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Letter from The Headteacher

20th March 2020,

 

Dear Parent / Carer,

 

Important information regarding student attendance – from Monday 23 March 2020

 

Firstly, thank you for the very supportive approach that you have taken during these exceptionally challenging times.  As we have made clear, Northdown Primary School will remain at the heart of our community.  Whilst we are formally closed from Monday 23 March onwards, we will continue to support your child, both academically and pastorally. 

 

There is information on how to support your child’s learning at home on our website and Facebook pages as the large majority of pupils will not be in school for the time-being, but this email is to let parents know about the plans we have to provide for the children of ‘key workers’ and those pupils that are classed as most vulnerable.

 

Special opening from Monday 23 March for the children of key workers and those entitled to specialist support

  • From Monday (March 23rd) for those children eligible and who meet the definition below there will be an offer of childcare from 9am – 3.00 pm.
  • To start with, we aim that the provision will be staffed beyond the requirements of the number of children we expect to attend.
  • For some age-groups, we may not be providing the normal pupil: staff ratios, but we will ensure that all provision is fully risk-assessed to ensure a safe environment for all children at all times;
  • This will not be a ‘drop-in’ facility. Children’s attendance will only be by advance arrangement or, in emergencies, with an agreement from a member of the Senior Leadership Team group who will be running the provision;
  • A guiding principle will always be in place that the safety of the children is paramount, if we are unable to provide safe care for any given child due to staff shortages or lack of expertise, we will not be able to cater for that child until we can make it safe to do so.

Please note that this is not normal school provision – it is an emergency childcare initiative which will be safe and enjoyable for everyone involved, but will not be the equivalent of normal school provision in terms of the educational content of each day.

 

Eligible Children: The government has now provided a comprehensive list of ‘Key Workers’ within the information to be found at the following link:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision.

 

Please note that the guidance refers to ‘essential’ workers for many of the groups. As an example, local NHS trusts have already identified groups of workers who can work from home, so simply working for the NHS does not qualify a family for these arrangements.

 

The guidance also clarifies ‘vulnerable children’ as those, “with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.”.

 

If you believe that your child is not covered by the ‘vulnerable’ category above, but that they will need extra support beyond what you can provide at home, please contact Mr Dillon at office@northdown-tkat.org  as soon as possible. We will also be contacting families where the school’s judgement is that they should be offered some provision but do not currently qualify.

 

Please also note the guiding principles within the information:

 

1.       If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be;

2.       If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them;

3.       Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions;

4.       Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.

 

In order to best protect both children and staff during this crisis, we will be asking that childcare is requested only where there is a ‘need’. Although having one ‘critical worker’ in the household may qualify your child for this provision, we would expect that if there is a non-critical worker in the home capable of basic childcare during the day that guiding principle 1 should be the starting point for families. The guidance reaffirms this stance with the following statement:

 

“Many parents working in these critical sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

 

We would ask that all families consider the impact on themselves, their families and others in terms of the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) before requesting childcare.

 

As noted above, shortly we will be in touch regarding a range of other important pieces of information.  We are especially mindful of those families that are entitled to Free School Meals support and we understand that the Government is putting arrangements in place to help such families.  When we get any further information we will let you know the details. In the meantime if  you have any immediate concerns, please contact Mr Dillon.

 

At Northdown, we are a community, and we will pull together to support the effort to keep our society safe. Therefore, we will remain open for the children who need it, but I strongly urge you to think very carefully of whether this is necessary for you. I also need to make sure that my staff are well protected as key workers themselves, all of whom have families and many of whom have children of their own.

 

I know that this time causes much anxiety, and as a result, we can all be a little more on edge.  I know that we will all do our best to support each other through this time and I thank you for your ongoing support for me, my team and the school. Although our school will be closed to the majority of our children we are in no way closed in terms of our ongoing care, support and kindness, should you need us for help and support please do not hesitate to contact us.

With Best Wishes,

 

Sheila Todd

Headteacher
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