• Eskdale Academy

Parent Feedback on School Return


Dear Parents,

I don’t think anybody could quite foresee the situation we have found ourselves in when Schools were closed very suddenly 8 weeks ago.

Since March, Schools have had to re-invent themselves into care providers, creches, meals on wheels, delivery drivers, social workers, meal voucher ‘experts’…. The list is endless and yet again we have been given a new challenge to face.

You may have seen the Government’s most recent announcement – about ‘re-opening School on June 1st (not that it has ever been closed of course) to Y6, Y1, Reception and Nursery pupils. This, as you can imagine, has created a great deal of debate, anxiety and anger amongst the profession and wider society – but again we must, and we will, find a way to rise to the challenge.

As a group of Headteachers, we have been working closely with the Local Authority to interpret this guidance and come up with a plan that is right for our schools and right for our children. With this in mind, you may have seen the press release over the weekend that Hartlepool Borough Council will not be opening their Schools on the 1st June.

For all we are an Academy Trust – and have the ability to make our own decisions; this is a stance I completely agree with and as such we will also not be opening our doors to School at this time.

What I am sharing with you today is our plan for re-introducing children to our Schools when the time is right but certainly not before the 8th June.

In this letter I am going to detail the plan for the children within our Trust to return to School. It is vitally important to take note of a number of key points at this time.

  • School will continue to be open throughout for our ‘vulnerable children’ and children of ‘key workers’.

  • This plan will not start before 8th June – this proposal is simply a 6 week plan we hope to introduce from the 8th June, however I must make clear – this plan will not start until a date where we have complete agreement from our school leaders, staff members, trade unions, parents and local authority representatives that it is safe to do so – and not a second before.

· As a Trust we will follow all DFE guidance with regards the social distancing of children and staff.

The Plan

The plan for opening Schools across our Trust will be open for the following children in this progressive and considered approach:

Vulnerable children and Key worker children will still be able to attend school each week, additional to:

Week 1 (June 8th) Year 6 (am only)

Week 2 (June 15th) Year 6 all day

Week 3 (June 22nd) Year 6 all day/ Year 1 (am only)

Week 4 (June 29th) Year 6 all day/ Year 1 all day

Week 5 (July 6th) Year 6 all day/ Year 1 all day / Reception (am) / Nursery (pm)

Week 6 (July 13th) Year 6 all day/ Year 1 all day / Reception (am) / Nursery (pm)

As you can see this is a plan which will gradually build up the number of children in School in a safe and measured manner – being reviewed at each stage before increasing capacity.

The reasoning behind the plan

  • There is a strong belief that the North East is yet to hit its peak - if this is the case we would not want the very youngest children in School. These children are most likely to become the ‘super spreaders’ due to their great difficulties of being able to maintain social distancing rules. We all know how fast colds and other ailments spread in Early Years.

  • Year 6 children are the most likely to understand and be able to follow the social distancing rules we will need to introduce into School.

  • Year 6 children have the greatest need to be in School – they need closure from the current School and support with transition to their new School.

  • The initial indication from parents is that more Year 6 children are likely to be sent into School at this time than any other year group.

  • The children need to start with a week of half-days as we have no idea how much the lockdown will have had an effect on them. This is a time to gradually reintroduce them to reality, embrace their emotions and help them deal with the change – not throw them back straight into full time schooling.

What will School look like?

At this moment in time, there are a number of general key areas of information we can share about what School will look like when we re-open.

  • In the majority of cases, class sizes will be a maximum of 10 children. Children will not necessarily be with the same groups of children and teachers/support staff as before School was closed.

  • Children will be put in ‘bubbles’ – smaller groups with the same staff and children week on week.

  • Children will be expected to socially distance as much as practicable whilst in School.

  • Children who attend School must continue to follow social distancing measures outside of School to ensure the safety and well-being of all staff and children within their ‘bubble’

  • School will have staggered start and finish times - to avoid mass gatherings at the start and end of the School day.

There is much more information your Headteachers will share with you over the coming days – the practicalities of the School hours, working patterns, class lists, social distancing measures etc. etc… the list is endless; but at this early point I wanted to let you know what we hope to do, if and when the time is right to do this safely.

The next steps…

As with everything we have done during these unprecedented times, I hope you have the complete faith that any decision we are collectively making as School leaders is to ensure the safety and well-being of children, parents and staff at all times. We really are all in this together.

I must stress once again, the plan above will only be instigated when it is deemed safe by all parties to do so; but certainly not before the 8th June. I will communicate any start date to you at the earliest opportunity.

What I need to know from parents at this point, is if you are a parent of a Y6, Y1, reception or nursery child – now you have seen the plan we are putting in place; will your child attend School? This will help us to organise staffing and classes for when we do eventually return.

If you could please notify your headteacher@eskdaleacademy.com by 5pm on Wednesday. Any parents we have not had contact from will receive a telephone call on Thursday morning. I must state, this is just to gauge your opinion at this time… and will be reviewed again closer to opening.

If you have any questions or comments, please direct them to me via ceo@edenacademytrust.co.uk and in the meantime keep well, stay safe and I hope to see you all again soon.

Regards

Neil Nottingham




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