Dear Parents and Carers,

As promised, I write again with further updates following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday evening about the proposed return to schools for some students.

Firstly, there are some key documents that have this week been published by the Department for Education beginning to detail their plans for schools to re-open:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/our-plan-to-rebuild-the-uk-governments-covid-19-recovery-strategy

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-educational-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020/actions-for-education-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-educational-and-childcare-settings-to-prepare-for-wider-opening-from-1-june-2020/opening-schools-for-more-children-and-young-people-initial-planning-framework-for-schools-in-england

Obviously, I do not expect you to read them all but, in an attempt to be helpful, I wish to lay out some of the key headlines from them:

  • The government has advised schools to plan for the possible return of students in nurseries, year R, year 1 and year 6 from 1 June, if the 5 key COVID tests have been met.
  • There is an ambition for primary schools to welcome back all year groups before the summer holidays, for a month if feasible, although this will be kept under review.
  • From 1 June, schools have also been asked to consider how best to provide some “face to face” contact for students in years 10 and 12 before the summer break. It remains unclear what this might look like.
  • Provision for children of key workers, and for vulnerable students, should continue, alongside remote learning programmes for students who are unable to attend and learn on campus.
  • Families should be encouraged to send children in the identified categories and year groups to school, if it is safe and possible for them to do so. There will be no fines or penalties for non-attendance.
  • Schools should review and adapt their curriculums and learning programmes to best support their learners, and all examinations and accountability measures remain cancelled until further notice.

Further to my message to you all of Monday, I would like to share with you an honest, simple and ongoing assurance that we shall continue to do all we can to support our students and families as we plan for this next difficult phase. However, you will doubtless have noticed that the language from central government has begun to change around what will be “expected” or “encouraged” from students and parents from, potentially, 1 June. You will also be aware that there is much ongoing discussion between teaching unions and central government following the announcements from the Prime Minister on Sunday evening. Likewise, there still continues to be much speculation and conjecture in the media, with many school leaders and teachers having taken, passionately, to social media.

Whilst acknowledging all of this, The Canterbury Academy Trust shall also remain consistently and positively focused on the health, safety and very best interests of the children and families that we serve, as we have tried to throughout this crisis. And, to be clear, when we talk about families, we talk about our entire Trust community; our students, our staff and all of our families and loved ones.

So, with all of this in mind and in an attempt to give some more detailed assurances, I would like to share with you some of the initial planning which has been happening in the lead up to this next phase:

  • Most importantly, we will continue to follow all of the DfE guidance given to us as sensitively and supportively as we can.
  • Children and adults will continue to be supported fully, either in their learning and work in school, wherever it is safe and possible, or alternatively in their remote learning and work at home.
  • Thorough COVID risk assessments and adaptions to learning/working practices will be in place for every aspect of this return to school and work. These risk assessments, in due course and in line with government guidance, will also be published on our website(s).
  • Again, in line with DfE guidance, COVID protective measures will be fully implemented, including support mechanisms and processes. These will cover vitally important areas such as cleaning and sanitising, any movement around the campus and all social distancing guidelines.  
  • Class sizes, groupings and staffing, as well as the organisation and structure of learning and the school day, will be reviewed and adapted sensibly and supportively. We wish to ensure that the safety and well-being, and not just the education, of everybody remains our highest priority.

As we prepare together, as a community, for this next phase, all of these important aspects and sources of information are currently being collated calmly, carefully and methodically. We will then make informed, balanced and objective decisions, which we shall share with you in a structured and planned way over the coming days and weeks. In line with this, the thoughts, reflections and opinions of our parental body remain very important to us, and I continue to be incredibly grateful for all of the messages of support and best wishes I have received for our community throughout this situation. As we seek to continue gathering facts and opinions, Mrs Farrell, our Trust’s Executive Vice Principal for our Primary Campus, will be contacting all City View Nursery and Canterbury Primary School parents with a brief survey to complete; the contents of which will be very helpful in shaping our thinking and possible provision in our nursery and primary school from 1 June.

As we now plan for the ‘beginning of the end’ of this horrible virus and a time when we may all return to school, I feel obliged, candidly, to remind you that our new ‘normal’ will be vastly different from the old. What schools will be able to teach may be different; class sizes will be smaller; lesson timings may need to change; certain equipment will no longer be allowed to be used; certain activities may no longer be permitted; break and lunch times may need to be staggered; handwashing and sanitising more structured; and movement around our campus restricted in line with social distancing guidelines. But, you have adapted magnificently to our challenges so far, and we shall continue to adapt. We will innovate, create, change and evolve together; in our families, in our schools and in our communities.

We are the human race; we are resilient; it is what we do.

I shall be in touch with you all again at the start of next week, once the possession of further facts permit me.

Yours ever,

Jon Watson
Trust Executive Principal