Wednesday 17th June, 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
I am sure that you are aware that last week the Secretary of State for Education finally clarified the government’s position regarding the full opening of primary schools for a month before the end of term. He has accepted that most schools (particularly primary schools) do not have the capacity, in terms of both physical space and teachers, to welcome back all students, but went on to say that if schools do have capacity, then the government would like them to accommodate the return of more children before the end of the summer term. As a result of this statement, we (myself, the staff and our governing body) are considering what this means for us here at Cliftonville Primary and Pre School.
In the last few months we have been asked to respond, usually at very short public notice, to circumstances we could scarcely have imagined as we entered into 2020. Over the past few weeks, we have been tasked with the complete redesign and reorganisation of our classrooms and other learning spaces in school to ensure it was safe for a phased return of children with Year 6 in the first instance. Following several incarnations of risk assessments, this has meant: emptying or moving classrooms of furniture to enable social distancing; sectioning off playground equipment and outdoor spaces; the installation of further hand washing and sanitising stations as well as acquiring sufficient PPE for staff. Revised timetables were then drawn up to allocate staff to these smaller groups, alongside opportunities for them to continue to provide work for home learning. We were, of course, committed to doing all of this and more and we thank the governing body and you, the parents, for your support in delaying the start, until this was in place and the school was as safe as possible, for your children to begin to return.
By the end of this week, we will have seen a successful return of Year 6 along with increasing numbers of Keyworker children. We now are moving onto the next stage, which will be welcoming our Reception children back on a part time basis, mornings or afternoons from 30th June. More details will be going out to our Reception parents separately this week. We shall then review the measures we have put in place and amend them if necessary. Depending on numbers we are hopeful that we may have a bit more capacity to welcome another year group but this is very much dependant on capacity. Clearly, if anything needs to change we will inform you of this in due course.
At present, because of the physical size of our school, and the structure, we have planned for the groups who have already returned to school, along with the expanding number of children requiring our key worker provision, and unfortunately, I have to be honest with you and say that we currently, do not have the capacity to take any more children at this time in Year 6 while current social distancing restrictions apply. This will also include our reception children. The sign up this week will be the only one and no further requests will be possible for Year R and Year 6.
As a staff, we all feel concerned for the children who remain at home. We know that the vast majority have been keeping up with their home learning, but this can never replace the experience of physically being at school. If we were able to bring everyone back safely, believe me we would do it.
We understand that this situation is far from ideal and is frustrating for both yourselves and more importantly, your children. You, and they, will have many questions about the future, some of which we cannot answer now.
As yourselves, I await the next announcement from the government to find out what arrangements for September will be. Whilst we are obviously looking at a variety of options and different models we are unable to clarify anything with you at the moment. However, as soon as we are able, we will do so.
As the situation changes so rapidly at present, such as governmental discussions around schools opening over the Summer, it is very likely I will be communicating our responses to you as soon as decisions are made. Thank you for your unerring support over the past couple of months as it has made a very difficult situation much more manageable and ensured we have all been able to stay safe and healthy. If there is anything else I can help you with at this stage then please feel free to contact me at school – email is best at the moment for obvious reasons.
We will, of course, keep you all informed and offer a further update in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, stay safe and keep well.