The leader of Cumbria Education Trust has praised the ‘whole-trust’ response to the latest lockdown and the switch to remote learning.

Chief Executive Lorrayne Hughes said staff, students and pupils deserved credit for their response to the tougher restrictions and another period of enforced disruption.

CET’s 11 primary and secondary schools have built on plans devised in the first lockdown last March to enable the curriculum to be taught remotely. Teaching is delivered through a mix of live and recorded lessons with an emphasis on ensuring engagement and assessing work regularly.

Mrs Hughes said: “Children and young people across our academies deserve praise for their resilience in remaining focussed during another unsettling period.

“I must say it has been a whole-trust effort to make learning as seamless as possible. Every area of operation has adapted and put our pupils and students first.”

Challenges overcome include the rollout by IT staff of 600 devices supplied by the Department for Education to those students and pupils who needed them. And daily in-person teaching for the more than 200 vulnerable or critical worker children attending CET’s hubs.

There is also again a huge focus on supporting students in Years 11 and 13 at Brampton’s William Howard School, the Whitehaven and Workington Academies and West Coast Sixth Form, who have had their GCSE, A-Level and other exams cancelled.

Mrs Hughes said it was vital students did not feel that temporary restrictions to help tackle Covid-19 would have a negative long-term impact on their potential.

She said: “We await the detail of how teacher assessment and grading is going to work this year. Our advice to all affected is to continue to work hard and we will support and direct as the situation becomes clearer.”

Mrs Hughes said it was also crucial that all staff felt supported during a deeply unsettling period.

She added: “I have nothing but praise for the way our staff continue to adapt and improve what we are offering our young people. They are amazing. They remain so positive despite the awful situation we are going through.”

While the trust deals with the immediate issues thrown up by the pandemic, the vaccine rollout offers hope that school life will return to a more normal pattern later in the year and CET continues to focus on the future.

Mrs Hughes added: “We have not lost sight of our core purpose; the education of the young people we are responsible for. We have just appointed 14 staff to lead our School Improvement Teams – their first focus is on developing a high-quality innovative curriculum. This involves more than 120 staff.

“We are also reinvigorating our highly-successful Collaborative Groups – this also involves more than 100 staff. Collaboration is at the heart of CET – by working As One – our schools are in a better place.”