Update for families
Friday, March 20, 2020
After almost daily contact with lots of you for the past couple of weeks, this may be the last time I write for the foreseeable future!
Firstly, a huge thank you once again to you, your children and the community who have been incredibly supportive of the school, our children and staff over the past couple of weeks. This has been a really testing time. As I said to the Year 11 students yesterday, this is unchartered territory for all of us. I hope that we have done as well for you as we can under the difficult circumstances that we face. As always, every decision has been made with the best interests of our students and school community at heart. At a time of great uncertainty and worry, it has been hugely uplifting, positive and, at times, emotional to see how much everyone comes together for the good of each other.
As adults we all work in schools to help young people and see them develop. Whilst, like the students, we sometimes look forward to the holidays, the thought of schools being closed is really quite unsettling. We are used to being in a school that is vibrant and has a great buzz about it. This week with more than half of our students out has been very strange. I cannot begin to tell you how amazing the staff at Preston School have been for your children over the last few weeks. You would not believe how many emails, messages, phone calls and conversations I had with staff who wanted to volunteer to come away from their families and work with your children during the time that schools will be closed – as soon as the announcement was made on Wednesday. I count myself very lucky to lead and work with such a brilliant group of inspiring people every week, but especially in weeks like this. Please remember this when we are back in school and you disagree with your son/daughter getting a detention for forgetting a pen!
We have now, at last, received the list of ‘critical workers’ whose children can come in to school over the next two weeks. The time taken by the Department for Education on this is nothing short of a disgrace and I can only apologise that we are only able to share it with you this morning. We can only accept students in to school who have a parent who is a critical worker and who have informed us prior to the day, so please do let us know on this. If one parent is a critical worker and the other not, then the student should not come in to school and instead be looked after by the other parent. The information on who is eligible is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers#critical-workers . The government is asking ‘parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend. It is important to underline that schools, colleges and other educational establishments remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society. Schools are, therefore, being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children - children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.’
If one of your child is looked after by someone is employed as a critical worker and you would like them to come in to school next week (8.30am-2.55pm) then please email Lauren Vaughan on firstname.lastname@example.org . It would help verify your employer if you could email from a work email address. We need to know:
Days required next week
Why you qualify as a critical worker (including employee) and why another parent cannot look after them
We will confirm my email (or telephone call in the absence of an email address) your child’s attendance next week if they meet the criteria and you want them to come in. Please do not send your child in unless you have this invitation.
As a school, through the staff volunteering over the next two weeks, we plan to offer meals to the students who receive Free School Meals (FSM) those that are in schools and those that are at home. Again, the guidance on how this can happen has not yet been released to us but we plan to offer a lunch from the wonderful staff in The Hub. This will be from 1-1.30pm in The Hub each day – the same as a normal school lunch. If your child receives FSM and you would like them to access this you will need to contact The Hub Manager, Chris Taylor on email@example.com in advance of the day to book a meal. As you can imagine getting food to cook for the students is more of a challenge than normal at present and we will need to plan ahead. Any student coming in as their parent is a critical worker can access their FSM or pay for the lunch as normal.
Our students have been unbelievably brilliant this week. As staff, we know how lucky we are to work with our young people but this week has brought a stark reminder of this. Students in school have supported each other and been in great spirits. Students in Year 8 & 9 have worked brilliantly at home and have interacted well with the online learning platforms (we know how often and when they log on!) and staff, in asking questions on the work. As we work our way through the next few months (I have stopped saying ‘weeks’ now!) that routine will be important for all aspects of life, none more so than learning. Many of you are about to realise the joys and challenges of teaching a few young people in comparison to a class of 30! The feedback that we have received so far on the work that we have set has been great. The only (national) issue that we may face is the sheer volume of internet traffic which may slow down or crash websites and apps.
Whilst the short-term impact of the uncertainty that we face has hit Year 11 students hard this week, my longer term concern is for students in Year 10. They are missing key months of their GCSE courses and the work that will contribute towards their grades this time next year. Please encourage them to get in good learning habits whilst they are off, just as they will need to with regards to eating, exercising and sleeping. Young learners take a while to get ‘warmed up’ again in September after a 6 week summer holiday, so this break has the potential to put them back some way if they do not keep working throughout. This is important for all students, but of course Year 10s are the next group of students to go through the exams now, so it is particularly vital for them.
Thank you once again for your ongoing support. Very much like the football season, I hope that we can come back before the planned end of the academic year! As a staff we will miss the students, miss teaching them and miss seeing them grow and develop. Please look after them and your families and if we can help with anything at all then please do let me know.