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Inside inspiring schools at start of a term like no other

Middlesbrough is now in Tier 3. There are restrictions on some businesses, and meeting people. Get the latest local updates.

The start of a new school term always prompts butterflies in the stomachs of teachers, parents and students alike.

This September though was a return to the classroom like no other.

The Covid-19 challenge has put new demands on everyone.

And although bubbles and new rules are now part and parcel of the daily routine, inspirational learning is continuing as children are prepared for their future.

The new term is also a new start for Cllr Mieka Smiles.

She was given executive responsibility for education by Middlesbrough Mayor Andy Preston in August.

Now the Executive Member for Communities and Education, Cllr Smiles is busy getting to grips with her new portfolio.

The former journalist has a son and a daughter in a Middlesbrough primary school and is passionate about the future of young people around the town.

Cllr Smiles has started to meet regularly with headteachers and find out more about their schools. This is what she learned on her most recent visits.

Abingdon Primary

A truly astonishing school, with pupils speaking almost 40 languages and for 90% of whom English is a second language. But this is part of every day life in the school which is highly ambitious for all of its children.

The school is a real focal point for the community and it's where children and their families feel safe.

Head Adam Cooper is also passionate about its adjoining children's centre which helps to engage with pupils from early stage - even from the bump!

Holmwood Primary

This is a primary school that has received national acclaim for its expertise - so much so that it's very much in demand, not just for Middlesbrough pupils but for those from outside of the area too.

Head Dennis Ley knows each and every one of his pupils who all cope with special needs such as social, emotional mental health and autism.

It was a pleasure to see so many happy faces and hear about the journey of students who often go on to attend mainstream schools.

Park End Primary

Headteacher Julia Rodwell and many of her staff have taught at this school for twenty years or more - and it's easy to see why.

Despite being a very large primary school - with more than 600 pupils - the atmosphere is calming, with wonderfully behaved students who enjoy a good game of chess!

Their gorgeous handwriting is also something that really stood out, with pupils earning a pen licence to help show it off in ink.

Abingdon school (Cllr Mieka Smiles and headteacher Adam Cooper), Park End (Cllr Mieka Smiles and headteacher Julia Rodwell), and Holmwood (Cllr Mieka Smiles and headteacher Dennis Ley)

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