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Postal Address

Pear Tree Mead Academy
Pear Tree Mead
Harlow
Essex
CM18 7BY

Telephone: 01279 836181

Head Teacher: Mrs Christine Peden

Chair of Governors: Mrs Wendy Beckett

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School Return Plan September 2020 – MUST READ!

Dear Parents,

As we reach the end of the school year, I need to write to you with all the information for the full re opening of school in September.  My apologies, in advance  for this very long letter.  Please take some time to read all this information and then over the summer holidays, talk to your children about the changes for PTM for September.   I wanted to get this information to you before school closes , but please be aware that government guidance can change at any time, meaning some areas would be reviewed.

Many of you will be aware that the government recently announced schools and all children returning to school in September. The overarching message is that :

  • The usual rules on attendance now apply – school will be mandatory again from the autumn term.  

We expect children to return to school in September and usual attendance checks will apply.  We will follow the government guidance on symptoms and isolation as this changes.

Children should not attend school if they are showing any COVID 19 symptoms and we ask that parents engage in the test and trace programme and communicate with us the results of any test taken.

We will communicate with you and close down bubbles within the school if there are 2 or more positive cases in that bubble (Government guidance).

Below is the link to the press release about this announcement:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/schools-and-colleges-to-reopen-in-full-in-september?utm_source=39518199-2dcb-4af8-8f74-a2dddd255be4&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

 

 

The government have also provided parents with some information which can be found below.:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-in-the-autumn-term

The government have also provided us as schools with information.

This letter does not cover all aspects of the DfE’s guidance but gives the key messages.  

The bold sections of this letter are the guidance from the DFE.  The non-bold sections are how we are going implement the set plans, as a school at PTM.  I thought this would give you reassurance so that you can see how we are managing the government guidance.

Key points

  • The government has set out its intent and plan for all children to return to school full time from the start of September. It is based on a twin strategy of limiting contact between pupils and implementing hygiene measures.
  • Schools are told that “all elements of the system of controls are essential”, but “the way different schools implement some of the requirements will differ based on their individual circumstances.”
  • Schools will be familiar with many aspects of the system of controls already, e.g. thorough and regular handwashing and promoting good respiratory hygiene (the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach).
  • The main changes relate to how contact between individuals is to be limited in schools. Contact is to be limited in two main ways: 
  1. By ensuring pupils remain in consistent groups (‘bubbles’) wherever possible, thereby minimising the number of contacts between different people across the school.
  2. By maintaining distance between individuals wherever possible (‘social distancing’). You can find more details on these measures below.

 

  • The DfE states; “if schools follow the guidance set out here, they can be confident they are managing risk effectively.”
  • Schools are told that it is a legal requirement that they now revisit and update their covid-19 risk assessments.

As a school we have used this guidance to help make our decisions for September.  We have worked with staff, governors, the Local Authority and the unions to revisit and review our risk assessment.

  • Schools are also being asked to prepare a ‘plan b’, i.e. arrangements to allow remote learning to take place should a partial or full closure of the school be required, at any point in the next academic year.

As a school we will be working on this plan over the coming weeks and this will be ready in September.  It will be in the same form as it is currently with a mixture of online learning and paper-based work.  It will be sent out via the app and on our website. At this point our celebrations email address would open again aswell as  the home learning email address. The ‘plan b’ arrangements are in place for if the school or a ‘bubble’ in the school must close.

If a child or family has to isolate but this has not meant that the bubble has to close, we are asking pupils, if they are well enough, to complete their homework tasks at home and access our extended homework tasks from the school website whilst they are at home.  All home learning packs from March – July are also on the website and so children can access these if needed from their new year group.

Minimising contact – ‘bubbles’ and group sizes 

  • The main and most pressing logistical consideration for schools is determining group or ‘bubble’ sizes for September. The DfE has said that, ideally, bubbles will be kept as small as possible, i.e. the size of a class. However, where this restricts a school’s ability to deliver a full curriculum, schools have the flexibility to implement year group bubbles. In many cases, year group bubbles are likely to be the only workable option. Primary schools may find it is possible to work on the basis of class bubbles.

Our plan at school is to work in class bubbles if activities are inside and year group bubbles for outside activities.

For example, to have class bubbles for outdoor activities we would need 8 different times for playtime and lunchtime for KS2 – this would be impossible to manage.  Therefore, year group bubbles will be put in place for playtime and lunchtime.  There will be staggered playtimes and lunchtimes for year group ‘bubbles’.

Inside the school classes will not cross over wherever possible.

If cross over of class or year group bubbles needs to take place we will put in extra mitigation e.g. more handwashing, more social distancing and more cleaning of surfaces.  This may happen for certain interventions or for nurture group.  Later in the year it may happen for clubs.

Reception will be in one bubble and Nursery in another.  This is so that all of early years children can have fair access to free flow learning, both classrooms, resources and outdoor learning opportunities.   These bubbles will not be mixed. Reception and Nursery will have designated outdoor spaces and these will not be mixed.  Extra cleaning or quarantining of resources will take place in Early years to mitigate the larger ‘bubbles’ of children.

Social distancing within bubbles

  • The DfE has stated that social distancing and bubbles should not be seen as alternative options and that both measures “will help”. However, it points out that “the balance between them (social distancing and use of bubbles) will change depending on children’s ability to distance, the layout of the school and the feasibility of keeping distinct groups separate while offering a broad curriculum.
  • The DfE has recognised that strict social distancing will not always be possible, especially with primary-aged pupils. The guidance specifically states “we recognise that younger children will not be able to maintain social distancing, and it is acceptable for them not to distance within their group.”
  • All schools, in particular primary schools, are encouraged to take a realistic and pragmatic approach in this regard. This may include reminding children of the need to give each other space where possible; some schools may consider using a simple ‘no touching’ approach to help children understand the need to maintain distance. However, the reality is that to fit all pupils in a classroom, they are likely to be in close proximity. The DfE has accepted that pupils will need to be sat close to each other in most classrooms (The DfE recommends that pupils sit side-by-side and do not face each other if this is possible).

Classrooms where possible will have desks in rows to help children not to be facing one another.  This is harder in some rooms where we have circular tables, therefore children will be sitting next to each other in these situations. This is still safer than face to face.

At PTM we will be encouraging children to try to social distance, but we know that this is very difficult.  We cannot guarantee that children will social distance from each other.  We will be working with children on a no touching rule and that they should try not to be close to each other for prolonged periods of time.   Children will also have a no touching of others’ equipment rule.  E.g. children should not borrow someone else’s pencil, or lean over to help on another child’s laptop, children should not put their arms around each other on the playground.  We will remind children on these rules in a virtual assembly and through daily reminders.

Staff will be encouraged to always keep to a 2m distance and should make sure that the children don’t touch them. This will be necessity for more vulnerable members of staff.

Children will have carpet sessions for main teaching.  They will be sat in rows.

  • Another important point it makes is that “both the approaches of separating groups and maintaining distance are not ‘all or nothing’ options and will still bring benefits even if implemented partially. Some schools may keep children in their class groups for the majority of the classroom time but also allow mixing into wider groups for specialist teaching, clubs and wraparound care. Siblings may also be in different groups. Endeavouring to keep these groups at least partially separate and minimising contacts between children will still offer public health benefits as it reduces the network of possible direct transmission.” 

We will aim to keep the children in their class bubbles as much as possible. Although we will be running a reduced  breakfast club (only for children for who is its necessity) and our nurture provision will be open.  There will be no clubs and swimming in the first half term, and we will review this in October.  We will also review our lunchtime support provision in October.

At breakfast club the children will be encouraged to sit with their year group friends to try and decrease cross bubble contamination.   Children will be given a space to sit at where they will eat and complete a morning activity.

Breakfast club will only be open for 20 children a day and this will have to be booked via the new app.  Please only use breakfast club if it is necessity for work.  Bookings will be on a first come first served basis therefore not allowing all the usual attendees.

Breakfast Club will begin on the 7th September.  Bookings will open the week before, once school reopens.

Interventions will take place in year groups. We will try and limit these to class groups where possible.  This may not always be the case.  Extra cleaning, handwashing, social distancing and cleaning of resources will take place.

Nurture group will continue to take place.  Extra cleaning, handwashing and cleaning of resources will take place.

The government will be giving schools some money to run catch up programmes for those children who need extra support.  We will be planning how to spend this as soon as we know what we will be allocated.

  • The DfE has stated that pupils passing each other briefly in a corridor or playground (e.g. walking past each other) is a relatively ‘low risk’, but that schools should try to avoid large groups of pupils mixing together in these spaces at the same time. 

At school we will not be holding assemblies in the hall – these will take place in the classrooms.

To begin with lunches will be eaten in the classrooms – to stop all meeting in the hall.  The kitchen will be open and will be serving a choose of cold packed lunches. We will review this at half term.

We will try and limit the number of times children need to leave the classroom.

 

School staff

  • The DfE has said that teachers are permitted to move between bubbles. While it is advisable to minimise movement if and where possible, the reality is that this will not always be possible, especially in a secondary context. This also means that PPA teachers can teach across different groups.

At PTM it is usually the class TA that runs the PPA session so this will help with staff crossing over bubbles.

MDAs will need to cross bubble at lunchtimes.

Some staff will work in more than one bubble e.g. forest school, PE, SEND provision, external agencies and interventions.  These staff will be encouraged to put in extra social distancing, hand washing and extra cleaning.

  • An important section on staffing and social distancing states “it is strong public health advice that staff in secondary schools maintain distance from their pupils, staying at the front of the class, and away from their colleagues where possible. Ideally, adults should maintain two-metre distance from each other and children. We know that this is not always possible, particularly when working with younger children, but if adults can do this when circumstances allow, it will help. In particular, they should avoid close face-to-face contact and minimise time spent within one metre of anyone. Similarly, it will not be possible when working with many pupils who have complex needs or who need close contact care. These pupils’ educational and care support should be provided as normal.

At school we will be encouraging social distancing especially between staff and children and staff with staff. If close contact is needed staff will be asked to wear PPE.  For example, giving first aid or intimate care.  Staff will wear PPE if a child is showing symptoms.  We will follow government guidance on what to do if a child has symptoms or a positive test.

Children are not permitted to wear PPE.  If children need to wear this to school, then they may do so, and parents must remove this before entering school.  If a child is found wearing a face covering it will be double bagged and binned.  (This is the current rule – unless government guidance changes).

Other important measures 

  • There should be no large gatherings bringing different groups together e.g. whole-school assemblies. 
  • Schools are encouraged to consider staggered break and lunchtimes, and schools must clean dining halls between groups. 
  • Where possible, schools have also been asked to consider staggered start and finish times to keep different bubbles apart as they arrive at and leave schools. However, schools are asked to ensure that the total amount of teaching time pupils receive remains the same e.g. an earlier start would mean an earlier finish for pupils.  

At PTM we will be continuing with our staggered start and end to the day.  This is to reduce people at pinch points of school, but it is also to help out our parents with more than 1 child.  This will be reviewed after two weeks.  If this is not working, we may have to go to staggered start times and a one way system.

Children can be dropped off at school any time between 8.45 and 9.15 and can be picked up between 2.40 and 3.10.  Nursery AM times will differ.  There will be a 20-minute window on AM nursery (Ash) drop off between 8.40 -9.00 and pick up 11.20-11.40.  Aspen will be drop off 8.55 – 9.15 and pick up 2.45 – 3.05.  Please do not wait around at drop off or pick up.  Please leave the site promptly.  Only 1 adult should drop off or pick up children. This will be reviewed throughout the term.

Playtimes and Lunchtimes will be staggered during the day so that year group bubbles are outside at different times.  We will review how this is going during the first few weeks. Children to begin with will eat in classrooms. We will review this and see if we will be able to add hot food and eating in the hall later in the term.  This will only be done if we can do it safely.

There will be no assemblies, large gatherings and no events on school ground for parents.  We understand that this is a difficult decision for us to make but it has been made for the safety of the parents, children and staff.  We are working out how we can involve parents in these events, and we will be in touch as soon as we can.  We do not want you to miss out on these special events, I’m sure we will find a way.  Parents evening will be completed over the phone.  There will be no parents on site for sports day or the Christmas plays.  There will be no Halloween disco or Christmas Bazaar.  We will be looking at other methods of fundraising in September.

Equipment and resources

The DfE has stated the following:

  • For individual and very frequently used equipment, such as pencils and pens, it is recommended that staff and pupils have their own items that are not shared.

At PTM children will be given their own resources to use.  For example, pencil, ruler, rubber etc.  These will be kept on their desk or in their drawer.

  • Classroom-based resources, such as books and games, can be used and shared within the bubble; these should be cleaned regularly, along with all frequently touched surfaces.
  • Resources that are shared between classes or bubbles, such as sports, art and science equipment, should be cleaned frequently and meticulously and always between bubbles, or rotated to allow them to be left unused and out of reach for 48 hours (72 hours for plastics) between use by different bubbles.
  • Outdoor playground equipment should be more frequently cleaned.
  • It is recommended that pupils limit the amount of equipment they bring into school each day to essentials, such as lunch boxes, hats, coats, books, stationery and mobile phones. Bags are allowed.

At PTM will be using class-based resources.  These will not be shared across classrooms.  These will be regularly cleaned e.g. Maths resources or felt tip pens.

Our mid-day and end of day clean will take place every day – these are on high touch areas mid-day and a full clean at the end of every day.

Some resources need to be shared across bubbles – e.g. laptops – these will be cleaned before moving to a new bubble.

Some resources will be used in class and then cleaned after school.  Some resources will be quarantined for 72 hours before children can use them again.

In Early Years the children will be allowed the use of both rooms and the outdoor area.  They will share resources with their year group, and these will be cleaned as needed.  Resources will not be shared between Reception and Nursery without cleaning or quarantining. The outdoor area will be split between Reception and Nursery.

Children will be allowed to bring in book bags and take a reading book home.  PE kits will be sent into school and stay in school.   In Early Years and Year 1 children need to come to school in their PE kit on PE days.  This is so that they don’t need help with changing.  The teachers will let you know when your PE days are.

Children will not be allowed to bring in their own stationery.

Children will be expected to be in full school uniform in September.  We ask that this is cleaned regularly please.   This includes ties for Year 3-6.

PE

  • The DfE has staffed that “pupils should be kept in consistent groups, sports equipment thoroughly cleaned between each use by different individual groups, and contact sports avoided.”
  • Furthermore, “outdoor sports should be prioritised where possible, and large indoor spaces used where it is not, maximising distancing between pupils and paying scrupulous attention to cleaning and hygiene.”

At PTM – we will not be opening our swimming pool until we are ready to.  This won’t be in the first half term.  We will review this in October.

Children will have three PE sessions a week and their Let’s get Active 15 minutes a day. On designated days Reception and Y1 may come in wearing their PE kit to reduce the amount of contact made by helping them change. Other year groups will need their PE kits in every day.

Small and large playground equipment will not be used in the first half term.  We will review this at half term.

There will be no contact PE or playtime games until it is safe to do so. We will follow government guidance on this.

Curriculum Guidance.

  • In terms of the curriculum, the document states “school leaders will be best placed to understand the needs of their schools and communities, and to make informed judgments about how to balance delivering a broad and balanced curriculum.”
  • For key stages one and two, it specifically states “the curriculum should remain broad so that the majority of pupils are taught a full range of subjects over the year, including sciences, humanities, the arts, physical education/sport, religious education and relationships and health education.”
  • Within the curriculum guidance, the government has set a series of key expectations.  “up to and including key stage three, prioritisation within subjects of the most important components for progression is likely to be more effective than removing subjects.” In practice, this means that schools will naturally be looking at whether they need to make adjustments to their curriculum based on their assessments of pupils’ learning and progress as they return to school. This is likely to involve considering which key concepts missed from the summer term now need to be covered.

At PTM we understand that coming back to school for many children is going to be strange and daunting.  Our primary focus will be on settling the children back into school routines and their emotional and mental wellbeing.  This will be an extra big focus for the first half term.

Children will be taught a broad and balanced curriculum, although there will be a focus on key skills and catching up on missed teaching and learning.

At PTM we have a recovery plan in place.  This has involved us looking at objectives that may not have been taught in the summer term.  We are looking at how we help children to catch up with these.

We are launching our new homework in September which is all about practising key skills.  This is mainly through online learning platforms.

The government have announced that all formal assessments will take place next year.  Reception baseline, end of Reception assessments, Yr 1 and Yr 2 phonics, Yr 4 tables test, Year 2 and Year 6 SATs.

Additional points

  • Domestic day trips (not overnight) are permitted to resume in the autumn term, subject to protective measures being taken.

We will carefully consider if any school trips will be taking place in the Autumn Term.  For our new Year 6 we are in communication with Kingswood about our residential and we will be in touch as soon as we can with any information.  We currently know that this will not take place in September, but we are unsure if they can fit us in later in the year.  If Kingswood is cancelled, we will run a Kingswood week at school for the Year 6 children.

  • Face coverings are still not currently required in schools.

If children are wearing face coverings on the way to school (if using public transport) we will ask parents to remove them when entering school and disposing of them in the correct way at home.

  • PPE guidance remains largely the same as previously.

Staff will wear PPE when social distancing isn’t possible or if someone is showing any symptoms.

  • The DfE expects that kitchens will be fully open from the start of the autumn term and normal legal requirements will apply about the provision of food to all pupils who want it.

Our school kitchen will be open for cold food only to begin with.  All children entitled to a free meal will be able to choose one.  All children who wish to pay for a lunch will be able to order one.

We have ordered the summer fund vouchers for all families that are entitled to these.  The voucher should come to you on either the 20th or 21st July and is for £90 per child. This will be the last voucher that will come from EDEDRed.

We will be asking all parents to sign a new COVID 19 home school agreement in September so that you are fully aware of the school’s expectation.

We know that returning to school is potentially a worrying time for both children and parents.  It’s also an exciting time too.

As parents if you are worried yourself about coronavirus and your mental health there is a section of courses that you can complete:

https://mindinwestessex.mindlms.org.uk/

 

If your child is worried about coming back to school, we can provide you with some support with this.

Attached is a link to a useful document.  If you feel that a social story on starting school or some extra support may be needed, then please email us and we can provide you with something to work on over the summer holidays with your child.

https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/public/communicationfriendlyenvironments/uploads/sites/8799/2020/06/20134721/Return-to-School-in-September.pdf

Our Family Support team will be available in September to support any families that are finding coming back to school in September.

If you have any questions about the above guidance please do not hesitate to ask.

We can’t wait to have our school full of children again in September.

Stay safe over the summer holidays,

Mrs Peden