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Extension of Provision

Extension of Provision at Uffculme School - postponed to 15th June

21st May 2020

Dear Parents and Carers

As you are aware, on the 10th May 2020, Boris Johnson announced the plan to begin reopen schools on the 1st June. Uffculme has remained open throughout the lockdown for children of key workers and vulnerable pupils. We will continue with that arrangement whilst planning for how we can manage the return of pupils. There will be no extension of provision until 15th June at the earliest.

The news on the 10th May wasn’t a shock, but still took many by surprise and started a wave of discussions and planning by senior leaders in school and within the local authority. Further clarification was issued by the DfE on the 12th June with reference to Special Schools:

Special schools, special post-16 institutions and hospital schools should work towards welcoming back as many children and young people as can be safely catered for in their setting. They may want to prioritise attendance based on key transitions and the impact on life chances and development, and to consider creating part-time attendance rotas so that as many children as possible can benefit from attending their setting. Special settings should work with local authorities and families to ensure that decisions about attendance are informed by existing risk assessments for their children and young people, which should be kept up to date

Actions for education and childcare settings to prepare for wider opening from 1 June.

This brief statement has enabled the Uffculme staff to consider what reopening will look like for us. Whilst this planning continues, we cannot ignore the very real emotional response that students, parents and staff have about the reopening of schools. We have sought input from all staff at school through discussions and surveys. Additionally, senior staff at school have contacted parents and carers this week to understand their thoughts and worries. These have been in parallel with planning meetings related to health and safety concerns such as; social distancing, hygiene and personal protective equipment (PPE).

On the basis of these discussions we will be pausing any further reopening plans until at least the week beginning the 15th June. This pause will enable us to implement the health and safety changes that we have planned as well as work with staff to adapt timings and routines of the day to enable the risks to all within our community to be managed. We will be publishing our site Risk Assessments on the school website by the 1st June and welcome your feedback. Survey links will be available on the Risk Assessment website page. I include with this, a letter from Councillor Ward that clarifies Birmingham

City Council’s position. As you can see, we are supported to make the decisions that are right for our school community.

We know that we face a number of challenges in reopening the school to more students. Issues around social distancing for our learners are incredibly complex. However, we need to make plans and provision to reduce the risk of further Covid-19 infections. Over the past few weeks, BCC has supported the school by providing PPE, which is now readily accessible to staff at all sites. However, many parents have told us that they do not want the children to be greeted by staff in masks and visors. Indeed, staff know how very scary that this will be for the students at all ages, but we need to reduce risk and support staff and parents to know that the risk is being managed effectively within school.

We will be continuing to prioritise support for the children of Key Workers and those most vulnerable students as we move into June. Staff have been working hard to make sure that the home learning opportunities continue for all students and have had great feedback from the weekly calls to parents and carers. This home learning will continue next half term. These regular calls are something that we will continue as we move forward into the next academic year as they have proven to be incredibly useful for all.

As I write this letter I note that we are now expecting further information about reopening on the 28th May. Whilst we can all speculate on that announcement, the impact on Uffculme cannot be understood until we return from the half term break. I will be writing to you again during the first two weeks of June with further plans taking into consideration the messages from the 28th.

I would like to pass on my thanks to parents and carers on behalf of staff and Governors for your understanding and support during this time. If you would like to discuss your child in any further detail please contact the school, either through the regular calls with your class teacher or via the school email, phone 0121 464 9634.

Finally, I would like to wish you and your families all well. This has been a life changing experience for us all, but I am confident that at Uffculme we will come through this with a greater sense of community and dedication to making education better for our children and young people. It has, at times, been challenging to see beyond the bleakness of the past few months, but the staff at Uffculme continued to be filled with hope that we will all be together again.

"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness" Desmond Tutu

Charlotte Stubbs