Letter from Mr Mirams - 20th May 2020
20th May 2020
I am writing to you at a time of great uncertainty where many people are experiencing much anxiety in regard to the weeks ahead. It has indeed been an extremely unsettling period for all but many of you continue to keep the school community going with your positivity and the amazing efforts you are making with your children. It has been so heart-warming to hear from so many of you either directly or through other people. There has been much in the news over the last week about the return of school life and I am sure, like the rest of us, you have been somewhat confused by the mixed messages coming from all groups of people in regard to the next steps. Let me be absolutely clear that it doesn't matter what position you hold in society or how important you are perceived to be there will be no right way, right time or even certainty about any of this next stage. There will be various approaches by all different schools, Local Authorities and organisations over the next few weeks with varying degrees of success. The decisions I will make in the coming days will be based solely on my deep passion and feelings for our school and all who are within its community. I have no interest in the politics, what others think we should do and will tentatively move us towards a new and safer period in my own way with the support of our Governing Board.
School reopening is probably the most divisive discussion point at this time and I would like to reassure all of you that our next steps will be taken in a manner that is ensuring the safety of all as well as taking into consideration what all our staff came into the profession for and that is to make a difference to young people`s lives. In reality, no one can state that it is safe to return (because no one really knows) and it is under this guise that we will make slow, but definitive steps in the direction of reopening. I do not need politicians to tell our staff what our vocation is or what our obligations are! As parents you can rest easy on the truest fact of all that despite our faults (and each of us have many) no one can be more caring of our community than our staff, no one more committed and no one more willing to have such impacts on all our lives. They are the best staff I have worked with in nearly 30 years and this last few weeks has indeed in my opinion defined them.
The changes will be only small in the first instances and if your child is in any returning year group then the decision about them coming in is yours alone. In reality, any return before September will be very limited and it is only right and proper that I inform you that I do not foresee any widespread change to the current arrangements over the coming weeks. The idea that all Primary children being in by the end of July at present seems an almost impossible task in my view due to the current guidelines, staffing availability and more importantly safety. Hopefully I can provide absolute clarity in this letter for the next month at least.
SCHOOL REOPENING TIME FRAME
The Government have stated that there will be no change prior to June 1st at the earliest with a possible announcement on the Thursday before. As a school we are not convinced that this will either provide enough time to ensure that all is in place for the immediate start or even provide the evidence to ensure it is safe to do so. Therefore, we will not be changing our provision until 8th June at the earliest with any additions being the Reception children that have already signed up in the first instance. We will then start looking at provision every week to see what is possible and safe before providing guidance to you all each week.
As I stated last week the Government are introducing guidelines which require schools to organise groups into Pods with their own teacher and no interaction with other groups. This will mean that any provision on top of what we already have will be limited in regard to timings, days and will all need to be staggered. In reality we will be running a range of provisions with unfamiliar staff and trying to provide our continued on line service. As you can imagine this will not be easy but where possible we do want children to be surrounded by the staff they know.
Thank you to those of you who have asked for provision once we open to the year group. We are currently organising staffing around this and will be in touch with more concrete arrangements in the near future. This provision will be from Monday to Thursday at the current time and limited hours due to staffing and the need to ensure adequate cleaning and safety checks. Social distancing is simply not possible for this group and they will be accommodated in one room with set staff so that we can track and trace any infection if it occurs. The earliest but not definite start date is 8th June.
TRACK AND TRACE
We must ensure that we can monitor any impact of having pupils in school and support with track and trace. Therefore, all children who have been in already will remain in that group with the same staff, while new groups will also be in set room with set staff. This will make tracking and testing requirements easier in the coming weeks if infection happens. This I`m afraid is our new reality at present with no mixing or cross group interaction and differing start and end times.
There will be some of you in Year 5 who will be wondering and worrying about the 11+ arrangements this year. I have been in discussion with the LA in regard to this and at present the decision process is with the Department for Education (DFE). The LA are awaiting further instruction over this process and once I know more we will let you know.
YEAR 10 AND 12
We are very aware of the need to prioritise the examination year groups and are working on providing one to one guidance meetings for pupils where needed during Term 6. We will be in touch with arrangements next term to support where we can but I am already aware that both Miss Hyde and Mr Wakefield have been outstanding leads for these year groups and I would like to personally thank them for their continued support in what are difficult times.
We have been in contact with the Schoolwear Centre and you will have all received an email about the ways of purchasing uniform over the coming weeks. I hope this also takes away some anxiety that I know you had been in contact about. We are very lucky to have such a fantastic relationship with them and are doing all they can to meet your needs.
I have been overwhelmed over the last few weeks by your kind messages, your thoughts and your complete support of our school. I was taught a long time ago to ensure that honesty and integrity were at the forefront of all one did with the understanding that health is the most important thing anyone can have. I never thought that the teachings of my own parents would stand me in such good stead for what we have experienced over the last few weeks. I have over the last few weeks been privy to many views, much upset, I have experienced the work of our NHS colleagues first hand, I have been lucky enough to be supported by some pretty strong staff and in all honesty have found the whole experience one that in many ways has changed me as a person. I have learned that the instinct in the pit of your stomach is generally the right one, that showing that you care brings much strength to others and that in reality St George`s is an institution that I am proud to be the custodian of. Many of our staff have committed more than I could have asked for, many continue to put themselves in harm`s way and all it appears are proud to be part of our community. A school is about people, it is about relationships and above all it is about community.
As your Headteacher I will continue to attempt to provide an honest and clear direction for all our school even if this doesn`t always follow the Government timeline, please those that think they know best or even fit in with everyone`s plans. For this I can only apologise but ultimately no one could care anymore than I do for our school and be more determined to see a return for all our children. Remember, that in reality “health is wealth”.
My thoughts, prayers and best wishes go out to all of you.
God Bless You.