A school has taken the unprecedented step of setting up a Go Fund Me appeal to support several families that require urgent assistance to help them through the coming months to ensure that children have basic access to food, sanitation, warmth and education.
The Paxton Academy on London Road has 50 per cent of students living in households that can be described as within the top 25 per cent most deprived in the UK and 94 per cent within the top 50 per cent.
Each week, 127 of the 195 children at Paxton, which is part of the Wandle Learning Trust, receive Free School Meal vouchers to use in local supermarkets.
During this most recent lockdown, staff have also delivered shopping to the homes of children and their families who have been suffering or self-isolating from the coronavirus and are unable to leave the house, with staff also referring a number of families to local food banks.
Many Paxton families were living on the breadline before Covid-19 struck – but now they are in far a worse position which is why the school has launched the £8,000 appeal target.
Parents have lost their jobs, food and utility bills have increased with the children at home all day, every day and many students, especially those with SEN which is 14 per cent of the student population, are struggling with a lack of stimulation, expertise and equipment that would normally offer them assistance with their learning. Although schooling is being offered to vulnerable children, many are frightened to take this up and put themselves at risk of the virus.
The start to the Spring term, was like no other for Paxton explained Headteacher Theresa Moses and over the last five weeks, the school has undertaken a huge transformation in providing an education for the children, whether in school or remotely at home.
She said: “The decision to create a fundraising page was not one which was made lightly. In the first few weeks of the spring term, the staff team witnessed increased levels of fear and uncertainty that the lockdown had created among families. It soon became apparent that the demands of lockdown were greater than we had anticipated. Families were struggling with day to day issues such as juggling work and home schooling along with how to pay for the additional costs of having children at home full time. “
In week one, Paxton opened its doors and offered spaces to a total of 15 children. The spaces were provided to support the children of critical workers and to provide places for children with EHCPs (Education, Health and Care Plans), as well as those who are considered vulnerable. At the end of week five, those spaces have now increased to 60.
Since January, children, families and the staff team of Paxton have tested positive for COVID-19 and during one week, 50 per cent of the staff team were at home either self-isolating or having tested positive, but the school still remained open to provide places for children of critical workers, those with EHCPs and those considered vulnerable.
The school is raising funds to provide bespoke support to those families that need it it most to spend on food vouchers for local supermarkets that can be used in store or online for families who are not eligible for Free School Meals but in need of support to feed their children.
As well as internet access to enable better access to remote learning; support in paying utility bills; specialist equipment and therapy services for SEN student and resources and crafts to enable the students to progress in their learning while at home.
Ms Moses added: “As headteacher, I am incredibly proud to be leading Paxton on its journey at this time but I recognise the fear and uncertainty families are facing and the additional support that is needed to ensure that they are able to meet the needs of their children. As a school we will continue to support our families in their education, whether remotely or in school, but the funds raised via the Go Fund Me page will ensure that the children and their families have the additional resources to enhance the learning experience for all children”.
During the Autumn term, Paxton moved from its temporary site on Brigstock Road into its new permanent build on London Road , filled with state-of-the-art facilities.
The school has been inundated with requests to loan a device for children to access their learning remotely and to date the DfE have provided 49 devices and the school has been able to loan a device to all the families who have requested one.
Each week, members of the teaching staff make phone calls home to listen to the children read and to keep in contact with families. Where concerns are raised or families request additional support, the Deputy head and Special Educational Needs Coordinator then phone home to support the families further and offer additional help to meet their needs.
Ms Moses said: “As a school, we also work with the local authority to ensure that all families are supported and, wherever possible, to ensure there is no break in the provision during this challenging time.
“The past five weeks have not been easy but the staff have worked together to support each other and do their best. We continue to ensure that we meet the needs of the children in providing an education, whether remotely or in school, that children’s emotional needs are met, and that families have the basic resources including the Home Learning packs, to enable the children to flourish and continue to learn. “
To donate to the appeal fund click here: https://app.investmycommunity.com/paxton-academy-sports-and-science-2457