Dear parents and carers,

As we all slowly, surely and safely, continue to adjust our lives to fit what will be a new “normal” for potentially many months moving forward, I write to update you on our current position and plans, looking forward as schools across The Canterbury Academy Trust.

You will doubtless already have read our newsletter this week, celebrating much of the work that has gone on across our Trust, both in school and remotely, over this last week. As we have begun to re-open our schools more widely since the beginning of June, our colleagues at City View Pre-School and Nursery continue to do a brilliant job in welcoming increasing numbers of young people back, as more and more parents return to work. Now, as we near the end of the second week in which more students returned to The Canterbury Primary School, we are delighted to report on some of the work that has been taking place, and we remain ever grateful for the ongoing support and overwhelmingly positive feedback that has been provided by our parents and wider community. At The Canterbury Academy all staff training on COVID New Ways of Working has now been competed and we are all very much looking forward to seeing more of our students in Years 10 and 12 return to us next week, alongside the Key Worker and vulnerable child group(s) that have been operational since lockdown began.

As you will know, as we move forward carefully, accepting COVID may now be part of our lives for the foreseeable future, The Canterbury Academy has, in the short term, been split into three schools:

  • A Key Worker and Vulnerable Child School led by Mrs Banbery
  • A Year 10 School led by Mr Brooke
  • A Year 12 School led by Mrs Winslow

You will already have been contacted privately by each of the Heads of School to inform you of the detail surrounding your child’s return to school. Again, may I thank you for all of your support and very useful feedback as part of that process. As I say, we are very much looking forward to seeing more of your children, our students, back on campus beginning next week. Each Head of School will be sure to maintain regular contact with you separately as our plans continue to develop and evolve over the remaining weeks of term.

Nevertheless, and as has been consistent in my messages to you throughout this crisis, if you are yet to do so and would like to claim a place for your “eligible” child in any of these schools please can you contact:

I feel obliged to remind you again that it is now the Department for Education’s position that;

“Now that we have made progress in reducing the transmission of coronavirus we are encouraging all eligible children to attend – it is no longer necessary for parents of eligible children to keep them at home if they can. In particular, as per the existing guidance on vulnerable children and young people, vulnerable children of all year groups continue to be expected and encouraged to attend educational provision where it is appropriate for them to do so.”

However, you continue to have my assurance that it does, of course, remain entirely your choice as to whether you send your child to school and, as I have said before, you will receive nothing other than our support in making the right decision for your child and your own individual family circumstance.

Quite justifiably, the journey that your child will make to and from school remains a concern, especially as many may use public transport. Stagecoach, as we understand it, will still be unable to run any dedicated school buses.  However, ordinary bus services are still running.  The number 22, for example, stops almost directly outside the campus on Knight Avenue. Students can catch this service to and from the main bus station in Canterbury. I can only continue to advise all parents and carers to check the Stagecoach website on https://www.stagecoachbus.com/regional-service-updates/south-east/canterbury as regularly as possible, just to make sure that the services you may require continue to run.

Furthermore, you will all be aware that from Monday 15 June it has become a requirement that anybody who uses public transport must wear a face covering. You can follow this link for the guidance on the government website https://www.gov.uk/government/news/face-coverings-to-become-mandatory-on-public-transport

We have also had the following message from Kent County Council, that I have been asked to share with you in advance of next week;

“To be clear, the requirement is for a form of face covering that covers the mouth and nose and is distinct from any medical grade PPE. With this in mind, it is the responsibility of parents to equip their child with an appropriate face covering for their journey. In addition to pupils wearing face coverings, those who support children with their journey to school will also be required to wear a face covering in line with the national guidance.”

KCC have produced a notice covering the key information around this, which I have attached for your information.

As I write to you today, with just over four weeks left of term 6, for parents of children currently in Years 7, 8 and 9 at The Canterbury Academy, it still appears that there will be no return to school until September 2020, at the earliest, unless they are vulnerable or the child of a Key Worker. For as long as this situation continues I hope that our students will still access their remote learning timetables and remember that our staff are here to support at any time, as are the Directors of Teaching and Learning, Heads of Learning and Heads of School. For students in Year 11 and 13 due to leave us in the summer, and for any others who were due to sit public examinations in the summer, we shall continue to update you separately on the processes through which your grades are being calculated and how you will collect them. Likewise, we shall also discuss some of those rites of passage you may have, in the short term, been denied, like the legendary Leavers’ Assemblies and Balls; such very important things that we wish to assure you we have absolutely not forgotten.  

As regards September, we have all very much welcomed the announcement that the government will fund ‘catch up programmes’ for young people through the summer and beyond, although there is still much detail as to how that will work needed behind the announcement.

Similarly, it remains the case, as I write to you, that despite the excellent news that the Prime Minister has pledged to have all students back in our schools full-time from September, the guidance behind that plan is also yet to be published. This is now a major concern for schools with so little time remaining to sensibly plan. As I have said throughout, until such point as legitimate, detailed guidance is produced by the Department for Education and the government, any speculation in the press or media remains entirely unhelpful. Regardless, and as I have said previously, when the detail and guidance is eventually produced, we shall address it positively together as a Trust community, navigating our way through it calmly, objectively and methodically, and always in the very best and safest interests of all of our children and all of our families.

As I finish today I wish to remind you of the Friday, many weeks ago now, that schools were forced to close due to COVID on 20 March. As I pointed out at the time, that happened to coincide with the 103rd birthday of Dame Vera Lynn. As we closed our doors that evening I spoke of the spirit that Dame Lynn embodied and the voice that sang many of our grandparents and great grandparents through some deeply troubling times in World War II. That evening, I left you with some words from one her most famous songs, the lyrics of which have seemed as relevant over the last three months as they did all those years ago;

But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
‘Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away

Sadly, Dame Vera Lynn passed away yesterday morning, yet I feel sure that she would have been incredibly proud of how our community have handled everything that has been thrown at us by COVID. Last month, on the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, she spoke of how simple acts of bravery and sacrifice still define our nation. Never has that been more prevalent than in our own Trust’s community during COVID through your acts of kindness, support, resilience, care and encouragement, both for your own families and throughout our communities. It has been an inspiration.

As we look forward and, also, in celebration of a wonderful life, I shall leave you with our own Trust’s tribute to that beautiful song, ‘We’ll Meet Again,’ and everything that it stood for by following this link https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EgJ8Bik1RSU

For us, as Dame Lynn promised, that sunny day when we shall all meet again is edging ever closer.

As always, my very best regards to you all,

Jon Watson
Trust Executive Principal