Hornchurch headteacher talks about managing Covid-19 pandemic

Hornchurch High School headteacher

Hornchurch High School Headteacher Val Masson discusses how the school has managed the coronavirus pandemic. - Credit: Hornchurch High School

In a week when Havering was confirmed to be involved in a testing initiative for secondary schools, the Recorder spoke to the headteacher of Hornchurch High School about its management of the pandemic. 

With Havering now under Tier 3 restrictions due to surging cases, schools continue to face huge challenges as the end of term approaches.

Despite this, Val Masson does see some positives: "There has been a real can-do attitude from the school community, a real determination to get through this together.” 

This has been matched by the families, who the headteacher says have "all really stepped up" since their children have returned to school.

"Every single family has been really responsible in terms of children testing positive; we've had no complaints."

The school's management of the pandemic can be broadly split into each wave. The first - described by Ms Masson as "shocking" - saw only the children of key workers in class.

The second wave has been about minimising the disruption caused by absences, which started to increase after half-term.

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Prior to that point there was only one case at the school, she explain. Numbers grew after the break.

The process for dealing with positive tests is very strict. "We look at where a child is sitting and measure two metres around it. Anyone who sits within two metres has to go home.” 

Though a strain, the headteacher says the biggest issue actually lies with testing: "It takes too long."

It can often take three days to receive a result, which is especially disruptive for staff who have to remain at home during that period. 

Technology has proven something of a saviour, with its various advances allowing for blended learning. This means the same lessons can be delivered to all pupils; those at home and those in the classroom.

The emergence of this practice - forced by the pandemic - gives isolating pupils the same learning opportunity. 

Though clear that there are some positives to take, Ms Masson does not shy away from the realities of the situation: “I can’t see how we’re going to come back in a better position in January.” 

The approach at Hornchurch High School will remain the same, whatever January brings.