The staff of Wallace Hall Academy in Thornhill have been working together to help support frontline workers across Dumfries and Galloway. Teaching and support staff from across the 2-18 school have been working on a rota basis, manufacturing full face visors for use by frontline workers tackling the Covid19 outbreak.
The idea was initiated by Neil Corrigan, Principal Teacher of Design & Technology at Wallace Hall Academy, who had read about another Scottish school’s CDT department producing similar items. Neil realised that the technology to manufacture PPE equipment lay within his department, so designed a new lock-together acrylic visor that could be sterilised for re-use. After a few prototypes, he finalised the design and set about manufacture.
Neil said: “Our Head Teacher, Barry Graham, was very supportive right from the start. It was clear that there was a high demand for these visors as soon as I started making them. Many items of PPE were readily available, but full face visors were difficult to get hold of anywhere. There are other designs being made, but mine was very efficient because you could make a lot of visors quickly, with very little wasted material, so I posted the design on line. I was thrilled to be contacted by schools from all over the country who wanted details so they could make them too.”
Neil took up an offer of help from Sean Dawson, a Physics teacher at Wallace Hall, and between them they started producing visors to demand. After making contact with staff in the NHS and health and care sectors in Dumfries and Galloway, very quickly it was clear that Neil and Sean would need to work flat out to make enough to satisfy everybody’s requests, so they decided to step things up a gear. An appeal was sent out to all members of staff across the Primary and Secondary schools to see if anybody else would be interested in helping out.
“The response was overwhelming”, said Neil. “We had offers of help from every department and all roles within the school. Even colleagues who were self isolating or couldn’t manage for other reasons sent in messages of support. We discussed a plan to take forward the idea which took into account staff training, health and safety as well as ensuring we could adhere to recommended social distancing for the production line. Diane Jarvie, our School Support Manager, created a rota to get everybody who had volunteered involved, and now we are producing well over 100 visors every day. In fact, the competitive sides of a few members of staff have been brought out, and our record is now 180 completed visors in one day. I’m not sure of other schools who have adopted this whole school approach, but it has created a sustainable model that has shared out the load to allow us all to keep doing the other things we need to do in or normal roles. More importantly, it has helped in this extraordinary battle, and I know everyone involved has appreciated having the opportunity to do something concrete to help our fantastic frontline workers.”
Barry Graham, Headteacher of Wallace Hall Academy said: “This has been a magnificent collective effort from the staff at Wallace Hall, which truly reflects their enormous commitment to helping out in this crisis as well as the terrific ethos we have in our school. We have a huge number of colleagues, members of the Senior Management Team, Primary and Secondary teachers, learning support assistants, office staff and technicians all playing their role in the production line. I know from letters of thanks that these visors have been hugely appreciated by the brave people within our community that have needed them. We are all so grateful to our wonderful NHS staff and frontline care workers and are delighted to be able to play a small part in supporting them to help us and all our families.”