14th May 2020
I write with pride to thank you all for adopting rigorously the first phase instruction from the Government “stay home stay safe” you certainly have done that really well and helped to keep our school and community as safe as you can from this terrible virus, you have all played your part. I also want to take time to thank you all for engaging with our amazing teachers, support staff and other partners in our frequent check in conversations over the phone and face to face. I certainly feel that we are now a stronger school family than ever before. This crisis has brought out the very best in the Brinnington community and our Westmorland family. We have worked as a cohesive unit to keep each other as safe as possible. I also write to thank you for your valiant efforts to keep your children learning, I know how difficult it is at home as do my teachers, many of them reporting they want to swap their own children with friends (not that they can) and would rather a class full of your children any day. Keep going you are all doing really well.
I am sure that most of you will all have seen the many bulletins and announcements from the Government over the last week and have heard of the next phase to move our country out of lockdown. It appears that schools are now told that our children in Year 6, Nursery, Reception and year 1 may be able to come to back as the first part of a phased return after the half term break. (8th June)
I have heard your many concerns with this proposal happening so early, (at least not before September), rightfully you are worried that our children would not be able to social distance in school, that staff and children won’t get to use PPE, you worry on the massive emotional load returning to school will place on your children’s wellbeing. I have listened to your questions about how we might keep the school community safe. I have read your well thought out comments and concerns on the Facebook page. I have listened to my staffs concerns and recognise that there are many challenges my team and I face in order to re-open our school safely for the trial year groups, whenever that may be.
Over the last few days I have also taken time to read as many of the documents as possible that have come from central Government, Local Authority papers and the Teaching Unions, sadly as some of you have pointed out the advice often contradicts.
I will take time to process the ever changing information and in the coming days will write to let you know how our school would look for your children should you choose to send them in, when the Government tell us you can. This will allow you all to make an informed decision as to if you as parents feel that the time is right, or whether you will continue home schooling to keep your children safe from potential infection and look after their emotional well-being.
I have been head at Westmorland for nearly 20 years, you will know I have faced many challenges head on in order to keep your children safe. I am privileged to look after your children each day I regard each one as my own and look after them as such. I pride myself on making what I believe to be the right decisions for the whole of our community and I will stand by those choices. I desperately want to see our school as the thriving community it can be BUT I will not jeopardise the health and safety or wellbeing of anyone in the process of getting to that point. Whenever school re-opens the provision will look and feel totally different and will be a shock for many families in the early days, sadly it will not be school as we know it.
In this instance I hope to be able to provide you with enough information to help make an informed decision as to whether you want to choose to send your children back to school when the Government says, or if you choose to continue to educate at home until things are more stable. It really is your choice!
I will be asking my staff team over the next week to call the families of children in early years, year 1 and year 6 to further discuss your feelings and provide other information from me where necessary.
I will publish all letters on the school website and will make sure that they are on the Facebook page in the coming days. Please take time to read the letters.
I take this opportunity to thank you all for everything you have done so far for your children and once again thank the whole of the school team on your behalf for coming into school during this crisis to support you all, they really are un-sung heroes!