Pupils from Carlton Bolling and Carlton Keighley will have the opportunity to take part in Saturday school lessons to catch up with the time missed due to the pandemic.
John Skurr, the executive headteacher at Carlton Academy Trust, oversees Carlton Bolling in BD3, and Carlton Keighley in BD20. He has been headteacher at the academy trust since September 2021 but was the headteacher at the Trust at Carlton Keighley since he joined the trust in May 2019.
Both schools were awarded outstanding by Ofsted at the latest inspection.
As schools enter the third year of teaching during a pandemic, they have worked hard to come up with solutions to minimise disruption in education and increase progress in educational attainment.
Mr Skurr said: “It has been very challenging to keep up with the latest government information, supporting students, supporting families, and understanding the needs of all the stakeholders.
“It has been a challenge because everyone comes to you at a different angle and our job is to support students and families to make sure they continue on learning.
“We serve many families where there are issues with digital devices, and we’ve had to make sure that our students have every opportunity to have the resources they need to be successful.”
The schools have worked with different charities, groups, and organisations to provide laptops and dongles for internet connection for pupils who need access to digital learning throughout the pandemic and when self-isolating.
In the past seven days, 160 people in Undercliffe tested positive for Covid-19. In Keighley Utley, 149 people tested positive.
Across Bradford, 856 people tested positive yesterday, and 9,184 people tested positive in the past week.
The headteacher added: “Our students across both our schools have done well to adapt. Our students are amazing young people and they have been so resilient to all the changes we’ve put in place. What we have tried to do is to get back to normality as much as possible.
“School is one of the most structured places for young people and it is something we know is important to them, so we work hard to provide that.”
The Omicron variant has impacted the schools due to staff sickness, with the headteacher saying the schools have had a “significant number of staff due to the virus”. “Challenging Omicron means that we need to be adaptable and make small changes for short periods to deliver the outstanding expectations across the trust.”
Before Christmas, around 35 staff at Carlton Bolling had to self-isolate because of the virus, and 17 staff members at Carlton Bolling because of the coronavirus.
The executive headteacher added: “The number of staff sickness depends on the day. With changing regulations, it is our daily job to keep an eye on the situation.
“There are issues around vaccination status and find out the total length of time staff will be off. We are hoping that in the next seven to ten days, we will see a plateau of cases and we, as a school, can focus on getting back to learning.”
Mr Skurr also mentioned that some of the students at the Bradford and Keighley schools have been “disproportionately affected” by the pandemic, which will impact their educational attainment at the end of year 11 and year 13.
To counter this, the schools in Bradford and Keighley are running intervention sessions and are implementing Saturday school for GCSE students to “make sure that the pupils have every opportunity to be successful”, Mr Skurr added.
The weekend lessons will start in the next few weeks and will cover a range of subjects so that all year 11 students can maximise their results at the end of the year.
The Saturday school sessions are elective, but families are encouraged to push their children to take them up. “Our students want to attend these sessions; they want to make a difference”, the head teacher added.
“Attendance at the current intervention sessions is positive because the pupils know that they need they need them to help deliver the results they need.”
In central Bradford and Keighley, the schools have a diverse mix of pupils enrolled in their year seven to eleven classes. Many of the pastoral staff speak multiple languages which is utilised in communications to families whose first language isn’t English.
“Face-to-face teaching is the best provision for children, but we need to continue to do it safely. It is about working with our pupils and their families to ensure that they are making progress, safely and securely.”