Dear Parents/Carers of Year 10/12 students,
I am writing to outline our response and planning to meet the government’s ambition that secondary schools begin a limited re-opening school to those in years 10 and 12 at some point after half-term.
What the government has said
There is much that is unclear in government statements and guidance. What we do know, however, is that:
- At some point after the 1 June, the government will determine that the potential risk is low enough for schools to open to more students beyond those currently in our special provision;
- In our school this will apply to students in years 10 and 12 only;
- The decision about when precisely reopening happens is dependent on scientific advice;
- The government has asked schools to plan for year 10 and 12 students to have “face to face contact with teachers to support their online learning;”
- There is no expectation that year 10 and 12 (or indeed any other year group) will return to full-time learning in school this side of the summer holidays.
How we are responding
As we have previously communicated, senior staff and leaders at Prospect School have been working together to respond to these announcements. I have been working with staff at the school on two, interlinked pieces of work:
Firstly, in accordance with DfE guidance, we have conducted a thorough Risk Assessment relating to a partial re-opening of the school to year 10 and 12 students. This has been a very detailed process identifying risks and the actions we can take to reduce those risks. The range of areas we have explored include:
- Risks to staff and students of contracting Covid-19 infection through attending school with an increased number of people;
- Staffing availability to effectively teach and safeguard students;
- Risks around student movement in and out of the building and our ability to implement social distancing;
- Risks to students and families on the journey to school;
- The ability to implement an effective cleaning regime
- The availability of appropriate PPE;
- The impact of re-opening on the workload of staff who will continue to manage on-line learning.
Our Risk Assessment document is dynamic and is being continuously updated. It must be remembered that, as in every aspect of life, risk can never be eliminated, only reduced.
Secondly, we have been developing a plan for how we might deliver face to face contact to support online learning. Please note that this is very provisional and in outline form at this stage. Our remote learning provision will remain our key form of learning delivery.
Phase 1: Orientation, Academic Mentoring and wellbeing: In the first two weeks following the green light to open, students will be invited into school for short individual appointments of around 15 minutes to meet with a member of staff. During this time, they will review their learning experience since lockdown and will have the opportunity to discuss plans for increasing face-to-face learning.
Phase 2 Face-to-face lessons (Year 10 only): from the third week onwards, students will be in school for two mornings/afternoons per week. During each session, they will receive a lesson of English, Maths and Science. Our main method of teaching and learning will continue to be online and these face-to-face lessons will supplement this learning. Students will be taught in small classes of no more than 12 students (in order for us to implement social distancing). We are planning that students will remain in their class groups for the duration of their time in school and, as far as possible, we are also planning to ensure that their teachers are consistent.
Phase 2 Face-to-face lessons (Year 12 only): from the second week onwards, students will be invited in for a face to face lesson in each of their three subjects. This will be subject to teacher availability. Students will be taught in small classes of no more than 12 students (in order for us to implement social distancing). Students will not be allowed to mix with any students attending other lessons.
Students will need to book into these sessions in advance so we can safely plan for the right numbers of students on any day.
We will only re-open the school when the potential risk is low enough to do so. We will judge this to be the case if:
- We have received clearance from the government to do so (they will do this based on the “5 tests” being successfully met and on scientific advice)
- That Prospect School is confident that our school Risk Assessment is robust.
- That the risk reducing actions outlined in our Risk Assessment have been satisfactorily implemented
- We have enough staff to implement our plans
We will continue to work hard on our plan to ensure that when the desired conditions are met at least some students are able to return to school. We anticipate that Phase One will begin on 8th June at the earliest.
Responding to this information
Parents and Carers are asked to consider their own response to this outline plan. When schools are directed to re-open there will be an expectation for year 10s and 12s to be in school, however, the government has made it clear that non-attendance will not be sanctioned or followed up in the way we would normally do so. We would urge all families to consider assessing the risks to your son or daughter, and to your family, when they return to school. In addition to the outline plans I have been able to share with you, you may also wish to consider:
- The impact to their health and wellbeing of NOT being in school;
- The ability and likelihood of your son or daughter being able to abide by strict rules to enforce social distancing and safety within school;
- The reported greater impact of Covid-19 infection on those from the BAME community;
- The implications of your child’s journey to and from school and the likelihood of them being able to follow social distancing whilst on that journey.
We must emphasise that when students are invited back to school, they must not attend if:
- They are exhibiting the symptoms of Covid-19 infection;
- They are isolating because a member of their household has developed the Covid-19 infection;
- They have been advised to shield by the medical authorities.
In these cases, we ask parents and carers to inform the school as soon as possible. This will help the school to risk assess any potential cross-infection and take any necessary action. Covid-19 testing continues to be expanded and now everyone above the age of 5 who has Covid-19 symptoms is able to have a test. This means that those who are uncertain about their symptoms can now quickly gain some clarity. For more information about testing please visit: www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested
To assist us in our planning, and so that we have a sense of the number of students we might expect into school once the decision to reopen is made, please could I ask you to complete this short survey through this link:
This does not commit you either way at this stage as I appreciate the detail of timing and our programme is still unconfirmed.
I appreciate that this letter has contained a great deal of information, but I hope it has been helpful to you.
When we have more clarity, I will write to you with further detail.
With warm regards,
Mr D Littlemore