A look inside an Ipswich primary school on its first day back

Children in Year Six at Piper's Vale playing in the playground where eight zones have been sectioned

Children in Year Six at Piper's Vale playing in the playground where eight zones have been sectioned off. Picture: HAZEL GROVE PHOTOS - Credit: Archant

Pupils in Year Six have returned to primary schools across Suffolk today as part of a managed nationwide return – but what does social distancing look like for 10-year-olds?

Children in Year Six at Piper's Vale returned to the classroom today in 'pods' of 15 pupils ahead of

Children in Year Six at Piper's Vale returned to the classroom today in 'pods' of 15 pupils ahead of their SATS exams. Picture: HAZEL GROVE PHOTOS - Credit: Archant

Strict government guidance has been issued to ensure children returning to school are observing infection control measures, meaning classrooms and playgrounds looking different to what children have been used to.

Kimberly Morton, principal at Piper’s Vale Primary Academy, said she was a bit anxious on Sunday night ahead of the return but yesterday she said it was lovely having the children back.

“We are finding it really lovely to have more children back in the school as we are teachers, it’s what we enjoy,” she said.

“I absolutely do think this is the right thing to do by them.

Children in Year Six went back for their first day at The Oaks Community Primary School in Chantry,

Children in Year Six went back for their first day at The Oaks Community Primary School in Chantry, Ipswich. Picture: THE OAKS - Credit: Archant

“Children need structure and parents are struggling and quite rightly as they aren’t educators and they do find it difficult at home.”

Around 50% of the pupils in Year Six returned to school yesterday and Mrs Morton is sure that more parents will be more confident of sending their children back when they see the others doing well.

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The school has created ‘pods’ of up to 15 children who move around the school together and don’t mix with other pods to ensure distancing.

Zones have been laid out for different groups of children and teachers and facilities such as toilets have been portioned off so pods don’t share.

Co-headteacher Jeremy Pentreath at The Oaks Community Primary School in Chantry, Ipswich, put marker

Co-headteacher Jeremy Pentreath at The Oaks Community Primary School in Chantry, Ipswich, put markers out for social distancing this morning before the children arrived for the day. Picture: THE OAKS - Credit: Archant

School desks are two metres apart and markings have been made to keep children at a distance when lining up in the playground or inside the school.

The large grounds mean that Piper’s Vale has been able to divide its playground into eight zones which the pods will rotate around each week.

Clare Flintoff, chief executive officer for Asset Education which runs several primary schools in Ipswich, said: “The first day of our slightly extended opening has gone smoothly so far.

“All of the hard work over half term preparing the school sites has paid off and our stringent safety practices are in place making sure that it is as safe as possible for our children and staff.

Principal of Piper's Vale Kimberly Morton handed out school lunches to pupils in Year Six today. Pic

Principal of Piper's Vale Kimberly Morton handed out school lunches to pupils in Year Six today. Picture: HAZEL GROVE PHOTOS - Credit: Archant

“School doesn’t look the same as it did before lockdown and it will be a very different experience, but the key priority at present is safety.”

Reception and Year One will return tomorrow.

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Children in Year Six went back for their first day at The Oaks Community Primary School in Chantry,

Children in Year Six went back for their first day at The Oaks Community Primary School in Chantry, Ipswich. Picture: THE OAKS - Credit: Archant

Children in Year Six at Piper's Vale playing in the playground where eight zones have been sectioned

Children in Year Six at Piper's Vale playing in the playground where eight zones have been sectioned off. Picture: HAZEL GROVE PHOTOS - Credit: Archant