12th May 2020
I’m sure like myself, many of you will have watched the Prime Minister’s address to the nation over the past couple of nights and will have heard that the government believes it may be in a position to implement a phased re-opening of schools from 1st June 2020, starting with pupils in nursery, reception, year one and year six. This is part of the government’s conditional plan which it says will remain under regular review. The government’s aim is for all primary pupils to be back in school for a month before we break up for the summer holidays.
Let’s be very clear. All of us want to get pupils back into school as soon as it is safe to do so. No one more than me, wants to see classrooms empty for a day longer than they need to be. However, as a school leader I want to reassure you that my first priority is the safety of everyone here in the school community at Pinewood.
Obviously I am concerned as it is impossible for children to socially distance and constantly share play equipment and resources. Classrooms are not built for children to be 2 metres apart and even if they were, children at infant school do not sit in rows of desks, they interact with others through play and experiential learning.
At present I have considerable doubt over the safety of what these plans mean for our school. I have emailed the Local Authority (LA) with lots of questions this morning and all our schools at the moment are awaiting clarity from the Department For Education (DFE)/LA. As soon as I have any clarity and a feasible plan moving forward I will share this with yourselves.
I will only be opening the school in a way that is right for our staff and children, and in a way that I believe will not put people and children at unnecessary risk. It appears that there is recognition that we cannot socially distance children in the early years but that we should split up the class sizes to a maximum of 15 children in an area. We will undertake risk assessments on each area to see what is viable in our environment. This may be on a part-time timetable. We are yet to determine whether this is feasible for our school.
There is no mention of Year 2 transition, perhaps because the infant school situation has not been thought through but my questions around this have been forwarded to the LA. Obviously we want to give our year 2 some priority too in terms of their transition to the next phase of their education when safe to do so.
Like yourselves I have many questions that need to be answered. I am waiting to receive more information from government and the LA about what this means for Pinewood. In the short term however, nothing has changed; I will provide further information in the coming days and weeks once I am able to do so.
Obviously Nursery, Reception and Year 1 is over two thirds of our school and it will be unfeasible to open to that number on the 1st June as we would not have the space for only 15 in any one area. We will look into how we can do this in a phased manner perhaps having different year groups in on different days, we will investigate options. Whatever plan we come up with, it will have safety of all stakeholders at the forefront.
I will be in touch as soon as I have any clarity and have had time to think this through. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org if you need to get in touch with me sooner. If you have any comment to make then you can do so on seesaw, teachers will let me know. Please be mindful though that teachers do not have any answers at present so will not be able to comment around this issue.
The full government guidance for parents can be found here:
Best wishes to you all.