Dear parents and carers,

I write to you today, as promised, following the Prime Minister’s announcements to the nation of yesterday evening.

As best I can penetrate what he said, there remains many ‘ifs’ attached to the potential ‘roadmap’ and the timelines he outlined. I completely appreciate that many of you will have been left more confused and frustrated by what was said, or not said, as the case may be. I know that there will be multi-faceted challenges that our families are facing right now, ranging from professional, personal and financial issues, through to the ongoing home education of our children; and many of these will be inter-linked in some way. But, in my message, I wish to try and provide you with some clarity, consistency and assurance from our perspective at The Canterbury Academy Trust, and for the young people and families we have a responsibility for.

Mr Johnson spoke of his desire to have children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 return on 1st June, “IF” he is satisfied that the 5 Point COVID Checklist has been met. He then went onto say that he “hoped” secondary school children who “will be facing exams next summer” may get some time with their teachers before the summer break, but mentioned no specific timeframe. There was no mention of any other year groups or what provision in Nurseries and Pre-Schools might look like.

There has been the promise of a more detailed plan and clearer guidance for schools to follow later today, once Mr Johnson has addressed parliament this afternoon. You do not need me to tell you that we as a Trust and, indeed, you as parents, need much more definitive detail on how we should reopen before we are able to contemplate, in any degree of detail, how that could work and what that could look like. You will doubtless be aware that many  schools up and down the country have already taken to social media and, in many cases, written to their parental bodies to inform them, most certainly, that their schools will not re-open on 1st June. Those decisions, of course, are entirely their prerogative. They will have been made based on the information they are in possession of and always with the very best interests and safety of the children, staff and families in mind.

For us across The Canterbury Academy Trust, our stance will remain absolutely consistent with that which it has been throughout this crisis, and I will not allow media reporting and political rumour mongering to distract us. As I said in my message of Friday evening, the reality is that the new ‘normal’ will be vastly different from the old, and we have been considering the logistics and intricacies of our students and staff returning for some time. As you will appreciate, there are countless scenarios and mechanisms through which this could be achieved, and I wish you to remain assured that we are considering all of these very carefully and thoughtfully, all underpinned by the safety and health of our young people, colleagues and all of our families. With 1st June only being some three weeks away, let’s hope that the government are able to move as quickly as they expect schools to in providing their expectations. When that clear, precise and definitive guidance is produced by our government, plainly outlining what is expected of us all as we move into this new ‘phase,’ we will, of course, share it with you as soon as we are able.

Although we cannot control the decision making of central government, we can control the way in which we respond as schools, as families and as a Trust community. I remain in awe of the way you have coped with what COVID has thrown at us. How you have adapted, been resilient, the ingenious ways in which you have approached the challenges of home schooling, the balances you have found amongst all of it and, overall, the empathy you have shown for each other, your families, your friends and our communities. So, until we get more detail nothing will change. We shall continue unphased, calmly, objectively and carefully, with our new, flexible and always evolving ways of learning; keeping calm and carrying on.

We will all be listening attentively for further, definitive updates, and I will be back in touch with you to share our planning as soon as possible.

Thinking of you all.

Yours faithfully,

Jon Watson

Trust Executive Principal