Dear parents and carers,

 

I thought I’d give you a brief update about the possibility of schools beginning to welcome children back on-site.  Since the announcement was made asking schools to begin to plan, we have been very busy.  I have been working through lengthy and ever-changing detailed guidance and contacting parents of children in Reception class, Year 1 and Year 6.  A great deal of time has also been taken planning how to use our school site as safely as possible.  We have been working with our vast and enthusiastic staff team about the challenges, but also the opportunities ahead.  So thank you for your patience.  

 

I would like to make it clear that there is a great deal of uncertainty ahead for schools, children and families.  Schools will not be told until the very end of next week if we should begin to action the plans we have been making.  

 

Difficult decisions 

Each school and every head teacher is having to make difficult decisions.  Safety and the well-being of everyone has to be the priority.  I had to make the very difficult decision not to bring Nursery children in.  This was based on health and safety reasons relating to social distancing advice, alongside the practical reality of the size of our Nursery.  If our very large numbers of Nursery children return, then Year 6 would never get the chance to say their goodbyes.  Doing this meaningfully matters a great deal to us.  I am therefore particularly pleased that we hope to welcome on-site so many Year 6 children.  Almost 60% of our Year 6 children intend to join us.  Our plans for their time in school and for saying goodbye to them are well underway.  We will absolutely be looking to work with all of our children, both on and off-site.  I will be inviting the House Captains and Vice Captains to a video call after the half term.  We will share our thoughts and ask for theirs.   

 

Remote learning

For a significant proportion of children across the country, remote learning is the only education they will have for some time.  I am passionate that maintaining our approach matters a great deal, as so many children will not be on-site for a considerable amount of time.  We will review our approaches after half term to see if any changes would help strengthen what we are able to offer.  Though I must add, a significant number of staff are doing an amazing job remotely, alongside looking after their own children.  That is even before the majority of staff will be returning to being on-site, with small bubbles of children.

 

Alongside health and safety reasons, one part of my decision to bring children on-site part time, rather than full time, was to maintain remote learning for all year groups.  Put simply, if most staff are going to be on-site all day, looking after small bubble groups of children, then remote learning would have to radically change or even stop.  That would be wrong.  We have not stopped working hard and we absolutely have not stopped thinking about the children who will not be coming on-site.  We will not sacrifice what they need.  Full days for the children we are bringing on-site would result in that.  This was one of the vast number of difficult decisions I need to make.  I thank  all of our parents for their understanding and support as well as your kind words.  They mean a GREAT deal.        

 

Key worker childcare

Key worker children are the one exception, as they will continue to be on-site all day.  This enables a critical group of COVID 19 key worker parents to do their jobs.  We are making some small changes to the organisation of our childcare provision.  But these will not affect the hours or frequency of the provision.  But we will share these with this group of parents tomorrow.  

 

On-site access for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children

I wrote to you last week with a proposed plan for our school.  All schools are different, with different staff able to be in school and with a wealth of other considerations, like the layout and size of the site and the number of pupils.  This plan is absolutely conditional on the advice from the Government.  That will remain the case throughout half term.  Even once schools are given the go ahead to move forward, the plan will be continually risk assessed and any necessary changes made.

 

Start dates and opening hours

Due to the overwhelming amount of necessary paperwork, protocols and checklists I need to work through, as well as the ever-changing guidance, I have slightly amended the proposed start dates for these year groups.  It is essential that nothing is missed or considered if we are to do this safely and appropriately, 

 

The new proposed start dates are:

Reception – Monday 8th June

Year 1 – Wednesday 10th June

Year 6 – Monday 8th June

 

This slight change will provide me with the necessary time to work through the detailed and lengthy tasks, give me time to respond to whatever is announced on the last Friday of the half term and will also provide us with the time to work with staff in preparation for Monday 8th June.  The uncertainty about whatever will be said at the end of next week, means that this is a sensible and necessary decision.  It means we will be able to respond and be fully prepared.  

 

The children who have indicated they would like to return on-site will get the details and information they need tomorrow.  This will include start and finish times and other information.  But I can confirm that I have planned for all of these children to attend school every morning, 5 days a week.

 

As a staff team we are optimistic.  We are excited to move forward.  We all miss you and your children very much.  Thank you for your many kind words for our staff team over these last few weeks.  They mean a great deal to us all.  Personally, I cannot wait to see you all again and I am excited for when that will be.  I am extremely proud of each and every member of our staff team.  Children, I miss you all.  Keep working hard and doing your best.  I’ll see you all soon.

 

Kate Byrne

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