New letter to parents 21/5/2020
Dear Parents and carers,
The government have announced that children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 should be allowed to return to school from the 1st June, alongside the children already attending as part of key worker/vulnerable groups. The school leadership team has put a lot of time and thought into how this can be realistically implemented at Birdwell Primary School.
As you will appreciate, we are a small, Victorian Primary School that does not necessarily have both the infrastructure and staffing capacity that most, larger schools have and so we need to ensure that the return of pupils happens in a safe and sustainable way for us. In order to keep you as informed as possible, we would like to share with you some of the issues we are facing and our thought process and rationale in dealing with them.
How we will return to school:
School has surveyed parents of children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, as well as key worker and vulnerable groups. The number of eligible children indicating a wish to return currently fluctuates between 80 to 100 pupils, or 40% to 50% of pupils. However, this could very quickly increase if more parents feel it is safe for their children to return once they see their friends have, or as parents themselves increasingly return to work. We cannot actually accommodate anywhere near the number of pupils who are eligible to attend under the current guidelines. Therefore, we have created a phased approach in reaching this point:
Initially, only children in Year 1, vulnerable children and children of key workers will be asked to attend from June 1st. Year 1 pupils will attend Zone 1 in 2 groups, entering from the ramp at the front of school, by the Year 3 classroom. Key worker pupils will attend Zone 4, entering through the hall doors. (Details of your child’s group, attendance time and entry point will be sent to you individually.)
This is so school can accurately gauge the real-world number of pupils attending in these groups and also measure any increase in numbers without risking exceeding capacity although these groups alone represent around 30% of school population. All staff who are able to attend, will be back in school from this date, working in their zones to prepare resources and establish enhanced online lesson delivery and feedback for the many pupils still at home.
From 8th June, children in Reception class will additionally be asked to return to school, attending Zone 2, entering through Reception and Y1 corridor door. This takes us to around 40% of the school based on current numbers but any increase in attendance from these groups would affect this. For example, a small increase of pupils in any group would result in the need to create an additional ‘zone’ of pupils, which reaches our maximum capacity. We need to see what consistent number of pupils these groups actually represent before we can move to Phase 3.
Once we are confident that we can accommodate them, Year 6 will be asked to return, attending Zone 3 and entering through the door at the front of school, next to the Year 5 classroom.
Why we have chosen this approach:
At each phase, our aim is to carefully control the increase in numbers without being caught out by sudden spikes in attendance. We are trying to establish a sustainable and robust approach that is maintainable in the long-term and which can accommodate inevitable surprises such as staff illness, changes in government guidance or increased pupil numbers without having to back-track and send children home who have just been asked to return. Our belief is that a structured, careful return to school is less disruptive and confusing for our school community than having the government-specified children back in and then having to go back on this. The health and well-being of our pupils and staff is at the heart of our approach and we are driven to do everything we can to restart education for all of our pupils in some form, rather than in just a few year groups. We are investigating ways of conducting virtual lessons and providing learning and feedback for all children.
What school will look like upon return:
School life and lessons will not be business as usual. The government has stipulated a maximum group size of 15 children. Further government guidance states that current social distancing will not be maintainable in the school setting and so the group in which the children are placed will be the group in which they stay for the duration of the term. The children will be in in their year groups, but may not be with their current class teacher and will not necessarily be in their own classrooms or with all of their friends. These groups will remain the same at all times. Breaks will be staggered and will take place at different times in different outdoor locations around the school and lunches will either be a packed lunch provided by catering services, or a packed lunch that children bring themselves. These will be eaten in classroom bases or in designated outdoor spaces. Children will remain in these groups at all times, in this way, cross contagion will be minimised. Each Zone will also have an allocated toilet. All hygiene and other protocols will be strictly maintained with wash stations at each entry point. School will be divided into 4 zones, with a physical gap, or buffer, between each zone. Staff assigned to that zone will work exclusively in that zone and not mix with staff or children from the rest of school. During pick up and drop off please adhere to social distancing rules, minimise contact and follow markers and signage.
I fully understand the apprehensions you may have. These are not normal times and we will step into this next phase as prepared as we possibly can be. However, in reality, we step into the unknown, albeit as prepared as possible. Understandably, staff are very apprehensive as well, like you they have children, caring responsibilities and vulnerable health conditions. So, whilst I cannot promise how this situation will develop, I can promise that we at Birdwell Primary school, as always, have the health and welfare of our children and our staff at the heart of all that we do. What I cannot do at this current time is give any absolute guarantee regarding infection, I can only identify and manage the risk and where reasonable or practicable reduce it.
I will write out to you again, when we have further organisational details and definitive numbers. As always, your support and encouragement is key in making these most challenging times more bearable.
Mr N. Bailey
If you require a key worker place you must reply to this email as soon as possible.
Before any places are allocated, we will need proof of your key worker status, job role and possibly a copy of your shift patterns.
PARENTS OF CHILDREN IN YEAR 1, RECEPTION AND YEAR 6
Please reply to this email and confirm your child’s place by indicating either YES or NO.
For children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 If you decide to accept a place children will be expected in school every day, uless prior arrangements have been made with the Head Teacher.
If you are unsure please decline your place. As you can imagine we need accurate numbers to ensure staff ratios are correct before the phased return.
If we do not hear from you by Monday 25th June we will assume you have made alternative arrangements and your child will not require a school place.
INFORMATION FOR ALL PARENTS
Children must wear full uniform. At the moment to reduce the amount items being brought into school no P.E kits are required.
All children will need their own labelled water bottle.
There will be no tuck shop.
Children can bring their own packed lunch. The kitchen will provide a packed lunch option ONLY.
Please do not bring any items into school except a water bottle. This includes pencil cases and book bags.
New letter to parents 14/5/2020
This information will help to give you more clarity and assist you in making an informed decision about returning your child to school.
This letter will give you some idea what the school day will look like.
Dear parents and carers,
As you are aware the Government made its announcement on Sunday evening to the nation, including their plan for a phased school return. These are extraordinary times and it is vital that we have a clear procedural approach to maintain the health and wellbeing, of both children and staff. At the present time, school returning on the 1st of June 2020 is not yet definitive and as advised by the Prime Minister, is dependent on scientific evidence.
As stated in previous correspondence, we have a small Victorian village school, which does pose some practical difficulties in planning our return, in light of social distancing requirements. My responsibility is to the children, as well as staff and parents; my goal is to secure an arrangement that makes all parties feel as safe and as happy as practicable. This does pose challenges for us all, and in order to facilitate this I will be implementing measures which require a different daily approach to school life.
Staff are looking forward to seeing our children return to school. However, they are understandably concerned for their own health and need to be assured that the return to school will be done in a safe and sensible manner. As in any service at the present time, we will have some reduced staffing capacity due to shielding guidelines and for personal health reasons.
Therefore, with this is mind, the proposed reopening for the 1st June 2020 will be for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 children, alongside continuing support for the children of key workers. In order to achieve this, the following measures will be implemented:
- The school will be adhering to the social distancing guidelines of 2 metres.
- Each year group will be split across two classrooms.
- Each year group will have an allocated zone within school.
- Teaching staff will be allocated to a zone, meaning that children may not be with their current class teacher.
- Some children are not likely to be returning to their current classrooms.
- Children will not be able to mix with children allocated to other zones.
- The children will be divided into groups meaning that they may not be with all of their friends.
- Breaks and lunches will be staggered and will take place at different times, in different outdoor locations around the school.
- Each zone will have an allocated outdoor space which will be used regularly.
- Start and finish times will be staggered to reduced parental contact and mixing, this must also be adhered to by parents.
- Each zone will have a separate school entry and exit point, to minimise parental contact and gatherings.
- Due to school and staffing capacity, we will be asking that key workers provide proof of working patterns and job roles to qualify for key worker status and support.
- If the numbers of key worker children exceeds our daily limit, a rota system may have to be implemented.
- Some staff will be wearing PPE including aprons, gloves and visors.
- Handwash stations and hand sanitizer will be made available at key points.
Further details re allocated Zones, drop off and pick up points will be shared in due course.
In preparation for the return to school, we would be very grateful if you can discuss with your child about social distancing, what this means and how to do it. I know that many of you will have already done this, which is greatly appreciated.
We will get through this together, but I do need your understanding and support that we are doing the best we can in a stressful and challenging situation, which changes daily. Should you wish, you do have the right to keep your child at home, if you feel this is the safest thing to do. The educational aspect delivered in school will be a mixture of light touch formal, informal and loosely based around the curriculum and topics. I will use my best endeavors to make our return to school as safe as is practicable to do so for the children, staff and parents, whilst following Government guidelines.
I will continue to update you as I have further details.
Take care and stay safe.
Mr N Bailey
Birdwell Primary School
New letter to parents 11/5/2020
Dear parents/ carers,
I am sure like me, many of you will have watched the Prime Minister’s address to the nation yesterday evening.
You will have heard the Prime Minister indicating that the Government believes it may be in a position to implement a phased re-opening of schools from the 1st of June, starting with pupils in Reception, Year one and Year six. This is part of the Government’s plan which it says will remain under regular review.
We are all keen to get our children back to school to continue with their learning as soon as it is safe to do so, but as always, our primary concern, particularly during the COVID -19 situation, is the health and safety of our children, staff, together with all of the parents and carers. With this is in mind I will be keeping a very close eye on the Government’s plans and will be in contact with you again once further guidance has been received.
Any Plan to increase the numbers of pupils in schools has to be practicable and manageable given the need for everybody to continue to observe social distancing measures, which is even more challenging for a small school like ours.
Like you, I have only just seen the announcement and at this stage cannot answer all of the questions that you may have. I am waiting to receive more information from the Government about what this means for our school. In the short-term, nothing has changed and I will provide further information in the coming days and weeks once I am able to do so. If the national guidance (once known) cannot be safely applied to our school, I may, along with our Governing body, have to make decisions regarding the safety of pupils and staff based on our own individual risk assessments. This may ultimately mean the school is not in a position to expand pupil numbers in the way the Government has indicated on the 1st June.
In order for us to start to put plans in place It would be helpful at this stage if you could give me an indication if you would be intending to allow your child to return to school from 1st June 2020. This currently applies to Reception Year one and Year 6 ONLY. If you could let us know, via the School Gateway app, before the 15th May it would be very much appreciated.
Thank you for your continued support during these challenging times. Keep safe!
Mr Nigel Bailey
Birdwell Primary School
Re: CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 UPDATE
Please follow guidance from NHS England Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives.
Guidance for families suffering financial hardship
The council website has full details regarding help available for individuals and families who may find themselves in hardship during this unprecedented time:
Help for families who have had Changes to income:
If families have been working and their income has been reduced then they will need to contact the DWP to see if they are entitled to universal credit. The claim needs to be made on line with the DWP.
If their income has decreased but they are not entitled to universal credit then they may still be entitled to local council tax support or free school meals. The form can be found at the link below.
Council Tax, Local Council Tax Support and Free School Meals.
If families are struggling to pay their council tax they can contact the council on 01226 787787 and press opt 2. The lines are busy but we have put extra staff on the lines.
For anyone in receipt of local council tax support and free school meals and their income has changed they will need to complete a change in circumstances form as they may be entitled a further help with their council tax:
Entitlement to local council tax support and free school meals will be reassessed as soon as possible. If in the meantime they are struggling to pay their council tax then they need to contact us as highlighted above and a payment arrangement will be discussed.
Council Tax Hardship Scheme
The Government has announced that a council tax hardship scheme will be available to those who are considered ‘financial vulnerable’. Details of the scheme will be published week commencing 30th March 2020 and details will be made available here:
Other support / helpful links
For general advice on what help and support may be available please visit:
The local welfare assistance scheme helps people who are in financial crisis due to an emergency or other unexpected circumstances:
For assistance with food please visit:
Web chat is also available on all council tax, council tax support and housing benefit webpages. The phone lines are busy and we are asking people to go online where they can.
If people do not have access to the internet they need to phone 01226 787787 opt 3. We will then make an appt to phone people back and go through the form over the phone.
contacts and suport Childline 08001111