Schools across Swindon have slowly been welcoming students back to classrooms in the past month after the academic year was cut short by coronavirus.

And with the government currently planning for all students to return to school by September, Kingsdown School headteacher Emma Leigh-Bennett spoke to the Adver about how she was preparing.

Part of that process includes GCSE students dropping one subject, something the headteacher insists is to ensure the children get the best possible outcome.

Mrs Leigh-Bennett explained: “Our Key Stage 4 children always opt for four choices. We made the decision, because of this lack of curriculum time, to reduce those options by one.

“That recycled five hours back into the curriculum. One went to English, one went to maths then the other three went to each of their other options.

“That decision was made to allow our children to ensure they can achieve the best possible outcomes in those subjects so that they can go on to secure their post-16 ambitions.”

Despite this planning, Mrs Leigh-Bennett still has some frustrations with the lack of clarity about the next school year.

She added: “I try not to be political, but we are waiting for the government and the exam boards to publish what changes will be made for GCSEs next year.

“Are there going to be no exams? Are exams going to be as they were before or is there going to be some scaling back?

“Children have lost 20 weeks. The most sensible thing to happen would be some kind of scaling back on the content that has previously been in each subject.”

When it comes to the younger students, for Years 7, 8 and 9, Mrs Leigh-Bennett said the school will be doing everything possible to make sure they have not missed out on any learning when they return.

She said: “It will be business as usual for Year 7, 8 and 9. We want to get them back.

“By the time they’ve come back they’ll have been away from us for 20 weeks.

“The first priority will be to ensure they’re safe and then we will focus on getting the expectations back to where they were.

“We’ve looked at our assessment calendar. We’ll do some assessments in term one so we can see where, if any, there are gaps.

“But because of the curriculum we’ve been providing students with while they’ve been away, and the high levels of engagement, we’re confident these children have continued to make progress.”