"Like to say a huge thank you to everyone for all their hard work."
"We are grateful for all the measures put in place and the support has been second to none."
"Home learning was clear and easy to follow, topical and expanded on learning to further capture imagination."
"School did amazing with all help through lockdown and gave me massive confidence that all safety measures were put in place for my child to go back."
"Brilliant communication and fantastic support on a daily basis from."
"Please keep up the fab work these are unprecedented times we live in and I think you have done more than enough for the children and young people plus and their families."
"I felt fully informed at all times during Lockdown, by phone calls, messages etc. My worries, concerns about sending my child back to school were answered and I felt happy overall."
"Felt really supported by the school during lock down with weekly phone calls"
"I felt the school was helpful and supportive during the pandemic and considered me and my child's needs and wellbeing constantly."
"School went well above their requirements during lock down. We never felt as if we were on our own, we always knew we could contact someone if needed. All the staff have been amazing during a very difficult time."
"Excellent support from staff. Thank you"
"Thank you .... you're all doing an amazing job"
"Whilst not ideal, you are working hard to keep the children safe and in a stable routine. Thank you."
"Thank you for the updates and the way you keep our children and staff safe."
"Hope you are keeping yourself safe too."
"Well done! Very challenging times for everyone and I think you’re doing great considering no one knows how to deal with this new horrible virus"

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CEO Briefing March 2020

As I write this briefing, managing the anxieties created by the COVID-19 pandemic is certainly proving to be a challenge, with a relentless wave of media reporting heightening concerns across the planet. Not unlike the swine flu crisis of 2009, there’s a lot of worrying information being shared through a range of outlets, and our legal responsibility as state schools is to follow the advice of the Department for Education, which in turn is informed by the very expert advice of the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Science Officer who both advise Government.

As guidance is being updated daily, the Trust has not and will not be issuing local guidance as this could - and likely would - confuse people as and when things change. The current advice is that no schools should close unless advised to by Public Health England, the Health Protection Agency and/or local authorities (who are Category 1 responders in the event of an emergency). In the event of a closure, we would draw on Trust policy for responding to a pandemic and also our business continuity plans.

The latest measures - as advised by Government - of self isolation for a fever or a continuous cough doesn't necessarily mean that absent staff or children have Coronavirus, and the removal of standard testing measures by definition means it is less likely we’ll see an increase in confirmed cases in conjunction with the likely increase in the absence of staff and pupils as part of these preventative steps. This is an important distinction to make, as it would be easy to confuse absence for a Coronavirus outbreak locally. As stated above, if we have a confirmed local outbreak in any of our schools we will ensure our approach is consistent with the advice of PHE and the HPA.

Headteachers will continue to monitor the risks closely and ensure we can meet our safeguarding duties whilst we also balance staff absence. If we face major staff shortages, Headteachers will propose modified provision with partial, short term closures for classes or year groups, proportionate to need. We will do everything we can to ensure children are provided with their right to an education, as is our core purpose, and no decisions on closure will be taken without seeking expert advice and guidance.

Thus far, the biggest challenge for the vast majority of us has been to remain rational, logical and evidence-based in our decision making in the face of what can be overwhelming concern. For school leaders in particular, this puts a very different spin on the concept of “courageous leadership”, but it is morally and intellectually the right path to follow by referring to Government advice. It is parents prerogative to send their children to school, and I know all our Heads will be understanding of pupil absence where families feel their child has additional vulnerabilities that create a disproportionate risk at this time.

Things have changed rapidly over the past two weeks and will continue to evolve. Thank you all for your trust and support as we continue to respond in the best ways possible to meet community need.

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Posted in CEO Briefs on Mar 16, 2020

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