Marilyn says Henry is “my sanity”

Marilyn Roberts is a higher level teaching assistant at Hampton in Peterborough. She owns a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse called Henry.

“I have found the pandemic mentally draining. I am worried when I have to be in a classroom with 30+ students — that’s about 150 different people a day ”

“I have worked at Hampton for three years. My current job is as a level two teaching assistant, which involves supporting secondary school students across the key stages in their lessons, mainly science as that is my specialism.

I also work one on one with students.

I provide interventions to help students bridge their knowledge gaps in science and I help students with their handwriting and boosting their literacy and numeracy.

I also have students who I support in a pastoral capacity and their day to day wellbeing.

During lockdown, teaching staff have worked on a rota. This means I have either been in school supporting the students of key workers, critical workers and vulnerable students, or I have been working from home providing science over-teaching to our special educational needs and disability pupils working at home.

During lockdown, Marilyn would sometimes offer essential learning support from home

This is done via Microsoft Teams and involves re teaching their lessons for anything that they don’t understand. I also contact parents and students to offer support.

When I’m in school I follow government guidelines and can only be within 2m of students and other staff in the classroom. This has made it more difficult to do my work and support students in close proximity, which is how I would normally operate.

I have found the pandemic mentally draining. Hearing how ill people have become after catching Covid. I am worried when we have to be in a classroom with 30+ students at any one time — that’s about 150 different people a day.

The school has been really good at putting safety precautions in place, but it’s still a worry.

I had to self-isolate late last year due to being in contact with a family member who caught Covid while at work, even though we were in a bubble. I have friends who have had it and some of them are now living with long covid.

‘Henry is my sanity’

My mum has been shielding since March last year and so when I visit her with shopping and to help with jobs I am very conscious that I don’t want to pass on Covid to her.

I sanitise her shopping as well as myself. I also have a home to run and my dog to take care of, so it’s been tough trying to juggle everything.

However, I am greatful that I live in the countryside and can generally keep away from crowds of people.

My horse, Henry, is a 14-year-old Irish Sport Horse who I have owned for nearly three years.

I keep him on a small private yard which means that I can see him every day, twice a day, and I am on my own for the vast majority of the time.

Just being with him and riding means that I can get away from everything. It helps me relax and is good for my well-being. Henry is my sanity and the one part of my routine that doesn’t change — I do struggle with the constant changes that Covid causes.”