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Update from Governing Body Deighton Gates Primary School

Dear Parents,

Re-opening of Deighton Gates Primary

Following my letter of 29th May, I wanted to update you on the Governors meeting that took place yesterday, and what it means for our school.

You’ll remember that the Headteacher and staff have spent the past weeks putting detailed plans in place and thinking about the complex arrangements needed to create a safe working environment for our children, staff and families.  The ultimate decision to re-open was dependent upon the school’s leadership and the Governing Body being able to:

  • ensure that the government’s latest guidance, supported by the school’s own risk assessment, mean that it’s safe for our children and our staff;
  • consider the current public health situation, particularly in Yorkshire compared to UK national trends, and whether that poses any heightened risks;
  • understand whether changes to who are defined as ‘Key Workers’ could mean we’ll be providing childcare for more children in coming weeks; and
  • reflect the feedback we’re getting from you, our staff, our colleagues in other local schools, and other professional bodies. 

After nearly 3 hours of review and discussion, we concluded that we were now able to begin our phased re-opening of the school.  I can also provide some further information about the period before the new school year begins in September 2020. 

We have now agreed that:

  • The school will re-open to Year 1 children on Monday 8th June.  Individual letters confirming detailed arrangements will be sent to the parents of those children who’ve previously expressed a wish to return.
  • We intend to re-open to Year 6 children on Monday 15th June.  Again, individual letters will be sent closer to the time, confirming detailed arrangements for the parents of those children expecting to return.
  • We are not yet confirming a date for Reception children to return, but we are looking closely at how that could be achieved, potentially later in June.  Before we decide if it safe and practical, we need to see how the return of Years 1 and 6 works in practice and consider how we can cater for the specific needs of much younger children.  We also need to see whether demand for Key Worker childcare increases over coming weeks (as this could reduce the number of staff available to run the returning groups).
  • Unfortunately, we do not expect other years to return to school before the end of term in July.  We simply wouldn’t have the number of staff to run multiple ‘bubbles’ for each year group, consistent with the Government’s current guidance.
  • For all children not returning to school, staff will continue to remain in contact, post activities and suggest learning opportunities through the Deighton Gates website.
  • Throughout the remainder of the Summer term, we’ll continue to provide childcare for the children of Key Workers.
  • Finally, we can also confirm that the school will be closing to all children from 17th July for the planned summer holidays.  Governors felt strongly that this would allow time to plan for whatever arrangements are possible in September 2020, whilst also protecting the personal wellbeing of staff and leadership.

 

Making Our Decision

Without appearing flippant, responding to a global pandemic is a unique and unprecedented challenge for our school’s teachers, leadership and governors.  Many of us are parents as well, so we do fully appreciate the challenges that you are facing at home too.

I have to be entirely honest and clear with you that even the plans I’ve described here are uncertain.  A change in the public health position, or the Government guidance, or an increase in illness within the staffing team could mean we need to change or withdraw a service at short notice. A review of the risks and mitigating controls will be reviewed formally on a weekly basis. I’m sorry that this will be disappointing and create inconvenience for many of you – not least the impact on your children – but it’s the reality of where we are today as a country.

It’s for exactly this reason too that I’d ask you not to make comparisons with what you’re hearing about other schools, and how the media is covering this.  Yes, some local schools have opened a few days earlier than Deighton Gates.  Others will not open until after we have.  Some local authorities have blocked all of their schools from opening until a date later in June.  It really is up to individual schools to decide what is right for them – thinking about their individual circumstances, the capacity of their staffing team, and the controls they can put in place.

Perhaps I can finish with some reassurance.

Throughout this whole period, every decision has been taken in the best interests of our children and staff, with a clear ambition to restore normality as soon as possible.  Our Governing Body includes at least 3 staff members who’d rather be teaching children, and a good number of parents (and grandparents) who all want their children back at school.  Your voice as parents is heard.  We remain very keen and focused on welcoming every pupil back to Deighton Gates as soon as we possibly can.

 

Again, I’d like thank Mrs Harrison and her team for their work in getting us ready to reopen, and you for your patience and support as we feel our way through this.  But mainly to your children.  As a parent of two, I know that these 4 months will be a tiny blip in at least 12 years of education, that the resilience they’re showing will help them through school and beyond, and that … most importantly … they’ll soon be back with their friends.

 

I hope you and your family keeps safe and healthy.

Yours sincerely,

 

Simon Cavell

Chair of Governors, Deighton Gates

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