Latest News on the School's position
Dear Parents and Carers,
We are now at the end of our second week of the final term of this academic year and we are all having such different experiences. At the moment, we have managed to accommodate all of the children and the year groups the government hoped that we would and also managed to keep the home learning blogs going for those children who, unfortunately, still can’t come back to school. From talking to various parents and staff, the children who are not coming into school are really starting to feel the absence from routine and their classmates now. Well done to those of you who are still having to juggle a lot of different roles and remember to go easy on yourself as many, many of you will be having good and not so good days. Do contact us if you need to and we will see what we can do to help.
So when can the rest of the children come back?
When you sit watching the daily briefing on the BBC and the latest changes are announced, you hear things at the same time as we and the local authority do. We know as much as you, which is we don’t know when the rest of the children will be back and how we are going to facilitate it. We are yet to receive any more guidance from the government on how to proceed but as soon as we do, rest assured, we will share our plans with you as soon as we can.
We would like to see as many pupils as possible this term. We are currently thinking of how we can get all of the children in at some point (not all at the same time I hasten to add) for a catch up and a shuffle up to their new classes whilst still sticking to the social distancing procedures we have already put in place. Again, we will let you know as soon as we have firmed up any arrangements.
Teachers for 2020-21
We have carefully considered the new teaching arrangements for next year bearing in mind the current situation and the children missing a good chunk of learning this academic year. Decisions have been made based on the needs of the cohort, the cohort’s teacher history and each teacher’s professional development.
So, here are the new classes for 20/21:
Cherry, Reception Class – Miss Brown & Mrs Westcott
Oak, Year 1 – Miss Inman
Ash, Year 2 – Miss Ford
Lime, Year 3 - Mr Green
Maple, Year 4 – Miss Park & Mrs Nicholls
Sycamore, Year 5 – Miss Tarbard
Cedar, Year 6 – Mr Thomas & Mrs Parker
You have probably exhausted a lot of your reading material by now and buying new books is not always an affordable option. Can I take this opportunity to remind you of the Oxford Owl website which is brilliant for home reading (www.oxfordowl.co.uk/books/free-ebooks/). It has a large FREE eBook Library and your child can do a mixture of reading the book and listening to the book being read to them.
It is a bit rainy at the moment (good for the gardens) but Sunday promises to be a nice day for a walk – which is exactly what I am planning. Have a lovely weekend.
Latest Update Sunday 17th May
Well it certainly has been quite a week! Schools have now become top of the agenda as the government’s aspiration to reopen for some year groups nears its target June 1st deadline.
When is Courtney Re-Opening?
At the moment, we are working through different scenarios in order to try to get the year groups prioritised by the government safely back into school, that is Reception, Year 1 and Year 6. Before we open, parents, staff and governors need to be assured that all risks have been carefully thought through and practice altered accordingly. The advice is still coming thick and fast so we are thoroughly reading any new guidance as it is published and cautiously putting together plans which would work at Courtney.
Our first action has been to find out which staff are available to teach and how many children in these year groups will be wanting a place. The groups will be no bigger than 14 children with as limited a range of adults in as we can make it; this has huge implications for who and where this can be safely organised.
If you have children in these year groups and have told us that you are intending to send them in, please can I urge caution and for you not to put personal plans in place which rely on this provision being on time, for the whole week or within the usual school start or finish times. (The initial thinking is for timings to be staggered to minimise social contact.)
Although June 1st is fast approaching, it is too early for us to share any definite planning and risk assessments at the current time but, rest assured, we will do this as soon and as clearly as we can.
The governing body are meeting virtually on Tuesday 19th and one of the main agenda items will be to discuss the school re-opening.
What will happen to Home Learning?
Our intention is to keep the home learning blogs continuing for those year groups who will not be coming to school. We will also need to continue to provide home learning for children whose parents from YR, Y1 and Y6 are choosing to keep them at home. One solution we are looking at is for the teachers who are not able to come into school to take over all or part of the blogs of the teachers who will be teaching.
What if I am a Key Worker?
The school will still be open for the key workers and vulnerable children who have been coming in since lockdown. We expect numbers to rise slightly as some new key workers who work in schools will need provision and will join the group. Just to clarify, this provision is for workers on the key worker list only and not for people who are going back to work in all sectors.
Thank you for your continued support and the nice messages we are getting.
My very best wishes to you all at the end of this sixth week of lockdown. It is such a long stretch and there is, as yet, no indication of when we will get back to normal. From what is being discussed, it seems that it will likely to be a staggered return but we do not have any more information than you from the government, and the local authority always hear at the same time as everyone else.
By now, you should each have already received a phone call from your child’s class teacher. If this has not happened, for any reason, please do let the office staff know and you will be contacted.
We continue to be very proud and impressed with the two-way interaction in the blogs; the quality of some of the work is amazing especially completed with often limited resources. I do find that I’m discovering all sorts of forgotten junk around my house which is suddenly becoming useful.
Whilst it is clearly apparent that the blogs are proving to be very good quality and stimulating, the ‘buy-in’ and motivation of the children varies widely. Even with our own teachers, those home-schooling are often finding it challenging especially if a child is reluctant to work or if you have several children to deal with. A clear timetable with times for play, relaxation and exercise are really important. All we can ask is that you do your best; a lot of people are struggling so be kind to yourself if it’s not perfect.
I cannot emphasise enough that the lockdown will be having a massive impact on the emotional wellbeing of both yourselves as parents or carers and that of your children. If your child is struggling to cope, I would just ask you to look at the Anxiety Leaflet which our Play Therapist, Kelly Mogg, has produced. It also has a lot of links to resources.
Whilst acknowledging that the solution to many of the wellbeing issues is for the children to be back at school, as you are aware, the Government has issued specific guidelines as to those children that may continue to attend. To summarise, schools may accept vulnerable children and the children of key workers if there are no alternative care options. We are working very hard to accommodate as many of these children as we can(We are already accommodating as many children as one of our two-form entry neighbouring primaries.) However, we cannot accept any children who do not fall within these catetories. Our priorities are still keeping safe, stopping the spread of the virus and supporting our NHS.
Update Sunday 19th April 2020
It has now been four weeks since the school was fully opened which is an awfully long time not to have seen most of you. Occasionally word reaches us about what is happening in different families but not always, so I do sincerely hope that our Courtney families are doing well and keeping healthy.
Working remotely does present challenges but we are all becoming much more creative in our approaches. Our Senior Leadership Meetings using Microsoft Teams have worked well over the past few weeks, so we have planned in a staff meeting on the first day back using the same programme. Fingers crossed it will all go as intended.
The plan is to use the same method for the governors’ meetings which have been scheduled for Term 5.
Term 4 and Easter
Although school has only been partially open, there has still been a lot of work going on. There has been a skeleton staff to work with the vulnerable children and children of our key workers. They have managed to work on the school garden, create a new path around the pond as well as completing the work set by the teachers. A huge thanks to the staff who volunteered to keep the school open over Easter, including the cleaning staff who have managed to clean key areas and equipment every day.
Each teacher has been working hard to write their daily blogs and provide exciting and engaging learning activities. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the children’s comments (and the teachers’ responses) and seeing some of the high-quality finished work which has been sent in by the children. So do keep them coming.
The office staff has been keeping systems and communication going through regularly responding to emails and telephone calls, much of it from their own homes - and our business manager has managed to complete the end of the financial year routines in such straitened cirumstances.
We have managed to keep support for those who need it with Mrs Matthews, our Family Link Worker, keeping in touch with families; and Miss Brown, our Special Needs Coordinator, continuing to complete reviews and provide suggestions for personalised work where needed.
Some things, of course have had to be postponed for the moment including any transition arrangements. As soon as we are given wider opening instructions, then we will decide the best course of action depending on the time scales.
Review and Reconnect
Within the next couple of weeks, we are going to contact every family to make sure that everyone is coping and to say hello to any children, starting with the families we haven’t heard from at all. We also want to make sure that the learning can be accessed and that the vast majority of it is being completed. As part of the review of how things are going, we will be sending out a questionnaire on Survey Monkey to see what you think of our blog-based learning platforms – what you like, how often you are accessing them and what could be improved. Your feedback will be much appreciated.
‘School’ starts again tomorrow, Monday 20th April, so it is back to the work set in each class’ daily blog, please. If you have any difficulty accessing it, remember to contact the school office and we can arrange for paper-based copies to be printed. If you need a new workbook, again, let us know and we can provide an extra one for you.
Resources to Support Parents/Carers from the Local Authority 10th April 2020
We know that this is a time of adjustment for families, and we want to give you advice to support you as much as possible.
We have recently launched a brand new support line and email address for parents and carers. You can contact us with your queries by email: SENDCovidEnquiry@southglos.gov.uk or by phone 01454 866123 (staffed between 9am – 1pm Monday to Friday). We aim to respond within 48 hours, and any questions sent to this email will be used to inform the FAQ mentioned below.
We have also produced a range of resources and support for SEND families by working closely with our partners, including South Glos Parents and Carers - not for profit CIC and Integra Schools:
• Check the new SENsational area of the Integra Home Learning website at: www.integra.co.uk/home-learning/sensational-resources/. These are resources chosen specifically to provide support for parents of children with special educational needs
• Read Issue 1 of the ‘SENsational learning ideas’ newsletter at: https://find-information-for-adults-children-families.south…, designed to support parents and carers with learning at home for children
• View the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and answers for parents and carers, which cover education, health and social care https://find-information-for-adults-children-families.south…. These will be updated over time to include additional information based on what we’re being asked during this time
• Remember that Supportive Parents, the local SENDIAS service offer free, impartial and confidential information, advice and support to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and their parents/carers. Visit www.supportiveparents.org.uk/contact-us/
You can keep up to date with the latest information and advice regarding coronavirus (Covid-19) on the council website at www.southglos.gov.uk/coronavirus. Our SEND Local Offer www.southglos.gov.uk/SENDlocaloffer also contains useful information.
Coronavirus and Courtney Friday 20th March Update
Dear Parents and Carers,
We have now got a plan for the near future for our school and our school community. Thank you to all of you who have acted in the spirit of the government aims (to keep the country going) and agreed to keep your child at home if your work is not essential or you can find alternative childcare.
We have managed to keep the numbers down to about 30 children (but as I write are awaiting a few confirmations).
We have now communicated with all families and have as comprehensive list as we can about who is coming in and who is staying at home.
Please can we ask you to let us know as soon as you can if your child is expected in school but is not attending. This is so that we can keep our safeguarding systems in place.
If you have asked for a place as a key worker but no longer need it, please cancel the place as soon as your situation changes – the fewer the children the smaller the risk of spreading the virus.
If you only need a place on a part-time basis then it is fine to send your child in only on those days but do let us know in advance.
If your child is coming into school, they do not need to wear their uniform. Although they will be doing some work, this is more of a childcare approach than an ‘at school’ approach so we want it to feel different. Please bear in mind that the children may go outside and may get dirty.
School dinners will be available for children in school if you choose that option but will probably be the packed lunch format. If your child normally pays for a dinner, these will be charged for in the usual way.
Whether your child is at home or at school, we recommend that they have a timetable that is agreed and stuck to for each day. The teachers will be setting work each day using the class blog and this is what should be used to structure the day.
Joe Wicks is setting up an exercise for children class every morning at 9am so that might be worth a Google.
We fully appreciate that finances will be very tight for some of you – and for some of you not used to being in that situation. Mrs Matthews has access to foodbank vouchers and we are hearing rumours of other vouchers being available soon. If you are experiencing hardship, please do contact the school and we’ll see what we can do to support.
There will be staff at school every day so do feel free to get in touch should you need to. Leave a message if there is no-one in the office to answer your call.
The blog-system we are using should allow you and your child to communicate with your teacher each day if you need any advice about the work they are setting – or just to say hello. The teachers will be updating their blogs daily and will check for messages at least a couple of times during the school day.
Do still let us know if there is anything happening in your family which you think we need to know.
Things will no doubt change and I will endeavour to keep in touch with you all regularly.
I wish to thank the fabulous Courtney team who have worked so hard and well together to cover absences, to reassure children and to put things into place in a quickly changing climate. A special thanks to Mrs Westcott and Mrs Belton, neither of whom usually work on Fridays, who were able to make those valuable phone calls this morning after the late key worker announcement.
Best wishes to you all. Keep in touch.
Our community will be having varied experiences at the moment ranging from self-isolation and social distancing to being overwhelmed with work in front line jobs and volunteering to fill gaps. Please do contact school if you think we can be of any support. Mrs Matthews, our Family Link Worker, has been busy keeping in touch with families she sometimes works with but do contact her if you need signposting or just to unload with a chat.
I hope that you are enjoying the blogs the teachers are writing - I am although I am not doing the work. We are all loving the comments and the work which is being emailed through. It brightens up each morning when I look through what has been happening in each class.
Due to the current circumstances, I have offered to defer my retirement until Christmas. Clearly, the headteacher recruitment process had to stop so there won't be any appointment made until the situation changes. I want to support the staff, children and families by making sure the school is as consistent as I can do once we are given the go ahead to return.
We will be able to keep the school open over the Easter holidays for our key workers. Again, only send your child in if you have absolutely no other provision in order to keep other children our volunteer staff members as safe as we can.