23rd February 2021
Good morning, everyone.
It was so lovely to be greeted by smiling faces this morning as the children returned to school after the half-term break. I am also delighted that in March all of our children will once again return to the relative normality of school life after many challenging months. We cannot wait to see everyone.
Yesterday, the prime minister delivered his roadmap out of the lockdown which included the return of all primary and secondary children to school on the 8th March. The DfE also published a 67 page guidance document last night for schools to support the full opening and just for your information there is very little change from the guidance we received in September. This is helpful, firstly because it was delivered in good time, and secondly, it is clear we do not need to make any significant changes to our risk assessment and can therefore continue with the measures we put in place in September. The staggered starts, finishes and dinnertimes, the handwashing, the bubbles and the cleaning regimes that have been in place will continue. Social distancing when waiting for children will also be expected for the foreseeable future and there will still be no social events happening until we are directed that it is safe to do so.
The guidance does state that schools should focus on the basics of phonics, reading, writing and maths whilst still delivering a broad curriculum. Our curriculum ensures that children develop their reading, writing and maths skills through other curriculum areas and that will continue. We will also monitor children carefully on their return and amend our planning and intervention accordingly to ensure children make progress quickly. The mental health of the children is also a priority and every staff member in school will have every child's best interest at heart on their return.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for the incredible support you have given your children at home, not just during this lockdown, but in the last twelve months. You have been superstars! Parents and carers have all been placed in a position we could not have dreamt of two years ago and, as a parent myself, I am in awe of what you have achieved. We know it has been challenging but your resilience has provided a great model for the children. I do feel that the very positive relationship within the school community has grown even stronger and we have been delighted to hear such positive comments from you - they have provided us all with such a boost. I do genuinely feel that we have been in this together and even when a concern has been expressed I hope you feel we have responded quickly and appropriately.
I am grateful for everyone on the team who has gone over and above to ensure communication is strong between home and school and for the quality of the learning they have provided - it has been a team effort from Day 1. We have all been learners in the past year. From Mrs Haynes and Miss Miller learning to organise vouchers, lunches and laptops following the many last minute DfE guidance documents to Miss Smith and Mr Woodcock ensuring both sites are cleaned thoroughly and prepared for the next day based on COVID-19 health and safety guidance and to Mrs Cook communicating regularly with many families to offer support. From the teachers teaching, supporting, preparing and learning new methods of teaching and ways of communication to teaching assistants taking on daily cleaning duties, preparing resources and generally going above and beyond in so many ways. Our roles have changed in the last year but every step of the way the children have always come first and I could not be more proud of the team for what they have achieved despite, like you, many juggling their own challenging personal circumstances too.
I will be writing again to remind everyone of the expectations just prior to the 8th and will hopefully answer any questions you may have at that point but as always do get in touch if you have any worries or concerns.
Take care, everyone.
Good afternoon, everyone.
First of all, can I thank you for your understanding this week with regards to the days we closed due to the snow and ice. It's never an easy decision because of the unpredictable nature of the weather and often headteachers are unable to make a final decision until 7am after seeing what the night brings us. I used all manner of apps and weather reports, including from staff in a number of areas, to help inform the decisions and I do feel we got them right this week. The safety of everyone in the community is always the priority but I appreciate fully how decisions I make regarding closures impact on you and your work.
I wanted to provide an update on where we are with the current situation.
Speculation is again rife in the press about schools in the coming weeks and months. I fully expect to be opening to all children on the 8th March but, and I know I've said this before many times, we will only find out at the same time as you. My guess would be that the Prime Minister will state at the end of next week that schools will open on the 8th - therefore giving us the two weeks to prepare. I realise I am speculating but I do need to plan ahead, look again at our risk assessment and make changes if necessary.
Not only is the March date being speculated on, but also how children will be supported to 'catch-up'. The government's new 'education-recovery tsar', Sir Kevan Collins, will be putting forward his thoughts at the end of February. There have been many ideas flying about including extending the school day, summer schools and reducing the summer holiday - these are all completely speculative and may well be very wide of the mark in the end. I have been encouraged hearing Sir Kevan's considered views so far, but as Headteacher of the school I will not hear what his actual plan will be until he shares it, so please be patient with us at this stage. To quote Manuel on Fawlty Towers, 'I know no-thing.' It is as frustrating for me as it may be for you.
We have received some limited 'catch-up' funding which we are finalising a plan for and with a percentage of it we have already bought maths and reading resources to support children in school. This money is limited, distributed at three points across the year, and is about the cost of half a teaching assistant's salary - we have 131 children, so we need to be as creative as possible with what has been provided. There is speculation we will be funded again in 2021/22 - again, speculation.
We have reached our maximum attendance of 50% in Olive/Fir and will not be accepting any more children before the full return to school in those classes. By keeping the attendance at or below 50% we are able to reduce risk in the classrooms by encouraging enough space between the children. Any addition to that percentage would raise that risk which we are not willing to do. Our overall percentage of attendance in school is around 32% which is above the national average for this lockdown and significantly above the percentage in the first lockdown which began at 10%.
For those supporting your children to learn at home, thank you for your ongoing support. The messages and photographs via ClassDojo have been so good to see and given us all a real buzz. I know it has been very challenging but we appreciate any time you have been able to spend with your child on their learning. It's also been lovely to see the feedback from the Zoom sessions. We can't wait to see all the children back in school.
Enjoy the rest of the week and stay safe.
1st February 2021
This week is Children's Mental Health Week. In school we are taking a couple of hours from the curriculum for the children to switch off from their learning and enjoy relaxing and playing with their friends - in a socially distanced manner of course. Teachers may have already mentioned this in their remote learning timetables too, so, for those at home, please provide the opportunity for children to come away from the screens and from the learning to play and relax for an afternoon.
There's a strange feeling to this week having been told by our Prime Minister that schools will stay closed to the majority of children until at least the 8th March. Although having some kind of target is very helpful, for children, parents, carers and staff that extension will have added to the anxieties of life at home and in school. It is so important that for the weeks leading up to the 8th that we look after each other - yes, try and complete the learning when you can - but please do have a break and switch off if it gets too much.
This is probably the first time since the Second World War when the education of our children has been under such scrutiny and where gaps in learning are inevitably going to appear. It is our responsibility to ensure that we focus on those gaps when the children return to us - you have done an amazing job at home, but the relationships you have with your children are vitally important and should not be put at risk by the need to finish particular learning when things are getting difficult. We need everyone returning to school in March ready for the rest of the year so be kind to yourself and the children in the next few weeks.
Just do what you can. Your best is good enough.
For the Zoom calls this week, and in line with Children's Mental Health Week, children both at home and in school can 'Express' themselves. In other words, they can come into school or appear on Zoom in 'non-uniform' or in clothes they feel happiest in.
Thank you for everything you are doing at home. We all appreciate it.
Please take care.
26th January 2021 - Covid19 update
Good morning, everyone.
First of all I want to thank you all. You are all doing so brilliantly taking care of your children at home and preparing them for school, whether that is remotely or getting them ready for that cold, teeth-chattering trip every morning. Being a parent in these times has moved up a level with the expectation on you since March and particularly during the lockdowns - you have been amazing and we all appreciate the care, time and support you are providing to our fantastic children.
It has been lovely to receive so many positive messages from you in the last few weeks - every time we get one via email, text, ClassDojo, Instagram or Twitter, I send them to every member of the staff team as each one provides a boost. ClassDojo has particularly been praised. Dojo is now our main way of communicating with you - it helps to build positive communication, enables teachers to respond quickly to any queries and it will continue to benefit the children in the future. There are now 77% of our children who are making use of it - please contact Miss Miller if you haven't yet but wish to.
I was also delighted to hear such positivity about the Zoom sessions last week and we will make sure these now take place every week. We are limited to when these can take place but I hope your child can be involved, as we know - from the feedback we've had - that they brought a smile to many face. Thank you to Miss Miller for organising each event.
Regarding remote learning, we know this can be a challenge, particularly if you are trying to juggle working from home with supporting your child or children. The DfE have set schools the hours of learning we should prepare for children (3 hours in KS1 and 4 hours in KS2). Although this does roughly mirror the hours of learning in school per day, the expectation of the number of hours may add unnecessary pressure to you. It may help to spread the 15 or 20 hours learning per week over 7 days not just Monday to Friday. Spread the learning to suit your circumstances. Yes, the children should be completing the learning during this lockdown - that is the government's expectation - but use the time to suit you. We are here to help and support and, sorry to mention ClassDojo again, but this tool has been so valuable in helping parents and children to overcome any issues.
Some content of remote learning may also focus on areas below your child's current year group. This is due to the time that has been missed in school and extra attention needs to be paid to certain aspects of maths or English with the aim of filling any gaps.
Continuing learning is one priority - the other is the mental health and wellbeing of children and families.
Do what you can. But look after yourself.
It is important that I publicly thank the teachers at this point for their dedication at this time. They are essentially planning for two classes and are doing so with care and consideration for each child as well as spending time increasing communication with you. Thank you!
Staff Lateral Flow Tests
From this week, all members of staff will be offered the chance to take self-administered twice weekly Covid tests. These tests take place at home. The idea is that this will enable us to pick up asymptomatic cases and break the chains of transmission within the community. This does mean, however, that there is more likelihood that we will find a positive case amongst our team which could lead to more groups of children having to self-isolate for a time.
There is constant press speculation about when children will 'fully' return to school. Just a reminder that we will find out when you do - there is no direct Bat Phone in this office to the DfE, although at times I wish there was. If the return is after half-term of after Easter or anytime inbetween or later, we will be ready and absolutely delighted to see all the children again.
If we continue to provide remote learning after the half-term holiday we will aim to provide curriculum books again for those children at home who will need them. These may not be for all classes as some are working their way through a novel over two terms. I am still overwhelmed that your kindness enabled £800 to be raised towards the final bill of £873 in 24 hours. I'd also like to thank The Rabbit Hole bookshop too who reduced the bill by 20% to bring it down to that figure.
So, again, if you know of any businesses that could help to fund this, we would appreciate any donations as we simply do not have the money in the budget for this initiative.
Thank you to my team and to you all for your ongoing support.
Take care everyone. Stay Safe.
12th January 2021 - COVID19 update -
Good afternoon, everyone - I hope you are well and staying safe. Thank you to everyone who has been able to collect the curriculum book so far - about three quarters have done so or have a child in school. We will aim to get all books to children by Friday in readiness for any learning linked to it next week. We may keep hold of some until parents pick up learning packs at the end of the week. For those offering to deliver, I will be in touch if needs be in the next day or so - thank you again for the offers of help.
The Department of Education have allocated the school 8 laptops to support home learning. We are currently making a list of those families we know already would benefit from receiving a laptop to support home learning. We are asking for your understanding at this stage as we are all too aware that far more than eight families would benefit from the use of a laptop at home and so very difficult choices are ahead for us. Thanks to the community we have also have another two previously-used laptops which will be available soon. Please send a text saying 'laptop + the name of your child' if you feel you would like to be considered - but only do so if your child cannot access remote learning. Only one laptop will be available for each family at this stage. The laptops are school property and must be returned following the lockdown - they will be available from Monday 18th and we will contact the selected families as soon as possible.
This morning, I signed the school up to the Radio Lincolnshire 'Make a Difference' appeal which encourages businesses to support schools by providing laptops amongst other things. Fingers crossed.
It is wonderful to see so many Class Dojo messages going backwards and forwards - I know it has improved communication between the school and families significantly and has been particularly helpful during the pandemic. The teachers are constantly sharing with me messages that have been sent sharing learning. Fantastic - well done, everyone!
Next week we will be offering packs of reading books to support home learning. Please wait for a text next week with further details.
The final word relates to attendance in school. Again, I must reiterate that the current government position is that if children can be at home with a parent, they should be. Please do consider this before sending your child to school.
Stay safe everyone.
10th January 2021
Good afternoon, everyone.
First of all, thank you for your patience, understanding and brilliance last week as we all came to terms with another lockdown. We have all had to adapt quickly for the next weeks both at home and in school. The staff were exceptional in working with such determination to prepare for the children - they have now become accustomed to working in this manner! I also appreciate the support you are providing at home now for you children through remote learning, whether that is via the online or paper-based learning. We are always hear to support you and I am delighted to see so many messages between teachers and parents/carers via Class Dojo.
I am writing to update you on changes that need to made this week:
Mrs Holt has been asked to self-isolate for 10 days due to being in contact with a positive case. The contact is not related to school and so children can still attend school if they were with Mrs Holt on Friday. Mrs Wright will step in for her on Monday 11th, Friday 15th and Monday 18th. Mrs Newbury will teach Olive and Fir children from Tuesday to Thursday with Mrs Wright continuing to support.
There is an update from The Department for Education relating to attendance. This guidance was published on Friday 8th and likely triggered due to many schools stating that their attendance was above 50% during this lockdown, making social distancing impossible and questioning whether this would impact on a reduction in the R rate. The guidance now says the following:
'Children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school or college if required, but parents and carers should keep their children at home if they can.'
Our attendance does not match that percentage but we do not expect an increase in child attendance from this point. I will also not be texting to find out whether you will be attending each week. We now know who will be attending and will only contact you if your child does not arrive when we are expecting them. Please keep us updated if there are any changes in your circumstances or changes to the days your child will attend.
In the next few days we are aiming to distribute the curriculum books which have been bought with the funds raised last week. Thank you to those businesses and families who donated to the cause. We will let you know when they are ready to be picked up or when they will be delivered.
Have a good week.
5th January 2021
Good morning, everyone. Thank you for your patience and understanding last night after the late news of a lockdown and then - perhaps, understandably - the crashing of the text service. It broke my heart that yesterday we did not get chance to explain to the children what would be happening in the next few weeks so I'm thankful to you for the conversations you will have had to have.
I thought it would be useful to explain how school will look over the coming term as there are significant differences from the first lockdown in March.
From March to May schools were effectively childcare facilities. We could organise the days as we wished and so filled them with activities, crafts, play, educational programmes and quite often made good use of the warm weather outside; it was later in the year, as year groups returned, that learning took the priority again. We were based on one site only and children of different ages could be in one classroom as a bubble although socially distanced. As the weeks progressed during that period we had only a handful of children in school and so we were able to reduce staffing and use a rota.
During this lockdown the focus is very much on the education of the child. The school is open at both sites for children of critical workers or those children deemed as vulnerable. All staff are currently expected to attend and children are being taught by their own teacher with support from teaching assistants. We are expecting a range between 3 and 8 children in each class. Learning will continue to follow our curriculum and, where possible, will be mirrored by learning at home. Teachers may have to change the focus slightly for home if resources are not available. Teachers are preparing remote learning timetables and these will be published on website under Children then Class Pages by tomorrow morning- the 6th January. For those who may struggle to access IT, we are preparing paper learning packs which will be able to be picked up from school. I will let you know when these have been completed as teachers are currently choosing appropriate learning for them - in the meantime, please do look at the curriculum if your child is in Year 1 to Year 6 as there are many research opportunities that the children could begin to do.
If for any reason numbers decrease in school in the coming weeks I will look at staffing but still intend on teachers teaching their own children.
All aspects of the school day will remain the same, for instance, the staggered openings and closings, lunchtimes and play/breaktimes. Children can still come to school in their PE kits on PE days and they should only bring into school what is necessary. Uniform must be worn on all other days.
For those children at home, teachers will be communicating via Class Dojo and will feedback to children on their learning if photographs are uploaded onto it. This is unlikely to be during the school day due to teaching commitments but they will do so as soon as possible. If you have not currently joined up to Class Dojo, this may the time to do so. Please contact Miss Miller if you have any questions.
We are currently looking into the guidance for Free School Meals and will be in contact as soon as possible with families who are eligible. The voucher scheme has run smoothly of late so fingers crossed.
Breakfast and After School Clubs will continue for those children in school if there is a need. Please note that After School Club will finish at 5pm from next week - the 11th January - until the end of the lockdown. The early finish of 4.30 on Friday still applies.
It is important to state that the guidance remains the same that if children can stay at home during the lockdown then they should do so. The Prime Minister finally admitted last night that schools play a key role in transmission of the virus and this is something we should not forget, especially with the new variant within our communities.
As a school our main aim is to ensure our incredible children continue to receive a good education in the most testing of circumstances and that their wellbeing is at the forefront of our thoughts. We inevitably need your help and support to deliver this and we will always be here to support in anyway.
We will miss the children hugely, but will be in touch via Class Dojo and teachers will give the children a call soon. I know that these calls were appreciated by families last year and they gave teachers a boost too. Mrs Cook may also be in touch with some families as a catch-up. Remember, we are here to serve the community and if at any time you feel the need to talk in the coming weeks, Mrs Cook or myself can be available. I will also post a message or two on Instagram in the weeks ahead to keep you up to date with any information and will direct you via text to any letters or home learning posted on the website.
Please do get in touch if you have any questions about the current situation.
4th January 2021
Things can change so quickly...
So, our Prime Minister has tonight announced a national lockdown starting from tomorrow. He has directed schools to close for the majority of children from that date.
Therefore, school will only be open to children of critical workers or children who are classed as vulnerable until February half-term. For children who are not in school we will be providing remote learning from Wednesday 6th January. The remote learning timetables will be posted under the Children tab of the website then under your child's class page and will be updated every week. You will be able to communicate with your child's class teacher via Class Dojo. Please note that teachers may not be able to respond to enquiries immediately as they will be teaching throughout the day.
We are awaiting guidance regarding Free School Meals and will be in touch with families as soon as we can.
The times of the school day will remain the same apart from for those who are attending
Breakfast or/and After School Clubs. Please note: they will finish at the usual time of 6pm this week (apart from Friday) but will finish earlier from Monday 11th January. A time will be confirmed.
Mr Johnson will still be in school to deliver PE sessions but his after school clubs will not be taking place.
We will update you with any further information as soon as we can, but please understand that we have only had confirmation of a lockdown this evening and we are therefore working quickly to put provision in place.
3rd January 2020
Good afternoon, everyone. Happy New Year.
First of all, I do hope you have all had a peaceful and safe Christmas. I know we have all experienced a very different festive season to what we are used to. May I thank those who sent cards, gifts and texts at the end of term - your kindness means the world to us.
There has been relentless press coverage relating to the opening of schools following the discovery of the new variant of Covid-19 and Lincolnshire being put into Tier 4. I have been following the speculation over the last few days and it is clear from the Prime Minister, Mr Johnson, that he expects the majority of schools to be open this week. I do not agree with his stance that 'all schools are safe', but I have always said that we do all we can to reduce the risk and I know this has been appreciated by you in the communication I have had. I have delayed a letter of this sort to make sure I had the most up to date news and having experienced the many late letters of guidance from the government since March this is a lesson learned. Incredibly, despite being the Headteacher, I find out the guidance when you do.
In short, we will be open as normal tomorrow morning and look forward to welcoming back our fantastic children. I am confident that the actions we have had in place since September have had a significant impact on the reduction of risk in school. We will, of course, be keeping a very close eye on potential symptoms and will act quickly if we observe any. Your understanding when this has occurred has been appreciated and we will again rely on this into the new term.
We have added the following to our risk assessment:
Can I also remind you of the responsibilities you have as parents/carers:
I appreciate many of you will have concerns about the start of term and may be debating whether you wish your child to return to school. Please note that if you do choose to keep your child at home we will not be providing home learning for them. We will only do so if a bubble closes or if they are asked to isolate.
Thank you as always for your kindness, understanding and care and may I pass on my best wishes to you all for 2021.
9th December 2020
Good morning everyone -
You may have heard that schools have been offered the opportunity to take the last day of term - Friday 18th December - as an inset day. I strongly believe that to be offered this by the Department for Education at such at late stage in the term is not good enough. It would mean many of our parents and carers taking further time off work or looking for childcare. This follows a catalogue of late guidance throughout the year, which - if I had any - would have made me pull my hair out!
Therefore, I have made the decision that we will be open on Friday 18th. We had already decided that parents and carers can pick up their children earlier if you wish on that day as is traditional at Christmas.
Here is a reminder of those times:
Willow and Olive (from the usual drop off point): 12.50 -1.00pm
Fig and Fir: 1.05—1.15pm
Clover and Ivy: 1.20– 1.30pm
However, as a school we will not be taking action against any family if they wish to keep their child at home on that day, or indeed, in the run up to Christmas. We recognise the time is one for family after what has been a very challenging year for everyone and you may have difficult decisions to make around who you will be seeing in order to keep everyone safe.
The following has been posted in this week's newsletter, but I felt it was appropriate to include here too.
IMPORTANT—COVID-19: Christmas Period
These are the procedures that schools have to follow should there be a positive COVID-19 case in the last week of the school term or at the start of the Christmas holidays.
Monday 14th to Friday 18th Dec: any positive case would have track and trace implications, you would be contacted by school and children would be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Saturday 19th Dec: any positive case would have track and trace implications based on contact on the 17th and 18th Dec. You would be contacted by school and children would be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Sunday 20th Dec: any positive case would have track and trace implications based on contact on the 18th Dec. You would be contacted by school and children would be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.
Monday 21st Dec onwards: any positive cases would not impact the whole school community, however we ask that you inform school so we know that your child would not necessarily be returning to school on the 4th January.
As the headteacher I will still be required to check the enquiries email or the text service in case we receive any communication from you regarding a positive case up until the 24th December.
Thank you for your understanding as always.
Good morning, everyone.
Following a notification from the NHS COVID app, relating to potential contact with a positive case last week, I will be self-isolating for 8 days. I will continue with all school commitments from home and will be available to make any phone calls to you as parents/carers during that time. Both sites are in the very capable hands of Mrs Batey and Mrs Briscoe and please be assured that I will be in very regular contact with them ensuring I am still leading the school, albeit remotely.
I am already looking forward to returning to school on Thursday 12th November.
Please take care everyone and do stay safe.
Good morning everyone -
I think it is important I clarify the school's position on remote learning which follows the guidance of the Department for Education.
As you know, teachers are preparing remote learning for children when they are self-isolating or if their bubble is closed due to a positive case. If children are ill then they are not expected to complete any learning and should be concentrating on their health and getting better.
Teachers are not expected to provide remote learning for children who are being kept off school for any other reason - unless for extreme circumstances which have been agreed by myself - as attendance is mandatory, even during these challenging times. For example, if you are choosing to keep your child at home due to concern about COVID-19, schools are not expected to provide learning for your child. I appreciate this may seem harsh to some, but the DfE do expect children to be in school and understand the extra workload for teachers who are providing in-school and remote learning.
Thank you for your understanding.
Good afternoon, everyone -
First of all, I hope you all have had a peaceful and healthy half-term. I write to you following the news from the Prime Minister that the country will be navigating a second, month-long lockdown from Thursday 5th November.
Despite this news, there are no major changes to the way that school will run during that period of time. We will continue to follow national and local guidance and review our COVID-19 Risk Assessment.
However, from Monday 2nd November we do request that all parents/carers who are dropping off and picking up their children wear a face mask to further reduce any risk. This includes those who stand on the pavement outside the Blyton-site. I do appreciate that I cannot demand this off-site (the pavement) but hope you understand the reasons for doing so, including times after school when you may need to speak to members of staff or speak to fellow parents and carers. We need to keep each other as safe as possible.
In addition, schools are expected to keep classrooms well-ventilated at all times which will mean windows will continue to be opened. I'm sure your children have already mentioned it can be a bit cold in class. We request that children wear a t-shirt/vest-top under their uniform and they will be able to wear an extra layer on top of their jumper/cardigan too. This does not have to be school colours - we just need children to be as comfortable as possible during their learning.
Thank you to you all for your understanding during this time. I will update you if we have any further information.
Message for the parents of our new Olive children
I hope you have all had a restful few weeks. It was so lovely to meet many of you before the holiday and I am already excited to see you all again soon - especially the children!
It is important that I update you on staffing prior to the new term.
Mrs Lidbury has taken the difficult decision to resign from her post for health reasons. She had been isolating throughout the lockdown and being clinically vulnerable with a medical condition she did not feel she could continue in her role. Children in any class need security and stability and she felt that by needing to protect herself and her own family her attendance would be affected.
She wishes to express how lovely you all were during the telephone calls and is very sad to not be fulfilling her role.
I am delighted that we have been able to secure Mrs Cook as the full-time teacher in Olive until Mrs Newbury's return from maternity leave in December. Mrs Cook was to be working in Olive every Friday but she is excited about taking on full responsibility for the class. She is a very experienced teacher who is highly respected by the team and has worked with us since my arrival at the school. The children will be in very capable hands.
I look forward to seeing you all soon.
Message for Year 6 children
The end of your journey at BcL is coming to an end. Some of you have been able to come into school and enjoy the last few weeks with Mrs Batey and some friends. I know she has thoroughly enjoyed spending time with you too. For many of you, you have been at home, beginning to prepare for the next step of your journey.
We were hoping to celebrate your time at school with a party at the end of term but we are still unable to do this due to the guidelines we have to follow. This may also be difficult next term as there are a number of guidelines still in place from September. HOWEVER, on Tuesday 21st July at 1.30 pm we would like to invite you into school for the afternoon to say goodbye and to give you the opportunity to see friends who may be moving on to a different school than you. We'll have a few things to munch and drink and if the weather behaves itself (the forecast is good) we'll be outside. There may also be one or two awards...
Choice of clothing is up to you and there is no need to bring anything apart from a coat which may be needed.
Your parents and carers will be able to pick you up at 3pm from the playground.
We do hope you can make it.
Mr Duke & Mrs Batey
Message for Parents/Carers of Ivy children
Before the end of term, we have created an opportunity for your child to visit the Blyton site and spend some time with Mrs Fernandez in Willow class. We fully understand if you still wish to keep your child at home at this time and will therefore make the transition in September as easy as possible for your family.
In the meantime, if you have any questions relating to your child's move to Key Stage 2 then please send them via our school email address: firstname.lastname@example.org and I will aim to answer them as soon as I can either personally or through a general response which I will post on the website.
Thank you as always for your kindness, patience and support during these challenging times.
Good afternoon, everyone. I hope you are all well.
Yesterday, the Secretary of State for Education stated that the Government have pulled back on their aim to return all primary children to school prior to the holiday. Therefore in the final weeks of the school year we will continue to accommodate children in Olive, Fir and the Year 6 children of Clover in the safest way possible. In addition, the Keyworker/Vulnerable group will continue at the Blyton site. To ensure the safety of all children, families and staff I feel this government decision is a correct one although I think we would have all benefited from more decisive guidance a number of weeks ago. I also appreciate the potential impact for families who have been under the impression that their children would be returning at some point this term.
Despite the change, it is so important that children in Ivy class have the opportunity to visit the Blyton site prior to starting in Willow in September. Therefore, towards the very the end of term, we will be arranging for the year 2 children to spend some time with Mrs Fernandez in her classroom - this is likely to be a morning for groups of approximately seven children. I will share arrangements for this next week so that you can plan ahead. You may decide that this is still too soon for your child to return so we will aim to support your child as much as possible in September.
Over the coming weeks, Mrs Batey, Mrs Briscoe and Mrs Holt will all be taken out of class for a week to complete other necessary school work in readiness for September. Mrs Geraghty (Y6), Mrs Fernandez (Fir) and Mrs Wright (Olive) will replace them during this time and I will also inform you of these dates next week.
Thank you for your ongoing support through this most challenging of times.
Take care, everyone.
Good afternoon, everyone; I hope you are enjoying the beautiful weather.
As expected during yesterday's briefing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson explained how the government had met their five targets which would enable the increased opening of schools for selected pupils. It will come as no surprise to you that I remain unconvinced by his arguments, as this, in my view, is not necessarily an educational decision with children at the heart of it. Sir Patrick Vallance himself stated that the UK is 'at a fragile state' and the Independent SAGE group also remain unconvinced by the direction taken due to the R rate which hovers just below 1 and is therefore at risk of increasing due to the model chosen by the Department for Education.
However, the Local Authority have made it clear that they are expecting schools to open from June 1st: this is possibly due to the lower R rate in this area compared with places like Manchester, Liverpool and the North East. I stated that we would open if the government met their targets and we had the necessary measures in place to minimise risk. Therefore, we will open our school on Tuesday June 2nd for children in Olive, Fir and Year 6 of Clover and we all cannot wait to see the children again.
Our PPE has arrived which enables staff to support children with more confidence if a child becomes ill and when cleaning areas within the school. I am also satisfied with the measures we have in place with regards to social distancing, hand-washing and the updated Behaviour Policy. We will ensure we follow all actions on the Partial-Opening Action Plan and refer constantly to the Risk Assessment. If I feel we could not do this, we would not be opening. I also need to add at this point, that if we are made aware of children spending time in the households of others and having sleepovers, we will contact the families of those children and it is possible that they will not be allowed back into school for 14 days. This may seem extreme, but we need to follow the social distancing guidelines set out at this time and cannot afford the bubbles in school - for want of a better phrase - to burst.
As parents and carers you will have your own view as to whether the 'opening' is necessary and whether your child should attend school at this point. I have expressed my views recently because this is not just about the cancelling of an event or a change to the Homework Policy. As the Headteacher with responsibility of 160 children and staff members, I think it is important you know where I stand. For many of you who are still not confident that sending your child back to school is in their best interest, I would advise that, for now, the child stays at home if your circumstances allow. This time will enable you to gather more information over the coming weeks which may help you decide for certain at a later date. Any decision you make now can be changed in the coming days and weeks and at any point you wish your child to return, we will be ready to welcome them back with twenty-four hours notice or by the Thursday of the previous week. If you still choose to wait until September, that is perfectly acceptable too. I want to be as flexible as possible for you.
This is not a time to judge the actions of others. No one should be the judge of a family other than their own.
For those children returning: we will make absolutely sure that they enjoy school, that they will feel safe and that they are pleased to be back. It will be so lovely to see their faces again.
If you require any reminders of timings and the organisation of school over the coming weeks, including where and when to drop-off and pick up your child, please refer to the Partial-Opening Action Plan on the website or get in touch via email, text or phone.
I hope you have a lovely weekend.
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.
Letter to Parents: 19th May 2020
The UK government have proposed to schools in England that they could open by June 1st if, as a country, we reach the five targets they have set. As an educator and a parent I have my views as to whether the timing of this is appropriate or not which is why it is important that parents do have a choice as to whether to send their children to school next term. A number of authorities across the country have decided not to open including Liverpool and Hartlepool and unions representing headteachers, teachers, cleaners and administrators are also against the opening without clear scientific evidence that it will be safe.
Nevertheless, I have been communicating with my Senior Leadership Team and been in regular contact with the Governing Body to update them on the latest steps we are taking including the Partial Opening Action Plan that I have provided below. I am still receiving daily guidance from the Department for Education and a number of unions which feeds into any document I share.
If we do open, school itself will feel very different. I have posted on our Instagram page and included a photograph in the Action Plan of what a classroom will look like in the coming weeks. It is not school as we know it because of the restrictions that will be in place and interaction with adults will be at a distance. However, we will do all we can to ensure a high standard of learning takes place alongside the need to consider the well-being of children which I believe is needed more than ever.
I will only be able to confirm school will be opened on June 1st when I believe we have fully taken the steps needed to minimise risk for children and adults, we have received guidance from the bodies I have mentioned previously and the government have confirmed that their five targets have been met.
Therefore, I appreciate your patience and understanding at this time.