Re-opening of school update
Plans and preparation for pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to return to school are nearly finished. Safety of pupils and staff is our priority. Local Head teachers meet today to hear Ealing’s expectations and share our plans. I will publish our final plans next week.
The government intends to open schools from 1 June to Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils, if conditions are met in the national plan. The government has published guidance for school leaders all through this week. We will be ready to welcome some pupils back to school when the government confirms the start date. It maybe on 1 June, or later.
An alliance of teachers’ unions have called on the government to ‘step back’ from a 1 June start date with concerns about adequate safety measures. Union leaders meet the government’s scientific advisers later today. Our teachers may or may not follow advice from their unions. Our staff are talking to us about their own circumstances and anxieties. Some are torn between their commitment to public service and worries about their own personal safety. There is some uncertainty about the number of teachers and other staff who are prepared to work in school. This may limit the number of classes and/or pupils who can return to school.
Our early ideas for return to school were based on pupils from the same family household returning to school together, using our star constellation (or ‘house’ teams) arrangement. This would suit working parents and offer all pupils a part-time return to school. There are many strengths in the government’s plans. A weakness is that it is unlikely to suit working parents who have children in other age groups. As a maintained local authority school, we are following the government’s published approach.
School will look and feel different for pupils when they return. Key features of the government’s expectations and our plans so far:
- class sizes of 15 pupils, led by 1 teacher or teaching assistant;
- many pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 will return to school to a new teacher;
- school closes at lunchtime every Friday to all pupils;
- packed lunch, ‘picnic style’, provided by school (Harrison school catering) all pupils
- an emphasis on well-being and personal hygiene then teaching from the Oak National Academy
- COVID-19 Childcare remains open for Year 2, 3, 4 & 5 children of key workers and those who are vulnerable with stricter social distancing;
- Nursery remains closed except for key workers children
- social distancing for all adults, including parents, while on site;
- more frequent and thorough cleaning.
Our over-arching approach, based on government expectations, is to keep pupils and their adults in isolated groups – their own ‘bubble’ – offering core care and learning only. This minimises the risk of transmitting any coronavirus infection across the school community to keep pupils and adults as safe as possible.
The government expects classes of 15 pupils, or less, each with their own teacher or teaching assistant. Pupils and their teacher stay together in their own ‘bubble’ with staggered start times, own break and lunchtimes and staggered finish time. There is no mixing of pupils, adults or resources between each class group. Parents may have worries about sending their child back to school. The government expects pupils to return to school but has also said that there will be no fines for persistent absence. Our class sizes may be less than 15 when we first re-open and increase up to 15 over time.
Many pupils will return to school and be welcomed by a new teacher because class sizes are halved. The government wants pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to return to full-time education. There is no scope for a part-time return so that every pupil has time with their class teacher. It is not possible to alternate teachers between different groups because they should not change ‘bubble’. Teachers are working together to welcome pupils. They have split their classes because they know their pupils well. Teachers will make videos soon to say hello when we publish our new class groups, teachers and rooms.
School will close at lunchtime every Friday so that teachers have release from class. Teachers must be given time for planning, preparation and assessment. This is usually covered by our specialist teachers. Specialist teachers are needed to teach classes of 15 pupils. They should also not be teaching different groups because they should not change ‘bubble’. The government has not relaxed the rules about planning, preparation and assessment time for teachers. Many teachers are teaching new age groups. They need this time to work (remotely) with their colleagues to plan and prepare.
Harrison, our school caterers, will provide our pupils (and every pupil in the Ealing Schools Catering Consortium) with a picnic style lunch in disposable packaging. Our family style dining is suspended. Pupil class groups will be spread out across the main hall and dining areas as a result of staggered timings for lunch and breaks.
With more pupils and staff on-site, we are introducing stricter social distancing measures for childcare of children of key-workers and those who are vulnerable. COVID-19 childcare for children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 will close because school is re-opening for these pupils. There will be no wrap-around childcare for these pupils because they cannot mix or cross ‘bubble’ with other pupils. Other pupils, in Years 2,3,4 & 5, will be looked-after by age in groups of 15 or less. They will have their own classrooms and break times.
The government wants nurseries to open. Our Nursery remains closed because too many members of staff in the Nursery team are vulnerable. They have underlying medical conditions and should stay at home. The rules for staffing in Nursery and Reception classes have not been relaxed. We do not have enough members of staff to re-open Nursery. If the government’s guidance or rules change, we will open Nursery as soon as we can. Childcare for nursery age children of key workers and those who are vulnerable remains open.
We have introduced social distancing measures for all adults who come onto site, including staff and parents. New signage is being installed. Pupil drop-off and collection times will be staggered with the use of different entrance gates for different ages so that we can be socially distanced.
We are looking forward to pupils returning to school. We will be placing an emphasis on emotional well-being and personal hygiene in our teaching. Our teaching for the rest of this school year will be based on Oak National Academy so that those who stay at home are doing similar things to those who come to school.
Pupils in Years 2,3,4 & 5, who continue to learn at home, will have new teachers. Their usual class teacher will be teaching other children in school every day. The new teacher will be working from home because they are vulnerable and should not come to work in school. Learning at home will stay the same. Teachers will make new videos to say ‘hello’ soon.