I would like to start with a big apology to the families that I upset by my clumsy wording in the start of the bulletin last week. We would love to have all the children back in school again and this whole horrible situation over. Sadly, this has not proved possible yet, because, in order to be able to partially reopen and yet protect everyone, the Government has set out two key conditions:
- Children and adults must be in ‘bubbles’ of no more than 15 children (half the size of a normal class);
- There must be no mixing between ‘bubbles’, even by adults.
These measures are designed to keep everyone as safe as possible. However, it meant that the partial reopening has led to the introduction of as many ‘bubbles’ as we had classes previously. We needed to allocate two adults to each bubble in order to facilitate breaks and lunchtimes etc. (and these staff could not work in any other bubble). Our teachers have kindly increased their hours and adjusted their work patterns, but we have been left with no spare staff. In addition, we cannot use the same space with two groups in succession unless we can ensure thorough cleaning in between.
Last week, I was relieved that Government recognised what schools leaders had been saying, since the Prime Minister first announced other year groups would come back – that it would be impossible as long as the Government still requires groups no larger than 15 and for primary schools not to use rotas. As a headteacher, I believe all children should be at school and I am distressed that this epidemic, and the consequent Government guidelines, prevent me from opening up every class now.
We are determined to ensure that all children in the years which have not yet opened have the opportunity to come into school again, agreed with the Governors, following advice from the health and safety lead at Kingston Council and the London Coronavirus Response Cell (LCRC) (the LCRC is part of Public Health England). We will therefore invite children in Years 2 to 5 who are not in school in to school to see each other and meet their class teacher. They will form their own special ‘bubbles’ of no more than 15 children. We will set up a careful rota, so that the staff teach the reduced provision one week and meet the returning ‘bubble’ the next week to reduce risk. Wherever possible groups will use the playing field or the playgrounds to seek the benefit of outdoors and if they need to be indoors teachers will maintain a social distance of more than two metres. During one of the two occasions they are in, their next teacher will be able to introduce themselves and to set their minds at rest about next year.
Next year’s teacher will also say hello to the children who are already in school.
Alongside this, we will look to enhance our virtual connection with children:
- Teachers will provide a video welcome and introduction to each week
- Teachers will offer opportunities for children in Year 2 to Year 5 to meet together virtually in small groups, together with the teacher
- There will be more videos filmed by the teachers, providing teaching and introducing new concepts for Year 2 to Year 5.
- We will offer a ‘meet the teacher’ video which will let families see the new teacher and find out key information about the following year. (Whilst this will not be in person, we trust that this will prove invaluable as it will enable everyone to see it whether they are attending school or not, and it can even be re-watched over the summer, to refresh the memory)
- We are writing Records of Achievement (reports) for every child, whether they have been in school or working at home in order to celebrate all they have achieved this year.
- We will do a virtual end of year celebration, as we will not be able to have our traditional end of year service.
I would like to thank staff for constantly responding to so many changes and rapidly learning new skills, and overcoming technological challenges to make this work.
I know that people are concerned about September and would like to know what is going to happen. Whilst, we have to wait for Government directives (and we all know that they can come at any time), we are hoping and indeed planning for the return of all the children to a full time curriculum. Alongside this, we are prepared in case we need to modify these plans. I give you my commitment, that, unless I am directed otherwise by the Government, we will open for every child on Thursday 3rd September.
KMS Midsummer Music Festival – Tuesday 30 June to Saturday 4 July
Kingston Music Service has announced its first ever Midsummer Music Festival – a series of online musical activities for all ages and abilities led by expert tutors and conductors. Whether you are a beginner or experienced player or singer, there is something on offer to suit you – and in every musical style from classical and world music to jazz, pop and gospel. And if you don’t have an instrument at home then you can join a virtual choir or create rhythms on household objects in their percussion group. A full list of activities and further information is attached.