10th July 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

Thanks you again for your ongoing support of school and the work we are doing to ensure the children receive the best support we can provide at this time.

Yesterday we welcomed all of our new children and their parents to school. The provision of individualised slots was incredibly useful in getting to know the children and their families and although these arrangements were borne out of challenging circumstances all involved found the day to be really successful. We will look at how we can incorporate this day into our usual school calendar. 

For the parents of our leavers in Year 6

It was lovely to see you all today for our special, if muted celebrations. It has been an absolute privilege to get to know all of your wonderful children during their time with us and to work with you too. We will miss you all and wish you all the very best in the future. Please do stay in touch and let us know how the children are doing.

For parents of children in our current Reception – Year 5

Important information regarding arrangements for next week and September

I am writing to you to confirm arrangements for September 2020. Last week the government produced ‘guidance for full opening: special schools and other specialist settings’. Within this the general principles are:

‘settings… should welcome all pupils back’ and in doing so seek to ‘minimise the number of contacts’ and put in place a ‘system of controls’ within our school specific circumstances.

The local authority have also provided guidance more specifically about the first week back recognising that the current circumstances have led to significant practical, social and emotional changes for our pupils which need to be considered as they return to school.

This letter confirms the general arrangements for the first week back. We will be contacting you next week to discuss what ongoing bespoke arrangements may be needed for your child and your family. 

Recovery curriculum

You will be aware that at Palatine we have started our recovery curriculum which will continue in place through the start of next year. The idea of this is to support the social, emotional and physical health and wellbeing of the children whilst enabling them to start learning successfully again within the school setting. This work will continue.

However, we need to be mindful that school will feel different and look different for all the children in some respects.

  • For those who have been in school they are used to the increased signage, our one way system and routines of the day. But they are used to this in a much quieter school with lots less people and in more highly staffed groups.
  • For those who have remained at home they are not used to the routines of school as it currently is.
  • For our new pupils they have visited school but not met any other pupils.
  • For our reception children, staff will not be able to make home visits and neither will the children have had any group experience of their class.

For this reason we have planned a routine for the first week back to support all pupils in becoming familiar with school again. We have shared this with the local authority who are supportive of our plan.

Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th September 2020: Staff inset days covering child protection and safeguarding, medical training, Covid related updates and further training on the recovery curriculum. School is not open to pupils on these days.

For the week beginning 7th September 2020

Each child who is not in Bumblebees, Caterpillars or of reception age, will be allocated two full days in school (either Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday). On these days we will focus on teaching them the following:

  • arrival and departure procedures;
  • play time and lunch time arrangements;
  • the routines around handwashing and hygiene;
  • the routines around travelling to different locations within school;
  • communication routines and using the zones of regulation to help us with our feelings.

We have chosen to have the children in for full day blocks as they will need to know routines across the whole school day and we felt a day to learn and a day to practice in a smaller group would give them the best chance of remembering them and re-familiarising themselves with school.

 

Our intention is to return to full opening from the week beginning Monday September 14th.

Further details will be provided to you before the summer in regards to:

  • arrival and departure routines as we will need to continue with staggered entry and exit. You will be allocated a time according to the ‘bubble’ your child’s class is in. Transport will also have allocated slots;
  • the two days allocated to your child for the week beginning 7th September;
  • expectations and actions in regards to suspected Covid cases;
  • any other specific health and school routine information required;
  • class group and topic information.

Please retain all this information for future reference.

We recognise that for most children these plans will support them in making a successful return to school and support families in returning to a degree of normality.

We are aware, however, that for some children their physical and or emotional health would mean that a return to full time school with 157 other children would be too much and they may need a more bespoke plan. I am pleased that the government too has recognised this and feels you have a role ‘in planning for [your] child’s return’.  During next week a member of the senior leadership team will telephone you to discuss this with you.

Please note we have limited time available as there is much to be done between now and the end of term. Please think about what may suit your child best moving on from the 14th September in regards to amount of time at school prior to next week. That will enable us to have time for you all. Our expectation is that the vast majority of pupils would benefit from the plans laid out in this letter and for those who would need a longer transition that they would be back to full time school by half term.

Staffing information

As many of your will be aware from my previous letters Amy Clarkson is about to go on maternity leave and Rosemary Needs is retiring.  I have put an interim staffing structure in place next year to take account of the very different times we find ourselves in with the intention of providing consistency and utilising skills and knowledge from within to keep school routines running well over the coming months.

Charlotte Howting, Frances Hodges and Sophie Milner- Smith will take up positions as Acting Assistant Heads for the next school year joining Jacqueline McGregor (School Business Manager) and I on the senior leadership team.

Safeguarding

Charlotte and Frances will remain on the safeguarding team alongside Kaarina Dougherty, Family Liaison Officer and I. If you have any safeguarding concerns please contact school and ask to speak to the duty designated safeguarding lead.

Katie Purkis will be heading up Early Years and Nathan Bird, heading up our community working, joining Janetta Gill (responsible for transition) and Emma McNeil (responsible for newly qualified teacher and trainee teachers) on the middle leadership team.

We have a wonderful team here at Palatine and I hope this will provide you with confidence that we are at full strength for the year ahead.

I introduce the team now as Amy, Sophie, Frances, Charlotte or I will be giving you a ring next week and I felt it would help you to know what roles they were undertaking in school.

I do hope this information is helpful and clear. We will be very glad to answer any questions when we speak to you next week. Please do be mindful that this will take us the entire week as there is other planning to be completed and work to be done alongside this.

Thank you again for your support

Have a lovely weekend

Catriona

 

 

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