Dear parents and carers,

I write to you today in the light of last night’s announcement of another national lockdown; with the message from the Prime Minister being to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

There has been much confusion, change and last minute decisions around the opening of schools, mass testing, free school meals and exams. As always, the media’s reporting of these items has not been entirely helpful. In this message I will attempt to provide some calm, some clarity and some direction, based on the best and most credible information that we have available to us at this time.

As of today we know that The Canterbury Primary School and The Canterbury Academy will remain closed to all students, except the children of critical workers and those that are vulnerable, until the start of term 4. City View Pre-School and Nursery remains open as usual and your child should continue to attend if they are well.

The government’s message in the last national lockdown was that if critical worker or vulnerable children could be cared for at home then they should be. That does not appear to be their stance this time around and, as such, if you are a critical worker or your child is deemed vulnerable according to this government list, available here; listed as a critical worker they are encouraged to attend school should they remain well.

As last time, it is a fairly extensive list and has now been updated to include other jobs essential in the post Brexit transition period. Similarly, we are very aware that vulnerability is not always necessarily visible and cannot always be clearly defined. So, if you are a critical worker or you feel your child is vulnerable, and you would like to accept the offer of educational provision in one of our schools, please contact:

For those children who will continue to attend school:

  • If you are reporting to The Canterbury Primary School, Breakfast Club will be open from 7.45am and the school day will start at 9am.
  • If you are reporting to The Canterbury Academy, Years 7-11, please report to the main school hall for 8.45am.
  • If you are reporting to The Canterbury Academy Sixth Form, please report to the Sixth Form Centre for your specified start time.
  • Students across our schools should arrive in normal school uniform.
  • A school meal and refreshments will be available as normal.
  • Please do not bring any PE kit unless you are specifically asked to do so, as our new timetables begin to take shape.
  • Our school days, as normal, will finish at 3pm.
  • With regret, there will be no after school clubs available at either school, at this time. But, at The Canterbury Primary School, supervision of children will be available until 4pm.

As regards transport to and from our Canterbury Campus, Stagecoach will not be running any dedicated school buses until further notice.  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 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 in the midst of this unpredictable situation.

The picture as regards exams and assessments for the summer of 2021 is, I am sorry to report, very confusing. For those students that are due to sit public vocational examinations and assessments scheduled to take place in January, we are currently told that these will go ahead. Mr Hadlow and the Exams Team will have already been in touch with those affected privately to be clear on arrangements.

As regards other public examinations/assessments across primary and secondary schools scheduled for the summer, all I can do currently is share with you this pertinent element of the most recent Department for Education guidance, released at 11pm last night;

“In these circumstances, we do not think it is possible for exams to go ahead fairly this summer. The Secretary of State for Education will be asking Ofqual to consult rapidly on an approach for alternative arrangements that will allow students to progress fairly.”

This suggests that an immediate consultation will be launched with school leaders as to how they feel grades should be best awarded to students for this coming summer. I will, alongside Mr Hadlow and Heads of School, share more information with you when it is available.

If your child receives Free School Meals you will continue to be contacted privately to ensure that you have the appropriate amount of food vouchers each week through lockdown. As a Trust, we will not wait for any government scheme to begin, we will provide you directly with vouchers immediately to alleviate as much anxiety for families as possible. If this is to change in the light of a centrally offered government scheme, we will, of course, notify you as soon as possible.

If you have not been contacted privately and believe your child to be eligible for Free School Meals, please contact Mrs Butler, our Trust’s SENCo, on vbutler@canterbury.kent.sch.uk if your child attends The Canterbury Academy. Or, if your child attends The Canterbury Primary School, please contact Mrs Farrell, Trust Executive Vice Principal, on bfarrell@canterbury.kent.sch.uk

As we did in the last lockdown, Mrs Butler, Mrs Farrell and our Ethos and Engagement Teams will be coordinating welfare calls to families across our Trust. These calls started yesterday and will continue every week through until the end of this lockdown period. Any support that a family or young person might need following a regular welfare call, will be signposted to the appropriate agency and professionals.

If you do not believe you are expecting a welfare call and/or are anxious, worried or concerned about any aspect of what lockdown might mean for your child or your family, please do not suffer in silence. Our Trust’s pastoral teams are here for you and available both by email and over the phone. They would love to hear from you and you must not hesitate to contact them. We will help you. So, please contact:

As regards remote learning, Heads of School have already been in touch with parents and students across the Trust, and will continue to communicate with you as our packages evolve in light of this new lockdown. We will continue to reward students for their excellent efforts and work produced. If you have any questions on remote and online learning, please do not hesitate to contact any of the Heads of School on the email addresses provided earlier in this message.

The Department for Education have instructed secondary schools to continue planning for the roll out of mass testing. The plans that we worked hard on through the Christmas break will not be wasted, but will instead be initially scaled back to accommodate voluntary asymptomatic Rapid Lateral Flow Tests for the smaller numbers of staff and students working on our sites and in our schools during lockdown. Although it would appear that RLF testing is still the direction that the government wishes to go in secondary schools, this has, again, become a confusing picture. Once I have further clarity from the government I will be back in touch accordingly.

In the meantime, it is our intention to share as much good news as possible through our social media platforms, keeping our Trust community in touch as we move back into lockdown

We will continue sharing student successes from this term and beyond, things that families can do and are doing together at this most difficult time, tips on keeping fit, recipes, cooking, arts, crafts and much more. We’d love to hear from you too!

As I say, there will be further communications that will flow to parents and students on a more bespoke basis in the next couple of days. In light of this new national lockdown, akin to that of March last year, I know that for many it will feel like we have made no progress in the fight against COVID-19. We can hopefully all remind ourselves that we have.

We have been here before and we have come through it. We have talked together; we have listened together; we have supported and cared for each other, together, and, when we’ve had the chance, we have laughed together.

We have a vaccine. It is rolling out and it is making its way, eventually, to all of us. In these cold and dark days of winter we must focus on the hope that a new year brings, with the brighter, warmer days of spring on the horizon.

But, it is clear again that we must all now adhere to guidance and do our bit to bring the virus back under control, shield our most vulnerable, protest the NHS and save lives.

We will, again, get through this together.

On behalf of all of the staff across our Trust we remain incredibly grateful for all of your ongoing support.

My thoughts and very best wishes remain with you and your families,

Jon Watson
Trust Executive Principal

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