From Monday 8 to Friday 12 November, Hunter Hall, Cumbria’s only independent primary school holds its next Open Week. Families are invited to visit on a day that suits over the course of the week to see the school and the children in action. This is an opportunity to see the wide-reaching curriculum in action as well as gaining insight into the opportunities on offer and meet and chat with members of staff.

Hunter Hall started the new school year by celebrating 30 years of the school at its current Frenchfield site. And while there is much to celebrate from those 30 years in the months to come, the past 18 months have been particularly remarkable.

In the face of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, this plucky small school has not been deterred. Known for its ability to deliver face to face, highly-tailored and individualised teaching and pastoral care for each of its pupils, this was not a school that, on the face of it, was set up for distance learning. However, true to form, led by Head teacher Donna Vinsome, the staff delivered an exceptional Virtual School with the vast majority of classes in person on-line including art, music and even elements of PE, Outdoor Education and cookery via online platforms during both lockdowns.  Where face to face via online was not appropriate, or possible – lesson plans, resources and pre-recorded lessons were made available to parents to help support their children’s learning, as well as one to one online pastoral meetings with both children and parents, as they worked together to make the best of this extraordinary situation we all found ourselves in.

All the while, key worker children were welcomed into school by familiar faces providing them with routine and a sense of security every day during this most strange of times.  Thanks to its small class sizes and some creative thinking, by mid-June, the whole school returned in person to Hunter Hall.

So far the 2021 academic year has got off to a flying start; the timetable (both during and after school) is packed with plenty of fresh air and activity in the form of extensive PE, Games and Outdoor Education, plus forest school, phonics outside and English on the playground – to mention but a few of the ingenious solutions the team have come up with to ensure children continue their education come what may.

And should things get difficult again, then pupils and teachers will simply switch back to blended learning. In truth, no one wants to go there, but this determined school has got the bit between its teeth and, whatever the winter has in store for us, is ready to ride the Covid wave.

Head teacher Donna Vinsome commented:

‘As we learn to live with Covid, I am constantly amazed at the resilience and cheer of our children. Even our youngest pre-schoolers have remained unfazed in the face of constantly evolving safety measures, they simply take it in their stride and get on with whatever the next activity at hand is. We’re working incredibly hard behind the scenes to make sure that the curriculum is as unchanged and school life remains as undisturbed as possible! We really hope to welcome new families to our idyllic setting during Open Week so they too can experience Hunter Hall in person.”

Hunter Hall’s next open week runs from Monday 8 to Friday 12 November. To find out more and register, visit www.hunterhall.co.uk. Hunter Hall is Cumbria’s only independent preparatory and pre-school for children aged 3 – 11 years and is located on the outskirts of Penrith.