Schools prepare for phased re-opening

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The majority of Warwickshire’s primary schools believe they can re-open from Monday according to the leader of the county council.

The Government’s current timetable is for primary schools to prepare for a phased re-opening from Monday, while students in Years 10 and 12 will be allowed some contact to prepare them for exams from 15th June.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe said: “Schools are carrying out risk assessments and none will be able to open without a full risk assessment in place. We are providing a great deal of assistance to schools, but a lot will depend on parents and headteachers. It may be harder in some schools, for example because the buildings are older with different layouts, but we’re doing everything possible to help.

“It’s so important to get children back to school as soon as they safely can. Ultimately it is up the headteachers to make the decision but from the feedback we are receiving I think it’s fair to say the majority of primary schools believe they will be able to reopen in line with the Government timeframe.”

Bridgetown Primary School is introducing a range of measures to protect pupils and staff and is planning to bring back 12 pupils from each year group onto the premises each day, meaning that over the course of a week all 180 pupils at the school will have been in for one day.

A thorough cleaning regime will be put in place while parents who do not feel able to send their children to school will not be penalised.

At secondary school level some Year 10 and 12 pupils may begin to return to classrooms from 15th June, though it currently seems unlikely that other year groups will come back before September.

Bennet Carr said: “The main issue is we can’t have more than 25 per cent of the school cohort in at the same time and the guidance is to avoid a morning afternoon rota system with different groups of students coming in at different times. There is also the issue with pupil options because for example not every student who studies history also studies geography.

“I know nationally there have been some problems with low numbers of pupils engaging with remote learning, but this has actually been really successful at KES, all of our students have been doing it and we’ve been chasing them up to make sure the work gets done.

“For us we will have to decide which Year 10 and 12 pupils we might need to bring in, one thing that might determine this is how difficult a particular subject or concept is to teach remotely, areas where we can see bringing pupils safely in to school will really add something to their learning.

“I’m glad to see that there is a degree of flexibility built into the guidance.”

Outlining Stratford School’s approach in a letter to parents last week, headteacher Neil Wallace wrote: “It now is increasingly looking like we will need to prepare longer term for a blended curriculum – with continued provision online & perhaps some face to face time in person. As you will have seen in the news over the last couple of weeks, there is currently a lack of certainty going forwards that we all find unsettling.

“Despite the PMs announcement about the wider opening of schools, genuine concerns remain. Not just concerns of parents or staff, but probably in government itself. We’ve been expecting more detailed guidance for secondary schools for the last fortnight. The delay reflects the complexities and difficulties involved.”

He added: “Our current systems were never meant to last indefinitely. We are all trying to find a way through this and keep improving. We understand that it is extremely challenging for parents who are trying to work effectively from home and support the learning and personal needs of children 24/7. No one expects parents to act as teachers, or to provide the activities and feedback that a school would. We will now be endeavouring to provide more face-to-face contact for students to keep them motivated going forwards.”