Following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation last night and the further information he has provided in the House of Commons today, schools will now be asked by the Government to ‘re-open in stages’, from 1st June (subject to certain conditions).
This approach will begin with Primary school age students in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. The Prime Minister further stated that it is the Government’s ambition for all Primary age children to return to school before the summer holidays.
The Government went further to state its ambition was to see secondary age students, who would be facing examinations next year, provided with an opportunity to see their teachers for some time before the school holidays.
As you are aware, during the Covid-19 pandemic, we have remained open for children and young people of ‘Critical workers’ and other students who have needed to be in school. Please be assured that this approach will continue until the end of this term, Friday the 22nd May. During this period, we will also continue to support the students who have remained at home, providing fortnightly updates of refreshed resources and making weekly contact via email or telephone.
As a secondary age Special School, being expected to prioritise chronological year groups 10 and 12, in line with our mainstream counterparts, may not be the most appropriate provision to support all our students, in what will be their final term of this academic year.
Our school designation means that we also need to consider our students’ understanding and their ability to comply with social distancing, rather than just a student’s age-related expectation of that understanding. To date we have not yet received any communication from the government outlining how their plans will be implemented or guidance about how we can ensure the safety of all our students, their families and the staff at school; including their transport to and from school.
Each week the Senior Leadership Team work with colleagues at all levels, to assess the safeguarding, wellbeing and academic needs of each individual student. Where we consider it appropriate, we then work with families to identify the most appropriate ongoing provision for certain students. This may be at home or at school, but this decision is always based on the desire to keep students and their families safe. We will continue with this approach and we will be contacting all families prior to Thursday 21st May, when we will discuss the right option for each student and their family for the summer term, from Monday 1st June.
Wherever possible the decision to ‘Stay Home and keep safe’ will be the default approach that we will take. This will continue until a point at which we feel the conditions at school mean we can expand the numbers attending each day.
In undertaking this approach, we will first assess the capacity of our buildings, rooms, corridors and communal spaces; the school will then make appropriate adjustments in-line with social distancing rules and Public Health England guidance.
We will also consider the school staff availability, their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements and their wellbeing needs in relation to their self-isolation and shielding status.
Using this information, we will work with the Local Authority, Social Services and parents to identify students who we jointly consider are safer attending school and those who we consider would be better supported by remaining at home.
Student and staff safety will always be of paramount importance and will guide all our decisions.
Last week you received an electronic survey. Thank you for your responses, your views will help shape our future provision and communications. Should you wish to discuss any of the issues raised in the survey or in this letter please contact us on 01892 510440 and a member of the Senior Leadership Team will return your call at a mutually convenient time.
Please be assured that we will continue to follow all Government guidance and put in place the measures that are required to keep people safe. However there is no doubt that whatever measures are put in place, we cannot eliminate the risk that the virus could spread in a school due to the fact that we work in close proximity to each other. As we increase the numbers of students coming into school, the risk of contracting the virus will increase. Therefore we will only allow more students to attend - once we are sure that we are able do all that we can to protect our school community.
Thank you for your continued support at this time.
Please stay home where possible, follow the Government’s guidance and maintain social distancing protocols.
Mr Steven Ackerley- Executive Headteacher