Message from the Head Teacher
Dear Parents and Carers,
It is with huge regret that I need to inform you that the school will be closed to students with effect from Wednesday 18th March until the end of the Easter Holidays. This is the most difficult decision I have made as Headteacher - I know that this will impact us all - but I will set out the reasons that we must close and the systems that will be in place to support students and families at this difficult time.
We cannot keep school open to students for the following reasons:
The change in advice to self-isolate for 14 days if any member of a household has symptoms of Covid-19 has immediately reduced our staffing levels to an unsafe point. Key staff in teaching, pastoral care, and facilities teams are unable to attend work, and from tomorrow we cannot ensure that the school will be safe for everyone on site.
The additional change of suggested vulnerable groups, including those who have pre-existing health conditions, are pregnant, or over 70 has further reduced our staffing below safe levels.
We have some key absence in our cleaning team. This means that moving forward the site cannot be cleaned with enough frequency to follow the guidance set out for the presentation of those with Covid-19 symptoms - this is an unacceptable risk to staff and students.
The change in guidance has dramatically reduced the number of students in school - we have around 25% of our students either in self-isolation or unable to attend. These students need work to be set to keep learning, and we need to use our contingency learning plan to ensure everyone has access to the work they need to learn and make progress.
I know that this decision will cause concern for some, and reiterate that it is not a decision that has been taken lightly or without consultation with the Local Authority, who are aware of our decision and the implications of it.
The following list is intended to offer as much guidance as possible, but I am sure there will be more that needs to be addressed and we will stay in contact with you all throughout this period.
Our core business is learning. During the closure it is vital for students to keep learning. This will be done using our contingency plans - you can find them here: https://www.blatchingtonmill.org.uk/key-information/school-closure-contingency-plans/
Students will be set work that will arrive electronically at 8.30am each day and should be completed that day. We will be sending you a guide with some top tips for supporting their work from home. They will be recognised and praised for good work completed, and we will follow up if they don't complete the work to a good standard.
It is not yet clear what changes will be made to exams this year. The current advice is to keep preparing for exams as normal. It is therefore vital that all Year 11 students complete the work that will be set for them, and keep revising. We will ensure they continue to get feedback and advice from their teachers. We will be in touch separately with parents of students who are due to complete their Stage Production exam next week.
Access to Computers
Thank you for letting us know the children who don't have access to a computer or the internet at home. That equipment has been provided to them this afternoon and students will be coming home with it today - please encourage them to treat it carefully - we will need it for learning when we open again. If any student has difficulty with this, or doesn't have a computer - please email us via the Year Office to let us know.
All of our communications will remain open, our phone lines are open and our emails are being monitored. For every student with SEN, they will be assigned a link member of the SEN department who will check in with you/them daily to ensure they can access their work and to provide any support that they need.
We remain fully committed to supporting student wellbeing and we will be aiming to keep in touch every day with students and families. There is a separate letter coming to you all today from Ms King that will outline how to support student and family wellbeing at this difficult time.
We have a hardship fund for families that need financial support with food at this time. We know that Free School Meals are crucial to some families (I used to get a free school meal when I was at school - they are really important). If you need support financially with meals for the students, please either contact the Year Office or email Ms Capranelli at firstname.lastname@example.org and you will be given support.
These are exceptional circumstances, and very difficult times for so many people. I am sorry that we cannot keep school open. Please be assured that none of us will be reducing our commitment to supporting students - that we are still 'at work' and here to do our jobs even if remotely, and that we care deeply about the students and will ensure they do not suffer from this closure.
Now, more than ever, your support is needed and appreciated.
With best wishes,