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Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire, Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, pays special visit to Lyndhurst Infant School to praise its pandemic teaching

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THE Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire paid a special visit to a Lyndhurst school for staying open and teaching key worker pupils throughout the pandemic.

Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre, who helps represent the Queen in Hampshire, thanked staff and students during an assembly at the village’s infant school. He was given a tour by headteacher Matthew Bowen and joined staff for a celebratory coffee and cake.

“The whole purpose of my visit is as a show of appreciation for the incredible way that the teachers and staff here at this school have kept going and for what they have achieved,” he told the A&T.

Deputy Lord Lieutenant Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre praised the school's "remarkable achievement" during the pandemic (photo: Steve West)
Deputy Lord Lieutenant Oliver Crosthwaite-Eyre praised the school's "remarkable achievement" during the pandemic (photo: Steve West)

The Lyndhurst school is part of the Oaks Learning Federation, which oversees two other infant schools at Copythorne and Netley Marsh.

When the pandemic hit the other two closed and the children of key workers within the federation were sent to Lyndhurst where teachers continued lessons.

It marched on throughout the pandemic and lockdowns, without closing for a single teaching day.

During the first lockdown about 30 pupils attended, and in the second it doubled the number of pupils it hosted to four bubbles of 15.

Mr Crosthwaite-Eyre said: “When the first pandemic hit no one really knew how to deal with it, but all three schools moved here and teaching continued. That must have been an incredible logistical challenge and the achievement in doing it successfully is remarkable.”

Mr Bowen said the school was delighted with the Deputy Lord Lieutenant’s visit and his pupils were very excited to welcome their special guest.

“Everyone, our teachers and staff, went above and beyond what they normally would do and I cannot say enough how well they have done,” said Mr Bowen, who joined the school in the autumn of 2020 to take on his first headship.

“We have been quite lucky with our parents, who trusted us to keep their children safe. They were brilliant at following the guidelines, but we really tried to keep a sense of normality for the children.

“In the New Forest there is a really good, tight network of headteachers who are collaborative. Today’s visit is recognition for them and all the other schools that did so much.

“We just happen to be very lucky that the Deputy Lord Lieutenant asked to come to our school.”

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