Dear Parent / Carer,
I hope you and your family are keeping well and coping despite the uncertainties and challenges of the time.
Whilst I know you have received communications from your child’s academy in the last few weeks about provisions for distance learning at home and school opening, I am writing to you again to update you on our continuing plans as a trust, following the latest announcements from the Secretary of State for Education and the Prime Minister this week.
You may have heard that earlier this week the Government changed the ambition expressed in May for all primary-age children to return to school before the summer. This is no longer the Government’s expectation. This is because of the safety constraints within which schools have been working; the ‘hierarchy of control’ measures and social distancing requirements to minimise the risk of spread of the coronavirus. Schools have been applying these with care, and it has become clear across the country that while they remain in place, schools are likely to have insufficient space and/or staffing to accommodate all of the children on their sites.
While it will not be possible to have all of the children back, we are exploring all possible options and doing our utmost to invite more children into school, within the restrictions of safety, physical space and necessary staffing. Our place allocation for attendance follows the Government’s guidance and our Health & Safety Risk Assessment of each Academy site. We continue to offer places for children of people whose work is critical to the national Covid-19 response, and those considered to be vulnerable. We are widening our provision on-site for the ‘priority year groups’ that the Government has identified: in primary phase following the principle of ‘youngest first’ after allocation of places to critical worker and vulnerable children.
We have started the phased return of some children in Nursery and Reception, Years 1 and 6, and from 15th June Years 10 and 12. Where we can increase capacity and safely fill the space available whilst ensuring a high quality learning environment and experience for children we will do so.
We continue to be very committed to supporting all of our learners through the high quality distance learning provision we have in place to maintain the educational provision for your child. I would like to thank you again for your continuing support for your child with their learning at home.
Our Health & Safety Risk Assessments at each of our school sites remain live and under continuous review; our planning is subject to change depending on Public Health England and government guidance, and response to local or regional changes, as monitored by the Directors of Public Health in each Local Authority. As a result, there may be local differences between our Academies in the proportion of children they are able to offer places to attend at this time.
As further guidance comes from the Government we will review our planning and contact you with any updates.
I am sure that you will have been alert to the demonstrations in Bristol and elsewhere in the UK last weekend in response to the events in the USA following the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter campaign. The city of Bristol has had a high profile in the news as people have protested for greater race equality. As a trust we are determined to make progress in achieving greater equality for every member of our community, a commitment reflected in our mission and HEART values. We are working with colleagues and members of our community to better understand the challenges and how to respond to the Black Lives Matter agenda with education and action, such that any subsequent changes we make are considered and sustainable. We are considering carefully how to support our children and young people in understanding the issues locally and worldwide.
On June 2 the Public Health England report on the disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19 was published. This was commissioned by the Government and looked into the apparent higher risk of infection for some groups of people. Whilst age and some underlying health factors present the highest risk, the report highlighted an increased impact of the virus on people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. This will no doubt be concerning for BAME children and families in deciding to return to school when a place is offered, as it is for our BAME staff. We have assessed very carefully the risks of wider opening of our schools and implications for groups of pupils and staff and have produced specific attendance guidance for BAME families and colleagues to support this. I hope this will provide some reassurance and give you the confidence to support your child’s return to school when they are invited in.
If your child has been invited onto one of our Academy sites, please continue to ensure that they only attend if they are free of symptoms of Covid-19 (new continuous cough, fever, loss of smell/taste) and if they have continued to observe social distancing measures when outside of the home. If they are unwell with Covid-19 symptoms they must stay at home. Similarly, if they have been in public without observing social distancing in the last 14 days (meeting up with friends, going to the park or beach, attending events, for example the Black Lives Matter protest) they should not be in school as they could be putting the health of others in the community at risk. Thank you for continuing to uphold the important measures that keep us all safe.
You can find further information related to Covid-19 and school opening, attendance and guidance on our website at https://clf.uk/covid-information-hub/ which is updated regularly.
You can find advice for parents about our home learning here https://learn.clf.uk/hints-and-tips-for-parents/ .