There With You: Seven Kings headteacher teaches resilience to survive coronavirus and beyond

Downshall Primary School Headteacher Ian Bennett about the challenges facing teachers and students d

Downshall Primary School Headteacher Ian Bennett about the challenges facing teachers and students during coronavirus lockdown. Picture by Ellie Hoskins. - Credit: Ellie Hoskins

The headteacher of a Seven Kings primary school talks about the challenges facing teachers and children to get through the coronavirus pandemic.

Though the school is closed it is providing home learning to regular students and is open for childr

Though the school is closed it is providing home learning to regular students and is open for children of key workers and vulnerable children. Picture by Ellie Hoskins. - Credit: Ellie Hoskins

Schools may be closed across the country but headteachers like Ian Bennett, of Downshall Primary, and his staff are busier than ever.

The school is open for children of key workers and also vulnerable children, who are living in temporary accommodation or are in families with domestic abuse, for whom it’s essential they get out of the house.

At the same time the school has to provide home learning for the regular 660 pupils on its register.

Mr Bennett told the Recorder: “It’s been a very challenging time and a steep learning curve.

There With You - the Ilford Recorder's campaign to help everyone get through coronavirus crisis.

There With You - the Ilford Recorder's campaign to help everyone get through coronavirus crisis. - Credit: Archant

“Our teachers are balancing the same things everyone is balancing but I really do feel there’s quite a bit of commitment from teachers at the moment.”

While the school is closed for regular business Mr Bennett is conscious of maintaining it as a social and community base to help families who are struggling.

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He said: “We’ve had families call us because they literally have nothing to put on the table.

“Some have called us in tears, saying they can’t feed their children so we’ve been putting emergency parcels out to them.”

He also has to look out for the wellbeing of the children and make sure they’re going to be OK once the pandemic has passed.

He said: “We as adults can watch the news and filter it out and put it into context.

“When children see their families anxious, or are constantly exposed to worst-case scenario news reports, we have to try to mitigate that so we don’t end up with children in a few months’ time that are really in a concerning place.”

Through the worksheets the school sends home for the pupils to complete every day, the teachers are trying to help children address their anxieties and give them an outlet to express their feelings.

Mr Bennett also appeared on the Leaders Council podcast alongside Lord Blunkett and talked about how educators need to equip students with skills that will be unlike anything needed in any other century. He said: “The podcast came out before the pandemic hit London and I was thinking of it in terms of technology but now coronavirus brings it home so much more. We need to instill resilience in all our children,”