Headteacher’s Blog

We are looking forward to welcoming your child back to school this Thursday, for the start of the new academic year. We hope that you have had a happy, restful summer.

As you might be aware, updated government guidance for schools has been issued during the last couple of weeks, referring to the actions that schools should continue to take, to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 within the community.

The key changes/updates include:

  • children do not have to isolate if identified as a close contact. Instead, they will be advised to get a PCR test
  • ‘bubbles’ are no longer recommended as necessary
  • face coverings are no longer advised for pupils and staff in classrooms and communal areas
  • control measures are to remain in place (good hygiene, appropriate cleaning routines, well ventilated spaces, follow public health advice)
  • children with COVID-19 symptoms should not attend school
  • staff should continue to test with LFDs twice a week
  • pupils and staff with positive LFD test results should inform school, stay home and take a PCR test
  • remote education expectations remain
  • introduction of thresholds for COVID-19 cases that, if reached, can trigger extra actions for a school
  • shielding is currently paused

In light of the updated guidance, we can now thankfully lift many of the measures that have affected and restricted our day to day operations as well as our curriculum for nearly two school years. It is an exciting prospect to look ahead to a school day and learning environment that starts to bring our pupils together again. We will, however, proceed with caution and respond to the needs and behaviours of our pupils. For some of our younger pupils, who have lived the majority of their school lives so far, as part of a group of 60, 30 or less, it might well be a daunting, overwhelming prospect to suddenly become one of a group of 350 or more! Some pupils will need slightly longer to adjust to the change back to a fully integrated, whole school community.

A few measures, however, will remain in place for at least the start of the school year and gently eased once the whole school community has returned but these are mostly operational matters, not affecting the curriculum.

Whilst it is now very unlikely that classes or whole year groups will have to isolate as close contacts, classes can only attend school for face-to-face teaching if sufficient numbers of class staff are available to teach them. Protecting staff from the risk of contracting coronavirus at school therefore remains a priority, to help keep them safe and well and also to ensure that your child is provided with the best quality teaching by the staff who know them best. We will therefore continue to restrict the numbers of visitors on site, for at least the first few weeks.

As confirmed before the end of term, we will now revert to pre-Lockdown school start and finish times:
8.35am – 3.00pm  EYFS & KS1 (Reception, Y1, Y2)
8.35 – 3.05pm  KS2 (Y3 – Y6)

As we have not experienced an unstaggered, whole school start and end of day for a while, we are slightly adjusting the drop-off and pick-up times and procedures, to allow for increased traffic, parking and congestion and as a continued protective measure.

Another factor affecting our drop-off and pick-up procedures, is the back gate. The new Summerfield Health Centre, situated next to the Caledon Community Centre, is now open to our local community. At the back gate, a new path provides a choice of direction when leaving the school site, around the health centre. As we do not yet know what impact a fully operational health centre and fully mobilised Bowmansgreen school community will have on each other, in terms of traffic, parking and footfall, we have decided to continue to restrict the use of this gate, to pupils in Y4, Y5 and Y6 who are independent travellers only. This will provide a chance to monitor the impact of school re-opening alongside the medical centre, the use of the new pathway, traffic and parking. If your child was an independent traveller last term, we will assume that they have continued consent. Our new Year 4 pupils will be provided with permission letters, on Thursday.

We will initially continue to maintain the one way system on the Key Stage 1 playground at the start and end of the school day, limiting access to the wider school site for parents and carers.

Gates will be open from 8.35 – 8.50am for all (adjusted from 8.45am). Doors will close at 8.50am and registers taken at 8.55am. Pupils arriving late, after 8.50am, must enter via the school office.
The front, main gate will be open from 2.55pm for KS1 pupils to be collected from the KS1 playground at 3pm.
The front gate will remain open and KS2 pupils can be collected until 3.10pm from the KS1 playground (unless they are independent travellers and leave via the back gate). Pupils collected late, after 3.10pm, must be collected from the school office.

All measures and procedures will be reviewed and amended as necessary and appropriate.

Please read this letter from Jim McManus, Director of Public Health.

Thank you for bearing with us whilst we despatched your child’s end of year report. It is not our preferred method of distributing reports and this year was particularly difficult, as it coincided with the updating of our school network to a cloud based environment which affected software, printing and photocopying. Hopefully, we will be fully up and running by Thursday….