Government postpones school re-opening to all
Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, announced that the government is not able to welcome all primary children back to school for a full month before the summer, as intended. We were one of the first schools in Ealing to re-open to pupils in Reception, Year 6 and Year 1 because we anticipated opening to all. We are disappointed to hear this announcement.
The government has asked schools that have the capacity to bring back more children—in smaller class sizes—to do so if they are able to before the summer holidays:
We are not able to welcome back any more pupils because:
- every suitable classroom space is being used for Reception, Year 1, Year 6 pupils and for the care of children of key-workers and those who are vulnerable. There is no more classroom space available.
- every member of staff who is available to work is teaching a class group ‘bubble’. Several teaching assistants have kindly ‘stepped-up’ to teach classes. All other members of staff must work from home because they are vulnerable or shielding someone in their household. There are no more members of staff available to teach.
We are looking after over 90 children of key-workers and those who are vulnerable each day. We are one of the largest providers of care for key-workers in Ealing. The government and local authority have told schools to prioritise this care. Numbers have increased each day and we are now very close to our maximum capacity.
The government and local authority have told schools to re-open to pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. Schools are expected to provide full-time education for these pupils. Scientific evidence shows that part-time provision is believed to increase risks of transmitting the coronavirus infection:
Safety of our pupils and staff is our highest priority. Our parents of pupils in Nursery, Year 2, 3, 4 & 5 have many different views. We had alternative plans too. We thought about offering all pupils blended, part-time learning in school with learning at home, based on our constellations or house / teams. As a local authority maintained school, we are not prepared to deviate from government and local authority expectations when scientific evidence does not support this.
Teachers who must work from home continue to provide support to pupils in Years 2, 3, 4 & 5. Several are supporting more than one class. Parents have mixed views about the school's approach. We are doing as much as we can.
We cannot change or increase the pupils who attend school or our learning at home offer unless the government changes its expectations for primary schools.
We need to know the government’s strategic plans for September for schools. We are currently planning to re-open as normal in September because we have not been told otherwise. Behind the scenes we are beginning to develop use of Microsoft Teams so that we are better placed if pupils do not return to school in September or if learning is disrupted during the Autumn Term.