“Let’s retain the kindness and generosity of lockdown as the world reopens”

This week marks a year since the start of the first national lockdown, a moment which completely changed how schools had to operate.
The measures we had to implement across all our schools have changed the way we interact, and particularly how children learn. Bubbles, Covid awareness and face masks are now a normal part of our existence – and they will be with us all for a while yet.
Despite this, there are many positives that have come from how we have had to adapt our teaching practices.
From a standing start, teachers have become expert at replicating what takes place in the classroom and delivering it through various digital platforms. While this is no substitute for human interaction, it has helped to lessen the impact of lost learning.
The barriers to making things work have been many, particularly making sure all children had their own device on which to access online lessons.
We identified that around 150 pupils out of the 2,000 across our eight schools did not have a device of their own so, during the first two weeks of January, we decided to help.
We asked employees, friends, networking contacts and other schools whether they had any old ICT devices that they no longer required, and put the word out on social media to encourage people to donate their unwanted devices.
I expected to receive just a handful but, in two weeks, we secured over 330 laptops, tablets an desktop computers which were kindly donated by people who just wanted to help. We even managed to get £1,000 worth of Wi-Fi dongles donated by a local company.
It amounted to more than £150,000 worth of equipment and instantly overcame one of the challenges we faced to get children online.
The devices were restored to good health by our ICT provider, then distributed to all the children in our Trust. Due to the high number we received, several local high schools and primary schools across Cheshire West also benefited.
The generosity and kindness of people amazed me, and I can’t thank all those who donated enough.
Kindness and goodwill come in many forms. One lady, who was senior in years, read about our campaign in The Standard. She arrived at our office one morning, very worried about being out of the house during lockdown, and explained she wanted to donate a small amount of money to purchase a device for a child.
She did not want any publicity and refused to leave an address, but just wanted to reach out with an act of kindness that would help someone.
Schools have now been open again for the last two weeks. This is hopefully the first part of normality returning. As we start to reopen the world, I just hope the kindness and generosity of people I have witnessed during lockdown remains.