A big thank you to all of our pupils and parents for supporting the school while we try to get pupils back into school safely and open up for more children. Parents have had to respond to updates and surveys all with the intention of allowing us to plan and prepare for a possible wider reopening. We have tried to use this information to best plan the way forward to get as many children into school, meet the requirements of the Department for Education and do this safely so that our pupils, staff and wider community are not affected by the on going issue of coronavirus.
I am disappointed that we are not able to get more pupils back into school before the summer holiday. As head teacher, I knew that it was impossible to get the whole school back before the summer holiday, as originally proposed by the Prime Minister, but did have plans that could have ensured that all pupils could have spent some time in school before the summer.
With the announcement on Monday that schools should continue to check if priority places in school are needed for nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6, this meant that any opportunity to use additional classrooms and staff in school was not available to welcome pupils in from year 2, 3, 4 and 5. All of our priority groups now have more than 15 pupils in which requires two classrooms and at least two members of staff per class.
As we now know that the opportunity to welcome the whole school back before July the 17th is not an option, we must now concentrate on how we can get all of our school back in September. Depending on the science at that time, it is our intention to welcome back all pupils in September if it is safe to do so.
It is incredibly positive that today the COVID-19 alert level reduced from 4 to 3 and hopefully over the coming 11 weeks further progress can be made in this area so that all children will be able to restart the new academic year in their class, with their friends.
In addition to the ambition to get all pupils back in September, teachers are planning for a full return, with transition meetings taking place over the coming weeks so that staff know about any changes to their classes and the specific needs of pupils in their class. Although staff do not yet know the impact of five and a half months away from school on their pupils, the most important step in ensuring that our full school returns well in the autumn is to make sure that we are very much aware of the mental well being of our pupils.
One thing is clear since our wider reopening, when pupils return to school they very quickly get back into their routines and this is a very important part in regulating their mental wellbeing. Since our return we have had no problems with any pupils returning and the feedback from parents is incredibly positive about how the return has impacted on children at home.
In another positive move, the government announced today that there will be a £1 billion coronavirus catch up programme for schools. At the moment, we do not know how this will work and how this funding, if available directly to schools, will be allocated. As a school we will be using every opportunity from now until all of our pupils return in September to make sure that any funding available will support all of our pupils when coming to terms with the disruption to learning they have had since March.
Although the majority of pupils have not been in school since March, we are still planning to send out an end of year report to parents about their child’s progress, attainment and attendance in school during this shortened academic year. It is difficult reporting on pupils who have not been in school for such a long time, but teachers are currently working on providing parents with a summary of their child’ progress in English, Mathematics and general comments about work in class. The report will also have some immediate targets for children, which will allow them to be clear about what they will need to work on as soon as they return to school.
Attendance in the report will capture attendance from September to March and the report will also include the child’s attainment in the spring term, as well as a predicated grade for what they could have attained at the end of the year.
The report will not be as detailed as in previous years, but it will provide parents with a good summary of their child’s time in school this year, with some clear targets to help them hit the ground running in September.
In another major announcement this week, the government announced that it will continue paying the free school meal vouchers to eligible parents throughout the summer holiday. Although we have not heard exactly how this will work, we do think that this will mean a continuation of the Edenred voucher system as used over the past 3 months.
This could mean that parents will have to continue checking their emails for the 16 digit code on a weekly basis or there will be one voucher for the 6 weeks. As soon as we know, we will inform parents.
Please be aware that parents should still have been receiving their vouchers over recent weeks. If parents have not been able to access the vouchers, please contact the school office on email@example.com
Key Worker Group
So that consistency can be provided for all of the classes currently in school, we are making a change to the attendance of key worker groups. From Monday the 22nd of June, key worker pupils should attend all sessions in school. Prior to this, key worker pupils were only expected in school when the key worker, or any other adult in the household could not look after them, but due to the fluctuation of numbers in the groups, as well as the potential for groups on certain days to be above 15 it was difficult to predict numbers. This change will allow us to split our key worker group consistently into two groups, planning work and activities that can be built upon as well as allowing some consistency for the pupils attending.
On another matter, I would like to send out a huge pat on the back for all of our key worker pupils. A lot of them have been in school since the 23rd of March and have taken part in a range of activities and tasks in a number of classrooms with a number of teachers. Throughout this there has not been one problem with their attitude to work or their behaviour in school. They were a real credit to their families, coming into school while others were not in school, and should be rightly congratulated.
Well done key worker children. You have been brilliant!