TWO York-based academy trusts have hailed the reopening of their schools to more pupils this month as a success.

Since the start of June, many primary schools in York have reopened to more children, and since June 15 secondary schools in the city have been allowing students in key year groups – Year 10 and Year 12 – to have contact with teachers as they study for exams they will sit next year.

Ebor Academy Trust, which has seven primary schools in the York area, says pupils that are back at school have adapted quickly to the changes and the new situation, including working in small groups, known as ‘bubbles’, and outdoor working when possible.

Meanwhile, Pathfinder Multi Academy Trust, which has nine primary schools in the York area as well as Archbishop Holgate’s secondary school, says children are enjoying a return to some sort of routine.

Gail Brown, chief executive of the Ebor trust, commented: “Thanks to the thoroughness of our collective planning, the wider reopening has been successful.

“Children coming back after lockdown are taking it very well, quickly adapting to their new situation which has reassured everyone, including staff, who are all taking the safety measures very seriously.

“It’s lovely to see children back at school and we would like to see more – but we cannot meet demand. There have been huge increases in the numbers of vulnerable children and children of key workers and these have to take priority. Together with social distancing and the capacity of buildings and staff, this means we are very restricted in what we can do.”

She said they are trying to make school a “fulfilling and pleasant experience” for children but there is little social time for them and they cannot really mix with their friends.

“It is something that as teachers we are not accustomed to seeing and it is difficult – but we accept this is the way it has to be at present,” Gail said.

Andrew Daly, executive headteacher of Pathfinder, added: “The wider opening has gone exceptionally well and it has been brilliant to see children back where they belong, even if it is not school as they know it.

“Children are happy and are enjoying a return to some sort of routine. As far as possible we are working outside, which reduces risk even further.”

He said the trust meets regularly with headteachers and routinely monitors each school’s risk assessments and is pleased to report that plans are “holding up” and there has been no need for further adjustments.

“It has been, and continues to be difficult for everyone and we’d like to pay tribute to teachers and school staff everywhere who have been working so relentlessly for so long for the children,” Andrew added.

As well as accommodating priority children – vulnerable and children of key workers – most Pathfinder schools have managed to reintroduce nursery, reception, year 1 and some year 6 children.

Andrew said space and staff, alongside the restrictions in the guidelines, are key considerations but the trust continues to review the possibility of allowing more children back.

Ebor’s average pupil attendance for last week was around 14 per cent. On June 11, the national percentage of children in attendance, according to Department for Education figures, was 9.1 per cent, while Ebor’s average for that day was 11 per cent.

Pathfinder schools have averaged 13 per cent attendance since June 8.