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Smithdon High School


Our head teacher John Hirst was interviewed on BBC Radio Norfolk yesterday (Thursday 12th November) about why Smithdon is doing our bit to help in the fight against Covid-19 by taking part in a major national survey about the spread of the virus, focusing on schools. 

Smithdon, along with Springwood and Marshland - all part of the West Norfolk Academies Trust - are taking part in this scheme, run by Public Health England, the Office for National Statistics and the London Schools of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. 

Mr Hirst congratulated pupils for their support and co-operation during his interview. 

“I think students have been very responsible, we’ve put procedures in place to keep the school clean and the children have been very accepting and understanding,” he said. 

“They’re working hard to keep us all healthy. Young people have been getting a bad rap about this, but I think they’ve been very responsible.” 

Our school chose to take part in the survey, and it is also entirely voluntary for pupils who get involved, but Mr Hirst said there was widespread enthusiasm for what the testers were trying to achieve, through nasal and mouth swabs, and blood samples. 

“When I put it to staff, to a person they said yes, if it can help, and when we put it out to parents, they too were very keen that their children could help in some way, and we’ve had great take-up,” he said. 

“Testers have been in already and it went very smoothly.  

“For children it’s a nose swab to see if they have it, and mouth swab to check for antibodies. For staff, it was a nasal swab and a blood test. 

“I think most people expected it would just be a pinprick but it was filling up a vial of blood. You had to take it home and stick what was effectively a staple gun into your thumb, then massage the blood out. It was an interesting experience - the next morning we had a few teachers wandering round with half a dozen plasters on their thumbs!” 

Lockdown earlier in the year was an extremely challenging time for everyone in the Smithdon family, as none of us has ever experienced circumstances quite like this before, but Mr Hirst was keen for Radio Norfolk listeners to know how much everyone had banded together to help one another in the face of such a challenge, in the same way that we are now doing our bit to help the country as a whole. 

“Through lockdown we did a lot of work with families, to support them, and when the children came back after the summer they’ve settled really well,” he said. 

“I think we have a really good relationship with our families, and things like this only help build on that. It's tough at the moment but children being in the school is definitely the best for them. I think our relationship with the community and parents has done well, despite the pandemic.”