Dear parent / Guardian

We hope that you and your families are keeping well through these difficult times.

Since my last blog, I have been working through the government guidance relating to the possible partial reopening of schools from 1st June.  The guidance is still unfolding and we are working extremely hard to consider all the questions it presents and trying to keep up with all the ongoing changes and updates.

I have also been liaising with staff, our governing body, Headteachers in the Braunton Learning Cooperative Trust and our networks of local and national school contacts including Devon County Council.  The local authority has also been working with head teacher representatives and DCC staff across many departments (Education, HR, Legal, Health and Safety, Insurance and Public Health) to provide schools and therefore parents, with a consistent message around the decisions that need to be taken.  DCC’s initial guidance could possibly be issued over the weekend.

Navigating our way through all of this and finding the right solution for our school community is certainly not easy.  We need to find some way of getting back to normality, although, as everyone will understand, ‘normal’ is going to be quite different for some time, schools are going to look quite different (certainly this side of the summer term) and we will all have to adjust.  It’s our job as a school to support children and families and we understand that we also play a considerable role in societal change.

The Government has asked schools to consider how they could re-open for Early Years, Year 1 and Year 6 sometime after half term, possibly as soon as June 1st, although this date is by no means confirmed and the government has indicated that it could change depending on infection rates.  The government has also expressed a desire to extend provision to all Primary School year groups so that they have an opportunity to attend school for some part of the summer term.

We are currently carrying out risk assessments and considering how we could meet the requirements for social distancing and management of pupils and staff.  This is not a straightforward task and it is clear that provision at school for the remainder of this academic year will look very different to what it did before the lockdown.

In order to address all of this at school, we are considering:

  • The creation of four small ‘pods’ of children (EYFS, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6) who remain together as a single pod throughout the day at school.
  • Pods would have to be separate from the other pods, they shouldn’t mix and we’ll have to introduce different drop-off and collection times, and also different play and lunchtimes.
  • The possibility that siblings are together in pods, potentially leading to mixed-age groupings.
  • How to staff this provision.  Pods would have to have specific set staff for the whole day, and possibly a different member of staff than the children would be used to.
  • How we could manage the social distancing requirements laid out in the guidelines in a way that is practical for staff and children.
  • With matters of hygiene, children may have to bring their own equipment and, following guidance, many resources will have to be removed from classrooms. Cleaning will be frequent through the day as well as daily deeper cleans between days.
  • The curriculum changes too, considering that children will have limited equipment due to hygiene requirements and social distancing.  Awkwardly, this has moved from ‘childcare’ with a pause of the National Curriculum, to ‘education,’ but with limitations in the guidance that impacts its delivery and the availability of resources.
  • How we can create the most enjoyable and safe environment for staff and pupils to return, whilst accepting we cannot mitigate every risk.
  • Guidance has only just been issued about how to provide home-learning provision for the remaining year groups, and we will also have to consider how to do this whilst staff are in school through the day.

There’s further guidance for parents here… information for parents

Based upon all of this, we are in the very early stages of considering how we might be able to safely implement a phased return which is right for our children, staff and families IF we were to return on 1st June.

We are already seeing that things are intensifying and I’m sure things will develop over the coming weeks but, as part of our planning, we want to hear your thoughts.  We recognise that each of you may have different needs, hopes and concerns.  To that end we would be grateful if you could complete the survey which is linked below.

Google Form Survey:

Although the government’s intention is to encourage children to attend school, parents have the right to choose whether they feel this is right and required, and they will not be fined for non-attendance.  Each family has the freedom to make a decision based upon their own personal circumstances and we will support their decision.

We will let you know of our decisions and plans and share them with you as soon as possible.  In the meantime, please be reassured that we will carry them out only when we are confident that they are robust and meet the needs of our children, staff and families.

Should you wish to discuss this with me, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Yours faithfully,

Julian Thomas