Mr Bellamy's Spring Half-Term Message to Parents/Carers
As this half term draws to a close I want to say thank you. Thank you to the staff for their incredible hard work during these unprecedented times. Thank you to the students for trying their absolute best to engage with everything we have set them to complete. Thank you to you all for being the most supportive parents/carers a Headteacher could ask for; you have done a terrific job ‘home schooling’ your children.
As I’m sure you will all appreciate, my attention has very much been focussed on what next steps we will take at Hilbre. I need to state clearly to you all, I will not take steps that I feel put students or staff at increased risk; the safeguarding of our whole community is of paramount importance to me, as I know it is to you.
I was pleased to read the statement from Councillor Pat Hackett, Leader of Wirral Council which stated:
“Whilst we recognise the importance of schools supporting more children, we want to be absolutely clear that we are taking a measured and cautious approach to this. Our priority is the safety of the people we represent, and we therefore do not expect schools to support more pupils until they are assured it is safe to do so.”
I whole-heartedly agree with this statement. Over the last two months I have worked with all Secondary Headteachers across Wirral to ensure that where possible, we all respond to these challenging times together. At a meeting on the 21st of May, the following broad principles were agreed:
- Secondary schools will not reopen on the 1st of June
- Headteachers will wait for the latest scientific advice due on the 28th of May
- Headteachers will wait for further guidance from the Department for Education regarding bringing Year 10 and Year 12 students back into school
- Secondary Headteachers have a desire to extend current provision by mid-June
- Schools will only reopen when safe to do so
I would like to share with you my proposals for reopening when I am satisfied that it is safe for us to do so. There are six stages to the plan:
- Stage 1 - Establish the level of staffing I have available. I clearly have colleagues that are in various categories of vulnerability or they are required to shield. This stage is already underway.
- Stage 2 - Based on the availability of staff, draw up plans to how we could phase back Year 12 and Year 10 students for some face to face contact with colleagues. This stage will also require staff to have the time needed to continue to support all other year groups who won’t return to school until September.
- Stage 3 - Is to ascertain from parents/carers the likelihood that their children in Year 12 and Year 10 would return to school when the time is right. The Department for Education has made it clear that parents have the right to refuse to send their children back to school, this side of the summer holiday, if they so choose.
- Stage 4 - Is also already underway. We are currently looking at entry/exit points to the school for students, establishing a one-way system, identifying appropriate classrooms sufficiently big enough to allow for social distancing, ordering hand sanitiser, mobile hand washing facilities, etc. This stage is complex, hence the reason this work is already well underway.
- Stage 5 - Once all the plans are ready I need to consult with parents/carers, staff and governors and communicate clearly all of our plans to everyone involved.
- Stage 6 - Would be to phase back students in Year 12 and Year 10 slowly. This stage is critical and will be reviewed constantly. Plans will change if any of us in the Hilbre Community feel further improvements are required.
At the time of writing this letter, I don’t yet know when Hilbre will be ready for Stage 6. I want students to return to school as quickly as possible, but the safeguarding of this community comes first and they will only return when it is safe to do so. We are currently completing a very detailed Risk Assessment, which will be published on our website and emailed to parents when it is finished.
I will of course keep you all informed as this process moves forward. For now can I ask you all to turn off your laptops, close the school books and have a very well earned rest over the half term break. I have said it before, but I really couldn’t be prouder of the way in which all in our community have responded to the challenges of this awful virus.
My sincere best wishes
Mr M Bellamy