Message From CEO – 31 May 2020
You have all been working relentlessly to put in place plans to welcome children from Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 back to school. Risk assessments have been carried out and detailed thorough plans have been put into place. You are all trying to do everything you can to keep pupils and staff, healthy and safe.
I would like to thank Headteachers, teachers, support staff, administrators and the Central support team for your positivity, flexibility, and resilience during these challenging times. You have been highly dedicated in all that you have done and continue to do to support your children and the school community.
I know that you are all very much looking forward to welcoming your children back to school.
In developing plans for wider opening of all 33 of our schools, we have taken tentative steps that reflect a number of factors including:
- the need to undertake risk assessment, and mitigation planning to keep pupils and staff as safe as possible
- the views of Trade Unions representing all our employees
- the number of pupils wishing to return to school
- the availability of staff across our Trust
- Government guidelines that class sizes should be kept at a maximum of 15
- the accommodation available on each school site
- updating all staff on significant changes to health and safety policies
- undertaking interviews and risk assessments with all staff identified as in a vulnerable group
- ensuring there is capacity to continue to provide home learning for those pupils not returning to school
As a result, the arrangements for welcoming back children in these year groups are slightly different in each school. Some are able to offer full time provision; others are offering 2 or 3 days for each group of 15. Arrangements will be kept under review as pupils and staff numbers change, and we have more information about the national strategy for the return of other year groups.
Some of our schools in the North Somerset and South Somerset regions were planning to return on 1 June, and schools in Taunton and all those in Bath on 8 June.
However, there have been significant developments in the Weston Super Mare region that has changed the position over recent days.
Headteachers, RDLAs and I have considered information from The Department of Health and Social Care, discussed the implications of the closure of Weston General Hospital and sought advice from Public Health England. On the basis of this information, we have decided to defer the opening date of schools in the North Somerset Hub to Monday 8 June, at the earliest. The schools affected by the delayed extended opening are Trinity, St John the Evangelist, Court de Wyck, Kingshill, St Georges and St Mark’s.
We know this will be disappointing to many parents, children, and staff, but this decision is based on local factors with the safety of pupils and staff as the prime concern. The goal of opening to children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 as soon as is practically possible remains.
Home schooling will continue as will provision for children of key workers and those in vulnerable groups.
We will communicate our decision about reopening the North Somerset schools from Monday 8 June by Thursday 4 June. We will try our best to communicate in a timely way so that you are able to prepare for this.
As from 1 June schools in the South Somerset Hub will begin reopening to more children. We all send our best wishes that this is a positive and successful start for children, parents, and staff. Schools restarting on Monday 1 June are Holy Trinity, All Saints, Horsington, Oakhill, St Vigor and St John, Shepton Beauchamp and St Mary & St Peters.
Over the half term you have all continued to support the children of key workers and those in vulnerable groups. Here are a few joy filled examples of the wonderful opportunities you have provided.
This slideshow “United We are Strong” displays all of the wonderful experiences that have taken place at St John the Evangelist Church School, both at home and at school over the last 10 weeks.
Pupils at St Michael’s Church school in Bath have shared all their wonderful learning opportunities far and wide. This montage of activities was celebrated by the Bath and Wiltshire parent group.
Batheaston Church School have created a display in their entrance area in preparation for pupils returning to school. The lobby area is full of colour and joy, bringing together all the amazing activities from each class across the whole school.
The uncertainty of the national landscape and strategy in relation to education makes planning for us all very challenging. However, you are providing certainty for your pupils. Your consistent, high quality home learning support and in school provision, communicates care, love, dedication, and commitment.
For those pupils who continue to learn from home, either because they are not in one of the returning year groups or they have chosen not to return at this time, I know you will always be there to guide, encourage and support.
There will also be staff who, for a range of reasons, are not able to return to school. We will all continue to support and encourage our colleagues through this period.
We must all continue to ensure the bond of trust between parents and teachers, teachers and pupils, between colleagues, and between home and school, remains strong as we navigate the next steps in this journey.