Dear Mums, Dads and Carers,
I hope that you have all had a good week.
As you are aware, we currently have key worker and Year 6 children in school following the Government guidance regarding which year groups to prioritise. We are following social distancing and hygiene guidelines and making use of the available staff and space within school.
We have slowly increased the number of Year 6 children that we have in school and have a few places remaining. If you have indicated that you do not wish your child to return to school or haven’t responded, we are now looking to fill that capacity with other children and therefore there may not be empty places available at a later date.
We are fully aware that the majority of our children are continuing with learning at home. We have seen some absolutely amazing clips of children taking part in the virtual activity day organised by Mr Cunningham; the information is on the website if you haven’t already seen it.
We are currently investigating ways that we can connect with you all in a more interactive way.
If you are concerned about your child’s lack of engagement with their learning, please speak to your child’s class teacher so that you can discuss options. You can either wait for the KIT call or you can call the office and book in a phone conversation with the teacher.
We are also thinking creatively about how we might be able to get more children in school for short outside sessions. We are hoping to be able to offer reading workshops to all children in Year 3,4 and 5 before the Summer holidays and we are in the process of ensuring that our plans meet the guidance for social distancing and hygiene. We will keep you fully informed.
Head of School
I hope you all received the update on Wednesday when I informed you that there had been a change in direction from central government. This change, you will know, dictates what we can do. I want to reinforce my message that we are very sorry about the position this puts so many of you in. We continue to look at gradually widening the offer to particular groups of children. The big news of a ‘summer catch up programme’ as of yet has no detail.
Please be assured we are still working tirelessly to find some different ways of keeping our communities connected.Each school is managing in different ways and has different challenges. The Heads in each of the schools will keep you up to date with specifics at least each week and more often as relevant. Angel Road Infant families will know the particular challenges faced there with a broken boiler. We are coming up with some solutions for that and are sorry for the disruption and how this may have unsettled our youngest learners. In never rains when it pours!
For those families with children in schools we hope you have been reassured by the measures in place. I do want to take this opportunity to really thank and celebrate the superb work the cleaning teams have done throughout this period. Their work has been pivotal in the wider re-opening and risk management in our schools. They have worked with incredible diligence and goodwill and provide a very reassuring presence for us all. Whilst they are protecting those in school their work plays a key role in reducing transmission to the wider community and within families.
Evolution Academy Trust are working with us and have been hugely supportive. With them, we are beginning to explore planning for September. As of yet, we do not know what the expectations/restrictions will be. There may be the permissions in place for schools to fully open. Undoubtedly, much stricter hygiene measures will remain in place. Or depending on how controlled the pandemic is, schools may be required to rota. I am sorry we are not yet in a position to offer clarity. I do want to make clear that we are working tirelessly to future proof our plans to try create greater certainty for our families and our learners.
As restrictions are gradually lifted we ask families to continue to work with us in partnership, by keeping us informed of any suspected cases and test results and to continue to help children understand their important role. Most importantly look after eachother and support each other to be safe as the changes are rolled out. I am not alone in feeling this phase is perhaps the most challenging and we want to do all we can to keep the virus out of our community.
Many of you may have heard the government announcement this lunchtime that the decision to expand provision for more year groups/children is now to be managed by individual schools and trusts. The government are not directing schools to do this as had been communicated previously. This is because it seems clear nationally that it would be unsafe, unmanageable and completely impractical to expect all schools to do this at this stage of the pandemic. There is not enough physical space or sufficient staff to follow and maintain safety guidelines.
I hope our previous communication has helped you to expect that many of our children will be unable to return to school this year. We hope this has helped you top prepare children too. We realise this is bad news and disappointing for many. We are, of course, really concerned about the impact this has on children, their learning and their families. Ultimately we would have loved to have been able to open more widely, but as I have said all along, safety must not be compromised. This communication is short as we have only received the information after the Secretary of States formal announcement in the House of Commons this lunchtime. We have promised to try to keep you as update to date as possible in very tight timescales and want to ensure you are informed that:
- There will NOT be a wider opening to specific year groups BUT
- We are working to consider how we can work with targeted groups/individuals
- Exploring the idea of ‘reading/well-being/maths’ clinic/mentor sessions IF we can find organisations to temporarily donate marquee/tents
- Ensuring there are transition plans to provide good endings for children transferring to different schools (Y2/Y6)
- Bignold is still trying to increase toilet and handwashing capacity for Y6
If there any families who have contact in the locality who may be able to help by donating currently unused marquees/large tents, we are exploring the idea of being able to offer some form of provision to wider groups/individuals. We are exploring this because there is some evidence to show that transmission rates are reduced outside. Please contact the school office if you know of anyone that may be able to help but ensure you have made contact with any potential donor first. We do not want to be making ‘cold calls’ to organisations who themselves may managing difficult circumstances.
We will be in touch when we have further information about any wider provision.
Please be assured that we are working hard to try and find safe and meaningful ways to keep our communities connected and to find safe ways of expanding provision. I am really sorry not be able bring clearer plans and certainty. We are very keen to be able to support families who are struggling to cope as the impact of the restrictions continue. Please do get in touch if you would like a welfare call. Again I would ask families not to call the school office about details of re-opening as this prevents them from carrying out work that is linked to safe management of schools.
You have been so understanding and respectful of our requests and the staff teams are very grateful of your support, patience and kindness throughout this period.
Despite the very challenging circumstances we still find ourselves in, I hope you managed to have a reasonable half term.
You will know we have been preparing and planning for the gradual widening and re-opening of school for eligible groups (Nursery, Reception, Y1 and Y6) across both schools. Last week I wrote to you to explain we were awaiting a number of different aspects to ensure the safe expansion of places we can offer. Please refer back to that update.
Because of the work we have undertaken during half term, I am pleased to announce we are in a position to open more widely from Tuesday June 2nd.
This decision has been made in partnership with Lynsey Holzer (CEO) and EAT trustees. School governors have been informed of the process. I want to reassure you that the process is under constant review. I hope the you feel you have been kept informed and that you are able to understand the issues we are facing.
- In Angel Road Infants this will be for Nursery and Reception children who previously requested places. We will not be open for Year 1. You will receive a phone call on Monday with further details.
- In Angel Road Junior this is for Year 6 only.
- Key worker and children who have been attending during previously can attend on June 1st.
CAUTION: We are awaiting delivery of some critical PPE equipment to ensure staff are safe if administering first aid or managing a symptomatic child. We are informed this WILL arrive on Monday. If, however it doesn’t we will not be able to open. Please check your emails.
IF YOUR CHILD IS RETURNING
If your child is returning, please tell them there may be times when they see some staff in PPE. This does not mean there is an emergency. It might be helpful to show younger children some images of non hospital PPE. When our kits is complete we will try and post some pictures. Below is an example:
Please also talk to child about teachers and staff looking forward to seeing them AND school looking a bit different. Each school and bubble will be carefully and sensitively introduced to new routines and expectations.Please be assured we understand that children will respond differently. We are here to reassure and help.
FOR CHILDREN NOT RETURNING
Please tell them we are still very much here for them. The staff are very keen for them to return too but we have to make sure everyone stays as safe as possible. Online learning and ‘keeping in touch’ calls will continue for children not attending.
I will reiterate, that we are at the earliest stages of phase two of the governments easing of lockdown. I urge our communities to remain hyper vigilant as relaxing of measures will be interpreted very differently by individuals and groups. Whilst we hope the gradual re-opening doesn’t cause further spikes, I do want to remind families that sudden and short term closures may be likely in all schools, particularly as Norfolk is a focus area for the ‘track and trace’ strategy. This may mean groups in school are directed to self isolate whether symptomatic or not. I also think it is important that this is communicated to children so that they understand the actions of adults and feel empowered to minimise risk (as age appropriate).
Again, I am really sorry to not bring brighter news for other children, and I hope you know that are actions are driven by the will to get it right for the children, staff and community.
Bignold Primary, Angel Road Junior and Angel Road Infant and Nursery schools, Norwich