|Newsletter 24 October 2020|
Within the last few hours, the government has released its guidance to schools on maintaining educational provision.
What is a key worker and who qualifies?
The guidance includes a list of ‘key worker’ roles and I would urge you to check this if you believe that you qualify.
Broadly speaking, a key worker is defined by the government as someone ‘whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response’. Please be mindful of this definition when considering whether your role makes you a ‘key worker’ and, to avoid confusion, please also refer to the statement: ‘If workers think they fall within the critical categories they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.’
The government’s positon on ‘key workers’ is clarified further where it states that: [If a child has] ‘…a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.’ The school’s interpretation of this guidance is that it is not necessary for both parents to be key workers for their child to qualify. Whilst our response is in contrast to what has been widely reported by many schools, I feel that we are following the advice as the government intended.
Why are schools remaining partially open?
The government has made it very clear that the function of the school based provision during these uncertain and very challenging times is specifically limited to:
a) facilitating key workers to carry out essential roles
b) safeguarding our most vulnerable children.
The school is totally committed to following this guidance and I make no apology for stressing that the provision on offer is not one of convenience.
It is highly likely that the number of children in schools from Monday will greatly exceed the 10% forecast that the government made earlier in the week. Even with the many offers of help that I have received and for which I am incredibly grateful, the threat of the full closure of our school remains a significant possibility if effective and safe staff to pupil ratios cannot be maintained and so the key message has to be – only use the provision if absolutely necessary.
The guidance states that ‘If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.’ In referring directly to key workers, the guidance also states that ‘Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.’ I would therefore urge those key workers who have the capacity to work from home and care for their child safely to do exactly that. Similarly, it would be the school’s expectation that part-time key workers only use the school based provision for their specific hours of work.
It has to be in the best interests of our most vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers for them to have this school as their base, with familiar surroundings and trusted staff. Children will inevitably be very unsettled by recent events and it is inevitable that if the burden on school is too great and it does not have the capacity to remain open, then children will be necessarily redirected to another educational setting – this is not something that I want to happen for the simple reason that I believe we are the best setting to ensure the continued happiness and wellbeing of our children.
What will the provision look like?
The government has made is abundantly clear that the role of schools in the immediate future is not a continuation of learning as we know it. Schools are not being asked to follow the National Curriculum and the easiest way to think of it is that school’s prime role for the foreseeable future is actually one of childcare. Groupings of children will encompass the full age range from Nursery to Year 6.
Let’s no forget…
The fundamental decision to (partially) close schools is based on scientific advice to limit the spread of Coronavirus. The guidance clearly states that: ‘the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread…’.
The measured and considered approach of our parent body in response to this is a crucial factor and I am incredibly grateful in anticipation of your continued support.
I am conscious that school is asking an awful lot of its employees at the moment, many of whom are already contending with significant personal pressures and unplanned changes in circumstances whilst still remaining utterly committed to the school and the welfare of your children. The response from school staff to this crisis has been heartwarming and quite overwhelming and I can guarantee that school is working around the clock with every intention of doing the best we can for our pupils and their families.
What do I do now?
In order to guarantee safe staffing ratios, the school will gather information from key workers (who also do not have capacity to care for their child) on a week by week basis. Clearly, for this first week, the delay in the government’s clarification of the key worker definition, means that there is very little time to plan. However, in future weeks, it seems reasonable to ask for weekly bookings by Tuesday of the preceding week.
Whilst nursery provision is open, the school only has capacity to accommodate the exisiting hours that your child currently attends.
Just to be clear, this is definitely not a ‘turn up on the day’ scenario.
In order to secure your child's place in our provision for next week, you must complete and return (via email to ) the form which is found here.
All requests must be made by 12pm tomorrow (Saturday 21st March).
Please do not send your child into school unless I have confirmed receipt of your request.
All hot meal bookings have been removed from the system and so those attending on Monday are requested to make hot meal bookings by close of play tomorrow so that Dawn knows who she is catering for.
As ever, many thanks for your continued support.
|Grendon Church Of England Primary School
Tel: 01933 663208