Weekly Bulletin:Friday 15th May
Messages for children at home
How are you? As the weeks go by, I’m sure you are missing your friends more and more. I hope that you’re able to talk to them or video call them, so that you’re not on your own. For those of you with siblings at home, you’re lucky to have other children to play with (even though I know that brothers and sisters can be annoying at times!!) so please enjoy your time together and keep the argument levels as low as possible.
This will help your Mums and Dads, who are working really hard to look after you and keep you safe. It would be really nice if you could say thank you to them and tell them just how much you appreciate everything they are doing for you. It’s not easy!
As well as this, please carry on with your home learning as much as you can. Have fun and stay safe.
I hope you are all still staying well. Thank you for continuing to comment on our Thought of the Week blogs – there will be an interesting one coming up on Monday and I look forward to reading your ideas. I hope you have something relaxing planned for the weekend? I think I might go for a long walk in the sunshine and maybe a spot of baking. Keep staying safe.
Have a lovely weekend,
Headteacher’s message for parents/carers
Last week’s bulletin may have been short, but this is a long one! I would like to cover holiday provision and plans for a potential wider opening in June – I’ll try to do this in enough detail to help you understand our current approach, bearing in mind that no final decisions have yet been made for June.
We are planning our school-based childcare provision during the May half-term holiday. As you’ll already know, our school has remained open every working day since the start of this crisis in order to support our key worker families and vulnerable children. We’re continuing this approach over the May half-term holiday by running a sports coach led holiday club. This is the same provision as we offered during the Easter holidays, with Progressive Sports coaches Mr Kent and/or Mr Malion working with one Tunbury middle/senior leader each day.
Please note: as at Easter, we have a very limited number of places available at the holiday club and these are available for the small number of parents who have an acute level of need for emergency childcare due to the coronavirus crisis. These are parents who are critical key workers (eg frontline NHS staff, police officers) who are being redeployed, have had leave cancelled or shifts extended and for whom both/all adults within the household are key workers going out to work and whose normal childcare arrangements are not viable (eg as childminders/holiday clubs are closed and elderly/vulnerable extended family members are not able to help).
If this describes your situation, then please talk to us – unlike our normal opening during term, holiday provision is only available through individual consultation. Please phone the school number (01634 863085) to talk to myself, Mrs Smith or Mr Taylor by next Wednesday. One of us is available in school every day and we look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.
Potential re-opening in June
I’m sure that everyone has been watching the news throughout the week and wondering what will happen in June. At the moment, schools have been asked to plan for a potential wider opening for children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. I want to make it very clear that no final decisions have been made, either by us as a school or by the government, so at this stage, we are not able to say for certain what will happen in June. However, we are keen to involve you in the planning process and for this reason, we have been consulting with parents/carers of children in Years R, 1 and 6 this week. Thank you for responding to our survey – we found your comments really constructive and helpful. We have read them all and based these FAQs on the most common themes:
How does social distancing work with young children? They can’t be expected to do this.
This was by far the most common comment, so I’ll start with this one. At Tunbury, we have had relatively large numbers of children (up to 34) in school every day from the vulnerable children/key worker groups, so we already have some experience of safe working and social distancing. We have found that in the classroom, older children (from Year 2 and upwards) can maintain distancing most of the time whilst in their lessons, for example by being seated further apart and other adjustments made by staff. However, even for our older children, it is not possible to maintain strict social distancing at all times, with breaktimes, lunchtimes and movements around the school being the times that children tend to bunch together, even when they are asked not to! For our younger children (Year R and Year 1), social distancing is a challenge at all times, both within the classroom, in lesson time and throughout the school day.
However, the government approach to re-opening schools is not currently based only on social distancing – they do recognise that primary aged children cannot be expected to remain 2 metres apart at all times. Instead, the approach is that children should be grouped in small ‘bubbles’ of no more than 15 children together, and that children would stay in these groups all day, with no mixing with other groups. This is a logistical challenge to say the least, but it may be possible for us to operate in this way with a limited numbers of children in school. It’s also a completely different approach which children, staff and parents/carers would need to adjust to.
We need to see the school’s plans before deciding whether to send our children in.
Many parents said this - and we understand this completely. If we do re-open, then we will provide you with detailed information in advance, so that you can decide what to do. We’re not ready to do this yet because we have not completed our risk assessments and planning, but we will provide more information next week.
Is 1st June still an INSET day?
Yes, Monday June 1st is an INSET day at Tunbury. No children will be attending school on this day. If we are moving towards a wider re-opening, then this staff training time will be essential to ensure that our staff team are as prepared as possible.
If the school does re-open, does my child have to come?
We understand that there is a wide range of different circumstances affecting our families, meaning that some are keen to send their children back, whereas others are completely against this. We will respect both of these approaches. Additionally, the government have temporarily removed the legislation for fining parents for non-attendance. When asked whether parents/carers would consider sending children to school in June (Year R, 1 and 6), 28.7% said yes, 46.2% were undecided and 25.1% said no. Based on this, we can see that many children would not be attending school in June if we did re-open.
Why is it Year R, 1 and 6 first?
We’re not sure exactly why these year groups have been chosen. Also, we’re not sure how the situation will develop regarding the government’s ‘ambition’ to return all primary children to school before July. So please be aware that this situation may change. For example, one or more of these three year groups, starting with Year 6, may require a further period of home learning later in the term. This may become necessary because children from every year group could not attend school at the same time in groups of 15.
What hygiene measures would be in place?
Children would continue to wash their hands frequently throughout the school day. Before we closed in March, we did develop effective systems for this to happen with the recommended frequency, so this would continue. We had also provided extra cleaning throughout the school day, particularly for frequently touched surfaces in communal areas of school, and this would continue too.
Would you put extra protective measures in place for children with additional health needs?
The government guidance is that children who are ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ should not come into school. If children have a level of health vulnerability lower than this, then their attendance at school depends on medical advice. If we were to re-open more widely, please talk to us at the time about these medical needs.
Which teachers would be teaching my children?
We are currently consulting with our staff to understand which of our teachers and teaching assistants are able to come into work from June. As I’m sure you can appreciate, there are different health needs among our staff team, so some teachers and teaching assistants will continue to work from home. Along with the need for children to be taught in groups of 15, this means that your child might not be taught by their regular class teacher. We are not currently planning to bring in any external staff, so all adults in school would be Tunbury staff members already known to our children.
Would online learning carry on for children at home?
Yes, online learning for children not attending school would continue. There might be changes to the teachers being responsible for this: for example, if your child’s class teacher was in school, another class teacher (working from home) may support you and your child. We are aware that some parents/carers require new exercise books for home learning, so we would make arrangements for you to be able to collect new ones from school.
What would children in school be learning – will there be timetabled lessons?
Yes, children would have timetabled lessons. At the moment, our children in school cover the same learning as the home learning set for their year group, and this approach would continue. If Year 6 were to return, their work would include preparation for transition to secondary school.
What would happen at drop-off and pick-up times?
If the school were to re-open, we would have to put new systems into place for entry and exit to the school site. These would include different routes into school for different groups, staggered timings and children going straight into class rather than lining up on the playground.
Will you share all the guidance that the school has received?
All our guidance is also available to you via government publications. You can read the latest information at:
Information from government is updated daily, but it’s up to us as a school to work out how to apply this in our setting, making the right decisions for Tunbury children, families and staff.
This is the government information for parents/carers:
I hope that this is a helpful summary for our parents/carers at this moment in time. I do appreciate that there is a huge amount of uncertainty over what will actually happen next regarding school re-opening and that this will be causing some anxiety. Please bear with us – we are continuing to do our very best to respond to this situation, which is developing and changing every day. As ever, we’re committed to providing you with regular, open communication and we will be in touch again next week.
Have a lovely weekend everyone. Please take care of yourselves and your families.