After Boris Johnson announced that, from June 1st 2020, primary and junior schools in England could reopen for Reception and Year 1, plus Year 6, both our Ruddington schools decided they were not yet ready to do so.
Parents of pupils at St Peter’s C of E Junior School only learned this news for certain on the evening of Friday 29th May, when an apologetic email from school Head Teacher, Michael Bradley, informed them: “Unfortunately we now have no choice but to pause our plans to welcome back our Year 6 children next week. Over the last couple of weeks, our school team has been preparing a lengthy and detailed risk assessment in order to make sure your child and our staff will be as safe as possible when they return to us here at St Peter’s. With our governing body, we have produced, what we feel is, an effective plan for welcoming more children back to school from next week and have followed government guidance to the letter.”
However, he went on to reveal that the school had “faced immense and growing pressure from external bodies to delay bringing more pupils back due to questions around safety across all Nottinghamshire schools”. Some unions had raised concerns they did not feel it was yet the right time to bring more children back to any school – meaning St Peter’s postponed its planned reopening of the school for Year 6 pupils at the last minute. It said this decision was supported by both Nottinghamshire County Council and the Diocese.
A week later, it seems those issues have now been overcome and so the school is set to partially reopen for Year 6 children from this Monday (June 8th 2020) as well as carrying on providing care for children of ‘keyworkers’ and vulnerable pupils in Years 3, 4 and 5. Mr Bradley has produced the video below to make parents and pupils aware of the changes when they return:
Although Ruddington’s James Peacock Infant and Nursery School has also put measures in place to enable a more general reopening, it has revealed that it will not yet be doing so. Instead, from this Monday, it will welcome back only ‘keyworker’ families from nursery, reception, year one and year two.
Head Teacher Richard Waldron explains the school’s decision is “based on current staff availability set against a 1:8 ratio per class to allow for social distancing to be adhered to. Once increased staff availability is confirmed, we will continue to admit more pupils in school matched to appropriate staffing levels as soon as we can.”
However, he’s reassuring parents it will be safe for their children to return by highlighting the raft of measures being undertaken:
- “Redesigning our classrooms to provide for 8 pupils per group. This is the maximum number of pupils we can take to admit children safely and respect the 2 metre social distance guidelines
- Signage across the whole campus reminding everyone of the strict rules we must all follow
- Marking out and creating safe areas for children to play in with their group outside
- Organising lunchtimes and packed lunches for the children
- Making a video available on our website giving instructions to parents on how to safely enter and leave the school site
- Checking all health and safety matters are in order across the school
- Marking out safe spaces across our playground to line up in the morning
- Providing a transition booklet for those children in readiness for next week
- Communicating through meetings with our cleaners and catering teams the steps we will be following from next week
- Deep cleaning the school and providing 23 sanitising gel dispensers across the campus and a full time cleaner on site throughout the day”
Mr Waldron has kindly supplied RUDDINGTON.info with the illustrative photographs below:
At the moment the Government says it “strongly encourages” eligible children to return when schools ask them to do so, unless they’re self-isolating or shielding. However, it’s stopped short of making this compulsory – meaning parents can choose to keep their children at home for now. One Ruddington dad, who wished to remain anonymous, told us: “We decided not to send our kids back until I felt it was truly safe for the staff. Frankly, the longer the delay the better, as we’ve been released from lockdown too quickly.”
Ruddington Borough Councillor Mike Gaunt shares these concerns: “As a parent, teacher, NEU member and elected official I am relieved that the schools are putting safety first. All parents and teachers want schools to open as soon as it is safe, but so far the science is inconclusive.”
Fellow Borough Councillor Jennifer Walker says: “I do know that the school staff and headteachers have been working incredibly hard to make schools safe. They have worked very closely with teachers unions and local authorities to ensure that schools are safe for both pupils and staff and those staff involved have moved mountains in a very short time scale to adapt to the ever changing criteria coming from central government. The teaching requirements in schools have completely changed in order to meet new social distancing rules and the most minute of details could be critical in ensuring safety.”
St Peter’s parent Emma Brock comments: “I think the school have done a great job keeping us informed at each stage and we’re hugely grateful to all the staff involved. I’m sure there’ll be learnings and iterations on the approach but I know they are doing their best to get it right.”
As the Government’s COVID-19 Coronavirus restrictions continue to be eased, of course we’ll keep you posted on the latest situation at our two Ruddington schools here at RUDDINGTON.info.