Ryhall CE Academy hosts memory making week for pupils to make new memories after coronavirus pandemic
Never mind English and maths lessons - a trip to the beach and water pistol fights were the order of the day for pupils at one village primary school.
Keen to boost the children’s spirits after lockdown earlier this year, Ryhall CE Academy’s headteacher Katy Walker came up with the idea of a memory making week.
Ms Walker said the pressure of ‘catching up’ after lockdown had felt immense, not just for pupils but for their parents too, and she wanted to give them a much-needed break.
Working with assistant headteacher Mrs Jesson, they put together a programme of events that included going to the beach in the school grounds complete with ice creams, a teddy bear’s picnic, water games, cake sale, and creating an art installation, with the support of Casterton College.
House sports competitions and a sponsored fun run were also part of the school timetable, as was a disco hosted by Disco Steve from Kidzco.
Pupils helped to build a bug hotel in the churchyard of St John’s Church, Ryhall, assisted by the Rev Jo Saunders.
All pupils were encouraged to ditch their uniforms for the whole week.
Ms Walker said: “It was noticeable that the national lockdown had hit our community hard. Our children, although they showed resilience and worked incredibly hard when they returned in March, showed signs of fatigue quite early on.
“The plan to help children ‘catch-up’ on some of the school memories they had missed over the last 15 months soon escalated to a full-scale project.”
Ms Walker recruited Fora - the Friends of Ryhall Academy - and members of the school council to make sure the project was a success.
The council, which is made up of pupils, helped to create a list of activities they wanted to enjoy - with Ms Walker promising she would ‘try to do one or two’, while secretly planning to do them all.
Parents also embraced the spirit of the week, donating or loaning deck chairs, sand play equipment, water guns, cakes, prizes, and a water slide.
The beach was built using donations of timber and sand.
“Memory making week has been a huge success - just what was needed at the end of this term,” Ms Walker said.
“It has been a pleasure and delight to see so much happiness shared by all.”
To mark the experience, each child was given a ‘Ryhall resilience’ bear paid for by Fora, in recognition of the resilience they have shown during Covid-19.
And parents were equally delighted with how the week went - the Mercury received 10 letters from delighted parents.
Among them was Jo Price, mum to Year 2 pupil Noah.
She said: “My little boy has been happy and excited all week in anticipation of the activities the school has organised.
“I cannot thank the teachers and support staff enough for what they have done.
“This has been a very welcome light at the end of a very long tunnel!”
Chantelle Evans has two children at the school and said the week had been “overwhelming”.
She said: “I can’t explain how proud I am of everyone who has boosted all the children’s spirits this past week.
“Every single teacher deserves a pat on the back for everything they have done in these difficult circumstances and making memories week has been the absolute best ending to a hard term.”
Kim Heames, mum to Evie and Orlaith, added: “What a week my girls have had at Ryhall CE Academy!
“Every day they have been coming home full of fun stories. It really has been a magical week.
“I have to admit, when I found out what Ms Walker and the staff had planned I had a few tears. After a long year of lockdowns and disruptions this is just what the children needed, a huge thank you so much to all involved.”