Children, parents, carers and wider families -
I am writing to you as we are about to start our seventh week of lock-down. We have all had to overcome - and are still trying to overcome - so many challenges during this time without a clear idea of when we will return to any form of reality. For many of us, our circumstances will have changed significantly since we last met. From a personal perspective, as I mentioned in my Instagram post to you on Friday, I haven't seen my own daughter for over six weeks. This breaks my heart, but I understand the need for the distance. For others, the distance may be more permanent, and if you have been affected by the loss of a loved one, our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time.
There is an increasing restlessness in the British media - and particularly newspapers - about a return to school. All this speculation does not help anyone during this time of uncertainty and it builds anxiety with everyone concerned. Like any headteacher across the country - and I am in touch with over fifty at any one time - we will wait for direction from the government, follow guidance from the local authority and listen to advice from teaching unions before moving ahead with any decisions about opening fully. I have daily communication with the local authority who have been extremely helpful during the school closures. It is important to note that we are also monitoring those tea-time press conferences to find out any new information as we only find out the new expectations at those times.
Since the 20th March school has been open for a small number of children. They have been our little superheroes as they come to school to support their parent superheroes. I also have a team of superheroes in the staff who have been coming into school to support the children, helping parents via phone and email, creating online and paper-based learning, cleaning the school and generally being so supportive of each other. All this, when they have also had to help and support their own families too, some in very challenging circumstances. I thought the world of them before the lock--down; my view has escalated since.
Thank you for all you are doing to support your children at home. The learning provided by teachers in the class pages of the website is there to support the time at home and do continue to make use of the BBC Bitesize and Oak National Academy online resources as they are both there to support you. I have looked at both sets of resources and they are very good indeed. There is no expectation from the Department for Education for the school to provide our own 'live' lessons online and this will continue to be the case. We are confident that the activities set by teachers plus the online opportunities are sufficient. Family time is precious and education at home is only a part of that. It will be our job to do what we can to accelerate learning when we open fully again. It is important to note that children have missed only four weeks of school learning so far although it seems like so much more.
As time has passed, I am sure you have generated many questions about the situation and how we move forward. At this moment, until we have clarity from the government, I believe I would find it difficult to answer them but I am happy to try and do so. Once a government map has been shared about a likely phased return, I will speak to the school's Senior Leadership Team and the Governing Body to look at how the organisation of the school will look. The priority to all of us will be the safety of the children and the staff and we will keep you fully informed of the decisions that are made. There is no doubt that for a significant period of time school life will be very different due to social distancing expectations and we ask for your patience and understanding as we begin to regain some form of normality.
I can speak for all the staff in saying we cannot wait to see every single one of our children return to school. They give us so much pleasure every single day and we miss them enormously.
Stay Safe everyone.