The Leader of Nottingham City Council has said thank you to nursery workers, school staff and childminders for their ongoing work.

Councillor David Mellen has paid tribute to these efforts not only during the past six weeks since Christmas, but over the course of the Covid pandemic.

Schools opened for a solitary day in early January before the Government implemented a nationwide closure to try to stop the spread of the disease.

Like the first lockdown in March last year, they have remained open to vulnerable children and the pupils of key workers, at the same time as leading the majority of youngsters through home-schooling programmes.

Private and voluntary nurseries, pre-schools and childminders have remained fully open throughout most of the pandemic, providing vital childcare and support for families.

Staff have responded to the lockdown with new ways of working. They have adapted at significant pace, creating innovative teaching, learning and play methods, as well as continuing to support child welfare both in the nursery setting and at home.

For schools, demand for key-worker places has been much greater this time around, which has presented further challenges as headteachers cope with their staff being off work because of Covid or through periods of self-isolation.

Councillor Mellen, who is also Portfolio Holder for Schools at Nottingham City Council, said: “If you don’t have a school-age child, you would be forgiven for thinking schools might have less to do during a lockdown.

“But parents are seeing clearly that staff are now doing far more. They are working across real and virtual classrooms, requiring communication with pupils both face-to-face and digitally.

“They are also finding ways to support pupils without access to laptops and internet connections – including loaning IT equipment and boosting mobile phone data. These are vital interventions over the past year.

“Nurseries, pre-schools and childminders have adapted quickly, providing reassurance and consistency to parents and young children at a time when they need it most. They have ensured safe environments and provided regular contact and ‘home learning’ activities for children and families who have decided to stay at home for the time being.

“We’ve rightly spoken before about NHS workers and our own frontline council staff, acknowledging the incredible role they have played in keeping our city going and offering support to residents throughout.

“But it’s also important to recognise the work of everyone who has kept our nurseries, schools and childminders open safely during this time.    

“They had one main goal prior to the pandemic starting last March, which was to teach and inspire the city’s children – and we have some of the best in the country when it comes to that.

“However, society has demanded far more of our educators since then. They’ve had to look after pupils in school whose parents are on the frontline of the Covid response – making sure they’re safe within their classroom environments.

“Finally, they have played a key role in the community response to the pandemic, often at the heart of welfare issues such as being a collection point for food parcels or other support services.”

Councillor Mellen continued: “As a former headteacher myself, I understand how hard the past year must have been for nurseries, childminders, schools and their staff.

“I want to take this opportunity to sincerely thank them for their ongoing efforts, which have never been as important or more valued by the communities they serve.”

The Council’s newly-formed Wellbeing For Education Team is helping school staff through regular wellbeing sessions, while online support groups and nurseries continue to be supported by the Early Years Team.

Anyone who would like to say thank you to their child’s school, setting, childminder or recognise a staff member who has gone the extra mile to support a pupil, can email to tell their story. The Director of Education will relay all messages of thanks.