Update on school reopening from Dame Stephenson

20th May 2020

Dear Families,


I hope you are all well and keeping safe. It is a good feeling to be able to have unlimited outdoor exercise and leave our homes for a while, my dog Indiana Bones is in doggy seventh heaven with her long evening walks.


As you can imagine school has been very busy trying to organise opening up to more children after half term.  Scientific advice and the North East ‘R’ rates changes on a daily basis,  you can appreciate this has been hard to plan around and changes a great deal. We have been working closely with Newcastle schools so we can have a regional response to school re- opening to more pupils. To ensure we can maintain social distancing, hygiene and ask children to remain at desks when indoors, Newcastle schools are starting the reopening with year 6 pupils first. This is so children can enjoy school without feeling like it is a military camp. We will not be asking children to stand in hoops or wear hats with metre rules attached. We think year 6 are sensible enough to follow rules, both schools have outstanding behaviour management so a military style approach is not required. We want to get the systems in place with year 6 and our key workers' children before we apply it to other year groups. Safety is paramount.


So if the government give the go ahead on May 28th , following the scientific data evaluation, we will open school 1st June for staff to have safety training, safety walk throughs in school and plan for the groups they will be having. We are aiming to be in a position to be safely ready for year 6 pupils starting the week 8th June. Staff will be giving year 6 parents a ring during the week 1st June to give exact start times and days. We are looking forward to getting the year 6 ready for secondary school and a great deal of work will be around their mental health and calming nerves. I am happy to report that most children are planning to join us. It is our aim to keep pace with other Outer West schools and once we feel safe we will expand the opening. In order for parents to make an informed choice about sending their child back we will be putting the final risk assessment on school opening on the school website the week beginning the 1st June.


The headteachers from each school will also be sending out further guidance around school reopening the week beginning June 1st to share plans for outdoor spaces, hand washing,  lunches and the finer details of logistics. We have in place hand gel stations and staff have access to PPE for children who require first aid. We sill share more information around this before your child returns. I truly hope you can support the school by being vigilant around your family's health and keeping children home who have symptoms or if any of your household have symptoms. The sooner the  government have track and trace in place, working well and available, then the school will feel much more confident to open to more children. We want to teach your children face to face, they enjoy our humour and we adore theirs. Children bounce ideas off each other, they giggle, they smile they are happy here. We miss them and we know they are missing us. The children have mostly responded well to class Dojo and home learning- thank you. Next week is half term and teachers are not going to set work, they want children to enjoy the outdoors safely with their families- no school work. Teachers need to switch off their computers too and recharge their batteries. Home learning for all year groups will resume after half term.


School remains open after half term for the children who have been attending e.g. children with a SEND health plan and key workers' children.


I promised you I would keep your children safe, happy and feel loved, I hope through the weekly phone calls from staff and remote learning you child has felt this and we aim to maintain this upon their return.


We are sorry we can not give you exact dates for reopening for your child, but until the science is clear nobody can give a date to parents.


You are all in my thoughts and I really hope to see you as soon as humanly possible.


Keep safe and alert,


Dame Nicola Stephenson.


CEO Valour academies.