School starts for Countesswells’ smallest residents

19th August 2020

School pupils across Scotland were thrilled to return to school last week after more than 140 days outside of the classroom, due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic. Amongst the 700,000 Scottish school children, many were starting school for the first time.

14 residents of Countesswells’ growing community,  were making their first small steps in the world of education as they started at Countesswells Primary School.

The latest intake of school children joins 34 other pupils aged between 5 and 12 who are growing up amongst friends and neighbours. Housed at the former Hazlewood Primary while plans continue for the new school opening in 2021, Countesswells Primary enjoys a unique set up with three teachers working across 2 classes. All staff work hard to build a curriculum that puts community at the heart.

Kelly Ogston, mum to five-year-old new start, Georgia-Rose, was anxious about her eldest daughter starting at a school that she’d been unable to visit due to lockdown restrictions.

She said: “Since moving to Countesswells a couple of years ago, I wanted my two girls to go to the local primary here. I had grown up near my school and I wanted the same set up, being able to walk to and from school with Georgia-Rose was important to me and then when she’s older, she can do the same with her friends.

“However, until the school is built next year, the classrooms are currently at an old school which I’ve never been inside. I was nervous about Georgia-Rose starting but was reassured by many neighbours with children already at the school about the quality of teaching and how beneficial it was to have all the community children learning and playing together.”

With pupils returning to school following lockdown some restrictions are now in place for teachers and pupils. While there is no requirement for physical distancing between pupils at school, or indeed on the school bus, teachers should remain 2m apart from students or other adults and other safety measures have been introduced including hand hygiene practices and one-way-systems.

Head teacher, Paula Rough explained: “Teachers, pupils and parents of Countesswells Primary all worked really hard to support pupils throughout lockdown but we know the impact on education, on wellbeing and on happiness has been negative for young people, so to get them back into full-time education is a step in the right direction.

“As a small school, we’re fortunate that all our pupils know and look out for each other and I’m confident that this kind and caring attitude will put us in good stead for the school term ahead of us.”

As well as new pencil cases and bags, pupils will also be looking forward to the next stage of building commencing for their new school.

Preview images released earlier this year revealed plans for an ultra-modern school with provision for more than 400 pupils as well as around 60 nursery children. The new building which will become a community hub for residents, includes a space for early years’ education, an all-weather pitch, parking area and two separate playgrounds as well as an outdoor classroom which will offer an innovative approach to teaching and learning.

Ms. Ogston added: “I’m so excited for the new school and can’t wait to see it begin to take shape. This is an exciting time for the children and adults of Countesswells as we watch a vital part of our growing community come to fruition.”

An additional primary school and a new academy are also planned within the approved masterplan for Countesswells, which will eventually comprise 3,000 homes, along with healthcare facilities, local business units and shops, neighbourhood centres, green and civic spaces and extensive parkland.