Mansfield primary school debut drive in graduations for youngsters during lockdown

A Mansfield primary school has conducted ‘drive through’ graduations for the first time, to celebrate children completing their first year of school during the on-going coronavirus crisis.

Tuesday, 14th July 2020, 8:51 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th July 2020, 3:45 pm

King Edwin Primary School in Edwinstowe held a ‘High 5 Grad N Drive’ at Thoresby Cricket Club car park yesterday (Monday, July 13) for 57 four and five-year-old students finishing their Foundation year of school.

The children who will be moving into Year One in September were allotted a five minute booking slot to drive into the car park, where they were greeted by teachers from a safe, social distance, awarded a certificate and a motar board before they had their picture taken and drove into a marquee.

Students could stay in their car to have their photograph taken or join teachers under the marquee for a group picture, while also given the chance to pose next to a Bentley which was provided free of charge.

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Jayla Allen graduated from the foundation stage yesterday, she will be going into Year One in September.

Local businesses clubbed together to offer their services to King Edwin’s special day with a photographer taking pictures for free and complimentary marquee, photo booth and cricket club hire.

While some children have returned to school, others are still being home schooled and haven’t seen each other for months, apart from online video calls, since the lockdown was enforced in March.

Joint Foundation Stage Leader Sophie Sharp explained why it was particularly important to celebrate the student’s achievements this year with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

"Usually at this time of year, we would organise a big assembly and all the parents would come in and we'd sing to the parents and perform.

Poppy Davison also collected her graduation certificate and snapped a picture in the photo booth.

"We can't have large gatherings at the moment but we've wanted to find another way to do it where each child can still be celebrated.

"I've been here 12 years and it's been happening since before I started, it's a long standing King Edwin tradition that we have a graduation ceremony.”

The teacher who shares her leadership role with colleague, Jodie Stafford, said it was ‘emotional’ to see students in person, after spending months teaching them virtually during the shutdown.

“There has been a few tears, it is very emotional”, Sophie added.

Students aged four and five got the chance to have a picture next to the car and take an instant photo in the booth.

"They are coming down the road, they've got balloons on the cars, ribbons on the cars and pipping the horn, it's such a lovely atmosphere.

"But there's a few times that we have broken down.

"For a four or five year old to video call your teachers is so strange and tough and the parents had to support with that.

"For a lot of these children we've literally only seen them through the video call and they've been a bit shy and alien.

King Edwin teachers joined students for socially distanced pictures.

"To see them face to face is lovely but not be able to hug them is really difficult.”

Sophie shared how grateful she was for businesses and the community for offering their services for free, so every child could enjoy the graduation.

"It was important for us to make it free because some people are really struggling at the moment.

"Even some of the businesses that have donated are struggling because there's not much shout out for marquees or photographers at the moment.”

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