Coronavirus in Camden: Acland Burghley headteacher says school’s ‘whole way of thinking’ is changing amid pandemic

Nicholas John, headteacher and pupils at Acland Burghley School

Nicholas John, headteacher and pupils at Acland Burghley School - Credit: Archant

“My message to families is principally don’t worry about this. We haven’t gone offline. We are going to be working the phones, calling you up, and available to help.”

For Camden’s schoolchildren – like those all over the world – coronavirus has caused a huge disruption to their education, but Acland Burghley headteacher Nicolas John has reassured his school’s community amid the upheaval.

From Monday, schools are closed to everyone who can stay at home.

Nicholas, who runs the Tufnell Park school, told this newspaper staff were working hard to adapt to help their “bewildered” students, and would helping families throughout the enforced break from the classroom.

He said the school had seen “real community spirit” after the closure was announced by central government.

He said: “Last week the key message was convincing children just how really serious this is – that the social distancing is really important and we need to do this to save lives.”

Nicholas added his team were working hard – many including himself from home – in order to transform how the school operates to keep pupils learning, safe, and healthy.

Most Read

He said a particular challenge was getting free school meals to the children who need it.

He said: “Our whole way of thinking, of how we operate as a school is having to change. Storage and haulage is not usually our business but we turning our mind to it.”

The headteacher added he was most concerned about how to keep children learning throughout the spring and summer terms as the pandemic continues.

He added: “In these first few days it’s probably not a big issue. The issue will come around how to manage the five weeks after Easter and then June and July. It’s such an important part of the school year. We need to really think about what measures will be sensible to improve home learning. Children don’t just walk into the classroom and access things online.”

As for the year 11s and 13s who will miss out on their final weeks in school, he added: “It’s important that we recognise the sacrifice these two cohorts have made. It’s an important part of British life to reach these rituals and routines and that’s been taken away.”