17th July - 3pm
Good afternoon, everyone -
I have been contacted regarding a child displaying symptoms of Covid-19. Thankfully, the child received a negative test but the family have been advised to continue isolating. This is sensible and appropriate action and I am thankful that guidance has been followed.
I have spoken to Public Health England this afternoon and they have advised to continue as normal next week at the Laughton site and also provided the guidance that no bubbles should be closed unless a positive case is identified. They also understood that families may wish to be cautious, and therefore,
as we head towards the end of term we would understand if you took the parental decision to keep your child at home if you have concerns relating to this.
However, if this decision was made to keep your child at home we would not provide home learning due to the classes still being open for learning and teachers would be in school teaching to those attending.
As I stated last week, we will continue with our own risk assessment until the end of term, which still includes the closure of bubbles if positive cases arise. We all have our fingers crossed that this won't be the case.
If your child displays any symptoms of Covid-19, please keep them off school, book a test and inform us of the result as quickly as possible. If children arrive in school with symptoms the impact could be significant for all members of the school and wider community as we head towards the Summer. I appreciate your understanding regarding this request.
I hope you are all able to enjoy the hot weather this weekend.
Dear parents/carers -
As you will know by now we have had to close a bubble (Clover Y5/6) following a confirmed case. The class and relevant staff will be isolating until the 21st July and will return on the final day of term.
This is reminder of how the virus is in our community and that we should do all we can to stay safe at this time.
Due to working with the class in question, Mrs Batey, Mr Johnson, Mrs Altoft and myself will be isolating. I will continue to work from home, communicating regularly with Mrs Briscoe, Mrs Fernandez and Mrs Haynes and her team. Mrs Briscoe will be on-hand for leadership but she will also continue teaching so please be patient if you require a response from her. Emails through enquiries will continue to reach me and I will respond as quickly as I can.
Unfortunately circumstances now mean that we have had to cancel Move-Up Day due to the staffing implications stated above. There is a domino-rally effect down the school which makes the running of the day extremely difficult to run without two teachers in the building, albeit with one class not in school. We also believe that with a case in school, a move-up day would not be the right way forward now with children moving between classes, including some mixing of classes and working with different adults. We need to continue to concentrate on reducing risk in the hope that it reduces the chance of any further spread prior to the holiday.
We will aim to ensure that the impact of the bubble closing is minimal as we run up towards the end of the year, but please be patient with us as staff will be working hard to cover bases during the staff absences.
Thank you for your understanding at this challenging time.
Good afternoon, everyone. Time is racing away this year and I cannot believe we are almost in May! The last few weeks has been so wonderful seeing our children filling the classrooms again and a highlight of my week has been Celebration Worship via Zoom. However, I can't wait until we are back in the halls of each site with parents looking on proudly at their child's achievement. Usually at this point we are also thinking about SATs for our Year 2 and Year 6 children, but I am pleased that they can continue their learning this year without those interruptions.
This week, we are meeting to look at what can be organised for all of our children in the weeks ahead and we have our fingers crossed that we will be able to hold an event or events that parents/carers can attend; we are in also in the final stretch for our Year 6 children in primary school and need to make that time as special as possible. I will list all events and dates agreed as soon as I can so that you can make any plans that are necessary. We will of course only hold events if they are deemed to be as safe as possible with any risk reduced. Therefore, it is likely any event will be held outside. We will also be planning in another Parent Consultation opportunity, likely by phone, early in Term 6 as well as considering how a 'Move Up' day could work safely and effectively. In addition, Sports Days will happen at each site, but, again, we need to look at how they could be managed safely too.
We have exciting news regarding the BcL Reading-Inspired Curriculum coming up, which I will inform you of fully in the coming weeks. We are also encouraging children to practise on TTRockStars, Numbots (KS1) and Spelling Shed as much as possible at home so if you could continue to support us with that we would appreciate it. Some of those who are practising regularly are now answering times table questions in under 1 second per question which is astonishing recall. Children in KS2 have now started visiting the KS2 library again and will be bringing reading books home regularly. As they are often choosing you may find the book is challenging but we wanted to encourage personal selection as we re-opened.
I am aware that further road works are taking place again in the coming weeks at Laughton so please do make use of the pub car park when possible.
May I take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support this year. We all have our fingers crossed that by September we may be back to some normality and I cannot wait to see every single one of you back in school sharing your child's experiences.
Later today, the government are expected to announce that they have reached their five targets and therefore schools across the country are expected to be 'opening' from the 1st June. Although I have strong views regarding the government's tendency to move the goalposts during this period of time - and in particular recognising that 'following the science' only appears to matter to suit a message rather than for the health and safety of children and families - we have been working in and out of school to minimise the risk if children return including preparing the Partial-Opening Action Plan and the Risk Assessment. Both of these documents have been agreed by the governing body.
Following the announcement later today, I will communicate with the governing body and my SLT and also keep an eye on Local Authority and union guidance before making the final decision about Tuesday 2nd June. I appreciate your patience and understanding during this time and recognise that there will be many views about the situation. I never forget that my responsibility is the safety of the children, their families and my team.
With this in mind, I have updated the Behaviour Policy with a procedure, which has been ratified by the governing body and will be published on the website before the weekend. The addition is the following:
Children who are displaying behaviours which increase the possibility of the virus spreading will be subjected to a risk assessment.
These behaviours may include:
If the risk assessment identifies that the child would be safer at home, this will be relayed to the family. If this is declined, the school will follow procedures in the behaviour policy, including fixed-term exclusions, to ensure the safety of all children and adults.
I have been asked about end of year reports. Teachers have been working hard using a revised template and the completed reports will be appearing in my inbox shortly. We had already made the decision to amend following the disruption caused by coronavirus and I'm pleased the DfE guidance (published only last week) followed what we had put in place. Assessments on the report will relate to where the children were at Easter and there has been a reduction in the narrative boxes.
Take care, everyone.
It has been over two months since we were directed to close the school doors to the vast majority of our wonderful children. The directive delivered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier that week was not a message I ever expected to receive as a headteacher and it inevitably provoked many emotions. There was, of course, the sense of relief after what seemed like weeks of discussion, speculation and worry. The news was increasingly sad as the virus spread rapidly but the 'Stay Home' message gave everyone clarity and a mission to keep not only their loved ones safe but the recognition that every individual's actions could impact on the wider community. Despite that clarity, we had no idea of how long we would be distanced from the children, which was incredibly sad for us all. People choose education as a career for one sole purpose: to educate and prepare children for their life's journey. So, for anyone working in school, the next weeks and months would be alien and not like anything of us had ever planned for. We were also acutely aware that many of our children would be moving on to their next step without a well-deserved celebration of their time at BcL.
As parents and carers you will have experienced many challenges since Lockdown. You will have been balancing parenting with home schooling, perhaps working from home whilst caring for relatives. Key Workers will have worked and continue to work through extremely challenging circumstances. Many of you will not have seen relatives and friends since March and perhaps longer - I hadn’t seen my own daughter for ten weeks until last week and cannot explain in words how I felt that day and I, like many of you, am thankful to Zoom for being able to see my parents. I hope and pray that you and your loved ones have stayed safe and stayed healthy and will continue to do so in the weeks and months ahead; we have all been thinking of you. I also appreciate that many of you will have experienced challenges around your employment as the economic impact of the pandemic is felt in every community. We all hope that your lives will return to some normality soon.
Since the partial closure of schools, Headteachers have followed the guidance of the government’s Department for Education. Just over two weeks ago, the Prime Minister announced that schools would be 're-opening' from June 1st dependent on the five targets being met and that this gave schools three weeks to prepare. Within that statement, he declared that children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 would be returning to school. I debated whether I should share my own view but as I ultimately have the responsibility for your children in school I think it is important that I do. Regardless of whether the return date was too early or not, more of that later, I do not know of any other Headteacher who felt that this combination was the right path to choose, mainly due to the social distancing challenge for younger children. Since that announcement, the government's own Scientific Advisory Group of Emergencies (SAGE) have published their science regarding the partial-opening. The model chosen by the government (R/Y1/Y6) is not even a model that SAGE recommended, which I find quite baffling considering the constant message of 'following the science.' The three week preparation has involved constant re-thinking and re-wording as, in the last two weeks alone, we have received almost twenty documents of guidance linked to the ‘opening’ of school, the latest being a paper focusing on Early Years which was released this bank holiday weekend after we had already planned extensively and the majority of my team are now at home looking after their families. The guidance is a necessity, you can't plan during a pandemic without it, and has in most cases been very useful, but the drip-feed approach and ever-changing wording has left the vast majority of school leaders frustrated. I appreciate in the scheme of things this may seem minor, but I have the responsibility for the health and well-being of 135 children and over 20 members of staff so it is important we get it right and open school when it is safe to do so and time is therefore a precious commodity.
I understand that the return of children to school at this stage is not just about the education of children - particularly when considering the changes in school personnel and the changing physical nature of classrooms across the country - and that doesn't rest easy with me. The date is premature in my view but necessary from the government's perspective in order to restart the economy. However, and it may be naive, but I would like decisions on the opening of schools to be based solely on the safety of children, families and staff and dependent on systems like an effective Test, Track and Trace system being in place. I am also not alone amongst educators in thinking that using Denmark's schools as a model for re-opening, when their circumstances are so very different to ours, did not make sense.
So, where are we now?
In school, I cannot guarantee social distancing and at a time when the R rate is still delicately poised between 0.7 and 1 with the wider release of lockdown imminent. Within the Partial-Opening Action Plan and the Risk Assessment, I believe we have put in appropriate guidelines to minimise risk but that is not a guarantee and it is partly due to the fact that only 30% of children are due to return on the 2nd June. Any increase in these numbers will require further planning to ensure we can provide the safest possible space. It is clear that the 15th June date for re-opening non-essential retail businesses coincides with a possible return for children in Years 2 to 5. This, with the current guidelines, will be impossible for us to follow and I cannot promise that all children will return. I am in no doubt that there will be some changes to these guidelines, for instance, will there be a reduction in the 2 metre social distancing rule to 1 metre only? These amendments will have to be quite drastic to ensure all children return prior to September. I do appreciate that the decision many of you have had to make about sending your child back to school has been a difficult one, often relying on your own parental instinct and perhaps you are still having thoughts of uncertainty. There is of course much anxiety which I completely understand as this is a new experience for all of us. You have to do what is right for you as a family so please do not feel guilty if you choose to either send your child to school or to remain at home. We understand. In other cases, this decision may have been taken out of your hands to some degree due to work circumstances and you may well feel equally anxious and concerned. Again, we understand and will do all we can to support both you and your child in the coming weeks. As always, please do contact us if you have any worries about the coming term; a number of parents and carers have been in touch and I have tried to respond as quickly as I can which I hope has been beneficial.
I am sure - and hope - that children are excited about the return to school and to help them to prepare it is important they understand how different the school looks. For now, school is physically very different. One way we are currently trying to minimise risk is for children to be in smaller groups than the non-statutory guidance of fifteen which means they may return to a different classroom with a different teacher. Children will not be able to play with their friends like they did and many of their friends will not be in school to play with. The majority of resources and play equipment have been removed to reduce risk of contamination. In fact, the classrooms themselves are skeletons of what they normally look like, as I have shared previously on social media and within the Action Plan. I appreciate some may see my honesty as an attempt to keep numbers low, but I think it is only fair that I provide a view of what the physical experience of the school will feel like for children.
Ongoing discussions are continuing between the Government, school leaders and unions representing all areas of school life with the safety of all being the core talking point. I will aim to update you on any further information as the week commences and particularly from the 28th May following the review of the five targets.
I have faith that at some point in the future we will be back together. Our children will be smiling, enjoying their learning, playing with their friends and exploring the world with their teachers. Our whole community will be back together as one. I promise you all that it is our mission to ensure every returning child enjoys school, feels comfortable in school, feels safe in school and learns in the most positive of environments.
We miss them.
On behalf of everyone in school, I want to thank you for everything you have done at home to support your loved ones during this time. Thank you too for the kind messages, cards and posters that we have received from many of you - it has provided such a boost to us all.
Our six Christian Values have never been more relevant:
Thank you for your support, patience and understanding.