29th January 2021

Dear Parents,

I do hope that you have had a good week despite our current circumstances. It has also been lovely to hear about and see the variety of learning children are doing (including being creative with pasta!). Parents have told me about great reading and phonics work, baking and craft activities and developments in communication skills. In school one of our pupils who was apprehensive of the swimming pool has got in and I have seen some impressive and very tasty looking Australian cakes go home tonight. I was sad not to sample them!

Important information

This week the government have told us:

  • Schools will be closed for the half term break as usual. Half term is Monday 15th February – Friday 19th February 2021. Palatine will be closed then.
  • Schools will not reopen to all pupils until at least March the 8th and the government will give two weeks’ notice prior to any opening.

We now know the current situation will continue past half term and as a result of the phone calls we have made to families, we also know that some families who are not currently accessing school need to. We are at maximum capacity in school and, therefore, we will need to make adjustments to the rotas moving forward in order to increase access. For example, more pupils may need to attend part time or we may need to move to a three week rota. I ask that as a school community we pull together and support one another in order that we can be as fair and equitable as possible.

All children at Palatine have EHCPs and across West Sussex the decision has been taken that in order to keep special school communities safe and reduce transmission of the virus the children of critical workers and those who are most vulnerable have places in school. One of the problems for schools this lockdown has been that the list of critical workers has grown. This has increased pressure on schools and reduced the numbers of spaces available to our most vulnerable children, who also need places too.

At this stage in or school:

  • A number of families feel their children are safest at home and are accessing the home learning provided. We support you in this decision.
  • Other families, although keen to access a school place, recognise it is not possible for all and are accessing the home learning and managing at home. We thank you for your continued support with this.
  • Other families must access school places because of their jobs and shift patterns or because of the increased vulnerabilities of their children and we love seeing your children in school. However, Government guidance states that ‘parents and carers who are critical workers should keep children at home if they can’. Please do consider if this is possible even for some days in a week. Please let us know if you are accessing a school place but would like to reconsider.

In order to move forward after half term we need to take the following actions:

  • Next week we will send out an online survey to those accessing school or who need to who have told us they are critical workers. We will ask you for proof of your role and about whether, in households with more than one parent, both adults are critical workers. You will be able to upload proof of your critical worker job in your reply. We will also ask you about shifts.
  • Once we have your information, we will then adjust our rotas in order to accommodate those who desperately need a space and haven’t yet been able to access one. We ask that you complete the survey as quickly as possible to enable us to begin this work.

Thank you so much for your cooperation in this. Knowing the full picture accurately will help us to ensure that we do the best we can for all our families. In an ideal world all the children would be here as usual. This is not safely achievable currently and I ask that we all act with compassion towards our whole community, integrity and community spirit so that we can do the best that we can for everyone.

Safeguarding spotlight


E-Safety: Deep Web and Dark Web

According to statistics, we can only search 4% of online content that is public; this is considered to be the Surface Web.  Roughly 90% represents the Deep Web and 6% the Dark Web. NOS (National Online Safety) have produced a guide for parents/carers and educators – What Parents Need to know about The Deep Web and The Dark Web.pdf

The Deep Web – is part of the World Wide Web which is hidden from public view.  The contents are not indexed by the usual search engines and it consists of databases that can be made up of web mail and online banking, for example, with the emphasis on protecting users’ privacy.

The Dark Web – is part of the World Wide Web that is only accessible through specific software (the most commonly used software is called TOR and was originally created by the US military).  People use the dark web for various reasons but often it is to access dubious content, hidden services, stolen data trading, criminal purposes including the buying of illegal products and media exchanges for paedophiles and terrorists.

The risk of the Dark Web to children:

  • Lack of regulated content and users – due to the anonymity of the dark web, it is harder for law enforcement to investigate cases of abuse
  • Explicit content – children can access sites with indecent images, sites selling drugs and/or weapons
  • Online grooming – sex offenders are more likely to approach children in the ‘open web’ but tend to use the dark web to meet online and discuss their strategy to take advantage of children.

Protect children from using the Dark Web by:

Ø  Reviewing privacy filters across all devices and apps

Ø  Activate parental controls on home broadband, all devices including mobile phones and games consoles

Ø  Encourage the use of tech devices in communal areas such as the living room or kitchen

Ø  Virtual Private Network (VPN) can be used to provide an additional layer of security to your child’s online activity

Ø  Ensure children do not share information

Ø  Report anything upsetting or worrying to CEOP (the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command part of the National Crime Agency) https://www.ceop.police.uk/ceop-reporting/

Thank you for your ongoing support and kind words. They do really help and are very much appreciated! I wish you all a restful and happy weekend.

Very best wishes





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