Dear parents and carers,
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement that schools should prepare to open to more children from June 1st the Whitefield Academy Trust has been considering what would be the best thing to do.
Directors, CEO and Senior Leaders have studied the guidance for schools in general and special schools in particular and have looked carefully at how we might manage risk if we opened more widely. We have also spoken to parents and staff and consulted with the Local Authority and Union representatives.
Whitefield Schools and Joseph Clarke School will remain closed from the 1st June and will keep the wider opening for primary children under review.
The safety of our children and young people is our first concern and the Trust has decided that it is too soon to open to more children. Whitefield has many children who are highly vulnerable and many others who will not be able to manage social distancing in the way that would be necessary to keep them safe from infection. We are not confident that we could manage the risks and keep children safe if we were to reopen, even for a relatively small number of primary children. Many of the parents we have spoken to were clear that they would not want to send their children back to school at this time.
We know that children are missing school and that many families are finding life difficult. We will continue to keep the situation under close review and will reopen as soon as we feel that it is safe to do so. Recent figures show that the rate of infection is falling in London and perhaps we are now moving towards safer times.
Whitefield Schools is offering child care for the children of key workers, for the most vulnerable children – identified by our safeguarding team and by local social services – and for those whose needs cannot be safely met at home. Children and young people using this provision need to be able to socially distance to some degree and to cope with being in a different part of the school with different staff and significant changes from the normal school routine. If you are a key worker who now needs to return to work and you think that your child may be eligible for this provision please contact Family Support Team in the first instance.
In order to reduce the risk of infection we work within clear and strong hygiene policies which meet (and in fact will go over and above) local and national guidance. Staff will wear basic PPE.
We will continue to support learning at home for all children who are not in school. We recognise that every family’s circumstances and needs are different and teachers are making great efforts to provide individual support whether through resources and worksheets, videos or Zoom calls. Please make the most of the support on offer and speak to your child’s teacher or the Head of School, if there is anything further that you need.
We will continue to issue Free School Meals vouchers until such time as school reopens.
Please do not hesitate to contact school for help or support. The first point of contact is Gill and Lesley, our wonderful Family Support Team, on the usual numbers:
- Lesley Middleton – 07871 780 023 or
- Gill Wadeson – 07871 735 358
Andrew Howat Chair of Directors
Elaine Colquhoun, Whitefield Academy Trust CEO
Laura Pease, Whitefield Schools Principal