'Things can only get better in 2021' - Headmaster of Woodford Green school talks Covid-19

Bancroft's Prep School Headteacher

The headteacher of Bancroft's Prep School in Woodford Green has discussed the Covid-19 pandemic. - Credit: Bancroft's Prep School

Covid-19 has made 2020 an unforgettable year for all the wrong reasons.

With schools at the coronavirus coalface, The Recorder spoke to the headmaster at Bancroft's Prep School to see how it has managed the pandemic. 

Despite being an incredibly challenging period in the Woodford Green school's history, Joe Layburn says the situation within those walls "actually looks and feels more normal than the rest of the world".

The reason behind this is the epitome of good news: "We’ve been lucky - a lot of schools have had to send children home but in the Prep School, right up until the last week of our term, we were unaffected."

This huge positive doesn't diminish the overall impact of the pandemic, with the headmaster conceding that it was "a massive challenge getting everyone back into school".

However, this was tempered by the pupils' reaction to the return: "it’s been so worth it to see how happy the children are to be here again. They’ve adapted brilliantly to new routines and ways of doing things to keep everyone safe."

Though the school did manage the term unaffected, Mr Layburn did decide to move learning online for the last three days. Motivating this decision - as does all the headmaster's decisions - was what was "right for our school community".

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In a balanced assessment of this model of learning, he said: "Our children did brilliantly with their online learning during the first lockdown but it’s not the same and, of course, for us as teachers, we didn’t go into the profession to sit at a computer all day we want to interact with the children face to face. That’s best for them and it’s best for us too."

Describing himself as "so proud" of how the school has coped this year, Mr Layburn is feeling "really positive" about 2021.

A big factor behind this attitude is the pupils he presides over: "Working in a primary school you’re surrounded by children who are almost always upbeat so that helps."

Acknowledging that "there are bound to be some bumps in the road", the headmaster is nonetheless eagerly awaiting the day when "we can finally put Covid behind us".

In a perfect summary of the situation, Mr Layburn concluded: "Things can only get better in 2021."