IMPORTANT UPDATE - 20th March 2020
Dear all Parents/Families and Carers,
Message from Head Teachers of SEN schools in Northampton:
As you will be aware, due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, we are in unprecedented times.
To control the spread of the virus, the government has announced that all schools will shut; apart from those that support children and young people with Education Health and Care plans (EHC plans), children who are considered vulnerable, or those children whose parents are key workers.
The special schools in Northamptonshire support some of the most vulnerable young people in our communities, all of whom have EHC plans, and so we are committed to do everything in our power to be able to offer an ongoing provision for our children and young people; and are committed to working together to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all children and staff.
We are in the position of being asked to keep our school openshowever as Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education, stated:
“Special schools are advised to make assessment on a case by case basis of the health and safeguarding considerations of pupils on a EHCP. For some, they will be safer in an education provision. For others, they will be safer at home. The Secretary of State trusts leaders to make these decisions.”
Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education
Schools have also had additional duties discharged to us to support certain pupils staying at home which will have a significant drain on staff and time resources.
Red Kite Special Academy – What we will be offering
To keep Northamptonshire Special Schools open for their full cohorts will not be feasible, realistic or safe at this time so we are all devising a strategy for our schools that will enable us to meet our social responsibility to support children of key workers and our most vulnerable.
This will not be an academic provision but will mirror a child care provision.
In the days and weeks to come there will undoubtedly be some difficult decisions that school leaders will need to make to be able to keep your child’s school open and safe. Please rest assured that the Head Teachers of the special schools in Northamptonshire are committed to the welfare of your child and their staff, every decision made will be in the interest of your child. As the Head Teacher of Red Kite Special Academy I am committed to keeping our children safe and to also ensuring that we meet the requirements that we are being asked to adhere to as a country.
At Red Kite we are currently working on what our provision will look like and how we can support the children of families with a Key Worker in the first instance and we would like to provide you with this update.
In our view, with increasing staff absence, it will not realistic to offer provision to all children with EHC Plans – if all of our children were to attend we would struggle to keep the setting safe with so many adults expected to be absent as a result of the measures of self-isolation, social distancing and shielding that have been implemented. Furthermore, the children of many of our own staff will no longer be attending their schools as mainstream schools are generally only offering provision where both parents identify as ‘key workers’. This would greatly reduce our staffing numbers at Red Kite.
Today we have the defined list of Key Workers which is as follows;
Health and social care
This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.
Education and childcare
This includes nursery and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.
Key public services
This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.
Local and national government
This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response or delivering essential public services such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies.
Food and other necessary goods
This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).
Public safety and national security
This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.
This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.
Utilities, communication and financial services
This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal staff.
What this means for you as families of children at Red Kite Special Academy
Following the advice from the government announcement, we will be targeting our provision at the families of key workers and our families who are vulnerable for social or safeguarding reasons or where they are vulnerable because of the extreme level of demand of their child’s presentation. The provision offered will be primarily childcare rather than education as we would not have the capacity to maintain formal lessons.
Throughout next week we will be putting our plan of action together so that from the 2nd April we can offer this childcare for the children of key workers and those children who we are deeming as most vulnerable and Sam and Sonia will shortly be phoning families to offer places for our forthcoming provision on this basis. (This will be by the 27th March 2020). You will be asked during your welfare call whether you fall into one of the Keyworker categories and will be continuing to work. We do not mean to offend anyone during this time; all our children are vulnerable but we have a duty to prioritise. If we do not phone you or contact you directly this means that we are unable to offer provision for your child at this time and like children all over the country, it is expected that your child will be at home and in your care during this period. If you are unhappy with the decision that we have made and feel that, either as a key worker, or due to the vulnerability relating to your child, a place should have been offered, we will be happy to discuss that with you.
If at any point the situation changes for a family situation we ask that the school is informed so that we can offer the place to another pupil.
Our priority at the moment has to be to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those that need it most. Can we please stress that advice is that children should be at home and not in the school if they can be cared for safely at home; this is to ensure that the spread of the virus is contained.
Please note that if we do not have the staff, or we have a case of the corona virus on opening then it will NOT be possible to provide this care. We also need to meet the Medical needs of the children on site and we will only open if it is safe to do so.
1st April – Red Kite staff who are not self-isolating or are ill, or have care for their own children/families will be in school ensuring that we are ready to provide care for the children.
2nd April/3rd April (normal school days) – we will be open from 8.50 - 3.10 as usual for those identified children – families should contact transport for this or bring their child to school themselves. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for any transport concerns.
6th 7th/8th/9th April
14th/15th/16th/17th April (Easter holiday, not including Bank holidays) – we will be open from 10.00- 3.00pm for those identified children – families will need to bring their child to school themselves. A lunch will be provided.
Transport: Despite our best efforts today we have been unable to secure a commitment from SEN transport that buses and taxis will run throughout this period. We will continue to discuss with them and keep you informed as we go. If transport is not provided, families will have to provide transport to and from the school.
Home Support: If your child is to remain with you at home we will maintain communication with you through the website updates and by telephone. We will be happy to discuss how we might continue to support our families; home learning packs will be topped up after the 20th April as necessary but you should discuss any further resources you need with your child’s class teacher.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the teachers and workers in our school for continuing to provide for the children of the other critical workers of our country. It is an essential part of our national effort to combat this disease.
Stay safe everyone and we will see you all soon.
Together we can do this!
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