Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope you are all well and enjoying the beautiful weather we’ve had over the past week or so. I can’t remember the last time we had a half-term break quite as warm and sunny. A stretch of weather like that usually only occurs during a school week, with school holidays reserved for heavy rain and storms!
It’s been a long time coming and, for the majority of our students, there’s a little while longer to wait but we are very much looking forward to welcoming back our Year 6 students tomorrow, 2nd June.
We have spent weeks preparing for this moment. developing a detailed plan, writing risk assessments to ensure we have made our school as safe as possible, preparing the sites and talking to staff. We also met with staff today so they can familiarise themselves with an environment and way of working that’s going to be very different for them too. Last Friday afternoon, we presented our plans and procedures to representatives of our governing body. The plans were unanimously approved with permission given for us to readmit Year 6 tomorrow.
The parents of Year 6 children should already have received two letters from me over the past few days. These should provide a detailed understanding of the measures we have put in place to ensure our school is as safe as possible for all our students and staff.
We have formed eight smaller classes of 12 children and staggered their start and finish times using two entrances to the school. This is to ensure that our ‘bubbles’ of students do not mix. Each class will line up at their entrance and be led into their classroom, where they will use hand sanitiser before sitting down at their own personal desk. Each student has a Chromebook and pack of resources, which are only theirs to use, and each class has a significant area of the school field cordoned off for their personal use.
Social distancing is absolutely key to protecting our community. Indeed, until a vaccine is found and successfully tested and distributed, it’s pretty much all we have to rely on. Despite today’s slight relaxation of the lockdown, maintaining a two-metre distance from people outside of your household is essential to stop a potentially deadly flare-up. Thank you to all parents who are instilling the importance of this distancing. I know it’s been a long time, but this behaviour is our new normal for the foreseeable future and it’s something we’re absolutely insisting on in school.
To ensure we are all kept as safe as possible, we are relying on our staff and students to follow the social distancing guidance at all times. This starts from the moment they leave home until they return. Clearly, we’re relying on you to impress upon your children the need to do this before they reach us and after they leave. Within the school grounds, we have taken the decision to mark the ground with lines that are two metres apart in areas where students will naturally meet. There is also a one-way system around the corridor.
We are not using the dining hall initially, so lunches will be eaten in the classroom or, weather permitting, on the field. We hope that PE sessions will begin in the second week and will make use of the running track and field at the rear of the site – again, weather permitting.
Due to outdoor learning being actively encouraged, and the need to change and wash clothing regularly, we will not be enforcing our uniform policy. We ask that students attend in sensible clothes suitable for being outside in whatever weather conditions are expected each day. Hats or caps and sunscreen are essential on a sunny day, and something waterproof would be handy on a rainy day – just in case.
Once we get Year 6 back into the building and have the undoubted teething problems ironed out, we will turn our attention to Year 10 and Year 12. From June 15th, they will be invited into school for some sessions. The government guidance for these years is very different from that given for Year 6. We are not to have full-year groups in school, and they must not come back full time. The plan is to provide additional sessions to supplement and enhance the learning they are already doing at home.
We will, of course, look to do the very best we can for our students within the parameters we have to work. Parents of Year 10 and 12 students can expect contact from us next week with our plans for the remainder of the term.
Additionally, we are still providing care for the children of critical workers who are not in Year 6. The government updated their critical worker list today – please check to see if your occupation is listed. If it is and you would like your child to attend school, let us know by completing the online form. We’re more than happy to see them – just give us some notice so we can ensure we have enough staff and facilities prepared.
So, after ten weeks we are finally starting to move in the right direction. I was going to say we are finally starting to get back to normal, but I’m not sure that’s quite true…
What I am sure about is that, whenever the time comes, we will support your child back to school with the kind of individual care and attention we’d expect for our own children.
Until next week, when I’ll update you again, please take care of yourself and your loved ones. And if you have any concerns or questions, no matter how trivial you think they may be, please get in touch.