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Armagh nursery principal says Covid challenges will give staff ‘impetus to try something we haven’t done before’

Education Minister Peter Weir with Grove Nursery principal Joan Thompson

An Armagh nursery school principal says she is excited about the return to school and says the challenges of Covid will give staff the “impetus to try something we haven’t done before”.

Principal Joan Thompson told Armagh I how excited she and her staff are to see a return – if a little abnormal – to classes next week.

Ms Thompson was speaking after the Education Minister, Peter Weir, paid the city school a visit on Wednesday.

Mr Weir spoke with the school’s governors and others to discuss the education restart and the wellbeing of pupils.

“The purpose of his visit was two fold,” Ms Thompson told Armagh I. “He came to see how we were coping with the return or introduction of 52 four-year-old’s next week, how we were set up and how we as a staff were going to cope.

“The other thing is, we are very strong into the personal development and raising the self esteem of children; he was due to come before lockdown but that was postponed and that was part of his visit as well.”

“So he was also here to celebrate the work of the staff in promoting good mental health and the building of confidence and self esteem in children.”

On the task of reopening and complying with difficult government guideline, Ms Thompson said they school is “very well organised”.

“We have it in theory, maybe not in practice, so we will see how it goes but the staff are very very keen to get back and everyone will be in social bubbles,” she added.

“We had a staff meeting this morning (Thursday), and I was saying how everyone talks about the challenges of Covid-19 but really it has given us the enthusiasm and maybe the impetus to try something we haven’t done before.

“Such as extending our outdoor play and being in smaller groups it gives us more time to get to know individual children.

Education Minister Peter Weir visited Grove Nursery in Armagh on Wednesday

“All in all it was a super visit and we were very impressed by the minister’s interest. As he was leaving he said to me that it was a lovely setting, great staff and a relaxing morning.

“I had told him back in March that we would not give him any hassle; we did not expect to have him here so soon but it was a pleasure to have him here.”

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