A PRIMARY school has created the first socially distant classrooms by using leftover festival TENTS in order to get more children to return to lessons.
The temporary pop-up school proposal is being trialled at Manorfield Primary School in Tower Hamlets, east London, in a bid to get more children back into the classroom as reopening schools attempt to maintaining social distancing rules.
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The 6-metres by 18-metres tent was provided by specialist company Original Marquees, and is now being used as both a classroom and a lunch area to minimise the potential spread of coronavirus.
Headteacher Paul Jackson says the concept will bring as many children back to school as safe a way as possible, following fears that keeping kids out of education for too long will have detrimental long term effects.
He said: "Our children have been out of school for far too long.
“We want to bring as many children back to school in as safe a way as possible.
“We won’t bring back more children than it is safe to and need to find creative solutions to enable the wider opening of schools.
BACK TO SCHOOL
“The creation of additional pop-up accommodation in our playground will support us in doing this and meeting the needs of our children.
"We are very excited to see more of them returning to school."
The innovative pop-up classroom was designed by British firm Curl la Tourelle Head, who say the structure will fit at least a quarter more "socially distanced capacity" than normal indoor classrooms.
By creating classrooms from the unused festival tents, the structure will enable better spacing between children and staff, create more capacity, and also improve the airflow.
Plans are already in the works to make children sit a longer school day to catch up on missed lessons because of the global pandemic.
The new concept is set to include funding for 'bolt on' sessions at the end of the school day to help those who have fallen behind since March.
We won’t bring back more children than it is safe to and need to find creative solutions to enable the wider opening of schools.
Pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 were the first to return to classrooms on June 1, while phased reopening for other year groups is expected to happen in the coming weeks.
The Department for Education issued guidelines for reopening schools – stating that class sizes must be limited to 15 pupils.
Inspired by outdoor learning schools in Denmark, the tent classrooms reuse marquees currently lying dormant due to bans on large social gatherings.
The tent structure will stay in place until September, and the architecture firm is in talks to help other schools maximise their space while keeping to COVID-19 guidelines.
Official government guidance has told firms that they must only follow the two-metre social distancing rule "where possible" – seeming to mean that the rule is being relaxed.
The tweaks offer the hope that social distancing will be relaxed even further in the coming weeks, meaning pubs, restaurants and gyms may open by July 4.
Wayne Head, director of Curl la Tourelle Head, said: "Our pop-up school initiative offers a robust and adaptable suite of temporary structure options, ranging from simple canvas marquees to fully operational, insulated and engineered facilities capable of servicing entire year groups through the planned ‘big summer of catch-up’ and autumn term beyond.
“We are confident that we have the solution to help schools increase their capacity and bring back more pupils, while still following the social distancing rules and ensuring a safe environment for the children and staff.”
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