The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, announced this evening that schools, colleges and early years settings will be closed indefinitely to everyone except children of key workers and vulnerable children from Monday 23rd March 2020. The Government has asked that schools stay open for the children of key workers and vulnerable children throughout the Easter holidays as well as in term-time.
Examples of key workers include NHS staff, police and delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work. Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans. Children who do not fall into these groups must remain at home with appropriate care.
A full list of key worker categories will be published by the Government tomorrow (19th March 2020). We will launch a consultation tomorrow to identify the children of key workers.
Gavin Williamson has also confirmed that the Government will not go ahead with assessments or exams in the summer and will not be publishing performance tables for this academic year. My understanding, therefore, is that children in Year 6 will not be sitting the KS2 (SATs) tests: if the school is asked to submit grades, we will use teacher assessment coupled with a review of how children performed in the mock-SATs which are currently being sat.
Free school meal provision for disadvantaged children will continue through a national voucher system, although no details have yet been released.
To help parents home-educate their children, we are preparing home-education packs which will be distributed on Friday. The packs will keep the children occupied for a few days at best. Additional learning will be distributed under a remote learning platform, Class Dojo. Children will be given logins tomorrow and parents will receive a parental log-in thereafter. Please be patient with us while we put this system in place.
From this weekend, many colleagues are entering 12-week seclusion, following Government advice for people who suffer from chronic conditions. In real-terms, this means many staff will be working from home and isolated from the outside world. Consequently, the remaining staffing of the school will be limited and, again, everyone is asked to exercise considerable patience at this time.
Lastly, a moment of reflection for these trying times - a note of optimism for the future, perhaps:
“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
"And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
"And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed."
With all good wishes,
Richard D Rhodes