19th May 2020
I wanted to contact you about the phased re-opening of Dame Ellen Pinsent School.
As you will be aware, the school has remained open during this lockdown period for qualifying pupils. I’m sure you’ve heard that the government has now issued further guidance allowing more children to safely return to school and many of you will have questions about what this means for your child.
Firstly, we wanted to reassure you that the key priority for Dame Ellen is to ensure the safety of the staff and your child. We are currently undertaking a detailed risk assessment and putting in place a range of protective measures before we open our doors to more pupils. We are planning for changes that are as supportive as possible for children and families, whilst being manageable for the school.
The government has set an ambition for more pupils to begin to return to school from the 1st June and they have been clear about the priority order of pupils. For special schools the government has outlined a phased return of more children without a focus on specific year groups and instead informed by risk assessments. The government has also been clear that pupils who are shielded due to their medical vulnerability or who are at particular clinical risk, or who live in a household with someone who is shielded or otherwise clinically at risk should remain at home.
Your recent communication with the class teacher has given us an indication of what children are likely to return to school. We are now prioritising which children will return to school from the 2nd of June based on criteria outlined on our website. School will be contacting parents by 20th May to confirm their place in school after ½ term, if you haven’t heard from us by this date it means that you do not have a place at this time. However, we will be looking to further expand provision so you will be placed on a waiting list.
The children in school will be taught in much smaller groups with classes set up to support social distancing e.g. desks placed 2 meters apart and the children having their own equipment. You may also find the children are not in their usual classrooms and are with different staff. We will also be proactively teaching new rules to the children and rigorously reinforcing behaviour throughout every day.
During this time, we have also put an interim curriculum in place. This will support the social and emotional development of the children and enable them to cope with the changes, explore and express their feelings and be as fit and healthy as they can be with an overall emphasis on wellbeing. As a lot of activities will be outside and focus on physical development we ask that the children are dressed appropriately; in comfortable clothing that you don’t mind them getting a bit dirty in. You are also encouraged to wash clothes on a daily basis to help prevent the spread of the virus.
For those parents/carers who will be bringing their child to school there will be different arrangements in place. You will be given an allocated time slot to drop off and pick up, only one parent/carer must do this and you must adhere to the social distancing guidance and not gather outside of the school gates. Drop off will be at main gates and you won’t be allowed onto school site, a member of staff will be there to collect your child.
On 1st June there will be a staff training day to allow us to put all the relevant measures in place. As parents/carers I want to take this opportunity to say thank you for all you have done during these difficult times. You have been, and continue to be, of great support to your child and I know the staff have enjoyed their weekly calls with you.
Finally, I’m sure you will join me in thanking all of the staff at Dame Ellen Pinsent School for working so hard and doing an amazing job in these unprecedented times. We are all responding to new guidance as it emerges and therefore the situation remains changeable.
With my very best wishes
Mrs D Fountain
Head Teacher (BSc Hons, PGCE, Med, NPQH)
Dame Ellen Pinsent School
22 May 2020 - FAQs returning to school