15 May 2020
Dear Parent / Carer
I hope that this letter finds you and your family well and managing during these difficult times.
While I know that you have had contact from colleagues in your child’s own academy over recent weeks, I felt it was an appropriate time to offer you an update. You may have seen that on 11 May 2020 the Government announced the next stage in their plans to rebuild and for recovery. This includes some guidance for schools, and you will naturally be keen to find out what this will mean for your academy and ultimately your child.
Since I wrote to you on 18 March 2020 we have continued to provide full-time opening for the care of children of key workers and some vulnerable children, as per Government guidelines, at some of our Academy sites, operating as ‘hub’ schools. We have provided learning for all of our pupils through distance learning platforms and teacher contact with home. We have followed our stated aims during this time, to keep people safe and support each other, and to ensure that all pupils are supported to learn over time. We are very grateful for your support in helping your child to continue their learning whilst at home throughout this unusual and difficult period.
On Sunday the Prime Minister announced the Government’s roadmap for how and when the UK will adjust its response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. This included the phased return of some children to school from 1 June at the earliest. While this is the Government’s intent, whether this is possible on that date will depend on whether the Government considers that its own conditions for reopening have been met. The Government is expected to reassess and review the national situation against those five conditions before June 1.
In case the Government decides that schools should open to more pupils, experts within our trust, from Health and Safety, Education and HR, have been planning for re-opening. As all schools are different, it is not possible for the Government to set specific guidelines that are universally applicable. We have been given guidance about limiting the amount of contact between different groups of children, and additional protective measures with which we are all now familiar, such as increased cleaning and hand washing and ensuring anyone with symptoms stays at home.
Our focus will be to open each academy with a safe maximum number of pupils and staff on site at any point. This will be a live assessment, which means that we will continue to track the safety of the school environment over time. This means that we will be well-placed to evaluate how ready the schools will be to potentially open to more pupils over the course of subsequent weeks, particularly as the Government has asked us to create plans to open more widely. These plans are conditional upon the science and behaviour of the virus.
We know the benefit to all children and young people of attending school, being able to learn and socialise with their peers and teachers. We are looking forward to being able to welcome all children back into our schools, but only when it is safe to do so, and with appropriate adjustments and protective measures in place to minimise risks.
When we are informed by the government that children are able to return to school, at some time after 1 June if feasible, this will be in smaller class sizes and groups. This means that we will be able to provide places for some year groups and children, rather than all pupils returning together. We will:
- Continue to offer full-time provision to priority groups. These are children who are described as vulnerable and children of ‘critical workers’ (as per guidance from the Department of Education, updated 5 May 2020). After 1 June the children in this group who have been attending a ‘hub’ will return to attend their usual school.
- Begin to offer places to children in identified year groups. Following government instructions we will start with:
- Year 1
- Year 6
- Year 10 (initially some face-to-face support, rather than full-time / lessons)
- Year 12 (initially some face-to-face support, rather than full-time / lessons)
However, children will only be invited to return in a way that supports our responsibility to ensure high standards of safety, and when it is feasible for us to safely accommodate more pupils.
- Continue to provide distance learning for all children and young people
- Continue to keep in touch with our community of learners and families.
Your academy will be in contact with you with more details around re-opening plans in the coming days. While it may be the case that your child is eligible for a place in school from June, it is important to note that your legal responsibility to ensure that your child attends school has been temporarily suspended – no parents will be fined if they choose to keep their children at home during this time.
Thank you for your patience and support as we find a way forward. We are very keen to see your children again back in our schools and are also committed to making the learning environment as safe as possible. Please continue to contact your academy team if you have any concerns.
Mr S Taylor
Further information on the Government guidelines can be found by following the links below.