Schools to hold lessons outdoors to give pupils a break from masks

Michael Brewer headteacher at Thetford Grammar School. Photo: Thetford Grammar School

Michael Brewer headteacher at Thetford Grammar School. Photo: Thetford Grammar School - Credit: Thetford Grammar School

Schools are hoping to take many of their lessons outside in a bid to give pupils a break from "constantly wearing face masks".

New guidance issued by the Department for Education has asked that secondary school students wear masks to reduce the transmission of Covid wherever social distancing is impractical. This is being reviewed at Easter.

For Michael Brewer, principal at Thetford Grammar, a way to "help school become school" once again is therefore simple: send the children outside for lessons as much as is practically possible once the weather takes a turn for the better.

Langley School gardens.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Langley School has extensive school grounds which are "set up" for outdoor education according to the headteacher, Jon Perriss - Credit: Archant

He said: "Covid restrictions have completely altered the free-flow of the school environment.

"Students can't work in groups anymore, they can't sit facing each other anymore. 

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"That's why as soon as it gets warm and sunny we'll be encouraging teachers to do their lessons outside.

"Not only will that mean students can have a break from masks, but it's actually better for everyone's health and wellbeing."

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Mr Brewer said that during lockdown an outdoor classroom had been built in the prep school, and that older students already had plenty of opportunity for outdoor learning as part of their curriculum.

"We've always encouraged outdoor learning but will do even more so now," he said.

"There's a huge amount of fauna and flora in our grounds, and we hope that students might be able to have their science, art or philosophy lessons outside when the weather allows.

"From a staff member's point of view, managing a class outside doing something really engaging is more enjoyable than being stuck in a classroom anyway."

Lynn Grove Academy principal Alison Mobbs said her students would be "making most of the outside" as spring arrived in Gorleston.

Lynn Grove Academy principal Alison Mobbs said the parts of the school affected had been "deep clean

Alison Mobbs at Lynn Grove Academy said the school was lucky to have "acres and acres" of grounds to make use of - Credit: Archant

She said: "We are so lucky at Lynn Grove that we've got acres and acres of grounds. We'll be trying to get our students outside as much as we possibly can so that they avoid clustering in groups indoors."

Meanwhile Jon Perriss, headmaster at Langley School in Loddon, said his school's green sites were "set up for the outdoors".

"We will be encouraging lessons outside as part of the re-integration process," he said. "Wellbeing and social interaction are the key focuses in the coming weeks."

Jon Perriss, Langley School headteacher, said schools needed to work harder at recruiting a more div

Jon Perriss, Langley School headteacher - Credit: Archant

A spokesperson for the Inspiration Trust, which has schools across the entire county, said all students would be encouraged to use outdoor spaces during break times.

They said: "Our principals will be following their Covid-19 safety plans to use all spaces effectively and safely. Some schools don't have the capacity to provide outdoor learning, but if this is an option it is something our principals will explore."

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