16th May Update Letter - School Reopening
Leighton planning for the possible reopening on the 1st June 2020
Half Term – School Closure. (Monday May 25th May to Friday 29th May)
I hope you are all well and continuing to manage the current situation as we see it. There have been many changes over the last week certainly with regards to education and we have been busy in school making plans should the school open again on 1st June.
I have been attending Local Authority meetings which have provided me with guidance and advice from our own Authority who are ultimately responsible for the schools across the Peterborough area.
As I am sure you can understand, with no firm decisions in place around schools opening, this has been a very challenging time in primary schools for leaders and teachers.
There are still many ongoing discussions around how safe it is for children to be in school right now given the year groups that are proposed to be the first to come back in June (Reception/Year 1 and Year 6).
I can assure you that we are following updated advice daily and have incorporated this guidance into all of our planning
What has come across clearly is that although we can endeavour to change our classroom structure and keep children in their own small teaching units, social distancing in schools, particularly in the play areas is unrealistic and not practical for young children. Our planning clearly accommodates for children being taught in consistently small groups, following the guidelines of no more than 15 per classroom and the children will have the same teacher and TA each day. These classroom units will not ‘cross over’ in the school environment. However, to accommodate for playtimes then the children may mix with one another within the year groups and may not always be 2m apart as this cannot be a reality for children.
I just wanted to make sure that this message was clear to give parents a realistic expectation of what to expect if and when the children return to school. This stance has been supported by the Local Authority and will indeed be the case for other schools across the country as well.
Currently, as it stands, it is parental choice as to whether children come back to school so I wanted to ensure that I conveyed this message to you all to support you in making an informed choice.
Although as a school we are to encourage and to accommodate for full time schooling, there will not be any attendance reporting carried out in terms of parents being penalised for not sending the children to school. We do still have a safeguarding duty for all of our children and will be keeping in regular contact with those children at home.
Children will stay for the school day within the classroom that is allocated to them and be with the same group and the same teacher and TA. We may have to contact you should there be any staff illnesses.
Access down the corridors and the other areas across the school such as the halls and the library will be restricted.
The leadership team are meeting on Monday night to start grouping the children based on the responses that you have replied through the questionnaire.
We have collected the responses from each of you that have replied and taken your concerns into account. All of the issues you have raised are valid and valued but may not always be realistic or practical to implement as I am sure you can understand. We will ensure though that we are open and honest with you and deliver the setting with the safety of your children being our upmost priority and concern. Any difficulties that we may foresee will be shared with parents so again you can make the choice for your children with regards to their attendance at school.
Hygiene will be of the upmost priority and we will ensure the cleaning regimes are to the very best standard and carried out three times a day.
Lunches will be taken to the classroom and children will only eat with the children and adults within their classroom unit. Our lunch staff will be responsible for delivering lunches to the children that are entitled to deprivation FSM and are not in school.
Teachers will be sending our proposed groupings home to you all via email next week. Please note that these will be the set groupings and we cannot negotiate on changes due to the restrictions we now have in place. The teachers will endeavour to ensure that both friendship and academic and learning needs are considered when allocating groups.
Your child may have an adult that is unfamiliar to them and this is something that we will need your support with in explaining to your children. Where a child has a special need or EHC Plan this will be taken into consideration for a familiar adult being in place for them. However, as a school, our challenge still remains that we have 20 adults in self isolation and shielding due to their vulnerable health needs and will not be able to be at school from June 1st. We are therefore working within a limited resource of adults.
The priority, for the children when they come back into school will be around their education and wellbeing. Teachers will want to settle the children back in to the new way of schooling and will support their emotional needs during what must be a very strange time for our children and this will not be underestimated in teachers planning. The curriculum will be the basis for learning in schools and it will no longer be a childcare facility. Teachers may have to adapt the curriculum based on their groupings and indeed some of the restrictions we have in place now but it will be an academic day for the children.
For those children at home, we will continue to deliver our home learning resources for you all. Mrs Geldart will be leading on this and coordinating the planning for the children that are at home in consultation with the class teachers. This will include the year groups that are entitled to be in school but the children remain at home .More information will follow on this provision.
Many thanks to those parents who have returned questionnaires as this has supported our planning. Please can you continue to email them to me if you have not done so yet. This will ensure that if your child is returning to school they can be placed in the group that is best for their needs. You may also at any time wish to change your mind and thoughts. Please do not feel you are bound to any decisions made currently. The questionnaire was to get initial thoughts from parents to support our planning.
Finally, as I am sure you can understand and appreciate the Leighton staff now need and deserve a break. Although it has not been normal working school days for us, the teachers and support staff have worked tirelessly since the school closure to ensure we deliver the highest possible home school provision to you all. Lunches have been cooked and delivered every day to a wide range of distances and homes across and outside of the Peterborough area. In addition to this we have had an increasing amount of staff coming into school and supervising the children of key workers and those that are vulnerable. I have taken the decision that the school will be closed for half term. This will be to all children including those from key worker families and those from vulnerable homes. This is to allow the staff to have a break as the next half term is going to be difficult, challenging and tiring and I need to ensure that I look after the health and well-being of my teachers and support staff. We also need to have some uninterrupted family time with our own children as well now. I hope that you understand and appreciate this decision made. The Local Authority has supported this decision for schools across Peterborough.
Finally, may I thank those parents and families that have kept us going throughout the last 8 weeks and been supportive in terms of your positive feedback and your appreciation of the work that we do at Leighton for our children. The emails and cards have made us smile and allowed us to feel refreshed during what we have seen as probably the most difficult period for the school.
Have a good weekend and don’t forget to email me should you have any further questions.