18th May 2020
I wanted to write to you all to give you the latest update about school and our role in supporting our children and our families.
Willow Grove has been open to children of key workers and our vulnerable children since the beginning of this Coronavirus lockdown. We have had between 15 and 20 children in most days and have managed the safety of everyone in the building, staff and children alike, in the best way possible following guidance from the Local Authority, Government and Public Health England.
The Government has now asked schools to gradually increase the number of pupils they are open to and to aim to have a larger number of children in school by the end of the summer term. You will have heard the passionate discussions being had by all parties as to whether it is safe to bring larger numbers of children back into schools.
In moving forward with the Governments decision I have considered the following:
- The safety of the children and the staff on a daily basis.
- Our ability to maintain the recommended social distancing guidance.
- Calls to families that tell us that our children are missing being in school and in an increasing number of cases our children’s mental health is suffering.
- Guidance from the Government.
- Guidance from Public Health England.
I have drawn the following conclusions:
- The safety of our children and staff is paramount to any final actions and decisions taken by me and the senior leaders in school.
- It is absolutely true that the majority of our children are unable to maintain the recommended social distancing guidance and that as nurturing adults it is very hard for us not to comfort a distressed child or to physically intervene to support emotionally if it is necessary.
- All of our children have some level of additional needs and the current situation of lockdown is very hard for them to understand and tolerate. Our children do not cope with change well and most are comforted with familiar routine and familiar adults in their home and school life. Currently they cannot have their normal routine and whilst initially this seemed manageable it is now clear that the children are struggling with not being able to have some normality in their lives.
- The guidance from Government is plentiful and is sometimes released many times in a day. It is constantly updated and reviewed. As head teacher I read whatever information I can and am continually reviewing and tweaking our routines and support for everyone in the building at school. Moving forward this will not change.
- Public Health are available to consult with on any issues for school and we are in contact with the Local Authority when necessary.
Taking all of the above into account I have spent the last week creating a plan to move us forward. As of the 1st June:
- We will have 6 classes in school each day.
- 2 of these classes will be for our Y6 children only.
- The class sizes will not go above 4 children in each class.
- Before the end of this Summer Term every child in the school will have been offered some days in school to ‘touch base’ with their classrooms, teachers and teaching assistants and some of their classmates.
Over the next week I will be contacting you all to talk about whether you would like your child to spend some time back in school before the Summer holidays, even if it is only for one or two days.
As parents you will be aware of the risks involved in sending your children into school and as head teacher I cannot tell you that there is no risk. It is your decision and we will support you with whatever you decide. We are working hard to make the school as safe as possible but there is still a risk for everyone. There will be no fines issued if you choose to keep your children at home and we totally understand if this is your choice.
If you would like to talk about this with me then please feel free to contact school.