3rd January 2021
Information about the start of next term
Dear Parents and Carers,
As I am sure you will have seen in the press this weekend there is now a possibility that primary schools may be closed to the majority of children until a review before 18th January.
You will be aware of the rapid rise in positive Covid-19 case numbers in our area and indeed in many areas of the country, and of the pressure the health service is currently under. You may also be aware that the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) who advise the government, have made it clear that they feel schools should be closed for a period to relieve this pressure and to allow further progress with testing and vaccination.
Against this background, the National Education Union (NEU) which represents most teachers in schools, and UNISON, which represents support staff, have recommended that their members do not return to work this term to schools that are fully open. So far, the majority of St Edmund’s staff, whilst understandably concerned about the current situation and the increased risks it brings, are choosing to return to work as planned next week. Therefore, at the time of writing this letter, we are planning to be open to all children on Tuesday 5th January as normal (remember, tomorrow is a planned INSET day.)
In addition, my own professional body, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) alongside the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has initiated preliminary steps in legal proceedings against the Department for Education. This is clearly a significant step, but they are challenging the failure to disclose scientific evidence for the decisions that have been taken regarding schools. The concern is for the implications for the whole community of allowing infection to spread at this time.
I wish to make it clear in this letter that all staff feel very strongly that the best thing for our children is for them to be educated in school. As you know, as a school we value their social, emotional and spiritual progress just as much as their educational progress, and we feel they miss out on a great deal when they cannot be in school. We recognise the significant loss a period out of school represents, and the enormous pressure it places on families.
If a decision is made by the Government in the coming days or weeks that we must close to most children, St Edmund’s staff will be ready to work tirelessly to deliver the highest quality remote education they can and to maintain strong support for learning and engagement from home. We will continue to offer our in-school provision for critical key worker and vulnerable children.
I apologise that I cannot give you any more information than this today. This is an incredibly difficult decision for staff to have to make and I am once again humbled and inspired by their dedication to our wonderful children. The situation is fast moving, and I will update you as soon as I have any further news.
Thank you for all your incredible patience and support. I do not underestimate the huge toll this uncertainty will be taking on you all.