SCHOOLS and families will be celebrated for getting children safely back to the classroom as people across the county take to their doorsteps to show their appreciation tonight.

Cumbria Primary Headteachers Association is asking people to come together and #clap4cumbria at 6pm to mark the achievements made by the education sector over the past eight weeks.

The pandemic has thrown unprecedented challenges at schools but Sue Blair, chair of Cumbria Primary Headteacher's Association, said teachers across the county have gone "above and beyond" for their pupils.

Mrs Blair, who is headteacher at Pennine Way School in Carlisle, said: "Cumbria has a strength in its community. I think we have been used to having to cope with very adverse situations, like the floods, and when those things happen people pull together and talk to each other and support each other and look out for each other and that's what Cumbrian heads have done.

"We have had a very solution focused approach. Out of that people have been able to get to know each other a little better, so there is a better understanding of the challenges that each of the teams are facing and therefore what can we do to help each other over come them.

"It's been a really long and tough road that heads have had to walk along and by coming together we have been able to make sure nobody has felt they haven't got somebody they can talk to - and that's the same for the parents and children.

"We have had to rebuild all our schools with new routines and structures. We have been able to respond to the Covid guidance but still make sure that learning was at the heart of everything.

"Every head will say that all of their teams have stepped up above and beyond and made sure that everybody is looking out for each other. The community has given us all a strength to be able to carry on."

The headteachers association said #clap4cumbria is a thank you to children who have worked hard since returning to the classroom. It's also a thank you to governors and other key partners - public health, secondary colleagues, social care, who have supported school's efforts and to all school staff - headteachers, teachers and support staff.

"Even if 10 parents clap, that's 10 people acknowledging that we've all worked together and kids have got back to school brilliantly," said Mrs Blair.

She added thanks to Claire King, of Cumbria's Public Health team who has provided guidance to headteachers and to Dan Barton, Assistant Director of Education and Skills at Cumbria County Council for his support.