I hope you are your families are well and coping in these extremely difficult circumstances.
I am sure many of you, like me, were sat in front of the television on Sunday evening, listening carefully to the Prime Minister’s announcement about the next steps in the battle to overcome the Coronavirus pandemic and any attempts to move towards restoring some normality. With regards to schools, it appeared there would be a focus on Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils from 1 June, accompanied by an ‘ambition’ that Year 10 and Year 12 students will have some ‘face to face contact’ before the end of the school year.
On Monday evening the government published specific guidance which sets out further expectations about what the phased re-opening of schools might mean in practice. This is different in a number of places, to what many secondary headteachers were expecting. I would ask you to read this document which has been produced specifically for parents and carers.
Schools and Local Authorities have now received further guidance to help them plan for their schools to reopen. We have begun the task of trying to understand this guidance and have started to develop our plan as to how this could work in our school. All schools will inevitably have to approach how they operate very differently depending on their context and the community that they serve. Until the risks posed from the Coronavirus have been significantly reduced we all must be prepared for a very gradual, step by step approach that reflects the scientific and government guidance.
The government guidance states: “This will not be a return to full timetables or pupils back in school or college full time, rather some support to supplement pupils’ remote education.” The expectation around face to face contact for Year 10 and Year 12 students is unclear and leaves many questions unanswered. Local authorities, professional teaching organisations and school leaders are asking for clarification on a wide range of issues that prevent detailed planning at this stage. During the course of the week I have met (virtually) with all the secondary headteachers in our district and have spoken in detail with headteachers from a significant number of secondary schools in Lancashire. This has developed our collective understanding and will shape our planning for the challenges that lay ahead.
I will, of course, let you know as soon as any decisions are made regarding the gradual re-opening of schools.
In addition, the government have changed their advice to vulnerable children and those of key workers, stating that it is no longer necessary for their parents to keep them at home if they can. We have been open every day (Monday to Friday) since the closure of our school and we will continue to offer this full-time provision for eligible students and will be doing so over the half term break later this month. I would like to thank our staff again for their commitment throughout this pandemic and for ensuring we continue to do all we can to support our students and their families.
To help with our planning I would be very grateful if you would complete this short questionnaire to enable us to reflect on how students have coped with home learning and levels of confidence about sending children back to Haslingden High School this school year, should the opportunity arise.
Finally I would like to thank you all for your cooperation, good nature and support in helping us to support your child to continue learning in these difficult circumstances. We recognise the challenges this current situation has posed to you as parents. We cannot expect our homes to become the perfect learning establishments when they are so different to the nature and environment found in schools. Juggling work or working from home, becoming ‘home-schoolers’ overnight and still finding the energy each day to support family members is without doubt a very demanding set of circumstances. Whilst school work is important, and it would be wrong to suggest it isn’t, young people must also take time to look after themselves and their wellbeing throughout these incredibly difficult times. Feeling anxious or worried is a normal human response, and there is a lot of information on our website to support the wellbeing of children and adults. In addition, Place 2 Be have some fantastic resources to help children, adults and families, which you may find useful. To access them, click on the link Place 2 Be Coronavirus: updates, advice and support.