12th June 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

Just a short catch up this week (for which I am sure you will all be very grateful)!

I do hope that you are all keeping well and that you have had a positive week despite the continuation of the colder, rainier conditions.

We hope the children enjoyed receiving their seed pots; we enjoyed seeing them in the distance!

You will no doubt be aware that the government is no longer moving forward with a wider opening in primary provision. At Palatine we have done our utmost to include everyone who needs us and we are at full capacity. We have no more spaces available currently. We will of course keep this under review as circumstances change. We will continue to provide our welfare calls, home learning materials and remote contact with staff through ‘teams’ and our online video materials.  Please do let us know if we can be of any more help and support through this contact.

Reminders

 

  • Thursday 9th July: new family welcome day
  • Friday 10th July: Year 6’s celebration day

 

To ensure safe social distancing school will not be open to other children on these days.

Data Protection

It has been lovely to hear about all the ‘teams’ conversations that you are having with staff and other classmates. Please do bear in mind that if you take a picture you must get all other participants permission. This includes if you take photos of staff members. Thank you.

Preparing for next year

This week we are continuing to work on class groupings and transition arrangements. We have recruitment processes underway too which should mean we are able to finalise our staffing structure and class groups at much the same time as usual. 

Hidden Disabilities Sunflower cards

This is a card that you can carry that identifies that your son or daughter has a learning difficulty. The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower was first launched at Gatwick Airport in May 2016. It is starting to be recognised globally and has been adopted in the UK by all of the major airports, many supermarkets, railway stations, leisure facilities, in the NHS and an increasing number of small and large businesses and organisations.

You may remember that as a school we purchased these cards for our community early on in Lockdown. We still have plenty available for you and now that lockdown restrictions allow for people to be outside more please do contact us if one would be useful to you and we will send one out to you.

The children, as usual, continue to inspire us all with all they are achieving. We have had some lovely socially distanced doorstep chats with those at home who have communicated so well and brightened our days with their warm smiles and welcomes. Those in school are coping so well with following our new routines and one way systems (and are very good at reminding me of the rules too!). It is amazing to see the independence with which they wash their hands, and carry their bags on entering school each day. It is lovely to see their smiles too as they complete activities throughout the day. I am so proud of them all for how they have coped and adapted within this situation.

I take this opportunity to thank you again for all your support. On a personal level it means such a lot! Thank you.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if we can be of any further help.

Have a lovely weekend

With best wishes

Catriona

 

12th May 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

As many of you will no doubt be aware the government issued further guidance last night. I know many of you will be feeling somewhat confused and anxious about what this will mean for our school and your child. As yet we do not have all the answers. Nevertheless, I thought it would be helpful to share what I do know and what our next steps will be.

First I would like to reiterate that the health and wellbeing, safety and happiness of our pupils and our whole community comes first and I will continue to work with the staff team to do everything I can to keep everyone as safe as I can.

Over the last two days the government added to their guidance ‘our plan to rebuild’ with ‘actions for education and childcare setting to prepare for wider opening from 1 June 2020’ and ‘Coronavirus (Covid-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings’. These documents are for the nation and the school system as a whole and not specifically for special schools. We are expecting there to be some further detail shortly and hoping that some of it will be specifically for special settings!

What we do know is:

 

  • Special schools have not been advised to open for specific year groups but to ‘work towards a phased return of more children…without a focus on specific year groups’. This is good news because we believe as far as possible our children are best served by returning to their usual classes and teams. The expectation is that special schools will ‘work towards welcoming back as many children and young people as can safely be catered for in their setting’.

 

  • To ensure safety schools need to follow social distancing guidelines, reducing group sizes and contact. In a special setting we also need to ensure we do have enough staff in order to keep the children safe. This is a careful balancing act. We have arrangements in place already to stagger lunch and play, clean resources throughout the day and to teach the children how to socially distance and these systems have been working well. These will be added to as we receive more guidance and welcome more children back to school over the last half term of the year.

 

  • The children of key workers and the most vulnerable within our setting will remain coming to school as others join.

 

  • There is no expectation that staff or pupils will wear / use more protective personal equipment (PPE) than would usually be used unless someone becomes unwell with symptoms.

 

  • Those children who are shielded remain so and there is no expectation they will return to school. Those children living in a household with a shielded adult are only advised to attend if stringent social distancing can be adhered to that they understand. If this applies to you we will discuss this with you. Please do not worry about attendance fines and so forth the guidance states ‘Parents will not be fined for non-attendance at this time and school will not be held accountable for attendance levels’.

 

These are the overall principles for the next steps that I have to work with so far. Once we have more detail which I can apply to our setting, I will of course share it with you.

 

Our next steps

Over the next few days a member of the senior team will ring to talk to you about the particular circumstances of your family so that we can work together to find out what would be best for your child. Once we know this we will plan to move towards a phased return of more children through the summer term.

 

You will be very aware that our school serves over 150 families and each and every child here has their own specific needs.  What is ideal for your child and your circumstances may not suit many others or may not be practical for the community as a whole.  Once we have discussed with you what you think will work best to keep you child physically and emotionally healthy we will do the best we can for the school as a whole. This will be within the guidance from the government in regards to social distancing and employment guidance too.

Please do bear with us. At Palatine we have tried hard to provide a bespoke service to our families over this time and to do the very best we can for you all. This takes time and planning. I think it is important we talk to you all and work with you as we plan to move forward and you will appreciate this will take time.

Thank you for your ongoing support. The team spirit and community support our school has shared during this time has been fantastic and much appreciated! Thank you. We will contact you by telephone over the next few days and will then issue plans moving forward towards the end of next week or early in the week after.

 With best wishes

Catriona

 

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