Northlands Wood Primary Academy

Northlands Wood
Primary Academy

Communication to parents of plans to re-open for Yr R, Yr 1 and Yr 6 children

20th May 2020

The following information is largely for YR, Y1 and Y6 families - but for complete transparency and in light of further developments moving forward, it's important that all parents have sight of plans to date.

Whilst we have been working hard on planning and producing related documentation, staff discussions, formulating Risk Assessment and liaising with Governors, it has been firmly on my radar to continue communications with parents - many of whom will have questions surrounding the possible return of their child/ren.

In this email I want to share some of our current thinking, with further - more detailed - information coming out to you on Friday morning following a Governor's meeting on Thursday afternoon (21.05.20). We are hugely grateful for the survey responses you (YR, Y1 and Y6 parents) have submitted, indicating your current view on your child returning. This has helped inform our planning and Risk Assessments and has allowed us to formulate something which we believe is the best way forward for all stakeholders. Throughout all our thinking, creating the safest environment possible for those returning (both pupils and staff) has been at the forefront of all decisions. Working within the guidelines issued both nationally and locally, we have thought creatively to minimise risks wherever possible. We are only re-opening because we believe, at this time, it is safe enough for us to do so. We will continually review this and will reevaluate our approaches if and when circumstances change. The Sussex Learning Trust have been hugely supportive at all times and have offered a platform to engage with many important conversations.

Government proposals are currently for schools to re-open to YR, Y1 and Y6 children from 01 June, at the earliest. As we all know this may change when further scientific guidance comes to light and the national picture is reviewed. Our plans are based on 01 June date, but can be moved back if the information changes.

Given that the vast majority of pupils and staff have not been in school for the past three months, we believe the best approach is to facilitate the return of all who wish to, at the earliest possible time. In order to co-ordinate this, and to ensure staff are fully briefed in new protocols, Risk Assessments and have had time to organise classrooms as well as plan and resource sessions, we will be opening to eligible pupils from Wednesday 03 June. Monday 01 June and Tuesday 02 June will be Staff INSET days during which staff will come in and engage in the aforementioned discussions and training. From Wednesday 03 June, pupils in YR, Y1 and Y6 who wish to return will all be able to do so. Specific information relating to drop off times and pick up times, as well as which 'group/bubble' your child will be in, will be sent to you this Friday via email. As you can imagine, the finer details of this are currently being ironed out.

We are aware that all local schools are taking a slightly different approach to this situation. Please be assured that I have been, and will continue to be, in regular discussions with my Head Teacher colleagues so that we can refine our approaches and ensure the safest possible practices as we move forward. Some schools are taking a phased approach to re-admission, with one year group prioritised over another, whilst others are considering operating on a rota of one description or another. Every school is in a different position in regards to their staffing capacity, number of pupils and school layout. We are proud that we can offer full return, if required, for all proposed and eligible year groups, from Wednesday 03 June. This will be alongside maintaining provision for our Key Worker children, albeit in a slightly different format.
 
To enable this to happen there are a couple of slight changes to a normal school day and week.
 
Year R (EYFS) will be welcomed in, by means of a staggered drop off timetable from 8.45am. They will enter onto the school site via the usual entrance slope, through the pedestrian gates and then will be dropped off to their group adult/s at the EYFS gate. They will be taken into their allocated room by their group adult/s. Their parent will then enter the main school playground via the side gate, continue along the edge of the playground adjacent with the hall, before heading down the delivery ramp to exit the school premises. No entry will be granted to any parent or adult onto the school premises beyond this designated one way system. We also respectfully request that children are dropped off by only one adult and that where at all possible, no siblings or other children are brought onto the school premises. This will aid for social distancing measures which are paramount to the safety of all.
 
All Year R pupils will be assigned to a group. There are 4 groups each headed up by 2 members of staff and based in a specified room. Your child may be in a room which is unfamiliar to them, but we have put every effort into ensuring that their adults are familiar to them. The EYFS team have carefully considered the needs of the cohort when putting the groups together. By having 4 groups from the outset it allows us to keep these groups as small as possible - and therefore as safe as possible - but also gives us capacity should further children wish to join at a later point in the term. They would simply slot into their allocated group rather than us having to change arrangements for those children and families already attending.
 
Year R pupils will remain in their allocated group, with their allocated group adult/s, until their allotted staggered pick up time. This will be around 1.30pm. At this time, parents will be asked to adhere to the same one way system and maintain social distancing from other parents picking up their child. The rationale behind these timings are twofold. Firstly, we are fully aware that the vast majority of young children have spent the past three months in a largely 'play based' environment. Conversations with families has informed us that children are used to playing with siblings and engaging in 'some' directed learning at times, readily interspersed with play and discovery. As you can imagine, whilst Early Years is fundamentally and traditionally in the same vein as this, it can't be upon our return. Much of the time will unfortunately, but necessarily, be spent sitting at desks at a distance from other children and learning in a more 'traditional and formal' manner. We are fortunate that we have highly skilled and experienced staff in our EYFS setting, but they are still constrained by best practices to minimise risks to pupils and themselves. Secondly, this slightly earlier finish time each day will then also enable the EYFS staff to deep clean their rooms and the resources accessed, as well as to plan for the following day and to provide learning opportunities and feedback to those children continuing their learning, at home.
 
Year R pupils will have lunch, at a staggered lunchtime, in the hall. Chartwells will continue to provide hot school meals or your child can bring in their own packed lunch.
 
Year 1 will be welcomed in, by means of a staggered drop off timetable from 8.45am. They will enter onto the school site via the usual entrance slope, through the pedestrian gates and then will be dropped off to their group adult/s at the Key Stage 1 building side door. They will be taken into their allocated room by their group adult/s. Their parent will then enter the main school playground via the side gate, continue along the edge of the playground adjacent with the hall, before heading down the delivery ramp to exit the school premises. No entry will be granted to any parent or adult onto the school premises beyond this designated one way system. We also respectfully request that children are dropped off by only one adult and that where at all possible, no siblings or other children are brought onto the school premises. This will aid for social distancing measures which are paramount to the safety of all.
 
All Year 1 pupils will be assigned to a group. There are 4 groups each headed up by a member of staff and based in a specified room. Your child may be in a room which is unfamiliar to them, but we have put every effort into ensuring that their adult is familiar to them. The Year 1 team have carefully considered the needs of the cohort when putting the groups together. By having 4 groups from the outset it allows us to keep these groups as small as possible - and therefore as safe as possible - but also gives us capacity should further children wish to join at a later point in the term. They would simply slot into their allocated group rather than us having to change arrangements for those children and families already attending.
 
Year 1 pupils will remain in their allocated group, with their allocated group adult, until their allotted staggered pick up time. This will be around 1.30pm. At this time, parents will be asked to adhere to the same one way system and maintain social distancing from other parents picking up their child. The rationale behind these timings are twofold. Firstly, we are fully aware that the vast majority of young children have spent the past three months in a largely 'play based' environment. Conversations with families has informed us that children are used to playing with siblings and engaging in 'some' directed learning at times, readily interspersed with play and discovery. As you can imagine, whilst Year 1 is fundamentally and traditionally in the same vein as this, it can't be upon our return. Much of the time will unfortunately, but necessarily, be spent sitting at desks at a distance from other children and learning in a more 'traditional and formal' manner. We are fortunate that we have highly skilled and experienced staff in our Year 1 setting, but they are still constrained by best practices to minimise risks to pupils and themselves. Secondly, this slightly earlier finish time each day will then also enable the Year 1 staff to deep clean their rooms and the resources accessed, as well as to plan for the following day and to provide learning opportunities and feedback to those children continuing their learning, at home.
 
Year 1 pupils will have lunch, at a staggered lunchtime, in the hall. Chartwells will continue to provide hot school meals or your child can bring in their own packed lunch.
 
Year 6 will be welcomed in, by means of a staggered drop off timetable from 9.10am. They will enter onto the school site via the delivery entrance - to the right hand side of the playground. This is the quickest route up to their classrooms. Most Year 6 pupils will either walk to school on their own, or be dropped off by a parent at the school lower gate. A member of staff will be present at the entrance of the school, by the staff car park and will supervise children entering from this point. We do not feel it necessary, at this time, for parents of Year 6 children to require access onto the school site at drop off time. No entry will be granted to any parent or adult onto the school premises beyond this designated one way system. We also respectfully request that children are dropped off, where this is the case, by only one adult and that where at all possible, no siblings or other children are brought onto the school premises.
 
All Year 6 pupils will be assigned to a group. There are 3 groups each headed up by a member of staff and based in a specified room. Your child may be in a room which is unfamiliar to them, but we have put every effort into ensuring that their adult is familiar to them. The Year 6 team have carefully considered the needs of the cohort when putting the groups together. By having 3 groups from the outset it allows us to keep these groups as small as possible - and therefore as safe as possible - but also gives us capacity should further children wish to join at a later point in the term. They would simply slot into their allocated group rather than us having to change arrangements for those children and families already attending.
 
Year 6 pupils will remain in their allocated group, with their allocated group adult, until their allotted staggered pick up time. This will be around 3pm. At this time, children will be brought out in their groups and either released to an adult present or allowed to walk home on their own if permission is granted for this to occur. If you are collecting your child, please maintain social distancing from other parents picking up their child. The only variation on these timings is Friday afternoon when Year 6 pupils will finish at 1pm. This will allow time for a full and thorough deep clean at the end of the week as well as time for Year 6 staff to plan and prepare for the following week.
 
Year 6 pupils will have lunch either in their group classrooms, or in their designated outside space. This is something they are familiar with. Most Year 6 children are packed lunch, but if you wish your child to have a hot school meal then this will be delivered up to them in their space, eliminating the need for them to go into the school hall at this time.
We will be limiting the amount of items being brought in by any child, restricting these to the essentials. Your child should bring in a named water bottle which will be sent home with them daily and should be washed and cleaned before being refilled ready for their next day in school. If they are packed lunch, this should be sent in with them too. A healthy snack can be sent in, but we are aiming to provide fruit, each day. If the weather requires it, a warm, waterproof coat can also be brought in. This will stay with the child in their room as we are not using the cloakrooms at this stage. Your child should not bring in any stationery or pencil cases. All materials required for learning will be provided to them in a personalised pack which they will not be required to share with anyone else. Additionally, please do not send in any books, bags or book bags; these are not required.
 
Uniform: The emphasis is on your child coming in clean clothes every day. Where possible, this should be school uniform, but we understand that this may be a challenge to wash and dry on a daily basis. Additionally, we are aware that some children may have grown out of their uniform and/or school shoes. Where clean, comfortable uniform is not available, children may come in wearing sensible and appropriate clothing and footwear - no dressing up outfits or football kits, please.
 
For all our year groups, we are hoping that we can continue to provide a similar level of home school provision to what is currently being provided. This is vitally important given that our indicative numbers suggest that a good number of pupils, in YR, Y1 and Y6, are not returning to school at this stage. This will be facilitated by your child's Class Teacher and supplemented, where required, by their colleagues. We are incredibly pleased with the level of engagement shown by all our children and the feedback we are receiving is very pleasing to hear. Thank you, as their parents - and now their teachers! - for all you are doing to support their learning alongside us, at school.
 
Due to current guidelines and to ensure the safest working practices, we will unfortunately not be in a position to offer any wraparound care at this time. Treehouse (Before and After school provision) will not be operating until further notice.
 
Again in line with current guidance, we will not be testing temperatures of children upon their arrival. Similarly, staff will not be wearing PPE unless dealing with a child displaying COVID-19 symptoms or administering First Aid which requires it to be worn. Should any child start displaying symptoms or become unwell whilst at school, we will contact their parent immediately and request they are collected. This would then trigger us to implement our related procedures which will be shared in full with you before your child returns on, or from, 03 June.
 
If your child is a Key Worker child and in YR, Y1 and Y6 you will need to make a decision on which 'group' they attend as. At this stage, it is not permitted for them to attend into, for example, a Y1 group from 9am - 1.30pm and then transfer into the Key Worker group until 4pm. Further information with more detail will be coming out to you specifically, on Friday.
 
I am sure you will have many further questions, this is completely understandable. Please may I ask that you wait on further correspondence from me, on Friday, before emailing in with further questions. Hopefully, these additional updates will answer many of these as we move into half term. The school will be available to answer any questions you may have on the two INSET days and more information will, I am sure, be sent through to you before 03 June.
 
Of course, this may all change if the Government changes its stance. We will of course update you accordingly if this is the case.
 
If your child is not returning, or is unwell and so won't be in attendance on a particular day it is important that we know about this. Information on how you can inform us of this will come out to you on Friday and can then be acted upon. Please remember that you will not be fined or in anyway discriminated against if you choose to keep your child at home. This is a completely understandable approach and one which the school will fully support you with.
 
Thank you for taking the time to read this rather lengthy letter, but I hope you understand its importance to how we must proceed.
 
I hope you continue to enjoy the remainder of today's sunshine and Outdoor Classroom Day tomorrow. If you wish to view today's Head Teacher vlog, it can be found here: https://youtu.be/aBhaWNkIaCI (Certainly one for the Lego fans amongst you!)
 
Finally, I cannot thank you enough for your ongoing support, messages of encouragement and emails of gratitude. It's been a challenging time, but with your support and that of my staff, it has been eased considerably. I couldn't ask for a better group of parents and I genuinely and whole heartedly thank you for that. Coffee supplies may be running low, but your kindness and levels of appreciation has kept me going, something which I know will continue as we move into the next phases of development. You are all awesome and I am honoured to be Head Teacher of your school - thank you.
 
All the best and stay safe.
 
Kindest regards,
 
Mr Sears