Contacting School During Closure

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Contacting School During Closure

Lowerplace Primary School is currently closed except to a handful of pupils.  We have a skeleton staff in school caring for these children including, at all times, a First Aider and a Designated Safeguarding Lead.  All other staff are currently working from home, including the office staff.

In order to keep going, we have made arrangements for a ‘virtual office’, so if you need to contact school, you can either:

  • email us on office@lowerplace.rochdale.sch.uk
  • reply to any text you have received from the Lowerplace text app (there is no text number, so you just need to find a text we’ve sent you and press reply)
  • call us on 07833 302803.

Please note, none of these methods of communication will link you to a person who is actually on school site.

We may not be able to speak to you or respond as quickly as we might on a normal school day while we’re working from home – if we need to forward your question to another member of staff, find an answer for you, or we’re just away from our workspaces caring for our own families – so please be patient!

Thank you all for your support during this time of unprecedented change – we really do want everyone in the Lowerplace family to stay as safe as possible, and appreciate that things have taken some time to get set up, so thank you for your patience and understanding.


The latest government update (Friday 19th April 2020) includes guidance for parents about schools & education which you can read in full here: What parents and carers need to know about schools and education during the coronavirus outbreak

Some of the points include:

1. Closures of schools, childcare and other educational settings

1.1 What age groups does this cover?

The changes cover children at registered childcare providers (including nurseries and childminders), primary and secondary schools and further education colleges. This is for both state-funded and independent schools.

1.2 Will it be mandatory for all schools, colleges and registered childcare providers to remain open in some form?

We are asking schools, colleges, nurseries, childminders and other registered childcare settings to remain open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children where they can.

We understand that some may be unable to do so especially if they are experiencing severe staff shortages. We will work with local areas to use neighbouring schools, colleges and childcare providers to continue to support vulnerable children and children of critical workers.

1.3 How long will childcare settings, schools and colleges be closed for?

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, schools, colleges and childcare providers will remain closed until further notice, except for children of critical workers and vulnerable children. We will only re-open schools when the scientific advice indicates it is safe to do so, and will engage closely with the sector on our approach.

1.9 What if I have to leave my children at home unattended?

Read the government advice on the law on leaving children unattended.

There is no law about when you can leave your child on their own but it is an offence to leave them alone if it places them at risk. As parents, you should use your judgement on how mature your child is before you decide to leave them at home.

It is important to be aware that you can be prosecuted if you leave a child alone ‘in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health’. If you are at all unsure, the NSPCC recommends that children under 12 are rarely mature enough to be left alone for a long period of time, children under 16 should not be left alone overnight and babies, toddlers and very young children should never be left alone.

2. Exams

2.1 What will happen to exams?

Primary assessments, including SATs, and exams including GCSEs, AS levels and A levels, will not go ahead this summer.

The exam regulator, Ofqual, and exam boards will work with teachers and other educational staff to provide grades to students whose exams have been cancelled this summer. Further information is available for schools and colleges, students and parents on how qualifications will be awarded in summer 2020.

3. Admissions

3.1 Have parents received offers of primary school places for 2020 admissions on 16 April 2020?

Yes, primary National Offer Day has continued as expected on 16 April 2020.

4. Free school meals

4.1 Will children eligible for free school meals still receive a meal or food voucher when schools close?

Yes. Headteachers can decide which of the available options will be best for families in their area. Schools can either provide food on site, arrange deliveries or purchase a voucher to be given to the family. Colleges are also supporting free school meals for those eligible through a variety of routes. Contact your school or college to find out what they are providing. More information on support for pupils eligible for free school meals is available.

5. Vulnerable children

5.1 Is my child counted as vulnerable?

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak vulnerable children and young people are defined as those who:

  • are assessed as being in need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, including children who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child
  • have an education, health and care (EHC) plan whose needs cannot be met safely in the home environment
  • have been assessed as otherwise vulnerable by education providers or local authorities (including children’s social care services), and who are therefore in need of continued education provision. This might include children on the edge of receiving support from children’s social care services, adopted children, or those who are young carers

5.2 Is it compulsory for parents of vulnerable children to accept their place offer?

There is an expectation that vulnerable children who have a social worker will attend provision, so long as they do not have underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk than others. In circumstances where a parent does not want to bring their child to an education setting, and their child is considered vulnerable, the social worker and education provider should explore the reasons for this directly with the parent.

Where parents are concerned about the risk of the child contracting the virus, the education provider should talk through these anxieties with the parent following the advice set out by Public Health England.

Those with an EHC plan should be risk-assessed by their education setting in consultation with the local authority and parents, to decide whether they need to continue to be offered a school/college place in order to meet their needs, or whether they can safely have their needs met at home. This could include, if necessary, carers, therapists or clinicians visiting the home to provide any essential services. Many children and young people with EHC plans can safely remain at home.

5.3 How can I report if I am worried a child or young person might be at risk of harm?

To further protect children and young people from harm, we are working with the NSPCC to expand and promote its helpline.

Parents or any adult will be able to call if they want someone to talk to, and they should get in touch if they are worried about a child or young person. Anyone with concerns should email help@nspcc.org.uk or call 0808 800 5000.

6. Critical workers

6.1 Will I be counted as a critical worker?

Critical workers include NHS staff, police, farmers and food retail workers, who need to be able to go out to work.

Children with a parent or carer who is listed on the government’s critical worker list should be considered for a school place.

If children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading. That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.

7. Resources and support

7.1 What support is available to parents to help them educate their children at home?

We want to support schools and parents to ensure children and young people’s education can continue.

To help our most disadvantaged young people access online learning, devices will be ordered for children preparing for exams (in Year 10) and for those who receive support from a social worker or are a care leaver, who would otherwise not have access to a device. Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and children in Year 10 do not have internet connections, we are providing 4G routers to them so that they can learn at home. And the country’s major telecommunication providers will make it easier for families to access selected educational resources by temporarily exempting these sites from data charges.

For support to access social care services, you should first contact your local authority. For Year 10 children, you should contact your child’s school, who will be able to offer advice.

Other available support includes:

  • a list of online educational resources which have been identified by some of the country’s leading educational experts to help pupils to learn at home
  • enhanced education provision from the BBC to include daily lessons starting from 20 April 2020

For parents with children under 5 years old, who have not yet started school, the Department for Education (DfE)’s Hungry Little Minds campaign features tips and practical activities that you can do at home with children to support their early learning.

There are many simple ways to help your children learn and it does not have to feel like ‘learning’. Having everyday conversations, make-believe play, and reading together, all make a big difference to your child’s development.

You can find more ideas and content from the BBC’s Tiny Happy People campaign and the National Literacy Trust Family Zone.

The Department for Education has guidance for parents of children aged 2 to 4 years and primary school age to support learning at home.

7.5 Where can I go to get support to help keep my child safe online?

There is support available to keep your child safe online. Below are some useful links to help parents and carers:

  • Thinkuknow (advice from the National Crime Agency to stay safe online)
  • Internet matters (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
  • Parent info (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
  • LGfL (support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online)
  • Net-aware (support for parents and carers from the NSPCC)
  • Let’s Talk About It (support for parents and carers to keep children safe from online radicalisation)
  • UK Safer Internet Centre (tips, advice, guides)

7.6 What support is available to parents to help them maintain their family’s wellbeing while their children are at home?

Social connections, alongside exercise, sleep, diet and routine, are important protective factors for mental health. Materials to promote and support mental wellbeing are included in the list of online resources we have published to help children to learn at home. Public Health England’s Rise Above platform supports young people. The Department of Health and Social Care is providing £5 million of additional funding to support mental health charities to increase their provision for adults and children at this time.

Social isolation, reduced exercise, and bereavement, may affect children’s wellbeing in this period.

Resources to promote and support children and young people’s mental wellbeing include:

All NHS mental health trusts are setting up 24/7 helplines, and seeking to use digital and virtual channels, to continue delivering support during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.


The following letter was sent home to parents on Friday 20th March 2020, relating to the school closure we made from Monday 23rd March 2020:

20th March 2020 – COVID-19 and school closure

 Dear Parents & Carers,

England’s Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, announced on Wednesday that schools will be closed “until further notice” and so Lowerplace Primary School will be closed from Friday 20th March at 3.15pm. The Government has stated that this will slow the spread of infection from COVID-19 and will protect the NHS and the most vulnerable.

To allow key workers who are critical to the COVID-19 response to continue with their roles, the Government has asked schools to offer places only for those children with parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response and absolutely need to attend. Please note that we will not be providing any lessons or delivering the curriculum; the provision we are being asked to offer is about care, not education.

These offers of places are not guaranteed, because if a school does not have enough staff to care for pupils safely (even a small number of pupils) then a full or partial closure may be necessary. Schools will need to keep this decision under daily review. Many parents working in critical sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home – every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

The fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in schools, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society, and so the government is asking parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible. This would include where one parent is a ‘key worker’ and the other parent is not.

Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in:

 

health and social care education and childcare key public services local and national government

 

food and other necessary goods public safety and national security transport utilities, communication and financial services

If you believe you work in one of the critical sectors listed above, and your child cannot be cared for at home, you should confirm with your employer that your specific role is necessary for the continuation of that essential public service. If you then wish to request a place for your child, you should complete the attached request form. Due to the ever changing information from Government, please ignore the form sent home last night. This new form must be completed and returned to the school office by 10am on Monday 23rd March at the latest. The school office will be open until 10am.

Once your request has been considered, you will be informed of whether we can offer a place. School will be closed on Monday 23rd March to all pupils to allow school staff to make suitable arrangements and allocate places. Parents will be contacted with an offer of a place as soon as possible. Please do not bring your child to school until we have confirmed an offer of a place. If your child is offered a place, please ensure that they are accompanied by an adult every morning.

All places will be reviewed on a daily basis. If staffing absences mean we are unable to offer safe provision, the governing board may decide on a partial or complete shutdown of school.

Please remember that if you or any member of your family is experiencing symptoms (high temperature, sore throat, or a new persistent cough), the government guidance is to self-isolate for 14 days. If this is the case, please do not send your child to school even if you have the offer of ‘key worker’ provision.

In order to support children whilst school is closed, we have sent home learning packs and created an online home learning page on the school website for children to access. For children who have not brought a pack home from school already, they can be collected from the Key Stage 1 hall from 9.15-10.30am on Wednesday 25th March.

Please note, we will be updating the online information and learning resources regularly throughout the duration of school closure.”put some breaks” on the spread of the outbreak in a bid to protect the NHS and most vulnerablebut that the move could help “put some breaks” on the spread of the outbreak in a bid to protect the NHS and most vulnerable.

Thank you for your continued support,

Mr M Unsworth

Interim Headteacher

Key worker letter Lowerplace 20 03 2020

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