Expanded Opening Update

18 May 2020

Dear parents and carers,

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement and the subsequent Department for Education (DfE) guidance releases, we have begun to make preparations for the return of more children to school, potentially including all year 6 children, from Monday 1st June.

We have, since the start of lockdown, provided care for the children of key workers and vulnerable children – as defined by the DfE.  This provision will continue to operate in a similar way to the current arrangements and we are aware that, as the government’s access criteria are amended and more people return to work, there may be an increased demand for places from those eligible.  If you wish to access the provision, please email ‘support@signhillsacademy.co.uk’, briefly outlining your circumstances and the days / times you require.  This provision may ONLY be accessed by booking places through the email as there are a fixed number available.

For children in year 6, as they prepare for the transition to secondary school, the DfE have stated that they ‘will benefit immensely from time with their friends and teachers to ensure they are ready’ and, as such, ‘are strongly encouraged to attend (where there are no shielding concerns for the child or their household), so that they can gain the educational and wellbeing benefits of attending’

We fully recognise, as do the government, that there will be high levels of anxiety for some families concerning a return to school at this time.  As such, we have been provided with some guidance about how we might prepare, including the operational systems we should aim to implement on 1 June.  Even with these systems in place it is acknowledged that some parents will not feel it is the correct course of action – as it will not be possible to enact 2m social distancing in the classrooms and children will struggle to maintain it on the playground / field – and they will therefore not send their child into school.  In light of this, the guidance states that ‘parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time, and schools will not be held to account for attendance levels.’

The government guidance recommends groups of up to 15 children that do not interact with other groups in the school. As such, we will need to split the year group into distinct groups. Children will be allocated to these groups, which we envisage will be taught by the same teacher each day. The groups will not be able to mix at all, including during the start and end of the day and during break times. Lunches will be eaten in classrooms. The guidance acknowledges that ‘unlike older children and adults, early years and primary age children cannot be expected to remain 2 meters apart from each other and staff.’ However, as we have done throughout the lockdown, our planning and systems will be designed to support as much social distancing as is practicable.  This will include operating a staggered start and end to the day for the different groups.

If your child has a health condition which makes them ‘clinically vulnerable’ under the government guidance, you should be aware of this and consider whether you should keep them at home. Please follow any medical advice you have been given.

As ever, if there are ANY household concerns about possible Covid 19 infection – fever / raised temperature, new continuous cough or loss of taste / smell, children MUST NOT attend school.

We will continue to adjust our plans in light of new or amended government guidance and provide you with more detail about the year 6 provision as soon as we can.  In the meantime, can I take this opportunity to thank you for your support and positivity during this challenging time.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Steve Carr