A LOCAL primary school who helped support pupils with special needs during lockdown have been nominated for a Proud of Barnsley award in the School of the Year category.

Meadstead Primary Academy in Royston have ensured all students at the school have had internet access during the lockdown period, and even encouraged all special needs students to attend the school to keep normal procedures running.

Nichola Smith, 39, started at the school back in 2013 as a year six teacher before becoming the headteacher three years later, and has done all she can, along with her staff, to ensure pupils feel safe.

She said: “From the beginning of lockdown we made sure that every child that was at home had internet access and a computer so they were able to do their work.

“There’s been numerous home visits and food parcels to families in need, even supplying families with funds from the grants we receive to the people in crisis – we just wanted to keep it as normal as possible.

“One of the main things we realised was that the kids would be suffering from not seeing their friends, so we had a daily check-in with everyone to ask how they were doing and so the kids could see their classmates.”

A total of 65 per cent of all SEND kids attended the school during lockdown, a figure that Nichola and the school are proud of having encouraged children to attend.

“Obviously during lockdown, and now the school’s opened as well, we’ve been observing social distancing and implemented strict social hygiene too,” she added.

“We had 85 per cent of children with an education, health and care plan (EHCP) in school during lockdown, as well as 65 per cent of SEND kids which was great and all bubbles are assigned a separate teacher as safety is key.”

Upon hearing of her nomination, Nichola said: “That’s absolutely amazing, just to know that parents can see the hard work that all the staff are putting in and acknowledging it is great.

“The staff have been fantastic throughout all of this, they’re all so upbeat – it’s an amazing team.”