By Peter Barnett
A caring and nurturing welcome with the accent on friendship and mental wellbeing have been high on the agenda for young children who joined Upton Junior School in Broadstairs this September.
For the majority of the Year 3 boys and girls it is their first time in school since the enforced pandemic lay-off in March.
Many of them have never visited Upton before and Head of Year 3 Fran Pellett said: “We knew the end of their time at infant school would have been tarnished by the current climate, so it was imperative for us to ensure their first few days at Upton were going to be memorable and fun.
“Our Year 3 staff team worked tirelessly in the run up to school restarting to ensure that our new children and their families felt welcome and were excited to start their voyage aboard the Upton ship.
“We opened our doors and our arms to our new cohort and they have blown us away by how positively they have embraced their new world and how easily they are settling in.
“At this time, our ‘One Childhood, One Chance’ ethos really has rung true; we’ve adapted our curriculum to ensure it focuses heavily upon mental wellbeing and friendship, incorporating lots of games and fun activities centred on the transition process. This is always crucial, but this year more than ever.”
The children have already spent lots of time getting to know one another, as well as their new teachers, playing lots of games and spending time each day in the fresh air, getting some much-needed physical activity.
They have started their Maths and English lessons, with a bespoke curriculum that builds upon their prior learning at infant school, as well as adapting it to support any missed learning in a fun and interactive way, before diving in to the Year 3 curriculum.
Exploring the school grounds, taking part in daily mindfulness activities, and getting to know Pablo, the Upton school dog have been other highlights as they settle in.
Year 3 pupil Sky said: “’I’ve enjoyed making friends,” while Maddison added: “I love Upton because it has amazing things to do and I am happy here because I have made new friends.”
Mrs Pellett said: “I am extremely proud of how well the children have adapted to the first couple of weeks at their new school. It is testament to the hard work and support of the Year 3 teaching team that the children have settled quickly and are already little Uptonians.
“September is always an exciting time in Year 3 at Upton, but this year has seen us face many challenges and uncertainties.
“The children, however, have taken this all in their stride and I would like to thank our new families for their encouraging words at the school gate and for supporting their children in this move to junior school.
“Our newest members of Team Upton are already doing us proud and are excellent advocates for the school.”