News and Parent Information
School closure update: The school is opening to certain year groups from the 1st June. See our news pages for further details. A good news update for the school - Our Section 48 report has been published. We are very proud of our outcome and I want to thank staff, children, parents and IEB for enabling this outcome. Thank You!
- This part of the school website aims to provide parents with the day to day information they need to know what is going on in school and also to support their children and the work of the school.
End of year Newsletter and Parent Guide to September Opening
Dear parents and carers,
The school year truly has come to an end and what a year this has been. We had a strange but pleasant last day of the year with end of Term 6 awards being held via Zoom in the morning and a simple leavers worship held at the end of the day on the school field. All children attended this.
Reflecting on the year that has gone, I am amazed at how quickly time has passed and remember that it was only this time last year I wrote to introduce myself. Although the last three months have been challenging for the school community, there are many things I feel thankful for this academic year. In no particular order these include:
- How well our school community has remained together over the COVID-19 closure. I’m grateful for the general health of our community and pray that this will continue into the future. For those that are or have become unwell, our prayers and thoughts remain with you at all times.
- The engagement in home learning from our families over the close down period and the general positivity everyone has shown.
- The brilliant staff team I work with. Having seen the “Thank You” videos you have sent recently, I know you also appreciate the teachers, TAs and support staff who work with your children.
- The highly supportive school community we serve. As a parent group, I am indebted to the support and trust you give us on a daily basis. As I said in my letter to you last year, I am proud and humbled to be the head teacher of St Mary’s Catholic Primary School.
- The dedication of the IEB members who meet with me every two weeks. To put this into context, not one member of the core IEB group is paid to be there and I know, that despite some travelling from as far afield as Marlborough, not one person claims expenses for the time they give the school. Each person serves the school because, they like you, believe that St Mary’s is a good school.
- The fantastic masses, class celebrations and events such as Young Voices we have had this year. Each one has been an enlightenment and each one has celebrated the talents and achievements of your children.
- The progress we are all making to be recognised as a good school. Our Section 48 inspection is an uncelebrated success at the moment but is definitely a sign of good things to come. Our success is not down to any one individual but to the “Team” and as outlined above, this includes yourselves and your children. From a school leadership perspective, I have very much valued the support and dedication of the school’s Senior Leadership Team who keep the cogs turning.
End of year update
I am overwhelmed with the cards and tokens of thanks staff and I have received over the last week. We are touched by your generosity and thoughtfulness. From a personal perspective, it is a pleasure working for the school community. Knowing the school is improving is reward in itself but I do however thank you for your kindness.
Mrs Smith would like to create a reading display in September to celebrate the reading that you have all continued to do at home. Please can you email a photograph of your child reading, perhaps in an unusual place, over the summer holidays. Please email these to firstname.lastname@example.org by Wednesday 2nd September.
Changing the management status of the St Mary’s Nursery
From September we will view Nursery and Reception classes as an EYFS unit rather than two separate classes. This is important to the school from both learning and resourcing context as it gives us greater flexibility to meet the needs of all children in the EYFS.
Currently the nursery is classed as school led which means finances for the children are included by the local authority in the school budget. From a financial and organisational perspective this works when the nursery is at capacity, but when it isn’t it restricts what we can do. The school is therefore changing the way the nursery is managed to a governor led model. This would mean that the nursery is funded directly from its pupils, which will give the school a greater flexibility in how the age group is managed. From a parental perspective, this doesn’t change anything and the EYFS unit will remain exactly as it is. It only changes how the school receives and uses the funding for these children.
As part of this change process, the school needs to inform parents of these plans and give them the opportunity to comment. This part of the newsletter highlights that the IEB and I have placed a more detailed rational for this change on the website and we invite comments about these proposed change. Please click here to see the details of the proposal and how to share your views or comment.
As head teacher, I am responsible for not only the wellbeing of the children but also that of staff in St Mary’s. It is this sense of responsibility that has guided the plans I have made. As a school that is reflective of its practice, we have drawn on our experience since the start of the pandemic to inform our plans for the wider opening of the school in September 2020.
I continue to refer to government guidance but have also researched scientific and medical papers to inform our planning and practice. As a school we continue to follow a “Precautionary Principle” which means actions or systems are put in place because they are logical and based on current evidence that may or may not yet be scientifically verified. The actions we take would however be unlikely to cause harm and most importantly could potentially prevent it.
Notwithstanding this, it is also important to recognise that despite our best efforts, due to the contagiousness of COVID-19, the school cannot guarantee that a child or adult won’t become infected or unwell.
This summary compliments the school’s COVID-19 School Action Plan and associated Risk Assessment. As with all things related to COVID-19, updates will be posted on the school website and we will always be guided by the latest Government advice. Within this update we refer to two types of distancing. The first is physical distancing which we define as the distance between individuals. The second is social distancing which we define as reducing interactions between different groups or individuals from different groups.
What drop-off and pick-up will look like:
At the start of the day, a member of the school staff will meet and greet children arriving at school. This time is a valuable opportunity to see how everyone is and be available to answer questions. Government guidelines state that schools should prevent large numbers of people congregating at drop-off and pick-up times and that in staggering the day, this should not reduce children’s learning time.
We will meet this guidance in the following way:
Key Stage 1 playground
Year 5 and Year 6 door
08:20 – 08:30
Year 1 and Year 2
08:30 – 08:40
Year 3 and Year 4
08:40 – 08:50
Nursery and Reception
14:40 – 14:50
Year 1 and Year 2
14:50 – 15:00
Nursery and Reception
15:00 – 15:10
Year 3 and Year 4
So that learning time is not lost, the children in Key Stage 1 will stop having a routine afternoon break. This will not be an issue from our perspective as much of their afternoon learning will be active and outside.
If you have siblings that have different start and finish times in September, should you wish to consolidate your drop off and collection times you are able to drop both/all children off at the later start time and collect them both/all at the earlier finish time,.
Over the last term we have worked hard to meet physical and social distancing guidelines whilst at the same time getting drop-off / pick-up times down to a minimum. We will continue to do this over Term 1 but need your help to achieve this by:
- Using our floor markings to ensure that at drop-off you maintain physical distancing.
- Ensuring only one adult / family member drops-off and picks-up.
- Arriving on time for drop-off and pick-up.
- Not remaining in the car park after you have dropped a child / children.
Routines in place to be vigilant and help prevent transmission:
Physical distancing: Children will be reminded about keeping physical distance from others. Although the Government does not believe physical distancing and the 2m rule is practical in primary schools, this will continue to be a principle we aim for wherever possible.
Handwashing and Hygiene: We have a high emphasis on hand washing and hand sanitization across the day. As a minimum this happens at transition points, (start of day, before and after break and lunch time and at the end of the day). Hand hygiene is a mixture of 20 second soap and water washing and hand sanitization using alcohol-based gel.
We encourage a “catch it, kill it and bin it” approach and each class, corridor and toilet has a good supply of hand towels, tissues and swing bins.
On-going cleaning: In addition to heightened cleaning at the end of the day, classroom surfaces, door handles, light switches are cleaned across the day.
Temperature taking: All children’s temperatures will continue to be taken on arrival. These will be collated to form a profile of each child. This will be used to monitor and track fluctuations and take precautionary action where needed.
Footwear Sanitation: We will continue to try and mitigate children bringing germs into the school from outside by retaining our footwear sanitation stations at external doors.
What happens if someone becomes unwell:
If a child or staff member develops obvious current symptoms of COVID-19 (new and continuous cough, increasing temperature, loss of taste and smell) the school will:
- Send the staff member home and arrange for cover.
- Isolate the child from others and contact parents to collect them from school.
- Clean the areas where the child or staff member has been.
If a child or staff member develops symptoms, they should self-isolate for 7 days and obtain a test immediately. New government guidance says that by September, wider avenues for testing will be available and that schools will have a small supply of self-test kits. While awaiting results, other members of an individual’s household should also self-isolate for 14 days.
If the test comes back negative and the symptoms have stopped, the individual can return to school and the remainder of the household can stop self-isolating.
If the test comes back positive, the health protection team will carry out a risk assessment and it is likely that direct, close and proximity contacts will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days from the date they were in contact with the infected person.
Household members of the close contact do not need to self-isolate unless they develop symptoms. If a close contact who has been sent home develops symptoms they must obtain a test immediately and continue to self-isolate. Members of their household should also begin a 14 day self-isolation
I am awaiting confirmation from Public Health England with respect to the policy we have been applying when we observe children who are clearly “under the weather” but not displaying the common COVID-19 symptoms. In these instances we have been observing children and then if they are “wilting”, making a decision about whether to send them home. This reflects the school’s “Precautionary Approach” and recognises that children can often have COVID-19 and show mild or no symptoms but also that children are susceptible to other illnesses that can be recovered from in a few days. In these instances the school asks parents and carers to observe the child over the remainder of the day and days following this. If symptoms persist, a test should be obtained and the family should follow the Government guidance on what to do in the case of a suspected case. If the child “bounces back” and there are no signs of ill health, they can return to school.
How classes are organised:
Learning hubs: The school will continue to operate hubs and each hub will be split into mini-hubs comprising of our different year groups. Our planning at the moment is that these will be as follows:
- Hub 1 (three mini-hubs: Nursery, Reception and Year 1).
- Hub 2 (three mini hubs: Year 2, Year 3 and Year 4).
- Hub 3 (two mini-hubs: Year 5 and Year 6).
- Hub 4 (the school’s Admin block).
As detailed in Government guidance, there is no longer a need for mini-hub or bubble sizes to be kept at 15 pupils. This means that whole classes can now re-join provided that protective measures are in place and that the school responds appropriately if a child becomes unwell.
Classroom organisation: In line with government guidance, all children will sit facing the teacher and we will not be using table groups. Children will have their own drawer where they will keep their books and own stationery. Stationery and other frequently used books and resources will be stored in a plastic zipped wallet so that others can’t touch them.
Activities will be planned to avoid the sharing of resources and where this is needed, resources will be cleaned between activities. Where shared resources are used, children will be required to clean their hands thoroughly after the activity.
Children will sit next to the same learning partner throughout the day but we will look at ways to broaden learning groups whilst still maintaining physical distance through wider curriculum activities.
Teachers will organise their classes and days so that there are clear entry and exit routines. Where multiple groups can avoid using the same access points we will do this. The order in which children will leave and enter their class across the day will be specified by the teaching adult so that unnecessary mixing does not occur. The movement of children within the classroom will continue to be limited and as is our current practice, children will only visit the toilet one at a time.
Mini hubs will not change classrooms as a rule and learning hubs will not usually visit other areas of the school.
How learning will be organised in school and if a child or mini-hub is sent home:
Since Easter we have been operating an approach that is now called blended learning. This means the content of learning is the same for children in school or at home. We will continue to have this philosophy in our planning of learning activities so that we can switch easily between class based teaching and home learning if needed.
From September, we will
- Resume our normal Power Maths and Literary Curriculum for Maths and English but will make sure that this can be supported by remote lessons using the Oak Academy if children or hubs are at home.
- Follow our established themes for the creative curriculum. Where we switch to remote learning, we will resume with or provide Pick ‘n’ Mix learning activities.
- Resume daily reading, spelling / phonics / number skills and in the case of home learning will encouraged this at home.
- Provide specific lessons across the week for RE and PSHE.
- Use a mixture of indoor and outdoor learning to deliver their curriculum.
- Continue our worship routine. This will be either streamed or uploaded to classes. Our weekly programme will be Whole School Worship on Monday, a follow up to this on Tuesday, class worship on Wednesday, Gospel Worship from Ten/Ten Worship or Mrs McDonagh on Thursday and Celebration Worship on Friday. Weekly worship where the children all join together in the hall is not recommended by the Government yet.
In the event of a whole or partial school closure, all home learning will continue to be accessed from the school website. The organisation of this may change as we move towards what we hope will be a mixture of streamed lessons and website based activities.
What will happen at play and lunch time:
We will continue to stagger play and lunch times so that we can minimize the mixing of children between hubs. The staggering of these times means that the children from each hub will be kept together. The arrangements for play and lunch are as follows:
- Hub One: Lunch together in the hall and playtimes in the Key Stage 1 playground.
- Hub Two: Lunch in the hall and play in the Key Stage 2 playground or on the field
- Hub Three: Lunch in their classroom or outdoor picnic tables and play in the Key Stage 2 playground or on the field
From September we will be resuming hot meals again. There will be a hot main meal choice every day or the option of a school packed lunch. (Vegetarians/dietary requirements will of course be catered for). Jacket potatoes will no longer be available. We are doing this to speed up meal times and ensure we are able to ensure children have valuable free time.Children having lunch in the hall will sit with their learning partner and following the Government guidelines, will not sit directly opposite another child
What to bring and what to wear:
School Uniform: From September, children are expected to wear school uniform to school each day. As the summer holiday is often the time when parents purchase new school uniform, the following list provides clarity on what our expectations are with respect to uniform. We pride ourselves on the standards of presentation visible in all of our children. We believe that being responsible for their presentation is important for the children and that this will carry over into other areas of their life.
- White buttoned shirt (or blouse). School blue striped tie
- School royal blue jumper/cardigan with emblem
- White or grey / dark grey socks or tights (not black)
- Plain black shoes / trainer type shoes with black laces or fastenings. Sport / Fashion trainers are NOT permitted
- Girls: Grey skirt / dress or Grey smart trousers or culottes. Blue striped summer dress in warmer months. Boys: Grey trousers / Grey shorts
- White t-shirt with school crest
- Royal blue shorts
- Plain tracksuit bottoms and plain warm top or school hoodie are recommended for colder days (school versions are available)
- Clean trainers / plimsolls / daps for indoor activities
- Trainers for outdoor games
- A change of socks
PE Kit: Children should wear their PE kit to school on days that they have PE. As with school uniform, what to wear for PE is detailed above.
Other belongings: Please ensure that:
- If your child is in Nursery and Reception they have a change of clothes that can be kept in a bag at school.
- Your child has a drinks bottle and suitable waterproof coat in school at all times in school.
- Reading books and reading records come into school on a daily basis.
These items should be bought to school in a suitably sized school bag that can either be kept under their desk or on a peg in the cloakroom.
The wearing of face masks or mouth and nose coverings:
Current guidance states that these are not required or suitable for school. The rationale for this is that masks are only of value when you are in an enclosed space, mixing with unknown people and for short periods of time. This is not seen to be the case in a school as we are able to keep mini-hubs / bubbles separate and we have other measures to limit transmission.
As the person who is ultimately responsible for the health and welfare of the school staff and children, I am not convinced by this reasoning.
As stated in earlier communication, research from Asian and UK universities suggests there is a community benefit to wearing face coverings and that although they may not stop individuals becoming infected, they could reduce virus spreading. This may indirectly protect others and therefore common sense would suggest their value.
I am going to continue to research this area over the summer break and will be evaluating the Government’s guidance at the end of the summer holiday. At the moment the wearing of a face covering is not a school policy or recommendation but we will most certainly not stop parents from exercising their right to insist on this for their child provided that the children are able to wear these safely. There may also be very valid reasons for assessing the community benefit associated with face coverings when the winter months draw in and we can’t guarantee the levels of ventilation we have at the moment.
Before and after school clubs:
We can confirm that both the before and after school clubs will be starting from September 2020. To meet government guidelines these will be organised to reflect the school’s learning hubs. Both clubs will start from Monday 7th September. Should you wish to book a place in either club for the first week of term, please email email@example.com . Payment will be through ParentPay or childcare vouchers as before.
I hope that this summary has provided you with the information you need to understand how the school will operate from September 2020 and the things we will be doing to safeguard the health and wellbeing of our learning and faith community. As with previous plans, these arrangements may change at short notice and will always be governed by Government guidelines. If there are urgent changes to these plans in the school holiday, these will be e-mailed and posted on the school website.
Finally, I would like to wish you all a healthy and restful summer break. In writing this newsletter and update, there is already much to look forward to and I am already looking forward to welcoming the children back in September.