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Update to Parents 3rd July 2020

Dear all


Thank you once again for your understanding and patience during the current COVID-19 situation.


As promised please find below a further update regarding the return to school in September. Yesterday the Government published guidance regarding the proposed return for all pupils at the start of the autumn term.


At present we are processing this information to create a plan for the whole school to return on Friday 4th September.


Key dates:


Friday 17th July - Year 6 celebration day


Tuesday 21st July - last day of term for all children (school will not be open on 22nd)


Wednesday 22nd July - transition planning day for all staff - planning for the implementation of a system of controls and stringent protective measures for children and staff which include the reduction of contact between children, risk of transmission and managing risk effectively in preparation for the return for all staff and children in September. All available staff are currently working in pods - the planning must be done at the end of term without children in the building. 


Thursday 3rd September - INSET for staff  - see below.


The Government has suggested that 'substantial modification to the curriculum may be needed at the start of the year' as teaching time should be prioritised to address significant gaps in pupils’ knowledge. We are currently working on the plan for our 'Recovery curriculum' and will continue to do so over the Summer holiday. Our priority will be to ascertain which knowledge, skills and understanding has been remembered, enhanced, forgotten and lost. 


Some members of the teaching team are currently not in school due to shielding guidance which we understand will be updated on 1st August. Thursday 3rd September will be the first time that we meet as a whole team to launch the return to school plan. The notion of a socially distanced INSET day is new to us!


Our curriculum planning will be informed by rapid informal assessment of assessment of children's starting points and addressing the gaps in their knowledge and skills. Children's current class teachers are best placed to do this as they know the children best. Our plan will respond to the needs of the school community related to the COVID-19 situation as a whole but will also take into account individual children's experiences.


We are looking at five elements - rebuilding relationships, working as a community to re-engage learners, adaptation of curriculum planning, reconnecting with learning and personalising provision. This is how we work at Harrison normally however we appreciate that some children will need more support to re-connect with the school community and learning.Relationship


September return to school:


As in the news today the Government has announced that it is their plan that all pupils, in all year groups, will return to school full-time from the beginning of the autumn term.


Welcoming children back to school: 


Circumstances regarding COVID-19 have changed. The prevalence of coronavirus (COVID-19) has decreased, the NHS Test and Trace system is up and running, and Gov has announced that they are clear about the measures that need to be in place to create safer environments within schools. They state that the risk to children themselves of becoming severely ill from coronavirus (COVID-19) is very low and there are negative health impacts of being out of school. 


We will also plan for the possibility of a local lockdown and a continuation of education at home and part time schooling for all children, if the Government guidance permits this arrangement. 


On 4th September we will:


  • welcome all children back in all year groups 
  • welcome children back to the classes and teachers whom they were with on 20th March when school closed to some pupils
  • ensure that these teachers support transition in school to new classes on 14th September
  • maintain recommendations for social distancing
  • keep children in the same classes for the next academic year.


Most importantly we will maintain distinct class groups or 'pods', (the Government call these 'bubbles') to reduce the risk of transmission and minimise mixing. At present we are scoping two models - pods of 30 (a class) and 90 (year group) - update to follow.


We have been directed to make adaptations to the classrooms to support distancing where possible such as changing seating arrangements and moving unnecessary furniture out of classrooms to make more space. There will be no large gatherings such as assemblies with more than one group.


Equipment: in order to minimise contamination and keep the school clear for easy cleaning we are insisting that children bring only essential items such as lunch boxes, water bottles, hats, coats and books to school. Bookbags may be used in KS1 but reading books in KS2 will be provided and left at school. Bags must be left at home. 


Uniform: all children are required to wear school uniform from 4th September. Children are advised to wear training shoes - black or grey please - as we will have greater amounts of time outdoors. PE kits will not be used initially but will be needed. 


Attendance: all children must attend school every day in September. 


Staff: a small number of staff are still shielding and are working from home. We will inform parents of their child's new teacher before the end of term. 


Reports: will be sent out to parents by email from year teams on Friday 17th July. 


Return to school for more pupils before September:

We have resigned ourselves to not being able to welcome back the rest of the school before the end of term due to the need for continued protective measures and recommendations regarding risks to staff. We have stringent protective factors in place and are concerned that introducing an additional 330 children into the environment would potentially increase the risks across the community. Since March 20th we have had no incidents of COVID-19 in school.


Thank you once again for your continued support and understanding - we are very much looking forward to getting back to 'near normal' in September and will be in touch again next week with a further update. As a team we are trying our best to meet the challenges presented to us and we do understand that parents are in the same situation, albeit with different a set of challenges. 


I truly believe that our children are resilient; working in partnership with parents to create a collective response to the return to school we will ensure that our children are provided with the education that they deserve. We will be doing what we do - responding to the needs of our children on a daily basis to ensure that our children become 'Lifelong learners'.


Sara Gmitrowicz

Executive Head teacher