This is what the DfE says about attendance: "... school attendance will be mandatory again from the beginning of the autumn term... [and] the usual rules on school attendance will apply..." https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools
So, we do expect children to restart school in September as scheduled: on Wednesday 2nd September school starts for all of Years 3 and 6 together with Class 4/5.4; all other children start on Thursday 3rd September - see the Class Story of your child's new class for the specific start times and other arrangements. This year - due to COVID-19 - not all children will start on the same day while we phase everyone back to school as safely as possible.
By Friday 4th September, all children will be coming into school and finishing with staggered times according to their family name/surname:
Surname in the range A - F:
* start time 8.25am - 8.40am
* finish time 3pm
Surname in the range G - O:
* start time 8.35am - 8.50am
* finish time 3.15pm
Surname in the range P - Z:
* start time 8.45am - 9.00am
* finish time 3.30pm
This system for staggering start and finish times was selected to ensure children from the same family start and finish simultaneously rather than potentially inconveniencing families by different classes having different timings.
While we do expect all children in, I do understand that some will have concerns about how we will be keeping their children and others safe. Next week, we will publish our detailed risk assessment, giving the specifics. However, I recognise that this document might not be be sufficient for some and you may wish to discuss matters in further detail: if this is the case, please direct message me once you have read the risk assessment and I will arrange a mutually convenient time to talk things through and to put in any relevant support - whether through school or one of the agencies we work with.
The DfE has said that sanctions, including fixed penalty notices, can be issued by schools from September for non-attendance. Where a child's absence from school is COVID-19 related and as long as families remain engaged with us, it is very unlikely that such sanctions will be applied by me. I simply ask that families maintain a dialogue with us: from experience, disengagement can indicate there are problems - sometimes severe - for children or those around them and, to avoid risking a young person experiencing harm, we will always be robustly proactive in trying to keep communication going between school and home.
For various reasons, there may be times where a pupil is unable to attend school because they are complying with clinical and/or public health advice (in the event, perhaps of another lockdown or because the child or someone in their family or bubble has tested positive for COVID-19 and they are having to quarantine). When this happens, we will immediately offer access to remote education through ClassDojo. Increasingly, ClassDojo will be used in school to issue children with certain work and to give feedback.
Consequently, all children have a log-in to ClassDojo and we ask that each of a child's parents arranges their own log-in too: this allows every parent to communicate directly with the Class Teacher, School Leaders - including myself - and the School Office. Parents and Carers will also be able to see the child's work in their portfolio, share in teacher feedback and see important messages on both the School and Class Stories as well as receiving confidential documents - such as a child's report - through a direct messaging. Parents who do not yet have a log-in should contact the School Office to ask for one.
In future, all homework will be notified via ClassDojo with very few assignments being printed - from September, worksheets can be completed online within ClassDojo with no need to print them first.
I appreciate that not all families have the means of getting online at home: where this is the case, we can arrange - under certain circumstances - for loan equipment. If this is something you would like to discuss, please get in touch with me and we will see what we are can do.
I know that the pandemic has produced multiple problems for families - whether around health, finance or otherwise. Some, during the lockdown and since, have perceived the school's stance as being insensitive to such circumstances, with us only caring whether children were completing their home-learning. I am very sorry if any communications from me or the school fuelled this perception: certainly, we were tracking the engagement of families with us - checking that there was regular input, whether from children or parents on ClassDojo, and we did follow up with those who appeared disengaged - but this was not about pursuing the completion of work, it was to ensure that children were safe and to offer support to families in whichever ways we could; the message we gave to any struggling families was not to worry about the work - do what could be done - but let us help and keep in touch.
Going forward, our stance will be the same: keeping communication channels open and helping where we can. Certainly, we want the best for children academically (and the DfE has charged schools with ensuring all children have caught up on missed learning by next Easter, so the pressure will be on but with the right support) - and, even though these will remain strange days for quite some time yet, All Saints has always been about more than just the academic: our children only get one childhood and I, alongside all my colleagues, will do everything possible to work with parents and carers to make our children's childhoods the best and happiest they can be, while keeping them as safe and prepared for their futures as they can be.
There will be times when the safety precautions around COVID-19 will feel onerous, challenging and tiresome. Together, as a community, we will find ways to make them work as we are all on the same side, with our children and our community at the heart of what we are about - our school vision - literally Loving All Our Neighbours through being Safe, Ready & Respectful.
So, stay safe; keep happy; be kind.