Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope this letter finds you safe and well. The last few months have been very challenging for everyone and I thank you all for your support during this difficult time. As I write this letter, the government have said that all children will be returning in September which is great news but they have not given any guidance to how this will look in schools. There has been much recent speculation regarding the relaxation of certain rules, for example guidelines relating to social distancing. This clearly influences our planning and highlights the need to be flexible in response to changing guidelines.
We have welcomed back our Reception, Year 1, Year 6 and key worker children. Children in school work in designated teaching bubbles to minimise social contact during the day. Currently, we have five bubbles: two bubbles of Reception, one bubble of Year one and infant keyworker children, one bubble of key worker junior children and one bubble of Year 6 children. Class sizes are limited to a maximum of fifteen but our classroom size makes it difficult to have more than 10 – 12 whilst ensuring 2m social distancing. This means we can offer about 55% of our normal capacity.
Managing the wider opening of school to Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 has been incredibly challenging and time-consuming but it has been very successful and we have been delighted with the response of our children. All have adapted positively to this new way of working and have approached their lessons with commitment and enthusiasm. Attendance has been high (Reception: 71%; Year 1: 70%; Year 6:100%) and children are genuinely pleased to be back at school. I also want to make you aware that I never receive any advance notice of the government’s intentions and only find out about them at the same time as you, on the news.
When children return to school, we remain mindful of the gaps in learning and the impact on their mental well-being created by our enforced school closure. We are already planning a recovery programme to support our children, and we are pleased that the government has announced a £1 billion package of support for schools in the form of a catch-up tutoring fund. This money will be used to run individual tutoring programmes, including 1-1 teaching and small group tuition. Although further details are awaited, we intend to use these funds to supplement our own planned interventions across a range of subject areas.
Some of the most important considerations when children return to school are their socialisation skills, mental well-being and implementing a recovery programme to catch up on what they have missed.
As our cohort numbers differ greatly in size we have changed our class structure accordingly. We have been mindful of possible new social distancing guidelines and kept all classes below 30. A catch up/recovery programme has already been put in place for children already back at school. Once the rest of the children are back, we will start informal assessments to see what gaps in learning children have and further recovery/catch up programmes will be put in place. Teaching assistants, apart from Mrs. Bingham, have not been allocated to classes this year to give us the flexibility to ensure support is given to those who need it. Mrs. Ward, Mrs. Rochitts and Mrs. Jackson will work with children from Year 2 – Year 6.
Important information and dates for your diary:
- School for Reception Class will finish on Thursday 16th July. This will enable new Reception starters to have a transition session on Monday 20th July.
- School will close for Years 1 – 6 (including key worker children) on Monday 20th July 2020
- Tuesday 21st July is an Inset day.
- School will reopen to pupils on Thursday 3rd September – Details about reopening will be sent once we receive guidance from the DFE
- Wednesday 2nd September is an Inset day.
We plan to offer every child in Year 2, Year 3, Year 4 and Year 5 a visit to school before the end of term. This will happen whilst also managing the other bubbles in school and maintaining social distancing rules. The visits will involve the whole class or if over 15, split into two bubbles and visiting over two days. We will ensure that the key worker children who are currently in a school in a bubble will take part in their class’s visits. All children will be socially distanced.
- I will give the dates and times below so you can put them in your diaries and I will write another more detailed letter, outlining all the safety procedures, drop off and pick up times etc. that we will need everyone to follow, which I will send out before the first visit.
- We will be holding some transition visits for our New Starter Reception children who will be joining us in September. These children have missed out on their normal transition activities since May and we are very keen that they should be given the opportunity to come onto the site and meet our staff. I will be writing to the New Starter Reception parents separately about these visits.
Year 5 visit will be on Monday 6th July.
Year 2 visit will be on Tuesday 7th July for children whose surname begins with A to L.
Year 2 visit will be on Wednesday 8th July for children whose surname begins with M to Z.
Year 3 visit will be on Monday 13th July for children whose surname begins with A to L.
Year 3 visit will be on Tuesday 14th July for children whose surname begins with M to Z.
Year 4 visit will be on Wednesday 15th July.
Start time will be 9.30am and finish time 3pm for all visits.
- According to the latest government guidance, schools are not expected to remain open to the children of key workers over the holidays.
- Due to the challenging circumstances we are working under we are not able to have a normal transition day this term the majority of children are with the same teacher as this year. The exception to this will be the Year 4 children who will have a new teacher for the Autumn Term.
Opal Class with Mrs Mallender and Mrs Bingham:
Opal Class will be made up of Reception and Year 1 children. For the majority of the timetable, they will be split into year groups as they have two different curriculums. Mrs Mallender will plan for both year groups and lessons will be delivered by both Mrs Mallender and Mrs Bingham. Reception will use the large Reception classroom and the Year 1’s will be in the classroom next door.
Reception (10 children) and Year 1 (14 children) with Mrs Mallender/Mrs Bingham
Emerald Class with Mrs Clements:
Emerald Class will be made up of Year 2 and Year 3 children (27 children).
Sapphire Class with New Class Teacher:
- Sapphire Class will be made up of Year 4 children (20 children).
As we are only part way through the recruitment process, we will not know who this person will be until the end of term. As soon as I have appointed someone I will send information out to you. I will ask the new teacher to write an introductory letter to the Year 4 children with a photo so they will know a little more about them and hopefully this will help alleviate any anxiety they may have.
Ruby Class with Mr. Downings:
Ruby Class will be made up of Year 5/6 children (24 children).
Maths – taught in year groups:
Children are taught objectives for their specific year group by the teacher. To enable this, the maths lesson has a staggered start. For example: Y5 will have a problem solving task working with a TA whilst the teacher delivers the teaching points to the Y6 group and then they switch over. This has been very successful over the last two years since we have implemented it.
Spelling – taught in year groups:
We are continuing to use the ‘No Nonsense’ spelling programme which we have used the last couple of years and which the children like. Children will be split into year groups
Guided Reading and Independent Reading:
Children will have daily teacher led guided reading sessions.
Bishop Pursglove is a warm, welcoming and thriving school, where pupils are nurtured and inspired to learn in a rich and caring environment. We give every child the opportunity to be the best that they can be. Our job as a school is to enable and encourage each individual child to take the next step of their climb and achieve more every day. Preparations are well on the way for the next academic year.
School budgets are based on the number on roll, which is taken from the census in the October of the previous year. We invest over 90% of our budget on staff, which is far greater than the national average. Although it would be fantastic to have single year classes, this is not feasible with the budget we are given.
This class structure was put in place with considerable thought. The governors and I feel it is the best possible structure to give all children the support they need to achieve their potential and maximise progress and attainment. Staffing structures are reviewed yearly.
If you wish to have a chat about these arrangements, please do not hesitate to give me a call on 01298 871282.
A huge thank you to you all for your support and patience over the last few very challenging months.