After the majority of children spent months remote-learning and away from school, we went to see how well adjusted the pupils at a South Oxhey Primary School have been since returning to classrooms. 

It has been more than a week since the return to Woodhall Primary School, and one boy admits it feels like they’re “no longer in lockdown” thanks to how quickly they were able to readjust.

Headteacher Michelle Lake believes the general consensus between pupils, parents and staff was that they were eager to return to school after such an extended third lockdown.

Watford Observer: Desks have been distanced to limit interactivityDesks have been distanced to limit interactivity

Over lockdown, the school had to be mindful that just 26 per cent of pupils had access to their own devices, and the school relied on blended home learning packs, online platforms and Google Classroom to help provide an equal opportunity to all pupils.

And while generally pupils felt engaged with the efforts pushed by the school, the lack of social interaction from remote-learning devalued the learning experience for some.

Building relationships

James Hancock, a Year 3 teacher at the school, has been among the staff helping kids make up for the lost time of physical social interactions with others.

He said: “What I noticed is that children have been very able to adapt to situations very quickly, and especially in my classes they were able to get back to that social side very easily.”

As children go through a ‘recovery curriculum’ to revise basic skills and ease them back to school, much of this involves interactive activities that explores themes such as friendships, emotions, self esteem and loss and bereavement.

Watford Observer: Mr Hancock, a Year 3 teacherMr Hancock, a Year 3 teacher

Miss Lake added: “For our younger children, it’s been a year - but when you’re little, you’re learning how to share and do these basic human things. So it was very important especially in our early years making sure they remember that.”

One pupil, Georgie, said: “It felt a bit weird at first, but then I got used to it. And when I got told everyone was coming back I felt it was going to be weird again, but it just felt normal.

“It kind of felt like it just didn’t happen, I just felt like they’ve been there the whole time.”

And it was clear talking to other children at the school, that the kids were excited to be back.

Isabella, a girl at the school, said: “I felt I was learning less because I wasn’t with my friends, and the teachers weren’t there to help me with every step.”

Her attitude has changed since returning.

Keeping spirits up

Over lockdown, Woodhall School continued to host weekly celebration assemblies and other engaging activities to keep children motivated.

Warren Dunn, a father to three children attending the school, however claimed it was hard to keep his children motivated.

During this time the boxer and personal trainer utilised circuits in the garden. He said: “If you take away the physical side, it can be a big issue. They get frustrated and there’s a big build up. It makes you feel good after a session, and it’s important to kids.

“Now that they’ve gone back to school, it’s been amazing, because they’ve been waiting to get back and get some sort of structure.”

Watford Observer: The library room had to change in reaction to the pandemicThe library room had to change in reaction to the pandemic

“It seemed like the right time (returning on March 8), any longer and it could have been catastrophic,” the father said, explaining that generally both parents and children were eager to return.

Isabella said she was “nervous” that things would not get back to normal.

Year 3 teacher Mr Hancock said: “I liked the fact that kids were back in, it just made it more live as a place and added much more energy.”


Like a lot of schools, communication was increasingly important over lockdown as parents were kept up-to-date through emails, social media and phone calls.

And the school actively looked to support families if needed.

Mr Dunn explained that as a father, he was generally pleased with how the school managed to maintain a community compared to some other schools.

Thaghin, a Year 6 boy at the school, pointed out that the school branched out to give children laptops to use if they needed it.

Watford Observer: A collection of ‘lockdown learning’ workA collection of ‘lockdown learning’ work

Miss Lake said: “Some of our families struggle with mental health and that was elevated during lockdown, but also some families were living in poverty and didn’t have food.

“Free School Meals carried on through vouchers but lots of our families earned slightly too much and didn’t qualify for Free School Meals – and they’re the groups that were really desperate.”

While the school engaged with parents well and kept morale high, Miss Lake continued: “My feeling was that towards the end of this lockdown, people had enough. I know as staff we were really worried if it carried on where it would lead on a wellbeing level.”

The future

Following the recovery programme, the school is working to see how kids can catch up for lost time.

Miss Lake explained now they are going over basic skills, as over lockdown difficult new content was deliberately left out.

“You can’t run to catch up,” she added, saying they are looking on what can be covered again next year, or taught through assemblies or enrichment.

Mr Dunn was pleased with the school’s procedure, saying: “You can’t replace lost time, but they keep going and keep ticking.”

Watford Observer: Outside the schoolOutside the school

“Hopeful things continue to go right. Hope’s a big word at the moment, as people keep saying ‘let’s hope.”

Woodhall School is also currently looking for new members for their governing body. The school is hoping for governor with business skill sets, particularly with marketing or fundraising backgrounds. To apply for the role contact