Pupils and staff have returned to Burgess Hill Girls following the third COVID-19 lockdown. We caught up with them to find out what it is like to be back.
Nursery manager Suzanne Roberts, her team and children have been one of the few groups in the community that has stayed on site during the recent and previous lockdowns. For Suzanne, it is brilliant to have everyone back:
“The return of school pupils and staff has had such a positive impact on us all in Nursery. Whilst the on-line community continued throughout lockdown it has been wonderful to see everyone and to feel part of people’s lives again outside of the early years. The children are literally hanging over their play area fence watching the ‘big girls’ go about their day, beaming and waiting for an opportunity to wave and say ‘hello’ and strive as they do to ‘be just like the big girls’.”
Head of catering, Alan Pierce, has also been a permanent presence on site during the last lockdown making sure the school’s boarding community has been well fed. He is pleased to see the school full again:
“Since everyone has returned the ‘din’ is back in the dining hall. The school has got its soul back!”
Year 4 pupil Vanshika is happy to see her friends but has also been missing the tasty food created by Alan and his team.
“I have really missed the school lunches – especially Alan’s tacos. They have been on my mind for a very long time, and I cannot wait to bite into them again!”
For Prep School teacher Alice Morgan, it is all about the buzz of the classroom:
“On the first day back, I asked a question, and it was glorious to see and hear everyone’s hands go up. Everyone has got their unique way of doing it. Some try and reach their hand as high as they can whilst letting out a little squeal, some just hold their breath and look like they are about to burst whilst flapping their hands, some are a little more ambitious and wave frantically whilst loudly exclaiming, ‘pick me, pick me!’, there are the monkeys who let out an ‘Ooh, ooh, ooh!’, there are the more composed ones who sit up straight and try to telepathically hypnotise you with their wide, unblinking eyes and then there are the half hands for those who are not quite sure but are keen to have a go. Hearing and seeing the girls’ enthusiasm and eagerness to contribute to the lesson is very special. It is such an exhilarating experience, one that I had deeply missed during remote learning. I really cherished that heart-warming moment and thought, ‘it’s good to be back!’.”
Also found buzzing around the school again was mascot Queen B:
“It was so quiet before Christmas I decided to go into early hibernation in the school office. It was a lovely surprise to wake up and find out all my little worker bees are back.”
Boarder Keely is delighted to be able to practise freely on the school’s pianos:
“I love playing in the piano room and I cannot wait to start proper offline tuition again. Online tuition is better than nothing, but I think I will learn quicker and more clearly with my tutor in the same room.”
Sixth Formers’ Birdie and Leisha are relieved to be back together before they leave the school in the summer. Birdie said:
“I have really enjoyed coming back to the encouragement and motivation that I feel from being around the support of my year group.”
Leisha is excited to be moving on:
“It feels great to finally see a light at the end of what has been a very long tunnel. I am looking forward to getting back to normality and whilst virtual learning was not the ideal situation for my final year at sixth form, I am more optimistic for the future than ever now that I have the in-person support of my peers and my teachers back again.”
Year 4 Evie is happy to be back in the playground:
“One of my favourite things about being back is playing Hokey Cokey in the school playground. Everyone in Year 4 participates and it quickly gets very silly. We all laugh and giggle as we run holding hands towards the middle, the goal is to squish each other as much as we can. It is so funny watching everyone doing their moves whilst trying to contain their laughter.”
Finally, we spoke with School Head Liz Laybourn.
“It is quite simple – the return to school for me feels just like the extended family have returned home! The clear levels of optimism and appreciation amongst the staff of what coming to work truly means to them alongside the sheer excitement displayed by the pupils at being able to learn face to face and attend co-curricular clubs has been incredible. Spirits all-round have been lifted and so has the noise level! We love it! As a teacher it has been great to have the face-to-face interactions and remind myself of why I love doing what I do! The girls make our days shine brighter every day!”