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21st May 2020
Plans for the further re-opening of Northern Star Academies Trust Schools
Dear parents, carers and families
Following a week of furious media debate about schools opening more widely, it is now timely and pertinent for me to write to you explaining the provisional approach that we are taking across all Northern Star Academies Trust schools.
As a parent of secondary aged children and a teacher of many years, I have complete empathy and understanding for the position both parents/carers and our staff have found themselves in over the last two months. On behalf of our Trust and Headteachers, I would like to thank you for the incredible efforts that you have gone to, to support your children with home-learning as well as the support you have shown our staff during this exceptionally difficult period of time.
It is important to point out that our schools have remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and for some of our schools during Easter, Bank holidays and weekends. They have remained open for the children who have needed our support and our care. I am extremely grateful to all our teaching and associate staff for their hard work and commitment in support of emergency workers and our vulnerable children. Our provision for key workers and vulnerable children will remain unchanged throughout the next half term as we start to bring other groups of children back into school and expand out provision.
When will our Primary Schools reopen?
If we receive the go-ahead from the government on 28th May, when certain national criteria will need to be met, our provisional plan is as follows:
w/c 1st June - All staff from across Northern Star Academies Trust will undergo comprehensive Induction and CPD to prepare them for all aspects of the safe and secure re-opening of their schools We will be using this week to ensure our Primary Schools are completely ready and meet the highest standards of safety and safeguarding. Home- education will continue as normal.
All our schools this week will remain open for vulnerable children and those from key worker families.
w/c 8th June - We will begin a phased re-introduction starting with Year 6, then Year 1 and Reception provision – gradually expanding this provision over time.
Each Headteacher will communicate the exact details of their delivery model in the coming days and will confirm any updates prior to the above start date.
We have made the very carefully considered decision to not open any of our Nursery or Wraparound provisions, until September 2020. Our analysis of staffing capacity shows that we do not have sufficient staff to meet the statutory requirements to deliver this provision. We will, of course keep parents/carers fully notified in readiness for the next academic year.
Children of key workers and vulnerable pupils from all year groups will continue to be able to attend throughout this period, though please look out for communications from your child’s school to check for any changes to their provision.
Does my child have to come to school?
We sincerely hope that every family in the Primary year groups offered will return their children to school feeling comfortable with the measures we have in place (see below). However, the complexity of the last few months means that we will have some children and families who cannot take up places due to shielding or may feel uncertain and anxious. I can categorically share that we will respect the individual decisions made by our families at this uncertain time.
What will our offer involve and what control measures are in place to ensure my child’s safety?
Working alongside national advice, our respective Local Authorities and various external health and safety bodies, our Trust has produced a comprehensive risk assessment process. Every school within the Trust has used this to guide their detailed plans. Through this process, we have identified that our primary schools will need to phase their re-opening process due to the numbers of pupils who would be accessing the school site.
We have made provision for additional cleaning (including during the teaching day). We will also provide sanitising stations and other control measures, and will continue to enhance this according to need.
School meals will be served in the teaching space or on rota in the dining area, with social distancing measures, again, applied. Similarly, communal time such as breaks and lunchtime will be timetabled carefully and supervised to maintain social distancing.
All families accessing the school site will be given detailed guidance which may involve staggered start and finish times, changes to class bases and staffing, along with bespoke timetables for when on site. This will allow for social distancing when moving around the school site. Teaching spaces are being set up to maintain social distancing – class sizes will vary according to school and room layout, but no class will be larger than 15 pupils. Pupils will tend to work in these groups and movement between groups and spaces will be absolutely minimised.
Every school in the Trust has had to assess its pupil groups, staff capacity, space available and then consider a bespoke timetable which will undoubtedly mean a change to the curriculum on offer. We may need to make changes to our normal cycle of teaching, planning and provision according to staffing and individual need, but I am sure there will still be a positive impact from our pupils returning to school.
When you receive the specific details from you Headteacher, please ensure you read the details from your child’s school carefully as it is vital to ensure the wellbeing and safety of everyone involved.
Transport to school
We have been informed by our Local Authorities that school transport providers will be in touch with parents directly about their child’s transport to school.
Chief Executive Officer