Trust -wide statement on the prioritisation for on-site provision for vulnerable children and those of critical workers
The Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday 4 January of the third National Lockdown, and second partial closure of schools, has meant that most of our provision has been switched to remote education. We are proud of the investment and preparation that we have done for this situation and all of our pupils, whether accessing learning at home or on their school site, will now be able to access high quality teaching and education through MS Teams.
Once again the Government have made an offer of provision in school for vulnerable pupils and the children of Critical Workers. Unfortunately we are facing significant pressures in delivering the amount of demand, which is far higher than in the first lockdown. The numbers of people eligible are greater as the list has grown and, of course, more businesses are now open as premises are deemed ‘COVID safe’.
Although it will be our initial aim to offer provision to all the groups indicated by the government, we fear that in attempting to meet escalating demand for Critical Worker Care in some schools we might risk undermining the quality of our remote education provision by drawing staff out of that work. We are also constrained by the safety limits on room capacity and bubble size and the requirements to ensure that our bubbles do not excessively mix pupils or staff.
The offer is made by government in non-statutory advice to schools. Therefore as a Trust we will be applying discretion in interpreting that advice and propose to prioritise access to provision as follows.
Schools will be able to apply this guidance in their own contexts to make local decisions to fit with the capacity of their school and the relative need of their community. Some of our schools may only offer access to onsite provision to children who are present on site for the whole week. This will avoid carrying empty spaces in our ‘bubbles’ while places are in such high demand.
For children in priority Group A schools may also not be able to replicate the exactly the same level of support or personnel as children and families are used to. If a 1:1 support is not available for work due to sickness or isolation then a place may not be able to be offered during this period.
We appreciate that some families will be disappointed but you will see that we have aimed to address the needs of those children who most need the structure of school and those parents whose work is under the most pressure in meeting the challenges of the pandemic. We hope that everyone will appreciate the pressure that educational providers are under at this time and appreciate that we are doing our utmost to serve our communities in these very difficult circumstances.