with enthusiasm, humour and a real sense of purpose, whether they are at home or school.

"We have made the most of our ability to strengthen our sense of community with our families and students using our YouTube channel, which in the last 2 weeks has had over 8,000 views. We have sent music lessons, personal greetings, assemblies as well as examples of children’s work, and at a time when we have been physically separated feedback from parents and children alike tells us that this has helped us to stay connected.
"I feel our students will have made great use of this enforced isolation and emerge even more confident and positive about their learning and personal journey when we reopen in due course."

More schools will be sharing their stories in the coming days, and Councillor Hardacre added: “Clearly this is just a snapshot of some of the fantastic work going on in all our schools during this coronavirus emergency – and it’s wonderful to hear how well they are getting on in the most trying of circumstances.”

According to latest figures, 87% of schools in Wolverhampton are now rated either Good or Outstanding. To find out more about education in Wolverhampton, please visit Education and schools

The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at GOV.UK and on the council’s own coronavirus pages at Coronavirus advice and information. There’s lots of advice on how people can protect themselves and their families from coronavirus from the NHS at Advice for everyone – Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The council’s Stay Safe, Be Kind campaign offers clear and simple advice about how people can help themselves, and how they can support others who may be particularly vulnerable at this time. For more information, please visit 
Stay Safe, Be Kind