The Summer Term is now underway, although all lines seem to be somewhat blurred at the moment! JMAT schools have been open throughout this period with staff operating in teams to provide both on-site and virtual support. Leaders and staff across all Trust schools are fully committed to keeping their schools open for the duration of the lockdown to provide continuity and stability for learners and their families.
Coronavirus: Trust Update
Following the Prime Minister’s briefings on Sunday 10th and Monday 11th May, it is clear that the Government is keen for a phased reopening of schools, prior to the summer break. In order to maintain the safety of school communities, any increase in pupil numbers will need to be gradual and will also be dependent on national data relating to the rate of infection.
We would like to take this opportunity to reassure you that all Headteachers and leaders across the Trust are looking carefully at all published guidance and seeking further advice where required. At whatever point pupils are able to return to school safely, we want to provide the best possible environment where they will not only be able to learn, but where they will be supported fully in adapting to the “new” normal.
Health and safety remains of paramount importance in any planning for increased numbers. To date, we have been “deep cleaning” all schools, embedding enhanced cleaning systems and working to ensure that we have ample supplies of essentials such as soap and handwash, paper towels, tissues, hand sanitiser and cleaning materials. Although all our schools have been open during this period, we are also in the process of implementing additional checks and inspections so that sites are as safe as possible.
There is no doubt that, as and when pupils return, there will be differences in the way in which schools operate and some of these differences have already been highlighted in the media. There are likely to be far fewer children in classrooms, less movement around the school, one-way systems in corridors, zoned areas and markers in place to maintain social distancing and staggered breaktimes and lunchtime. It is likely that drop-off and pick-up arrangements will also be amended and, for those travelling to school by bus, we will be seeking assurances on social distancing.
In terms of learning and teaching, all schools have been delighted with the high level of engagement to date and would like to take this opportunity to thank parents and carers for all their support with home schooling – online systems and work packs have been very well used in recent weeks. During this period, Headteachers and their staff have also been thinking very carefully about the curriculum needs of each year group and have identified the content and skills which will need to be prioritised once it is safe for pupils to be able to return to school.
As we enter the next phase of the pandemic, it remains a very worrying time and everyone in our communities – parents, carers, relatives and pupils will all have questions. We are already working through the guidance published by the Government and anticipating further detail on most issues. Subsequent newsletters will focus on trying to provide as many answers as possible. In the meantime, if you have any specific queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your child’s school, or the Trust’s central office.
Individual schools are working hard to maintain contact during this period of partial closure and can be contacted with any concerns or queries. There is some really lovely work going on in all our schools and we have enclosed a few photos in our “Learning Gallery” to capture activities from EYFS through to Key Stage 4. You can find this and some other information in our latest newsletter – Trust Update no. 6.
We have produced a set of principles to guide the wider opening of Trust schools and these are set out in the FAQs document below:
For advice on travelling to school on the bus, please see the poster from Suffolk County Council here: transport Covid-19 Poster
Please find the Trust Risk Assessments here: JMAT Strategic Risk Framework for Wider Opening, June 2020; COVID-19 Educational Settings Risk Assessment- June 2020
The DfE updates their information on a regular basis and you can find a link to their website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers
There is also some advice on mental health and wellbeing here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-public-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing
Since the Secretary of State for Education announced that the 2020 exam series in England would be cancelled to help fight the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the government worked to develop a process which fairly recognises students’ work and makes sure they get their grades in time to progress. You will find on the following link details about how GCSEs, AS and A levels will be awarded this summer, further guidance for teachers, students, parents and carers and an open letter to students who were expecting to be taking their exams this summer: //www.gov.uk/government/publications/gcses-as-and-a-level-awarding-summer-2020
Advice for staff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_SDF4j2iCI