Principal's Update - WC 4th January 2021

Sunday 10 January 2021

Dear Parents and Carers;

I hope this finds you and your families safe and well. We will continue to try and send more regular newsletters in the future. Still, as this is our first week back, we have opted to focus our efforts on that instead of gathering the newsletter names!

I open this letter with the recognition of an unfamiliar name. This week, David Allen, a member of the Ark Network central team responsible for all of our facilities and health and safety regulations, passed away following a short battle with COVID. Dave was a great friend to the school, having supported our rebuilding work in the Shepherd building amongst many other things. He was a close colleague and associated with many of our staff. Even last week was an active support in putting together the school risk assessment. He will be greatly missed. Although his contribution is not immediately apparent, it can be felt throughout the school and seen in our children's safety and well-being. Our thoughts and most sincere condolences go out to his family.

This lockdown is markedly different to last time. As such, we benefitted from the two days of inset that allowed us to get ready for the unexpected position we found ourselves. Although we have faced lockdowns and remote learning provision in the past, the scale of the current challenge has required considerable effort to balance. 

We have approximately 100 children onsite in 7-year group bubbles operating a complex logistical system to keep them separate. These bubbles are engaged in the same learning as the remote provision receives. We offer a blended live/recorded remote lesson offering with at least 4 hours of content per day as per Department for Education guidance. This organisation is no mean feat of planning and effort to ensure we run effectively two schools in parallel. The staff's patience in the face of continued last-minute changes and the heightened risk they face in continuing to attend their place of work is admirable. We are doing all we can to keep them safe whilst also keeping your children safe and educated. 

There are; however, some more changes coming:

Expansion of onsite numbers:

In light of the Department for Educations guidance, we will be reworking the numbers on site for the week commencing 18th. We will be sending a letter this week for you to register for the next entry phase. Please if there is any alternative other than utilising onsite take it. Ever-increasing numbers markedly increases the risk for you and staff by having a high concentration of people on site. The infection rate in the locality is high, and we are doing all we can to make it safe, but the more people take the spaces at school, the higher this will go.

We won't accommodate everyone who has requested a space. We don't have enough staff to cover this and a remote learning offer and cope with our absence rate. As such, we will be issuing a detailed prioritisation from which we will allocate onsite space. That letter will publish on Monday with a submission deadline of 10.00am Wednesday. No late submission will be considered - please only use this if you absolutely must.

Laptop/Wifi Access:

We recognise that we have many families that have either or both no device availability and the internet. We have 120 laptops and a number of internet accessibility dongles ready for distribution. However, these are loan items, and there is culpability for them. We will be issuing a letter to those that qualify for one of the devises in order of prioritisation on Tuesday / Wednesday. There is paperwork which needs to be completed electronically agreeing to the terms and conditions of the loan item, before any devise can be issued. We will offer slots for collection from Thursday onwards.

We know that there will be a lot of communications this coming week and will do our best to keep these as short as possible. We are also aware the Department for Education is likely to make more information releases this week that will probably change all this all over again!

Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 Morning Register:

Please use this page to register your attendance for the remote learning in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 or we will need to call you!

Weekly Meeting:

Like to our weekly parent Q&A meeting is here - for the durration of the lockdown and possibly beyond we will hold the weekly town hall meeting on Zoom. 

As always - stay safe, look after each other by following the rules and keep in contact, we are here to help as best we can.