Weekly Update - 15th May 2020
15th May 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope this letter finds you and your families safe and well. I appreciate and understand how challenging this time has been and it is important to remember, there is no textbook for how to do this; everyone will do it differently and I am sure you will be doing the very best for your family in difficult circumstances.
I wanted to write to you today as there have been a number of announcements recently regarding the proposed return to schools. I think it is important that the Red Kite community know and understand our current thinking and the approaches we will be taking over the next few weeks.
I would like to start by saying this; we want to return to school as soon as we are confident it is safe to do so. As a school we miss seeing your sons and daughters every day. We miss teaching them and being with them. We miss watching them happily socialise with their friends. We miss laughing with them. We miss your children and we miss our school. However, the current proposals from the government for students to return to school from June 1st raise a number of significant concerns that we will need to resolve before we are able to welcome anyone back to our school. We want everyone to be safe and at present there are many unanswered questions that we hope to resolve over the coming weeks. Therefore there will be a Trust letter coming out at the start of next week and we will be having a conversation with you all to get your thoughts. I am also sharing with you the letter that all the Head Teachers of all the Special Schools in Northamptonshire have put together; our children are vulnerable and special and they need us to speak up and be their voice; we want to keep them safe.
In brief though our main concerns are:
- The education sector have not yet been provided with clear scientific evidence that it is safe for children to return to school.
- We have significant concerns that social distancing is extremely challenging to maintain in schools, which poses a risk to students, staff and families.
- We would require a large number of staff in school to supervise our children and we may not have a ‘well or able’ workforce.
All of our arrangements and planning are there to protect and save lives. I did not ever think I would have to include such language in a communication to you, but we are living in unprecedented times. As a result, there are a number of conditions that need to be met in order for us to re-open our school in any way. There are national conditions which have been identified by our professional associations and we will be guided by these throughout our planning process. We will not re-open Red Kite unless we are confident the systems we have in place can protect students and staff. When we return, we will have to establish new ways of working and this will require everyone involved to cooperate fully in order to protect the welfare of our entire community.
I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to supporting our young people during this challenging period. We receive so many messages of thanks and lots of helpful suggestions that have helped us shape our provision. We have tried to keep you updated as frequently as possible using our weekly newsletters and our phone calls and emails. However, I expect that I will need to respond to national and regional updates for the re-opening of schools throughout the next few weeks and this will mean that our plans may well change. All I can do is reassure you we will communicate with you as frequently as we can, we will always act in the best interest of our school community and we will only make decisions that will ensure the safety and welfare of your children, our staff and all our families.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.
Take care all; I miss you.
Northamptonshire Special School Heads Group
Possible reopening of school to more pupils in June
We know you’ve seen in the news that schools may reopen on 1st June to reception, year 1 and year 6 pupils if the government thinks it’s safe then. However the guidance states that:
“Special schools, special post-16 institutions and hospital schools will work towards a phased return of more children and young people without a focus on specific year groups.”
Northamptonshire Special School Headteachers and the LA are working together, using the latest advice and guidance, to plan how to safely increase numbers in our schools from the 1st June. All schools are working hard to create a plan for their phased reopening. Consideration will be given to how to implement social distancing measures, which is likely to include changes to the environment and reduced class sizes, and therefore children may return on a reduced timetable (the government do not expect the majority of children to be in full-time before the end of the summer term). Consideration will also be given to how to support your child back into school, and the most appropriate curriculum to deliver when back at school, this will include preparation for transition to their next stage.
In the meantime, Special Schools are still open only for vulnerable pupils and the children of critical workers. We know some employers will be encouraging you to return to work, but we’re not in a position right now to extend places to other children until we receive further government guidance.
We’d like to thank you for your continuous support in helping your child learn from home. We’ll need to keep going with this for a while yet, so please do continue to do what you can.