Executive Principal’s Update 24/04/2020

Dear Families

Thank you for your continued support during this very challenging time. We hope that you are finding the educational resources helpful and not too overwhelming. Our message has been clear all along that our priority is to NOT put unrealistic pressures on families and to provide a menu of educational and pastoral resources so that you can focus on the well-being and safety within your family unit.

You should have, by now have had the link to Oak Learning Academy which is a new national learning platform. Of course, it would have been helpful to have this right from the start, however I do see it as a very rich resource for busy families. https://www.thenational.academy/information-for-parents-pupils/

We are asking teachers to also look at this resource and send you guidance alongside to replace or to add to what you may already be using. In the meantime, do have an explore if you have time.

It was good to see the Gavin Williamson (Secretary of State for Education) really acknowledge the critical role schools have played in this crisis, during the daily briefing last Sunday. 

Last week, I mentioned a survey to gather your views about the re-opening of schools. This should be with you by the middle of next week. Sorry for the delay. We have no more information than the general public as to when this may be. To manage expectations, I do think it will be unlikely that schools fully open to all children at the same time prior to summer. I am, however, speculating based on what we are hearing from the government scientific/medical advisors during the briefings.

You would be surprised as to how busy schools are behind the scenes. We are required to provide a lot of new information and adaptations of policies etc to the Local Authority and the government. We get daily updates and requests, with a significant amount of new guidance to process and share. I tell you this, as there are interesting and ill-informed views particularly on national social media that it is ‘easy for school staff’ at the moment. I have been a head teacher for 14 years and there has never been a more challenging time! I know many of you understand this. Thank you to people who have contacted me directly. Your comments and support really do help a lot.

We hope Free School Meals vouchers are finally getting through to those who are entitled. We urge all families who have had significant changes to check government guidance to access Universal Credit. Below are links you may find helpful:

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/universal-credit/before-you-apply/Check-if-you-can-get-Universal-Credit/

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/work/coronavirus-if-your-employer-has-told-you-not-to-work/

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/sick-or-disabled-people-and-carers/employment-and-support-allowance/before-you-apply-for-esa/check-if-you-can-claim-esa/#h-coronavirus—if-you-or-your-child-are-off-sick-nbsp-

We want to reassure you we are working hard to make sure we are doing our best for children in school and out of school. We are also trying to provide some other helpful links to families. As always, we welcome your constructive comments and suggestions. I have contacted local MPs to voice concerns about the chaotic FSM voucher scheme and other issues. Both Clive Lewis (Norwich South – Bignold) and Chloe Smith (Norwich North – Angel Road) have been keen to listen and to support our schools.

Above all our thoughts are with anyone who has suffered loss or bereavement, and to those of you that are finding the isolation and constraints very difficult. We miss our ordinary school life especially your lovely children! A big thank you to those of you who are key workers too. We are all in this together.

Regards
Binks Neate-Evans 
Executive Principal 
Bignold Primary, Angel Road Junior and Angel Road Infant and Nursery schools, Norwich