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Covid-19/Coronavirus Update 23.03.20

Dear Parent / Carer

Following our regular communications with you last week, the Department of Education and the government are continuing to update advice and guidance relating to schools and pupils and how best to keep everybody safe. 

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This is because the situation regarding Coronavirus is rapidly developing, which is a cause of concern and worry to all of us.

We received additional guidance on Sunday the 22nd March, which clarifies and strengthens the government message that every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

We have stated this previously, but it is worth restating: Parents / carers will not be penalised if their child does not attend school at this time.

The new guidance particularly concerned vulnerable children and young people. This is because the guidance around CRITICAL Key Workers is more clear: Although, wherever possible children should be cared for at home (and many parents / carers who are key workers will be able to arrange care themselves) children of key workers may attend school if there are no safe alternatives and no alternative care is possible. We have a small number of families that this guidance applies to and we will continue to liaise with them if the situation changes further.

The other two categories of children who may need to attend school if there are no other, safer alternatives, are SOME vulnerable children with EHCP’s and SOME vulnerable children who have social workers. It is increasingly clear that not all vulnerable children will continue to attend school, because it will be safer for them to stay at home. This includes children looked after.

Eligibility for free school meals is not a criteria to attend school in its own right. However, we are planning to begin delivering free school meals to pupils eligible from our school kitchen from Monday – please bear with us as we may experience some initial teething problems.

Children looked after / children who have social workers

We will be looking at the individual circumstances of all of our children and young people who have a social worker in order to determine if they can be safely cared for at home or in their care setting. If necessary and because it is the safest option available, a school place will be offered and existing transport arrangements should remain in place. We will be liaising with social workers and carers to determine what are the most appropriate arrangements.

Children who have EHCP’s

All children who attend our school have an EHCP. The government is clear that they intend for children with EHCP’s to stay at home unless it is unsafe for them to do so. In general, those pupils who require particularly high levels of individual support, personal care support or who have more profound needs are the most likely to be more safely provided for in school. The guidance advises pupils should stay at home in these circumstance:

‘Children and young people whose needs can be met at home, namely those who are not receiving personal care from their educational setting, or whose limited need for personal care can be met in their family home.’

The government will be introducing emergency powers which are likely to relax and / or modify some of the requirements and statutory duties on local authorities during this period, including the precise provision in individual EHC plans. We will provide more detail as we receive it.

Naturally we would prefer it if it were possible to allow anyone who wishes their child to attend school to do so. However, it is clear that this is not the best way to proceed in order to support the government strategy.

We will keep in regular contact with all parents and carers, particularly whenever additional information is available. We will also be available for support and advice. As stated last week, if your question or enquiry is non urgent, please email our school office – if it is urgent you are welcome to phone us.

Nearly all of our parents and carers have been hugely supportive of our work during this critical period and we would like to thank you for your ongoing support, it really does help us to know we have your support when we are attempting to make the best decisions for our children and young people in very difficult circumstances.

In the meantime, we send all our children and their families our very best wishes at this challenging time.

With best wishes,

Natalie Shuttleworth             and             Richard Preece

   Head of School                                  Executive Head / CEO