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3rd September 2020

Bringing our community back together

We are looking forward to returning to School – welcoming back our community of boarders this weekend and day pupils on Monday, along with all of our teaching and support staff.

“Following the tumultuous last few weeks, with education dominating the headlines, the School’s sights have been firmly set on a successful and safe start to the term,” says Headmaster, Henry Price.  “We all cannot wait to see the School buzzing with life again.”

The School has spent a great deal of time and care putting rigorous measures in place that will help keep all members of our community safe; our boarding and day pupils, our staff and all those who live and work in and around the town of Oakham.

“The safety measures that we have established are even more wide-ranging than the Boarding Schools’ Association (BSA) COVID-Safe Charter that we, like other boarding schools across the country, have signed,” says Sarah Gomm, Deputy Head Pastoral.  “All parents have been kept up-to-date with the School’s reopening and are encouraged to read the numerous documents on our website to ensure they are fully up-to-speed with all of the changes and updates to school life.” 

There is a comprehensive ‘Reopening Oakham School’ sway document that clearly outlines the extensive and rigorous safety measures and protocols that have been introduced.  This includes the strict enforcement of all quarantine measures for boarders returning to the UK, and ‘safe to return’ procedures for pupils and staff that will see daily temperature testing for the first two weeks of term.  All pupil and staff will also be expected to wear an Oakham face covering when they move around the corridors and campus during the school day. Each child will receive four face masks on their first day – in two different colours (black and red) to enable regular washing.  Families have also been given a list of additional items that children will need to reduce multi-touch items (such as lab coats and art supplies).

As well as the variety of practical measures to keep the Oakham community safe, the School has been carefully organising its ‘new normal’ curriculum.  “We have planned a variety of timetables to ensure the stability of our educational provision and to help pupils to feel confident and ready to engage in their academic studies,” adds Mrs Gomm.  “We want the School to feel as normal as possible, but recognise that there will be a variety of different scenarios that we could be facing. We have therefore prepared three different timetables to ensure we can move and adapt should we need.  There is a ‘standard’ timetable which sees all pupils moving freely about School, an alternate timetable that reduces movement across campus, and a distance learning timetable in the event of a local lock-down and schools are instructed to close.”

Oakham is well known for placing pastoral care at the heart of its education.  “We have been careful that support for all our pupils is in place. This will allow Oakhamians to flourish academically as well personally and in all areas of school life that they have missed.” As Oakham has always maintained that learning takes place as much beyond the classroom as within it, the School is keen to allow pupils to access as much of the co-curricular parts of school life as possible – including Sport, Music, Drama and Activities.  “We are working closely with various national governing bodies in sports, and we are using government advice for Music, Drama and Activities so that we will, where possible, continue to offer our pupils a wide and varied education,” concludes Mrs Gomm.

Whilst much has been done to keep Oakham’s outstanding education the same on return this September, the School will look a little different to returning pupils.  There are some one way systems in place to avoid crowding and there are 170 hand sanitising stations throughout the School with a series of helpful reminders to ‘stay safe’.  The posters and designs, featuring Oakham’s own ‘Corvid-19 germ gremlin’ was created by Mr Latham to remind pupils to keep washing and sanitising their hands regularly in a fun and friendly way.

“In all we have done, we have sought to be positive, pragmatic and pro-active,” concludes Henry Price.  “After a successful time of remote learning, we look forward to bringing our community back together and moving forwards with due caution and care, but also with real joy and excitement for a new academic year.”

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