AN ILMINSTER school is set to transform into a 'Community Support Hub' as staff embrace new responsibilities in the coronavirus pandemic.

Mark Walker, the headteacher of Swanmead Community School, has reacted to the latest coronavirus announcement which will see schools close from Monday.

The measures do not apply to vulnerable pupils or children of 'key workers'.

A full list of jobs which qualify as 'key workers' is yet to be released.

Mr Walker said: "The way I see it, Swanmead is now changing from a School into a Community Support Hub – we are ready to take on that responsibility.

"Our dedication to this town and the families and children that live here will be constant and unwavering throughout this.

"We are here to be a central point of communication and guidance. We are ready to take on that responsibility, and that is what I honestly believe."

The school has made learning materials avilable for pupils on its website, but Mr Walker added that its responsibilities going beyond education now.

"When Boris Johnson announced that schools would close, I think it was expected," he said.

"Although we have had minimal staff and pupil absences - we have just had some staff who have elderly relatives and I respect that decision - our school was able to function easily. But there are lots of schools around the county and the country who aren't able to keep going sustainably.

"Keeping the schools going as long as they could was, for me, the right thing to do.

"We will be open on Monday, but in the guise of a community support centre, to be there for families and for the community."

Althought schools have been told to close to most pupils, they do not yet know how long for. The Prime Minister also announced that May exams would not take place, although alternative plans are yet to be given.

After Boris Johnson's announcements, some groups raised concerns about the provision of free school meals.

On that, Mr Walker added: "Our caterers at BAM FM have stated that, from Monday to Friday, they will continue to provide our free school meal children with a packed lunch.

"These packed lunches can be collected from the school from midday to 12.30m each day. Please do inform us if you wish to have this provided for you during this time of school closure."