I interviewed headteacher Claire Wills to find out how the school managed the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year, and how they supported families at home.
Mill Ford is a school for children and young adults aged 3-19 with complex needs, including severe and profound and multiple learning difficulties, complex medical needs and autistic spectrum conditions. The first national lockdown declared all schools to be closed except to vulnerable children, which was a challenging time.
"We rapidly had to make a decision that we would open to what we consider to be the most vulnerable – so there were about three families that had to have us five days a week, normal school days, and then there were a number of families who had to have us just a few days a week”.
“We’re meant to socially distance, our children can’t socially distance, and we can’t; the building isn’t big enough to put them into single rooms … So we made sure that in a classroom, you could socially distance if they agreed to stay apart from each other. [At this time] the classes are not very big, no more than about 3 or 4 in each class”. Claire added that the pupils are still learning about selfcare and hygiene: “they find it difficult to wash their hands adequately or correctly even with supervision... They can’t tell you if they are in pain, they can’t tell you if they are getting a sore throat. They can’t tell you those things, so there is always a greater risk with health to children who have learning disabilities.”