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Giant tipis create extra space for primary school as it prepares for return of children

PUBLISHED: 19:00 26 May 2020 | UPDATED: 08:45 27 May 2020

Children at East Bergholt Primary School will be able to use the two tipis, provided by Events Under Canvas, for an outdoor learning space when they return on June 1. Picture: EVENTS UNDER CANVAS/ARCHANT

Children at East Bergholt Primary School will be able to use the two tipis, provided by Events Under Canvas, for an outdoor learning space when they return on June 1. Picture: EVENTS UNDER CANVAS/ARCHANT

Picture: EVENTS UNDER CANVAS/ARCHANT

A Suffolk events company is using two of its gigantic tipis to support a primary school as it prepares to welcome an increased number of children from June 1.

The Events Under Canvas team have all been furloughed and are desperate to help the East Bergholt community. Picture: EVENTS UNDER CANVASThe Events Under Canvas team have all been furloughed and are desperate to help the East Bergholt community. Picture: EVENTS UNDER CANVAS

Like many schools across the UK, East Bergholt Primary School will be reopening its doors from Monday for children from Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 – as the education system aims to reboot following the countrywide closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

More: Why this primary school is not reopening on June 1

Director of East Bergholt-based Events Under Canvas, Jenna Ackerley, decided she wanted to support her community by helping provide space for as many kids to return to the school as possible, by offering two of her 10.5m diameter tipis for them to use.

“My two children go to East Bergholt Primary School,” explained Jenna. “So I was conscious that the school might be struggling to cater for the increased numbers of children while putting social distancing measures in place.”

The tipis usually cater for around 100 people, but with the recommended two metre restrictions, Jenna says they could fit around 30 people if needed.

Events Under Canvas hire out their giant tipis across Suffolk, but are instead using them to help East Bergholt Primary School as it prepares to welcome back extra students. Picture: ARCHANTEvents Under Canvas hire out their giant tipis across Suffolk, but are instead using them to help East Bergholt Primary School as it prepares to welcome back extra students. Picture: ARCHANT

She said: “We wanted to support the school and help them create some outdoor space for the children, so that some could have lunch in there, or story time for example.”

The award-winning events company, whose staff have all been furloughed, had 120 summer weddings and parties booked, the majority of which have either been postponed or cancelled as a result of the virus.

“A few people are still holding out hope for September events,” explained Jenna. “We usually have around 250 events each year, but in 2020 we are looking at only having around 10% of that.

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“We will take a hit, but we will be able to pull it back with the huge appetite for people wanting to do things next year.”

Many of Jenna’s team either attended East Bergholt Primary School or have a child who goes there, so the company says it has a good connection with the school.

A small team of around four or five of Jenna’s crew have volunteered their time to put up the tipis on Thursday, May 28 – while working at a safe distance apart.

Jenna says it has been difficult for her team during furlough, as they are used to being hands on and doing long shifts during the summer months.

Events Under Canvas won the 'One To Watch' category at the EADT Businsess Awards. Picture: GREGG BROWNEvents Under Canvas won the 'One To Watch' category at the EADT Businsess Awards. Picture: GREGG BROWN

She also says the coronavirus pandemic has hit the area financially – as Events Under Canvas usually employs 25 seasonal workers from neighbouring villages, such as students returning from university, all of whom will not be hired this summer.

Both of Jenna’s children, Evie, five, and Max, six, have been going into school as keyworker children as her husband works as a pilot.

Jenna says they are excited to be able to spend some time in the tipis at school from next week.

It is understood that East Bergholt Primary School will be implementing staggered arrival times from Monday and the addition of the tipis will provide them with the extra space to help cater for all of the children.

Jenna Ackerley, director of Events Under Canvas, has two children who attend East Bergholt Primary School, Evie, aged 5, and Max aged 6. Picture: JENNA ACKERLEYJenna Ackerley, director of Events Under Canvas, has two children who attend East Bergholt Primary School, Evie, aged 5, and Max aged 6. Picture: JENNA ACKERLEY

More: ‘We don’t want kids to be traumatised’ - schools and nurseries on preparing for more children in June


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