Fundraiser launched after school families suffer 'so many Covid deaths'

Headteacher Paul Jackson... in a spin to raise £100,000 for Poplar children

Headteacher Paul Jackson... in a spin to raise £100,000 for Poplar children - Credit: Manorfield Primary

A Poplar headteacher has spoken of the “so many Covid deaths” suffered by the school's families as he launches a £100,000 fundraising appeal.

Paul Jackson campaigned to “break the cycle of malnutrition and obesity” in Poplar just as coronavirus spread, and has raised money for new cooking facilities at Manorfield Primary to give pupils a mid-day meal. 

Now he has launched a £100,000 fundraiser for a scheme to tackle poverty based on a pilot last year which saw marquee classrooms set up and designed by an architect practice in Shoreditch.

The school in Wyvis Street was the first in east London to set up the temporary marquee classrooms in the playground to facilitate socially distanced learning when the pandemic began. 

The new scheme would see a permanent new nursery, outdoor learning areas, art studio and teaching kitchen built.

“So many pupils have had an extremely challenging time,” Paul told the East London Advertiser. “The long term impact is still ongoing. 

“Many of our families experienced Covid-related deaths, further unemployment and food shortage.” 

Marquee classroom set up in Manorfield School playground in 2020

Marquee classroom set up in Manorfield School playground in 2020 - Credit: Kilian O'Sullivan

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Paul is looking for sponsorship to run the annual Big Half marathon, planned for August 22, which would go towards the scheme.

More than 80 volunteers have also signed up so far to run for Team Manorfield.

The school is looking for another 200 participants to help reach £30,000 if all places are filled, as entry is £10 with a minimum £100 fundraising target for each runner.

An Easter raffle has already chalked up £1,258 to start the funding drive.  

“We changed the way we operated last year to support our community,” the headteacher recalled.  

“We set up a programme for shielding and poorly families with 1,000 food parcels a week going out to Manorfield pupils and families from other schools.

"Our food pantry is currently giving parcels to 30 families a week but we want to expand to make sure all families who need support receive it.” 

Toddlers getting outdoor play area at Manorfield School

Toddlers getting outdoor play area at Manorfield School - Credit: Manorfield

The temporary marquees kept the school open as a hub for Tower Hamlets Council to look after vulnerable children from 11 schools or those with key worker parents unable to educate at home.   

Paul Jackson (right) and his Team Manorfield at the 2019 half-marathon 

Paul Jackson (right) and his Team Manorfield at the 2019 half-marathon - Credit: Manorfield


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