We plan to update this page regularly as we move towards the re-opening of Peartree Primary School to more children. Our aim is to keep all parent/carers and staff informed.
Gavin Williamson, the Minster for Education, said schools' approach should be 'phased, gradual and cautious'.
This information is shared because at Peartree we are honest, we co-operate and we persevere.
Week commencing 31st May 2020
We held another governors meeting on Monday 1st June. They approved a comprehensive risk assessment which is included below. They decided to welcome back Year 6 from Monday 15th June - please see the letter below.
On Wednesday, most Peartree staff returned to work in school. We are busy preparing to welcome back more children.
Again this week, there has been lots of new and updated government guidance.
We have received one question this week: 'With regards to free school meals, my children are eligible however we have to shield my daughter so we can not come to the school to collect! Is there anything in place at all for situations like this? Thank you for all the amazing hard work all the staff at Peartree are putting in it hasn’t gone unnoticed by any of us'.
Our response: 'For those families that are shielding (with a letter from your GP), please let us know. If you need us to, we will drop bag lunches and learning packs around to your house and leave them on the doorstep. Thank you for your kind comments - please continue to keep your family safe'.
Week Commencing 24th May 2020
On Sunday 24th May 2020, the Prime Minister confirmed the phased re-opening of primary schools. However, he said 'I acknowledge that a 1st June opening may not be possible for all schools'. Peartree Primary School has yet to set a date for wider reopening. During this week, the Department for Education (DfE) released 8 pieces of guidance which were relevant to Peartree Primary School.
This week was the half term holiday. Peartree staff needed a chance to re-charge their batteries and spend time with their immediate family.
By the end of Thursday, Peartree's community had asked 2 questions, however both of these were specific to individual children.
Week Commencing 17th May 2020
On Saturday 16th May 2020, the Minister for Education, Gavin Williamson, led the government's daily briefing. During this week, the Department for Education (DfE) released 15 pieces of guidance which were relevant to Peartree Primary School.
Peartree Primary School Governing Body met on Tuesday 19th May and this webpage was subsequently launched.
Throughout this week, the various education unions have issued many statements, checklists and letters.
By the end of Thursday, Peartree's community had asked 8 questions, which have been answered in the document below.
Throughout the week, Peartree Primary School's leadership have continued planning. Some of these plans are included below.
Week commencing 9th May 2020
On Sunday 10th May 2020, the Prime Minister announced primary schools in England may re-open on 1st June 2020. During the week that followed, the Department for Education (DfE) released 17 pieces of guidance which were relevant to Peartree Primary School.
The most important announcements were released at 7.30pm on Monday 10th May and 7.30pm on Thursday 14th May.
Peartree Primary School Governing Body met on Friday 15th May and wrote to all parents/carers and staff immediately after the meeting.
Current considerations for the planned re-opening of Peartree Primary School
Strengths (compared to many other schools)
- Relatively small class sizes
- Reasonably sized classrooms, which would be able to accommodate a bubble of 15 children and 2 adults (although they would not be able to socially distance)
- A number of additional rooms which could be used for 'bubbles'
- Lots of outdoor space - 3 playgrounds, a field and a wood
- Separate hall and dining room
- Meals cooked on-site (by a very flexible cook)
- A relatively large number of toilets and sinks
- No mixed age classes (i.e. a mixed Y1 and Y2 class)
- Well-developed PSHE and nurture curriculum. All staff are trained in Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and childhood trauma.
- Entrances at both sides of school, in order to ensure social distancing at drop off and pick up
- No Newly Qualify Teachers (NQTs) who are required to have 10% non-class-based time during the school day
- A cleaner who comes everyday and a handyman who works every morning
Challenges we are trying to overcome...
- A number of staff who are extremely clinically vulnerable, live with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable or who are clinically vulnerable, and therefore should be supported to work from home if they wish. This means our 'pool' of staff is small.
- A relatively large proportion of part-time staff. Some staff do not have preschool childcare - this makes no rotas, as required by the DfE guidance, challenging.
- Many parents/carers still understandably unsure about whether they want to send their child/children back yet. This makes planning incredibly difficult as once 'protective bubbles' are formed we cannot admit more children or change children or staff. Current numbers:
- The number of 'key worker' children is slowly increasing as parents/carers go back to work. Do we 'cap' the number of 'key worker' places in order to maintain a bubble (maximum size is 15), given staffing challenges?
- Very limited amount of single use PPE - enough for those who come into contact with someone who is symptomatic whilst on the school site. No where near enough sanitiser to meet DfE guidance.
- Those children and staff who are clinically vulnerable or live with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable, and wish to return to school, will need individual risk assessments. This will need to include the ability to strictly social distance. The school has a duty to balance employment, Health and Safety, SEND and attendance/grounds to exclude legislation.
- Due to DfE guidance around 'bubbles' and no rotas, different adults cannot enter a bubble. Teachers have a right to preparation, planning and assessment time (PPA), which would usually be covered by a different member of staff. Given staff will be expected to teach 'bubbles' and maintain remote learning, they need to be given time to do this.
- There are some conflicts between our existing Health & Safety Policy and the DfE guidance to open the school.
- The entire school needs to be re-timetabled (e.g. no small groups, no one-on-one, no use of different rooms). Drop-off and pick-up rotas need to be put in place. Children may not be in their own classroom or with their own teacher. They may not be with their friends.
- The learning space adapted (e.g. no soft furnishing/cuddly toys, less furniture, individual learning packs, one-way system in corridors).
- The behaviour for learning policy needs to be adapted. There will need to be new shared procedure if a child leaves a 'bubble' without permission, including subsequent cleaning implications.
- The curriculum needs to be re-organised to meet children's needs - see below. How do we provide any kind of meaningful early years curriculum?
- The DfE refers to 'best endeavours' to provide home learning. There is no statutory duty to provide this in a specific way. How do ensure we remain mindful of the feasibility and workload implications for staff when it comes to balancing school and home provision?
- DfE guidance says the headteacher and leadership team should be visible around the school to reassure everyone - how do we achieve this when we are teaching a 'bubble' or ensuring strict social distancing due to clinical vulnerabilities?
- Systems for if children or staff become symptomatic - this is likely to result in all the children and adults in the 'bubble' self-isolating for 14 days.
Whilst this list is extensive, we are working our way through it. As a result of the planning and risk assessment process, we do expect that more challenges will arise.
Proposed curriculum and timetable adjustments
- Staggered drop-off and pick-up times - no parents/carers or visitors will be allowed to come on-site.
- School closure on Wednesdays in order for staff to have PPA (including updating class pages for remote learning) and for school to be deep cleaned.
- No breakfast club or after school club. We have neither the staffing capacity nor the ability to ensure social distancing. This incurs a cost to the school as we are paying staff without receiving income. The same applies to extra-curricular clubs.
- There will be no off-site visits (including swimming and sporting events) and no workshops, talks etc. which involve visitors on-site.
- No school uniform as children will need to wear clean, fresh clothes each day they attend school. They will need to wear a range of comfortable clothing which is suitable for range of indoor and outdoor activities. Velcro or slip on footwear is preferable to laces as we will be unable to tie them for the children.
- In English lessons, in Year R and Year 1, there will be a focus upon phonics teaching and talk for learning (although in larger groups than the children are use to). We will use texts to explain coronavirus and its impact on our lives.
- In Year 6, there will be a focus on preparing them for transition to secondary school.
- In maths lessons, there will be a focus on gap-filling and fluency (although Big Maths grouping will not be possible).
- In science, there will be a focus on hand-washing and hygiene (the logistics of hand washing and eating in the classroom will take up teaching time).
- We will sing a lot to keep our spirits up. We will be creative.
- As advised by the DfE, much of our curriculum will be outside. We will build upon Forest School, PE and gardening.
- There will be no real assemblies (possibly virtual) or gatherings in the hall. Parents and carers will not be able to visit the school.
- We will teach a Recovery Curriculum: relationships, community, transparent curriculum, metacognition and space. We will develop PSHE teaching, including mindfulness and relaxation.
Peartree Primary Governing Body will publish the answers to these questions each week. They will be shared on this webpage. Please feel free to ask what is on your mind. Parents/carers - do not use this form to ask specific questions about your child's SEND or medical needs. Staff - do not use this form to ask specific questions related to your individual circumstances.