LETTERS HOME - School Closure Updates
Update from SECAT re: phased pupil Return:
We as SECAT fully appreciate that not all parents are content with the government’s guidance on the planned reopening of schools.
Every avenue has been explored and will continue to be explored to accommodate within the safety guidelines, as many pupils in the order of the priority groups that the DfE guidance has laid down.
We will continue to review the situation as further guidance is given by the DfE and government, the final of which is not due until 28th May, during half term.
However, at this point and with all social distancing, safety, health and well-being measures in place and keeping children within their ‘bubbles’ to minimise chances of contact with anyone who has symptoms of or actually has, Coronavirus, the priority year groups will be accommodated in the order that we are asked to do so.
Whilst we recognise that this will not suit all parents – like I am sure it isn’t in the other primary/junior schools across Southend who are also in a similar position and cannot currently offer Year 6 pupils provision.
At this point and until we see the numbers of children that Richmond Avenue Primary and Nursery School will have on site during the phased return, the position will not change. When we review the situation we will then implement the next year groups in the priority order – from the youngest to the oldest.
The staff and leaders at Richmond are working tirelessly to implement the guidance as changes are introduced. They are not in a position to be able to respond to every individual communication unless of course, it relates to an emergency at this point.
With very best wishes for the half term.
Ruth Brock Sue Rollason
Chief Executive Officer on behalf of The Trust Board
Letter from Miss Moneypenny - 20th May 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
I am sure you all have lots of questions regarding the proposed reopening of school from the 1st June. A lot of time has been spent as a Trust, discussing the proposals and tailoring them to individual schools whilst also keeping safety, well-being and equity of the offer at the fore. Although I cannot answer all of your questions at this point, there is some information I can share with you, based on the guidance that is available at this time. Please be aware that the guidance has changed numerous times since it was first released on Monday 11th May, so some things may have to change again.
The priority groups, in this order, are key worker children and any considered to be vulnerable or who have EHCPs. The priority year groups for primary schools begin with Nursery, then Reception, then year one, the younger year groups and classes will be the first classes that will be offered spaces to return.
Due to the additional space needed for each year group and the fact that we only have fifteen classrooms plus our small intervention rooms, we do not have the space in the school to house year 6 children as well as the other year groups at this point. Therefore, unless the government guidance changes regarding group sizes (maximum groups of 15) we will be unable to welcome back our year 6 children at this point.
This guidance may change at a later date but as it stands at the moment and we will need to see our capacity as numbers of children attending will possibly fluctuate, it will be impossible to cater for these year groups currently. I know that many of you are struggling with the decision whether to send your child back to school or not. You have said that you would appreciate some indication of what school life will be like for your child when they return and some of the safety measures that will be put in place.
I think it is very important to make you aware that in the DfE guidance it states, ‘We know that, unlike children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart from each other and staff. In deciding to bring more children back to early years and schools, we are taking this into account.’ The premise of the guidance is that schools will operate within groups, often referred to as ‘bubbles’. Each bubble will have a consistent set of children. In our school this will consist of a maximum of 12 in each room if we reach capacity due to classroom sizes.
Where possible, our aim is for each group to have two consistent members of staff. In line with guidance, each group of children will have their own dedicated classroom space with their own resources. All soft furnishing including rugs have been removed from the classrooms, so that all that all resources remaining are easily washable. All rooms will have resources that are appropriate for the age of the children. Although we will encourage the children not to physically touch or be overly close, it has been recognised nationally and in the guidance, that these ‘bubbles’ will operate like a family so there may be some contact. However, we will ensure that children are spaced out, with their own work space / desks and also when they have lunch. We will however ensure that they are still close enough to engage in conversation.
There are lots more cleaning measures as well as other measures to keep parents, children and staff safe and these will be fully outlined after SECAT has communicated with all parents. If you decide not to send your child to school at this time, that is absolutely fine. If you decide not to send your child to school and then change your mind at a later date, that is fine also. However, I would just ask that you let us know via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that we can make appropriate plans for your child.
I hope this information is helpful. I will send out full plans at the end of the week including information regarding dropping off, picking up and lunchtimes as well as lots of other information.
I look forward to seeing some of you in the near future.
On Site Lead
Letter from CEO - 19th May 2020
At the time of writing, the Department for Education has yet to publish final guidance for the wider opening of schools. As and when that advice is available, we will work swiftly to consider further its implementation.
It is also clear that any extension of our existing provision depends on the Government confirming that their five key tests have been met. They do not intend announcing this until May 28th.
In these circumstances, and given that any extension to our provision will require detailed logistical planning and a full risk assessment; we are not yet in a position to fully confirm the detail of the nature, form or extent of any additional offer on-site.
It is quite likely that any wider opening (apart from for those children whose parents are key workers and those children who are vulnerable), will not take place until sometime after June 1st, and quite probably week commencing 8th June.
Any of our plans will need to consider so many factors including: dropping off and collection of children; transport and journeys to/from school (mainly for secondary pupils), classroom sizes and building space; access to and quality of cleaning; staffing levels; physical distancing; numerous health and safety risk assessments; social mixing; welfare support and our curriculum offer.
You will no doubt have heard through the news and in the daily government updates, that there are priorities that we have been asked to adhere to. The first is to ensure that any key workers’ children and children who are vulnerable or have an EHCP, are given access to school first. Whilst we have already been accommodating children whose parents have chosen to access this provision within our HUBs, we are now being asked to ‘actively encourage as many of the children within these groups to return to school’. That is quite a considerable number of children across the 6 schools.
After the above priority groups, the next is – in this order – Nursery, Reception, Y1, Y6, Y10 – Y12 (of which most will now be virtual with some contact).
I am sure you will appreciate that this is quite a feat to achieve when all other current DfE guidance is also adhered to. It will mean that each school within its own buildings (and we have even considered how we might be able to accommodate more children across the MAT), will be looking carefully at capacity.
Your individual Headteachers will write to parents at the earliest convenience about the detailed plans that each of them is doing as part of the Executive Team. When they have probable numbers of take-up of the offer, the schools will be in a much better position to confirm their own plans.
In the meantime, remote learning will be sustained with a team of our teachers from each school across the MAT supporting each other to provide appropriate resources.
As always, we review our provision almost daily. When we implement the phased re-opening of our schools, we will continue to review and re-evaluate each school. The situation will change, of that I am certain, dependent on take-up and updated DfE guidance.
Thank you once again for your patience and for your many emails of support.
I wish you and your families good health.
Chief Executive Officer
Letter from CEO, 13th May
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday, the Department for Education published revised guidance on Monday evening (which is constantly being updated as we speak) outlining a ‘route map’ for the gradual and phased re-opening of schools for more groups of children.
I know that everyone in our school community – children, parents and staff – is eager to see us return to a full and normal pattern of school provision as soon as possible. We are determined to make this happen but must remain mindful of the challenges that are particular to individual school environments.
We need to develop any new model of provision in a way that is achievable within existing staff resources, and – most importantly - safeguards the health and well-being of all involved. We are planning how best we can achieve this. As you can imagine, there are many aspects and details to consider. We will contact all parents before half-term and as quickly as we are able, with arrangements that will be introduced from 1st June.
We envisage that there will be no immediate change to the provision of remote learning for all year groups who will continue to remain at home. We are also aware that some parents have already expressed that they do not wish for their children to return to school at this point, which is of course, currently your prerogative.
Imminently, we hope, and will strive to provide a more developed on-site offer for groups of children in Years Nursery, Reception, 1, 6, 10 and 12, alongside their sustained involvement in home study.
We are sure you share our determination to open again as fully as we can, whilst at the same time guarding the safety and well-being of your children and our staff.
In the meantime, thank you for your continuing help, support and encouragement.
With continued best wishes to you and your families.
Letter from Miss Moneypenny - 13th May 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
I wanted to update you on where we are currently, following the message from the CEO on Sunday night.
As you are aware there has been a lot of information and many reports published by the Government in the last few days. We are working hard to go through the guidance and consider the impact the changes will have on our school.
Alongside this, it is also important that we work to ensure that all of the children and staff health and wellbeing is considered and supported as we make plans to move forward.
The Government has produced a guidance document for parents that can be found on the website below.
We will be in touch when we are able to confirm more.
Letter from SECAT - 20th April 2020
First, I do hope that the Easter holiday has been as enjoyable as possible for you all. Secondly, may I once again thank you for the many and varied messages of support and appreciation that we have received. We all recognise the many challenges that families are facing and admire the sustained contributions of the very many individuals who are sustaining vital services for us all.
I am sure you would want to join me in taking this opportunity to thank staff who managed a ‘holiday club’ facility during the Easter break. We achieved what I wanted; to give the majority of SECAT’s full and part-time staff a well-earned holiday. However, some peripatetic staff and sports staff who operate out of Shoeburyness High School, have done a sterling job at giving the 28 or so, pupils activities they have all clearly enjoyed.
You will all now know that the government has enforced the ‘stay at home’ rules for another three weeks. This will take us up to 7th May, when a further review will take place. We continue to adhere to and follow the government and DfE advice.
Today, Monday 20th April, begins SECAT’s HUB working about which you are all now familiar. As always, we reiterate that children are safest at home. However, Richmond Avenue Primary School and Nursery is well prepared for the small number of your primary-aged children that we are expecting from any of the five schools. Leaders have gone to great lengths to ensure that social distancing is securely observed and that children are catered for in their familiar, school groups by adults they know and with other children they would normally see at school. There were 42 children from all of the primary schools. They settled brilliantly in their separate rooms with the teachers they know well and with their friends. All very happily telling me about the Easter egg hunts they have taken part in and how many eggs they all ate! Good to see them all and to greet so many of you at the gate with Miss Moneypenny.
Shoeburyness High School will continue to be open to the secondary pupils who cannot be accommodated at home. Once again, all social distancing rules are being strictly adhered to.
In both HUBs, only certain areas of the schools will be used. Other areas have been cleaned in preparation for the inevitable – even though no date can be given at present – reopening of schools.
The schools at Bournes Green, Thorpedene and Hinguar have all now been cleaned and are ‘no-go-zones’ so that they are immediately ready for reopening at any point.
I am immensely proud of all our staff members who are working on our on-site supervision rota. Some at Easter and all who are able, during term time. Not to forget of course, our many teachers and members of support staff who continue to work on all manner of vital functions that are essential to our continued provision. Including keeping in regular contact, where appropriate, with vulnerable children or those children who have special educational needs or disabilities and supervising on-going essential building works.
On Monday 20th April, our provision for remote learning will resume. Individual schools have been providing activities for pupils to do – some with you – at home. This will continue and you will no doubt have updates as the week begins.
Valuable learning activities – with the focus very much on next steps, will continue to be provided for Year 11 and 13 for the time being. This does not prevent students in those year groups of course, using their time, beyond this, to look ahead to the subjects and topics that they might wish to begin in the Autumn.
Exam grades for SATs, GCSE, AS and A-level
We have carefully reviewed and will continue to review any further updates, the guidance from the Standards and Testing Agency (STA) and OfQual, regarding the process that will be used to determine GCSE, AS and A-level grades. Parents and pupils may wish to remind themselves of the arrangements that were shared with you all prior to the Easter break and when SECAT received the guidance from the DfE. The school will apply the relevant procedures and submit for consideration, for each individual in each subject, grade information that is consistent with the ‘highest grade that the candidate had a realistic chance of securing: based on prior assessed tasks and tests’ – in this way, there will be no detriment to any individual. Guidance has been very clear that this grade information will not be shared with students or parents.
As it stands, the only proposed route for appeal for secondary students – if a student is dissatisfied with a grade ultimately awarded by OfQual – will be through entry to a formal written examination in the Autumn. The details have not yet been published.
Return to ‘normal’ school attendance
There has been considerable speculation in the media regarding the re-opening of schools, not least as other countries across Europe have made their initial steps in this direction. In the absence of a published plan or clear national leadership announcements, there will no doubt be much debate. England has amongst the highest class sizes, lowest staffing ratios, and most densely filled school buildings in Europe: it will simply not be possible to follow, for example, the German or Danish approaches because of social distancing.
I will be in touch again when we have further guidance from the DfE and government about plans of how SECAT will reopen our schools, albeit in phases I have no doubt, and with any further details about examination and transition arrangements.
For the time being, do take good care of yourself and your families and friends. Be safe and stay at home.
Chief Executive Officer
Letter from SECAT to Parents - 3rd April 2020
Firstly, I would like to reiterate my thanks to you all for taking seriously the government’s advice to keep as many of your children at home during this current crisis. The numbers of children coming into school have dropped dramatically because you have managed to make alternative arrangements for their care. Where you have not, we have been pleased to accommodate your children and our staff have provided the children with many exciting and stimulating activities to do, many of which mirror those sent home for children to do with you.
I am delighted and humbled that so many of you have been in touch, personally, to thank me, the central SECAT Team and headteachers/senior leaders/teachers and support staff for, as one parent said ‘going the extra mile’ for your children. You have also commented on the quality and amount of ‘excellent communication coming from everyone that has kept us really well informed’, quoted from another parent which mirrored several that have spoken to us on the telephone or in emails. That certainly was and always is, our intention.
At a time when the situation is tough for everyone – be they at home, at work or at school – it can be easy to be downhearted or think only of oneself. Not a bit of it! The whole SECAT Community has pulled together, ‘stepped up to the plate’ (as another parent stated) and has shown what being part of this community is all about. I thank you for that, and actually never doubted it despite some people’s opinion of our community. Some parents have asked if they can share their good wishes and thanks to all of SECAT staff, with the local media. I cannot stop you doing that; but be mindful that so much reported is often not what was intended or even said.
Having tracked carefully the numbers of children attending the 6 schools recently, we collectively made a decision to make two HUBS for after the Easter holidays – one for Primary and one for Secondary. The majority of the 50 or so children taking up the offer have been those of key workers. We want to continue to support that group and any of the vulnerable children who have been unable to remain at home.
From April 20th, Richmond Avenue Primary School and Nursery will be the HUB for key workers’ children and those children who are vulnerable from all of the primary schools. Some 30 – 35 children have been accessing our provisions to date. The kitchen at Richmond is one that is able to be open and staffed adequately which was a primary consideration for the choice of Richmond as the of HUB. Shoeburyness High School will remain as the secondary HUB – and actually will also be providing a different offer for key workers’ children, as the government requested, akin to Holiday Club and during the Easter Break – excluding Good Friday and Easter Monday.
Whilst at the Primary Hub, if your child / children would like school dinners, then there will be hot food available. Just let the staff on the gate know that your child will need a hot lunch when coming into the school in the mornings. (The menu will be on the gates to the school each week for parents to review). Details on paying for meals, if applicable, will be given to you at Richmond.
Children will continue to be taught in their school groups with staff from their own schools, everyone observing the stringent social-distancing rules. Children should wear their school uniform at all times. As children arrive they will be directed to the named classrooms by the staff with whom they are familiar.
As always, we repeat the government’s statement; if you can accommodate your children at home, this is undoubtedly the safest place for them to be at this time.
We are now approaching the end of the Spring term in a somewhat different way than any of us could have anticipated or even imagined in our wildest dreams.
However, as Easter approaches I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a restful family time and to those who celebrate, a good Easter.
With best wishes
SECAT Letter to Parents: 23rd March 2020 - see below
SECAT Letter to Parents: 20th March 2020 - see below