Friday, June 12th, 2020
Dear Parent and Carer
I hope that you are all keeping well and managing through these challenging times. It has now been 12 weeks since schools went into ‘lockdown’ and we are rapidly approaching some key times in our school year. Significantly, our Year 11 pupils officially leave on the 26th May 2020, it is unfortunate that the final months of their school career will have been spent away from school and we hope that when they are in school for two days on the 25th & 26th June, that they can all get into school and we all say our farewells, this will be an emotional time for us all.
In previous letters to parents I have said how we are increasing the numbers of pupils attending school and this is understandably based the challenges children and families are facing at home. The increase in numbers of pupils is gradual and is limited by school transport and how many pupils can be safely accommodated on our premises, we all need to keep safe through socially distancing from one another. School transport are struggling to provide additional vehicles because they too have to enforce social distancing, this dictates to us the number of children we can bring back into school. An example of this is that they are unable to transport our year 11 pupils into school later this month.
We are re-opening our Ripon site from 29th June 2020 and Mrs Oliver is arranging which pupils will be brought back into the school for the remainder of term. All the Ripon staff will be returning to work at that site, several of whom have during the lockdown period been working at our Bedale site.
I thought it would be helpful to provide the national data on the attendance of pupils across England. The Department of Education (DFE) on the 9th June released national attendance data for the lockdown period, the national average was 7% and 10% for special schools, our attendance is considerably higher at 19% and I am very pleased that we are managing to accommodate so many children in school, in comparison to other schools.
It is difficult to plan ahead how we admit more pupils to school, other than a few weeks in advance, without in particular the rules on social distancing changing and without the means of addressing transport challenges. I share parents’ frustrations, caused by the restrictions on everyday life to control the spread of the COVID19 virus and like all of you, look forward to the restrictions being eased. In the meantime, we must all continue to manage as best we can and as soon as the restrictions change, we too then change our practices.
As we start to think about the end of this term and planning for autumn term, I must remind everyone that school closes for the summer holidays on Friday 17th July 2020 at 3.15pm, not the earlier time of 1pm.
I ask that parents who are facing challenges from your children, which you feel you can no longer continue to manage, to alert school staff and we will look into seeing whether we are able to offer additional support. Yours sincerely,
Jonathan Tearle, Executive Headteacher
Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020
As everyone is probably aware, those schools which were closed during ‘lockdown’, due to the COVID19
pandemic, re-opened yesterday. In my letter to parents on the 22nd May 2020, I explained how we were
extending the opening of our school to additional pupils and that we will continue to steadily increase the number
of pupils who are in school. We are prioritising pupils whose parents are key workers; pupils who are LAC (Looked
After Children); pupils who are extremely vulnerable at home and those parents who need to return to
Staff have completed a ‘situational’ risk assessment on each pupil, this is based on the information we have
gathered from all those persons who have been in communication with you these past few months and with
direct conversations with parents. We are using this information in order to prioritise specific children who we
know, from the information gathered and shared between school staff and parents/carers, to identify who needs
to be in school.
The Government on the 26th May 2020 issued specific guidance to schools regarding Supporting children and
young people with SEND as schools and colleges prepare for wider opening , by clicking on this link you can access
the full document. This guidance asks special schools to work towards a phased return of more children and
young people, without a focus on specific year groups and informed by risk assessments, this is what we have
been doing throughout the COVID19 pandemic and is the approach which we will continue to follow.
I know that parents are raising questions with staff about their child returning to school, if you are unclear about
how we bring more children back into school, then please contact either Mrs Staple (Head of Secondary), Mrs
Oliver (Head of Primary), Mrs Pickles (Head of School) or myself.
We like all of you, are challenged by the restrictions placed on us and in order to keep pupils and staff as safe as
possible, we have introduced recommended additional health and safety measures in school, which I referred to
in my previous letter. The effect of these restrictions, is that we cannot accommodate in the school buildings all
our staff and all our pupils and local authority transport is unable to bring in high numbers of pupils, as they too
have to enforce social distancing on their vehicles. Unfortunately, due to the Government restrictions, a high
number of staff are not able to work in school. The challenges all schools are facing, will not change until we are
allowed to fully re-open by the Government and the threat of the pandemic is substantially reduced.
My thoughts and best wishes are with you all during these challenging times.