Download our FREE smartphone app today!
School Closure - From 23rd March - Letter to Parents
ALL SCHOOLS IN ENGLAND: TEMPORARY CLOSURE DUE TO CORONAVIRUS
As you have no doubt already heard, the government has announced that all schools will temporarily close from Friday March 20th. This is the case across all schools in England.
The government has taken its decision on the basis of advice from its scientific experts. The evidence from around the world is, thankfully, that children and teenagers are not particularly vulnerable to coronavirus. However, the decision to close schools now has been timed very carefully by the government, in order to maximise its impact on the spread of the virus.
Because there has been so much speculation that schools could close, we have been able to put a great deal of time and resources towards preparing for this. We have spent time with pupils - collectively in assemblies and individually too - talking to them about the current situation. In these conversations, pupils have said how much they love school not just because of the education they receive but because of all the other support they receive here too.
The coronavirus pandemic is both completely unprecedented and constantly evolving. We know that it will cause difficulties and stress for our pupils and their families. But we also want you to feel reassured that we have made careful and detailed plans to support you and your children through this as best we can.
We will maintain provision for the vulnerable children and the children of ‘critical workers’ at the front line of the current situation. We had made plans to do this anyway, but in its announcement yesterday the government mandated it for all schools. The government is due to announce its definition of ‘critical workers’ but has already said that it includes health workers in the NHS, police, social care workers and supermarket delivery drivers. Once the government has published its definition of ‘vulnerable children’ and ‘critical workers’ we will send out a further alert.
Of similar importance, we will ensure that all children on Free School Meals continue to receive these - something we have been planning since it became clear that closures were a possibility. If this applies to you, we will write to you separately with the details. At the top of our minds, throughout recent weeks, have been pupils and families who may be particularly disadvantaged by this crisis. We will continue to think of imaginative ways we can help and support these families and will update you.
The uncertainty of the past few weeks has worried absolutely everybody. But it has posed particular concerns for pupils (and parents) at the most critical times of their education. In Primary, there are Year 6 children preparing for the transition to secondary school and in Secondary there are Year 11 and 13 pupils who have been preparing for their GCSEs and A Levels. These pupils have worked hard at their education and at Harris we will always push for them to get the outcomes they deserve.
SATS will not take place, but regardless of this we will share with parents and secondary schools our assessment of where pupils in Year 6 are with their core subjects and skills. This will be very important for the secondary schools our pupils are going onto, so they understand the needs of each child, and we are confident that our assessments are accurate and up-to-date.
While GCSE and A Levels won’t take place in the summer, we await further clarity from the government on how pupils will be rewarded with the qualifications they deserve. We will of course update you as soon as we know and will work with families on an individual basis as needed to ensure fair outcomes for everyone.
Our physical schools will be closing for now, but our ‘virtual schools’ stand ready for you and your children. This is new territory for all of us, and it is new territory for all of you, but we remain as one Harris community. We have developed a huge amount of ‘virtual provision’ in a short amount of time: you may need to bear with us at times, but rest assured that we will continue to develop and revise our provision to make sure it is working. At Harris Boys’ Academy, East Dulwich
- Pupils in Years 10, 11, 12 and 13 and staff in the Harris Federation have already been trained in the remote working platform, Microsoft Teams, which will enable them to communicate with and share files with their subject groups. For pupils taking public examinations this summer, we have already identified what their needs are in terms of devices, software and internet access at home and are working with them individually to address this.
- Pupils in years 7, 8 and 9 will be set work to do via the school email and website. Work will include learning platforms such as Bedrock and Hegarty Maths.
- All pupils receiving counselling will continue to receive this, by telephone.
Pupils will be able to email into the school, and the school switchboard will continue to be operational. If during the temporary closure of the school you or your child need to reach us, our telephone number is 0208 299 5300 and our email address is email@example.com. The most urgent enquiries, including safeguarding issues for any vulnerable pupils, will be answered first. If your enquiry is not urgent, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and please bear with us if there is a delay in responding. Please note that for safeguarding reasons, teachers are not permitted to give out their telephone numbers.
However much the temporary closure of schools has been speculated about by the media, we know that it will still cause considerable shock, distress and disadvantage to many of our families. But while we can never fully compensate for this loss of school time to your children, staff across the Harris Federation and all its academies have rallied together to support and plan for this and we know our school communities will get through this whatever happens.
Chair of Governors