You will have seen from Sharon Gladstone’s letter about this term (See here) that we are asking parents to keep encouraging their children and young people to access Google Classroom. We expect that all students will complete one compulsory piece of work each week in each subject, and spend around two hours each weekday on school work. At the same time, Mrs Gladstone listed a range of other activities which will help to foster creativity, inner strength and a sense of wellbeing.
Teachers, therapists, learning mentors and teaching assistants continue to work hard on providing materials for Classrooms, and tutors and the safeguarding team will continue to make at least weekly calls.
Those of you whose young people are in Year 11 and the sixth form will be aware that teachers have been preparing to recommend grades to examination boards. (See here) Discussions will be held with the boards shortly. My view is that this is a fair way to proceed given that we can’t run exams this year. It means that our students will gain the results they deserve for their hard work.
You may be aware that school has been open this week for small numbers of students. Early Government guidance was that children with EHCPs should be in school. It soon became clear that this was not a good way to move forward, because it is not true that all students with EHCPs should be seen as “vulnerable”. To keep special schools open for all students would not have aided the government’s “Stay Home – Protect the NHS – Save Lives” policy, which I fully support. Guidance was soon amended, and now states clearly that children must be kept at home if it is safe to do so.
Exceptions to this are children who have parents who are key workers, and children in the care of local authorities or with social services input. Even in these cases, I decided to risk assess each student (and all members of staff) to ensure safety. For a variety of reasons, some of the priority students are not in school.
All parents and carers will be asking the question “When can my child get back to school?” The easy answer to this question is that we don’t know. We do not know yet when or how the lockdown will be eased. We don’t know how early in the exit process schools will be open. In any case, I will not be reopening Garratt Park School to all students until advised to do so either by Government or by Wandsworth.
However, I decided over the Easter holiday that we will build up numbers gradually from now on. This means that we can prioritise students most in need of a school place now, and also that fully reopening (almost certainly at very short notice) will be less of a jump for both staff and students. We have identified some priority groups with whom we have already had discussions:
- Sixth form students expecting to leave in the summer whose SEN mean that they will need support in managing transition.
- Children whose circumstances mean that they are becoming isolated at home.
- Children whose families are finding them increasingly difficult to care for all day every day
- Children whose needs mean that they will require a phased return to school.
Tutors have been asked to identify any students they are concerned about.
The return to school will be challenging for many students. Henrietta Ogbonna, our Educational Psychologist, called me on 20th April and kindly offered her support. We agreed that the return to school will be a priority area for her work.
Keep well and stay safe. I hope to see you all soon.