Dear parents and carers,
I trust that this message will find you and all of your families well, having enjoyed, I hope, a sunny and relaxing Bank Holiday weekend.
I have already outlined to you the planning that we are undertaking, carefully and methodically, as we begin to ramp up our preparations for the possible return of some more of our students. All of these preparations, of course, run alongside our Phase 3 Remote Learning Plan for Term 6, which you will all have received yesterday afternoon. And, as you know, the Prime Minister announced on Sunday evening that he should like secondary schools to provide some face to face learning for students in Years 10 and 12, to supplement that which they are already doing remotely. He has said that this should be available from 15 June at the earliest, and should run alongside the continued provision for key worker and vulnerable children.
As promised, and as part of our ongoing planning, I write to you with a questionnaire that I should be grateful if you would complete. As always, and in an attempt to be open and transparent, it is also important to me that I share with you an honest overview of
the position we now find ourselves in.
Moving forward, the only certainty is that there can be no certainty. Schools will be forced to be very different places for the foreseeable future. I am sorry, but I will not be able to guarantee protection from COVID. I remain unable to make that guarantee for children, parents, my colleagues or our families. As has been reported nationally, the only guarantee of protection is to remain in lockdown and at home until the virus has gone away, if it ever goes away. According to the government’s guidance, it is now about being able to mitigate the risk of COVID transmission whilst at school, and in society more generally, to an “acceptable level.” If they do return to school I cannot guarantee that your child will, in the short term, have access to the usual staff members that teach them. I cannot guarantee they will have access to their full, usual suite of qualifications and they will not be able to take part in certain activities. Equipment cannot be shared and this will have an obvious impact on many of the practical lessons that would normally take place. The beginning and end of the school day will need to be staggered, as will break and lunchtime. Movement around the campus will also be restricted to a minimum. I cannot guarantee that students will socially distance and the guidance acknowledges that for staff to police that will simply be impossible at all times during the day. Neither can I, obviously, make any guarantees of safety for those young people who may use public transport to and from school.
Having said all of that, as our government suggests, I can continue to reassure you that we will take all reasonable steps to mitigate the risk of COVID transmission to an acceptable level to keep everybody safe
- 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.I do hope that our students will be having a break from their remote learning this half-term week, as we certainly do not expect work to be submitted. Instead, I hope that you will all be able to appraise yourselves of the tweaks to our Phase 3 Remote Learning Plan in advance of it starting on 1 June. Likewise, I hope you will be able to spend some time engaging in a really constructive family discussion around how you all feel about our children possibly returning.
The assessment of our staffing capacity will be complete this week, so it would be very helpful if you could return the questionnaire by Thursday, 28 May, please, coinciding with the next expected government announcement about the opening of schools. At this point we should have a much clearer picture of our staffing availability, as well as the students/parents who notionally wish to engage with what we may offer.
So, if you are the parent of a child in Year 10, please follow this link to complete and submit the questionnaire;
You will doubtless be reading and hearing much in the press and media about the safety of schools reopening. There is much confusing, inconsistent and conflicting scientific advice circulating at the moment, but, amongst all of it, I want you to be assured that we shall remain here for you; to support you, to listen to your concerns and help however, whenever and in whichever way we can. I want you to be in no doubt at all, that whatever decision you do arrive at regarding sending your child back to school, it will be the right one for your child, you and your wider family context. You will not be pursued for attendance and there will be no penalties. We will support you.
I look forward to collating your responses and will be in touch further at the end of the week with next steps.
With my thanks in anticipation and all very best wishes
Trust Executive Principal