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Graveney Primary School

‘Learning and Achieving Together’

Plans to reopen School

Dear Families

Following on from my message to you on Monday the guidance has been produced recommending that schools plan to reopen from 1st June 2020 (this will be on the 8th June for our school as we have a longer break).  The Government's aim is for all Primary pupils to have access to school by the end of the summer term. 


Currently we are supporting a small number of key worker pupils and some of our vulnerable pupils within school.  With more people gradually returning to work we are already seeing an increase in the number of families of key workers needing this provision and anticipate a further increase over the coming weeks.  I would like to assure you that this provision for all key workers will remain in place, the new guidelines are encouraging more children to have access to school. 


The next phase of the re-opening proposes that year R, 1 and 6 groups return first, followed by schools gradually increase the numbers of pupils accessing school by year groups.  The government ambition is ‘…for all primary year groups to be back to school before the summer holidays, for a month if feasible.’  This is a logistical nightmare within our small school with limited space and mixed year classes.  I will be discussing my plans later this week with staff and also with our Trustees.  Together we will agree on how this can be achieved at Graveney. 


What can I share with you? After 7 years of headship and having taught since the late 90’s (no comments on my age please!), I have been in a privileged position of looking after your children, leading dedicated staff and communities. This has taught me two things: firstly, be truthful and secondly when it comes to children, always keep them safe.


I am being truthful here and categorically tell you there is no such thing as social distancing in a school; it does not exist and would never exist. The reason childhood illnesses spread in a school is no surprise as we are all in contact with each other. I can put two children in opposite classrooms and they will still get chicken pox because that’s how it is in a school. This virus we are led to believe is a super spreader.  It is therefore essential that we keep the number of pupils in school low, with small groups our aim will be to keep both you, your children and the staff safe.

Do I want the staff and children back; of course. Many of you will be at the end of your tether at home, of course you are (this is why teachers have school holidays!). However, I am not going to sit here and write to you to say we can achieve social distancing in a school. We can make things safer, we could perhaps reduce the risk slightly, but my experience of normal illnesses in school tells me, the risk will be there. 


So that leaves us in a quandary doesn’t it? How long can we go on like this for? I am struggling to find solutions. We are hearing that it is OK to put our youngest children back in a school and our oldest; at this time there is no evidence that is putting my mind at rest. There will be some of you that say “let’s just get on with it”, I respect that, but get on with what? There is not a reliable test, a vaccine, an idea about what to do next, there is just the possibility that things will be OK; that’s all we have at the moment and ‘OK’ is not good enough when it comes to the precious gift that is your child.


What is missing from this discussion is a sensible, rational debate around better solutions, such as repeating a year and coming back when we have more science to support us. Believe me, I would rather any child repeats a year than go back to school too soon and have to lose a child; why is this not in the national debate; because it will cost money! So parents, what can you do next? Well, all I can do is pass onto you the information when we have it and you can make your own decision. Parent power is quite something when it is applied nationally; perhaps you too have some great ideas that can be brought before our politicians.  As I have said before, I will share plans for how we will be operating under these new guidelines with you as soon as possible but please do not hesitate to get in touch if you want to share any concerns. 


If you are a parent from, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 or a key worker, I would love to hear from you regarding how you feel about your child returning.  I now need to have numbers in order to plan our provision.


The guidelines on attendance clearly state that parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time.  I would like to reassure you all that your child’s space here at Graveney is secure, should you decide that home is the safest place for your child to remain, at this current time.


Thank you once again for your constant support and understanding, sending virtual hugs to all our families. 


With my kindest regards

Alison Blackwell