Dear Parents / Carers,
We are very much looking forward to welcoming all children back into nursery and school in September (I know some of our children will be enjoying the Crossbar club at school over the holiday. Check out our website if you want to book any places).
All the way through this terrible situation I have stuck to the Government advice. Our thoughts have always been that Government must be advised by the highest level of scientists and medics and therefore offer the best advice to schools. We continue to carefully read what they suggest schools do, to ensure the safest possible full opening of school come September. I hope the following advice goes some way to assuring you that we do not intend on becoming relaxed in our procedures and practices and that the safety of your children and our staff remain paramount at all times.
We know that returning to school is vital not just for children’s education, but for their well-being too. The impact of missed schooling can affect both current levels of learning and children’s future ability to learn, and therefore we are ensuring all our pupils can return to Newdale. The Department for Education has stated that given the improved position, the balance of risk is now overwhelmingly in favour of children returning to school. They go on to say that there cannot be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. They say that school leaders are best placed to understand the needs of their schools and to make informed judgements about how to balance delivering a broad and balanced curriculum with the measures needed to manage risk.
We will of course be continuing to follow public health advice to ensure that we minimise the risk of the transmission of coronavirus at Newdale and continue to comply with health and safety law, which requires us to assess risks and put in place risk assessments. This will include the following:
- any child or member of staff who is ill should stay at home and inform school immediately
- continuing our robust hand washing systems for all
- continue to promote the ‘catch it, kill it, bin it’ approach towards respiratory hygiene
- enhanced cleaning arrangements will continue in every part of school – we have ensured we have plenty of cleaning products ready for the Autumn term and that regular rubbish collection and toilet cleaning is maintained
- active engagement with NHS Test and Trace where required
- reducing contacts and maximise distancing between those in school wherever possible – the DfE recognise that ‘schools should assess their circumstances and if class-sized groups are not compatible with offering a full range of subjects or managing the practical logistics within and around school, they can look to implement year group sized ‘bubbles’. The key is knowing who has been in contact with who for ‘track and trace’ purposes. The DfE also recognises that ‘younger children will not be able to maintain social distancing, and it is acceptable for them not to distance within their group.’
How contacts are reduced will depend on the school’s circumstances and will (as much as possible) include:
- grouping children together in year group bubbles when inside
- assemblies will take place as phase assemblies (allowing just 2 year groups at a time to fully space out in the hall, entering and exiting via 2 different doors)
- arranging classrooms with forward facing desks (where possible) and with encouragement for children to maintain safe distancing. Early Years and Year 1 children will be sat in groups.
- staff maintaining distance from pupils and other staff as much as possible
If anyone in school becomes unwell with Coronavirus symptoms, they will be sent home and advised to follow current guidance from the government and Public Health England. We will ensure that anyone developing those symptoms during the school day is sent home immediately and that our protocol is followed. If we do have a case in school, we are fully aware of the ‘track and trace’ requirements and are clear about the protocol for schools to follow should this be the case.
Face coverings are not encouraged or required in school settings. Bags will be allowed in school, but pupils should limit what they bring to just essentials: e.g. PE Kit, lunch boxes, reading/ homework / home-school communication books.
Start and end times
We are lucky to have multiple entry and exit points on our school site. This means we can separate gatherings far better than many other schools. We will be staffing these points.
|Year group||Entry point and start time||Exit point and end time||Notes|
|6||8.40 am: Gate by the Year 6 classrooms||3.10 pm: Gate by the Year 6 classrooms||Please encourage your child to enter and exit independently|
|5||8.45 am: Gate by the Year 6 classrooms||Just after 3.10 pm: Gate by the Year 6 classrooms.
Year 5 Teachers will ensure Year 6 have gone before they release
|Please encourage your child to enter and exit independently|
|4||Mr Jackson’s class
8.40 am: Steps to the left of the Iron Giant
Miss MacFarlane’s class
|3.10 pm: Steps to the left of the Iron Giant
3.10 pm: Steps onto the decking area front of school
|Please encourage your child to enter and exit independently|
|3||8.40 am: Gate by the carpark to the back of classrooms on the playground||3.10 pm: Gate by the carpark to the back of classrooms – please keep distanced from others whilst waiting for your children||Only one parent/carer to accompany the children onto site|
|2||8.40 am: Gate by the carpark to the back of classrooms on the playground||3.10 pm: Gate by the carpark to the back of classrooms – please keep distanced from others whilst waiting for your children|
|1||8.45 am: Steps onto the decking area front of school||3.00 pm: Steps onto the decking area front of school|
|Reception||8.50 am: Gate by the carpark to the back of classrooms on the playground||3.00 pm: Gate by the carpark to the back of classrooms – please keep distanced whilst waiting for your children|
|Nursery||Usual drop-off time for your child’s allocated hours: Nursery garden gate by main entrance||Usual collection time for your child’s allocated hours: Nursery garden gate by main entrance|
Note: Please do inform us if you are not happy in allowing your child in Year 4, 5 and 6 to enter and exit the site independently.
Attendance & Equipment
The usual school rules will once more apply from September and all children will be expected to be in school (unless following public health advice because of self-isolating or following a positive test result).
We will also return to full school uniform: blue or white school polo top / shirt with a navy jumper (school logo or plain); grey or black trousers / skirt; grey or black socks / tights and black school shoes (not trainers). PE kit should comprise of a white t-shirt with navy or black shorts / joggers and should all be plain. Trainers will be required in school. Please ensure PE kit is available every day, should teachers decide to do extra fitness sessions. Please also make sure your children have the correct kit for forest school as we will continue to make sure the children receive as much outdoor learning as possible. It is important that nail varnish is not worn for school and that haircuts comply with our policy and do not show shaved patterns or extreme styles including hair dyes.
Before and After School Clubs
The DfE advice here is that, ‘schools may keep children in their class groups for the majority of the classroom time, but also allow mixing into wider groups for specialist teaching, wraparound care and transport.’ They go on to say that, ‘if it is not possible to maintain bubbles being used during the school day, then schools should use small, consistent groups.’
To support our working parents, our breakfast club and afterschool clubs will resume as they were before lockdown; however, we will be keeping children within fixed groups alongside children in their year groups/phases. Social distancing and hygiene rules will apply as in the wider school including an altered menu and disposable cups and plates.
Curriculum and Learning
Teachers have already been planning home learning activities to support you and your children over the summer break. We know that many schools are not in a position to offer this, but felt it significantly important for children during this current situation. Your current teacher will let you know when the suggested learning activities will be released to you online.
The Department for Education states, ‘All teachers and other staff can operate across different classes and year groups in order to facilitate the delivery of the school timetable. Teachers can work across groups if that is needed to enable a full educational offer.’
In September we will be resuming our own high-quality, broad, and balanced curriculum, but will also be ensuring that time is given to cover any missed curriculum content and prioritising reading as a key skill which underpins everything (please help your child by carrying out as much reading with them at home as you can over the summer holiday). We will be assessing starting points and knowledge gaps at the beginning of the new academic year to ensure we personalise learning for every pupil. Teachers have already begun planning ways to fill gaps in core subjects so that no child is at a disadvantage from the time they have spent away from school. Your support with home working and reading will only help your child get back on track more quickly. In key stage 2, we will be grouping maths a little differently to ensure that children have the best possible chance to catch up with any missed learning, close gaps and reach their full potential.
We will be offering hot dinners/school sandwiches as we normally do. The kitchen staff are fully aware of the safety measures needed and have limited the menu (see website) and altered delivery and equipment to suit. Home sandwiches will be eaten in classrooms by some of the older children (following handwashing and table wiping) and all other dinners will be served in the hall with particular attention given to hygiene and the careful grouping of children.
Pastoral and Social Support
The return to school will allow pupils to socially interact with peers and school staff once more which will hugely benefit their well-being. As always, our excellent pastoral team will be on hand to support all pupils and their families, some of whom may need support re-adjusting to school after so long away. You can help too by talking to your child about school routines and ensuring they are ready for early starts and a structured day once more.
The DfE state that ‘the benefits of children being back in school far outweigh the very low risk from coronavirus.’ ‘All schools must follow the system of controls, but the way different schools implement some of the requirements will differ based on their individual circumstances.’
We really are working so hard on making sure we continue to get it right for our children and families. We hope you find this information both useful and reassuring.
If you have any questions or concerns, please be in touch with school by telephone or email. We look forward to seeing you all in September and wish you a happy and healthy summer holiday.