We are visiting schools during the November lockdown, and like you we are taking precautions to keep our teachers and your children safe.
Where Things Stand
We have looked through the Department for Education guidance published 4th November, and there appears to be no reason why we cannot visit schools to deliver workshops. That guidance builds off the existing DfE guidance , last updated 22nd October, which states that peripatetic teachers may visit schools.
That said, your school leadership will need to consider whether they are comfortable with visitors entering the school. We are happy to take a provisional booking to reserve a day for you while your leadership team makes that decision — there is no obligation while the date is in “pencil”.
If we cannot visit in person, we have new options we can offer.
Introducing Virtually Off the Page
Our teachers have created a new experience that aims to be “Covid Secure”. It offers all the enrichment, immersion and fun of our full-day workshops, but in a way compatible with coronavirus health requirements for schools. We are calling it Virtually Off the Page.
We adapted nine of our most popular workshops to fit the new Virtually Off the Page model. Topics currently offered include:
- Ancient Egypt – Experience the preparations for the unexpected burial of the young King Tutankhamun.
- Ancient Greece – Encounter life in the Greek city-state of Sparta and compare its warrior culture to that of Athens.
- Roman Britain – Explore life in Roman Verulamium.
- Vikings – Experience Viking life in York during the rule of King Guthrum.
- Saxons – Explore the Saxon settlement of Winchester under the rule of King Alfred.
- Great Fire of London – Learn about the fire first-hand through those who experienced it, including famed diarist Samuel Pepys.
- Florence Nightingale & Mary Seacole – Meet Florence Nightingale and learn about the contributions she and Mary Seacole made to health care during the Crimean War.
- History of Toys – Explore the materials, construction and forces of toys from ancient times until today.
- Life on the Home Front – Discuss how the Second World War affected the lives of an average British family.
Click on any of the topics above to learn more about each one.
We are currently taking bookings for both our full-day and virtual workshops. Many schools are making provisional bookings at the moment — there is no obligation while the day remains “in pencil” — and making plans to use the virtual day as a back-up plan as necessary.
Moving forward, we would prefer to make more “firm” bookings if your school is comfortable doing so. This will allow us to better assess and coordinate our diary for the coming months.
Our in-school days are active and hands-on for the children. The activities roughly approximate crafts and trades from the time period. Because many of the tools may be new to the children, we usually request that 6-12 adult helpers (depending on the size of the group) be recruited to oversee the workstations.
We are aware many schools have restricted parent helpers from visiting the school. Although we are modifying our days to reduce our dependancy on extra adults, some adult help is still necessary. Please let us know if you will have trouble bringing extra adults into your classroom — you may want to consider a virtual workshop if you are not able to have extra adults participate.
Health and Safety
For your children’s safety as well as our own, we have made adjustments to our work practice. These include regularly disinfecting our kits, social distancing, and of course not attending a school if the teacher feels sick.
Among the other changes we are making, we are:
- Limiting our visits to two classes (up to 60 children) to reduce exposure to the virus.
- Resting kits for 72 hours between visits.
- Eliminating food and drink from our “feast” afternoons (such as Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Castles, etc.) More emphasis will be placed on performances.
Please note that we still require adult helpers for in-school days. If this conflicts with your schools coronavirus policies, please let us know — a virtual workshop might be a better option for your school.
We are happy to provide information that can help your school form your own risk assessment for the day. Feel free to contact us to learn more.
As the pandemic took hold, we waived all cancellation fees for bookings lost to coronavirus closures. Regrettably, we will need to apply cancellation fees as normal this school year for non-coronavirus-related cancellations, but it is our hope to continue to be flexible and reasonable with the virus still present in the UK.
We recognise that we are still in a pandemic — we all face the unknowns of local lockdowns or people becoming ill. We would hope to work cooperatively with schools through this crisis. If a sudden situation made our visit impossible, we would hope to either reschedule a cancelled day, or substitute a virtual day if the required topic is offered.
We are humbled by the outpouring of support schools have shown us through this crisis. Many of you have reached out with words of encouragement, hoping we would again return to your schools. We are incredibly grateful.
We will continue to update this space as the guidelines for schools continue to change. Thank you for your assistance and understanding.
We hope you, your families and your school communities have stayed safe and continue to do so. We look forward to seeing you again soon.
Updated Tuesday 10th November 2020