I hope that you and your family are all safe and well.
Following on from my letter last week, I am in a position to give you a more detailed account regarding the wider opening of the school, to our year 10 pupils.
I appreciate that both pupils, parents and staff may be anxious and worried about the wider opening and so I have compiled a ‘frequently asked questions’ sheet, that I hope will reassure you all, of the measures in place.
What safety measures have been taken to prepare for the wider opening?
We have taken measures based on our own context and government advice. The following measures are in place:
· We have no more than a quarter (11 pupils) of our year 10 cohort in school at any one time. This is well within the recommended 15 pupils per classroom. Classrooms have been re-organised to adhere to the 2 metre social distancing rule. All other furniture has been removed from classrooms. (Please see attached photographs).
· Hand gel and sanitiser units are increased and hand gel and sanitising wipes are available in each classroom.
· Clearly displayed signage is in the reception, classrooms and corridors – observing the 2 metre distancing guidance.
· A thorough risk assessment has taken place. Staff training incorporates reviewing the new guidelines so that they are clear about the expectations, to equip them to educate pupils on staying alert and safe e.g. frequent washing of hands and cleaning of work stations.
· Senior leaders will closely monitor all aspects of the risk assessment.
· Expectations of the new measures in place e.g. social distancing will be clearly explained to pupils by senior members of staff. This will be part of the induction support, which pupils receive, on returning to school.
· All classrooms to be used have been thoroughly sanitised in preparation.
· Pupils will wipe down work stations and classrooms will be thoroughly cleaned by our team at the end of each day.
· Pupils will have their own allocated work stations - to be kept to when in class.
· Toilet facilities will be restricted to one pupil at a time, a senior member of staff will monitor this at break times and between lessons. Additional hygiene measures will be communicated to all pupils and cleaning staff have been advised.
What are the lunchtime arrangements?
Initially pupils will be required to bring in a packed lunch. The vouchers will continue for our families that are eligible. Pupils can also bring in snacks for breaks times. However, break times will be fully supervised and the social distancing measures, will be adhered to. The lunchtime will not be as long as usual, however, breaks throughout lessons will be allowed. Ball games will not be allowed during lunchtime due to restrictions in sharing of equipment.
Will my child be returning to full-time education?
Pupils will be expected to attend school for one day a week – that day will be allocated next week and communicated via e-mail or phone call. Pupils will be expected to continue with their home learning programme, when not in school.
Initially pupils will be in school for 1 day each week. Therefore, if your child is in school on Monday 15th, then they will be in school again on Monday 22nd. We are reviewing the situation as we are advised by the Government and any changes will be communicated to you.
Will my child be expected to move from classroom to classroom?
All pupils will remain in one classroom in the morning and the Mathematics, English and Science teachers will rotate to deliver their lessons. Pupils will then move to another classroom in the afternoon where they will receive small group tuition. This will incorporate their option choice subjects and an element of support with home learning. Pupils will be expected to continue with home learning during the days that they do not attend school. There will be no practical element to lessons, at the moment.
Will my child be required to wear uniform?
Pupils will be expected to wear uniform. However, we recognise that washing blazers regularly could be problematic, therefore, we expect trousers or kilt, white shirt, tie and black shoes that can be polished. We recognise that in these very challenging times the ability to ensure clothes are washed regularly might be problematic, therefore, if needed, support can be offered in school.
What happens if pupils do not observe the social distancing rule?
As educators we take the role of educating our young people about risks very seriously. One of the responsibilities of schools is to provide pastoral care – the support we give children to help them to develop socially, academically, and personally. We have considered how to provide this in the current situation and we are checking in, on children’s wellbeing and safety, as often as we can. The feedback from parents so far, regarding the telephone conversations our form teacher’s and senior leaders have held on a weekly basis, has been both appreciative and highly supportive.
Staff training will include a high emphasis on the return to school being as much about emotional support as academic support. We intend the return to school to be fully supportive. We recognise that pupils will be anxious and unsure of the new environment. Staff training will give them the confidence to frequently remind pupils about social distancing, washing hands, etc. This will become part of our daily routine, to prepare us all, in safely navigating our way through the forthcoming weeks. However, we will not tolerate any deliberate breaches of the new guidelines, therefore, pupils will be very clear about what is expected and the consequences. We will not tolerate any behaviours or actions that put any pupils or staff at risk.
Will I be able to talk to a member of staff about any concerns I might have, before my child returns to school?
My child’s mental health has been adversely affected during this period of closure, what do I do as a parent?
Our pastoral leaders Mr Birchall, Mr Till and Mrs Weaver will be available to contact via telephone on Tuesday 9th and Wednesday 10th June – between 1pm and 3pm. This is so that parents can telephone in and speak to the relevant member of staff. You are encouraged to discuss any concerns about emotional needs or any information that teachers need to know, before your child returns.
What happens if I decide that my child will not be attend?
We strongly encourage children and young people in the eligible year groups and priority groups (such as children of critical workers) to attend, unless they are self-isolating or there are other reasons for absence (such as shielding due to health conditions). You should notify us as normal if your child is unable to attend, so that staff are aware and can discuss with you. Parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time.
My child has an underlying health issue?
The school has already identified pupils with any underlying health issues, however, if a health issue has arisen and you feel we are unaware, then please contact as advised above, to discuss with one of our pastoral team. Any further mitigating strategies will be discussed on an individual basis. We also understand that other persons living in the household may be shielding – advice on this can be given on an individual basis, or via the links on the school website.
Will my child need equipment and will measures to avoid sharing equipment be in place?
Pupils will need to bring in a pen, pencil, ruler and rubber that will be kept in a wallet with their name on. Pupils are asked not to bring in a pencil case. All equipment used in school e.g. calculators will be sanitised in preparation for the return to school. Pupils will hold the responsibility to wipe down equipment at the end of a session. This is part of the new measures set out in the risk assessment and staff will be supporting pupils in the initial sessions. Again, we appreciate that in these difficult times, getting the correct equipment might be challenging. Support is in place, therefore, we urge you to talk to us about it and we can address issues together.
I hope that the outlined measures above have reassured you that we have measures in place to reduce the risk of transmission. The education that your child will receive is some face-to-face support, to supplement the remote education already in place, for those pupils that will take key exams next year.
It is important to note, as you will appreciate, that whilst we will make every effort to manage risk throughout this pandemic, effectively assessing and mitigating risk, does not eradicate risk. Whilst every precaution will be taken across the Trust academies, we cannot guarantee, or provide certainty, around infection likelihood, or transfer.
I can assure you that the measures will be communicated in the softest manner we can. We have a balance to strike, between ensuring measures are adhered to, without adding extra anxieties, in already challenging times. If staff, pupils and parents work together, we will successfully achieve this. I have no doubt that the behaviour and response from our pupils, will be as always, impeccable.
Please take advantage of the opportunity to talk to our pastoral team and of course, as always, I am available to discuss any parental concerns.
Mrs K Mitchell