As of Monday 23 March, all schools in England will be closed until further notice. We are writing to provide you with the best information that we have available at present. Further updates will be provided as and when we are able. If you wish to read the statement from the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, it can be found here:
Learning during Closure
All pupils should undertake the remote learning that will be provided for them on the school’s website. We will update this work periodically as needed. In the first instance there should be enough work to keep pupils occupied for 3-4 weeks. It will be updated as required.
Please note that pupils should remain at home or in another appropriate indoor place during the school day, taking suitable breaks for their general wellbeing. Pupils should not be out in public places during school hours, to minimise social contact.
Throughout the period of closure no absences, authorised or unauthorised, will be registered against pupils.
The government have announced that public examinations will not take place in May. These will be not be rescheduled. It is recognised that this is a considerable blow to our pupils who have worked so hard in preparation.
Free School Meals
We are conscious that a number of our children are eligible for Free School Meals. The most recent DFE advice on this states:
‘To support children eligible for free school meals, schools will be able to purchase meals or vouchers for supermarkets or local shops.’
The government has also confirmed that the total value of vouchers offered to each eligible child per week will exceed the rate it pays to schools for free school meals, recognising that families will not be buying food in bulk and may therefore incur higher costs. The final amounts will be confirmed shortly. We have been told that schools will be able to order vouchers directly from supermarkets or shops in their communities to be emailed or printed and posted to families, and they will have their costs covered by the Department for Education. Guidance for schools will be published shortly.
While we await this guidance, we would not want to leave any child in need without provision; therefore during this initial period, if you require support with provision of food, please contact the FLO/ school office in complete confidence and we will make some arrangements with you.
Safeguarding and other urgent concerns
There may be a need for parents/carers, pupils or staff members to urgently contact senior staff about safeguarding issues or other pressing matters during the period of academy closure. Very shortly we will publish on our website and email out to you details of how you can make such contact by telephone or email. We are finalising arrangements and expect to be able to publish these by close of business on Friday.
Pupils who may attend School
Quite rightly, we are expected to make provision for three specific groups of pupils: those whose parents or carers are key workers, those who have an Education & Healthcare Plan (EHCP) and those pupils with a social worker.
Please note thatwe will onlybe able to make provision for pupils who fall into these criteria. There will be no exceptions.
We realise that this will be troublesome for some parents/carers, but we cannot start making individual arrangements in the interests of fairness, consistency and achieving the purpose of academy closures (minimising social contact). Please be considerate and do not put us in a difficult position by asking us to accommodate your child if they do not fulfil the criteria, forcing us to come into potential conflict with you by saying no.
Please be aware that those children who do attend will be undertaking similar activities to those of their peers who are working at home. The purpose of the academy closures is to minimise contact and therefore we will be providing skeleton staffing to provide supervision and care for pupils who do attend. This means that we will not be running a normal timetable. It is perhaps worth noting that the Secretary of State has been clear that this is an entirely different role for academies/schools and their staff. It is primarily about care, not education.
As we will need to plan staffing,we will need to know in advance which pupils we will have in attendance. Therefore, if you are intending to send your child to school during the period of closure, please complete the table below and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
If for some reason you do not have access to email, please contact the school by telephone and ask to speak to a senior leader. All responses must be received by 1pm on Friday 20 March please.
Upon receipt of your form, we will assess the validity of your request, confirm by return email the attendance arrangements and then be able to establish daily registers of pupils. If you indicate that your child will attend and this changes for any reason, please let us know. Apologies for having to be so prescriptive about this; but we know you will understand why this is necessary.
Please note that children will need to bring a packed lunch; there will be no catering facilities available in the school. If your child is eligible for Free School Meals and you indicate that you wish us to do so, we will provide them with a packed lunch.
We are awaiting definitive guidance on what constitutes ‘key workers’. For now, our working definition is that key workers include NHS staff, teachers, police officers and PCSOs, prison officers, probation staff, armed forces, social workers, firefighters, workers in logistics (transport, delivery, refuse collection etc) and civil service personnel. We will provide a definitive definition when it becomes available.
There has been an indication from the Secretary of State that he would like schools to continue to provide this service to key workers over the upcoming Easter break. We will need to await further details, but if this proves to be the case we will endeavour to do so.
Request for child to continue to attend School:
If eligible for Free School Meals, I would like you to provide a packed lunch: Yes / No
We regret very much having to put these arrangements in place and we thank you for your understanding. We would like to take the opportunity to publicly thank our wonderful colleagues who have worked so hard this week to allow us to keep our schools open.
We are holding our whole community in mind. We hope you are all able to navigate these worrying times with minimal difficulty and we look forward very much to when our schools can be reunited and return to normal. That time will come and we will be ready.
CEO of the Island Learning Trust