A school which swiftly adapted to provide support and care for children and families when lockdown first took hold, has received a visit from Richmond (Yorks) MP and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.
The Cabinet Minister read a story to children in the reception year and took part in the school’s Times Table FA Cup in Year 6 when he visited Hutton Rudby Primary School on Friday, October 23.
The school was one of 16 hubs set up in North Yorkshire when lockdown restrictions were introduced earlier this year, to provide childcare to key worker families and vulnerable children during lockdown.
Set up in the space of two weeks by pooling resources - including teaching staff and Early Years expertise - the hubs created a network of childcare for children of all ages, operating on weekends and bank holidays.
Hutton Rudby Primary School was one of these hubs, providing care for children from babies to 12 years old and making provision to allow siblings to stay together during the day while their parents worked shifts in hospitals, care homes, supermarkets and other critical roles.
The majority of the children’s parents worked in the nearby James Cook University Hospital, including paramedics, consultants and doctors on the main Covid ward. The school extended its opening hours when needed for some families, whose shift patterns were from 7.30am to 7.30pm.
Headteacher Matthew Kelly said they focused on providing a safe, caring and fun environment, as well as routine, to try to provide some normality during what was otherwise an unsettling time for children.
Mr Kelly said: “I am honoured that Rishi has taken time out of his busy schedule to visit our wonderful children and school, and show his appreciation to all the staff for their incredible hard work not only throughout lockdown, but for this half term also. Our Reception children loved listening to him reading a story to them, although I think it’s fair to say that he met his match with our amazing Year 6 times tables FA Cup superstars.”
Assistant Director for Education and Skills Amanda Newbold said: “This was a great opportunity for children at Hutton Rudby Primary School and we’re very pleased that MP Rishi Sunak was able to take time out of his busy schedule to do this.
“Our schools have provided excellent support and continuity to children and families throughout the pandemic, whether it has been providing childcare seven days a week during lockdown, supporting their education at home or helping them adapt back to the school routine in September and keeping them safe with Covid-secure measures.
“We’d like to thank our schools, parents and pupils for how well they have adapted to all the challenges Covid has brought with it.”
Mr Sunak said: “The work done by headteacher Matthew Kelly and his dedicated team is mightily impressive. During the height of lockdown they provided a vital support service to the community and now they are continuing to provide an excellent education to all the children while operating in a Covid-safe way.
“I was delighted to experience the tremendous atmosphere in the school and to thank the staff for their commitment during these challenging times.”