Letter from Mr Mirams - 11th May 2020
11th May 2020
I am sure many of you were watching the latest Government announcement last night to see how things were going to change over the next few weeks. You will also be aware that there remains much uncertainty and that there are more questions than answers in light of what has been outlined. However, as I always try and do for all in our school community I would like to take this opportunity to provide some clarity from our school in the way we perceive the next few weeks unfolding. These remain very difficult times and I am already aware of the huge anxiety many of you are feeling towards your own circumstances and the wellbeing of all in your households.
As Headteacher of the school I have already found myself having to take some very difficult decisions over the last couple of months and as I said last week the next phase is going to be the most challenging in both the organisation and the implementation of the current guidance. I would like to reiterate that at present nothing has changed and the school remains closed to all but a few children. This continues to be staffed by a small number of highly committed staff who have placed themselves at the front line to support those parents most in need and who themselves are working hard to support in our community. For this I am continually grateful and the vast majority of you have continued to keep your children save at home to protect them and our staff. I would like to thank all of you for this.
There will be no change until June 1st at the earliest when it is suggested that Reception and Year 1 may return to school in some format. I am awaiting this week clarification on exactly what this means in real terms and exactly how a school is able to social distance young children who are most of need of close interaction. It is then suggested that there may be a phased return of more Primary age groups and finally a limited return of possibly Year 10. As you can see I have the same information as yourselves, with input from various unions and other agencies.
I need to be absolutely clear that any return by some children will not initiate a normal school routine and there is much work to do to answer many of the important questions that are being asked. In reality it is unlikely that the school will look anything like normal for the rest of the academic year while we try and implement what we can. In essence everyone needs to realise that social distancing in school is I believe a very difficult ask of staff and children, alongside the importance of protecting all from the continued threat of the infection. These will be things that we will do our best to achieve but in all honesty will find hard to facilitate.
As a school we have tried to provide the best possible care, support and information to at the very least keep us all connected and the next few weeks will result in me making decisions for the good of all in our community. We have many staff who are either ill, recovering, shielding, vulnerable or who have child care commitments that will have an impact on the services that we can provide. As yet we are waiting to see guidance from other agencies and I am sure staff will be working closely with their Unions to ensure that all is in place in each school.
I feel that it is only right and proper that I outline the direction of travel of our school and what we will be doing until the Summer break in July so that you are all clear from the outset.
I am regularly reviewing our staff to ensure that they are all risk assessed and their current situation is available to me as the Headteacher. In the majority of cases staff have been working from home to ensure that on line resources and all other school administration is in hand. I am beginning this week to review staff availability in light of the new arrangements and ensure that we have the capabilities to safely open the school even in a phased capacity. I need to emphasise that it is unlikely that most children who return will have their normal teacher or TA at both schools as we try and rotate staffing and make use of our resources effectively. Staffing will be one of our greatest challenges alongside safety and the timetable.
I would like to thank all of you for continuing to do your best with the online resources and education at home. This will be continuing for the vast majority for the foreseeable future and the staff will continue to ensure that this is updated weekly. For those classes or years that do return it is likely that the new timetable may be limited and focused in certain areas and as yet we have no clarity on the timing of the day or even how many days a week pupils may be in. In essence, it will not be a normal school day or full curriculum at this stage. But once again, staffing and more clarity from the Government will drive this. But be prepared to be flexible in every way.
The school grounds will remain closed to all but school staff for the long term and transport to and from school for some pupils may be an issue particularly as there are limited services and the Government is advising against public transport at present. This is one question that has been asked of me already. I do not yet have an answer.
I will be reviewing Canteen arrangements over the coming weeks but would already advise that we may in the first instance follow the model we already have in place with the few children we have in school which will be that parents would need to provide a packed lunch. Again, staffing, social distancing and timings would be crucial in these decisions and as yet we just don`t know. We will continue to pay out Free School Meal Vouchers up until the Summer break to those that are eligible.
DECISIONS OVER CHILDREN RETURNING
If your child is in a year group that can return to school I would like to emphasise my stance as the Headteacher of the school. The decision over your child returning in any capacity is yours as parents. As a parent I understand your concerns and I will not be making a huge issue if you decide the safest place for your child is at home even after June 1st. I will not be issuing any sanction for this and will not change this expectation until the new academic year. The decision is yours alone. This may appear strange coming from a Headteacher but as I have said all along all I wish for is the return of a healthy and fit community.
I would like to emphasise that we continue to be at a critical time with the current situation and that there remains many questions from a wide range of people. I am not interested as the Headteacher to be compared to others or to compete or to say what is best. Many of you will have children at different schools and will find yourselves with a wide range of arrangements already. All I want today is to outline that in reality the phased return will be slow, measured and there is a need for patience. I have hopefully made it clear that there are many barriers and we will do our best to meet these head on, but a return will certainly not be a normal set of arrangements.
I just continue to pray that a return to normality may be in view and that at some point I can welcome back a full school of healthy children, parents and staff. Now that would be pretty special.
Thank you once again for your continued support and I hope some of this message has settled those of you who have been in contact.
God Bless You All.