Communication from the Head
Tuesday 23 June 2020
Please click here to see a copy of the COVID-19 – A Risk Assessment for UK Schools.
Thursday 11 June 2020
Returning to school
On Tuesday afternoon Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education, made a statement about the return of primary school children to school. As part of the statement he said:
‘While we are not able to welcome all primary children back for a full month before the summer, we continue to work with the sector on the next steps where we’d like to see schools who have the capacity to bring back more children in those smaller class sizes to do so if they are able to before the summer holidays.’
Yesterday was spent following up on this announcement and trying to get clarity about what we are able to do and when. It read like more of a statement to state schools by the use of the words ‘the sector’ but we are not sure.
The DFE have said that nothing has changed for the moment and we should hear further details ‘in the next few days’ which we are waiting on. We will continue to plan for the possibility of getting more children back to school, but cannot promise when this will be and whether it will affect all year groups. As soon as we get greater clarity we can risk assess our options and see what is feasible. We want to keep you informed as much as possible.
Thank you for your continued patience.
End of Term
One decision we do want to make now regards the end of term. Ultra Violet have had a super year. They all did tremendously well in their 11+ exams and deserve huge congratulations. They have also had their final terms at Unicorn disrupted. It is good that they are now back in school, albeit with restrictions, and we want to make their final days as memorable for them as possible. Due to social distancing rules we will not be able to have assemblies in the Hall, with all parents, as would normally be the case. We will plan the specifics nearer the time but I can confirm that the final Friday of term, 10 July will be reserved as a ‘UV day’ to take whatever form is feasible at the time. Therefore, the end of term for all other classes will be Thursday 9 July. We don’t yet know exactly who will be physically in school and who won’t but please plan for the end of term to be Thursday 9 July for all classes except UV, with staggered finish times as they are now. We hope to organise some kind of school celebration on that day, but clearly there are constraints.
Thank you for the overwhelmingly positive support of the teachers and the school.
Monday 1 June 2020
CORONAVIRUS Response Plan 2020
This document applies to all children at Unicorn School, including those in the EYFS
This document is an addition to the Crisis and Emergency Disaster – Emergency Plan and should be read in conjunction with the First Aid Policy and the Health & Safety Policy
Staff Member: Head
Governors’ Committee: Risk & Compliance / Education & Staffing
Preparation for the phased Reopening the School.
We shall be following guidance from the Government, as well as PHE, NHS, AGBIS, ISBA, ISC and IAPS guidance, replacing with the latest versions as appropriate.
We also speak to fellow Bursars, Head Teachers and other contacts we have in the professions.
Weekly whole staff meetings, twice weekly SLT meeting, some other smaller grouped staff meetings, and regular contact between key decision makers. Governors, including Finance and Risk Committees, involved in preparing for the school to be open. Governor approval is required before we can open on 1 June.
We refer closely to the guidance from the Government on reopening primary schools: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/preparing-for-the-wider-opening-of-schools-from-1-june/planning-guide-for-primary-schools
The existing guidance Action for schools during the coronavirus outbreak and Actions for early years and childcare providers during the coronavirus outbreak have both been updated to take account of the phased return on 1 June with a summary of the preparations needed.
Guidance for implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings
Also refer to guidance on opening schools for more children and young people: initial planning framework for schools in England.
And, guidance for parents and carers.
ISBI Risk Assessments and ISBI Planning Guide.
Completed and Saved on SLT secure site; reviewed by Risk Committee and approved by Board prior to reopening of the school.
Templates in the appendices.
Unicorn plan for phased Re-opening
Delivery of Education.
Preparing the site.
- Health and Safety check of the building.
- Review Fire Drill and practise.
- Cleaning and hygiene – check soap and hot water, tissues, hand sanitiser, lidded bins in classrooms, double bagging of waste
- To reduce contact between different groups of children and adults.
- Spread out pupils in classrooms and minimise resources – remove items which cannot be wiped clean – soft toys, cushions and rugs –
- Display posters throughout the building.
- Risk assessment – ongoing (See ISBA Risk Assessment and ISBA planning for reopening.)
- Thorough cleaning
Reviewing staff for availability in school
- Email correspondence to identify staff availability – various categories have been considered. Including:
- Clinically extremely vulnerable staff.
- Clinically vulnerable staff
- A member of staff lives with someone who is clinically vulnerable.
- A member of staff lives in a household with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable.
- Staff will need reassurance and staffing may change if their situation changes. Weekly declarations.
- Staff ratios
- Staff have been consulted and regularly kept updated.
- We have caretaker, cleaning, office staff available to help with regular cleaning in addition to the professional cleaners each evening.
Creating and staffing temporary teaching groups.
- Class of Key Workers to continue, including some children invited in as part of the ‘vulnerable’ category.
- Attendance and reporting – daily data returns to continue for key worker children.
- Registration for other classes will return as per normal.
- Record those who choose not to attend and the reasons but only for internal purposes; no reporting to authorities for those who decide not to send children.
- Important to reduce contact between people as much as possible – pupils and staff should only mix in small consistent groups or ‘bubbles. Reinforce social distancing rules.
- Maximum class sizes will be 11 but likely to be less than that.
- Plan for the return of all eligible pupils and then adjust as needed – parents have been asked about their intentions.
- Staff coming off furlough
Practical steps to reduce risk.
- Stagger start and finish times – parents to be advised in advance in reopening letter/email to be sent.
- Signage for parents to indicate drop off and pick up points is up and will be included in reopening letter.
- Suggest only one parent to drop off/pick up.
- No gathering at school gates.
- Stagger arrangements for break and lunchtime supervision and play.
- School will isolate a child who shows symptoms and they will go home.
- Parents must not send a child with symptoms and the government guidance on quarantine must still be followed.
- Ensure staff are safe at lunchtime/break – one-way in upstairs staffroom, only one member of staff in ground floor kitchen and coach house kitchen at a time.
- Assemblies: continue to record and show to children in their classrooms.
- Snacks and lunch –packed lunches, snacks and water bottles are the only things to go home each evening.
External support for SEND and behaviour.
- Learning Support to continue with JR & JZ.
- Be aware that some children returning to school may display symptoms of stress/anxiety – liaise with class teachers, HL (Infants) and PF (Juniors), and parents.
Changes to routines for staff and pupils.
- Expectations of the children’s behaviour, and the way they conduct themselves, will be explained to all pupils in addition to the normal behaviour policy.
- Staff will need to remind the pupils about hand washing, health and hygiene.
- Limit the number of shared resources taken home by staff and children. No books taken home.
- Teachers should wash their hands and surfaces before and after handling pupils’ books.
- Washing of clothes/uniform after a day in school – staff and pupils.
- Change in drop off and pick up routines.
- Queuing system to welcome each child in the mornings to ensure that they wash their hands when they enter the building and go straight to the classroom.
- Parents with children who have separation anxiety will be compassionately looked after.
- No visitors.
- If parents need to see a member of staff – this should be by appointment only in a suitable safe space
Communicating with Staff
- Zoom staff meeting on Friday 29 May, in addition to the weekly staff meetings that have been occurring, to go through arrangements with staff – continue to share key documents/decisions with staff through email and Firefly.
- Encourage regular feedback from staff on the arrangements and adjust risk assessments as necessary.
- Be visible/available to staff.
Communicating with parents.
- Regular communication through email, letter and phone calls where necessary with clear expectations.
- Parents have been emailed asking whether their child will be attending school from 1 June.
- There will be clear written communication to parents detailing what protective steps we’re taking to make the school a low-risk place for their child.
- There will also be clear written communication detailing what we need them to do (such as drop off and collection).
- There will also be clear written communication about the teaching and learning for the second half of term.
Managing pupil and staff wellbeing and mental health
- Staff need to consider impact of lockdown on the children.
- Bereavements? Ask parents about this and any other factors we should know about which may have affected their child.
- Staff will consider PSHE discussions / Circle Time – experiences of home schooling, mental well-being, friendships, adapting to the new routines/rules.
- Staff need to be alert to Safeguarding disclosures.
- Leadership need to be alert to the well-being of all our staff.
Planning what to teach and how
- Full curriculum with class teachers delivering lessons, including delivering lessons that have been planned by specialist teachers on Firefly/Tapestry.
- Focus on English and Maths.
- PE lessons can take place but strictly non-contact.
- Resocialisation discussions/activities.
- Catch up planned as identified.
- Careful use of toys/resources – need to be washed after use.
- UV – be mindful that there will be sadness/disappointment about the events which would normally take place at the end of the year. Particular consideration to be given to Leavers’ Assembly and UV Play.
- Induction to Senior Schools may happen remotely, support may be needed.
- We will ensure all transfer information is passed on to Senior Schools.
Home education during the wider opening
- Need to find a balance between teaching face to face and continuing to support those classes not in school and those pupils whose parents have elected not to return their child to school.
- Those classes not in school will continue with a full Home Learning service which will be refreshed for the second half of term.
- Discussions are ongoing on how to support children whose parents have elected not to return them to school – the numbers involved will affect the decision but we expect it to be a detailed service.
Pupils will have to adapt their usual school behaviour in recognition that they will need to:
- follow any altered routines for arrival or departure
- follow school instructions on hygiene, such as handwashing and sanitising
- follow instructions on who they can socialise with at school
- move around the school as per specific instructions
- follow respiratory hygiene advice about sneezing, coughing, tissues and disposal (‘catch it, bin it, kill it’) and avoiding touching mouth, nose and eyes with hands
- tell an adult if they are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus
- know rules about sharing any equipment or other items including drinking bottles
- understate the amended expectations about breaks or play times, including where children may or may not play
- be told about the use of toilets
- be told clear rules about coughing or spitting at or towards any other person
The school will identify any reasonable adjustments that need to be made for students with more challenging behaviour.
Principles for staff – in addition to the Code of Conduct in the Staff Handbook.
- Do not come to work if you have coronavirus symptoms, or go home as soon as these develop (informing a member of SLT), and access a test as soon as possible.
- Clean your hands more often than usual – with running water and soap and dry them thoroughly or use alcohol hand rub or sanitiser ensuring that all parts of the hands are covered.
- Use the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces often using standard products provided by the school.
- Think about ways to modify your teaching approach to keep a distance from children in your class as much as possible, particularly close face to face support (noting that it’s understood that this is not possible at all times, which is why hygiene and hand cleaning is so important).
- Consider avoiding calling pupils to the front of the class or going to their desk to check on their work if not necessary.
- Help your class to follow the rules on hand cleaning, not touching their faces, ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ etc. including by updating your classrooms displays with posters.
- Prevent your class from sharing equipment and resources (like stationery).
- Keep your classroom door and windows open if possible for air flow.
- Limit the number of children from your class using the toilet at any one time.
- Limit your contact with other staff members, and don’t congregate in shared spaces, especially if they are small rooms. There will be a one-way system through the upstairs staff room. There should not be more than one person in the coach house kitchen or downstairs kitchen, at a time.
- Consider carefully the classroom environment and limit the number of items and objects that the children can touch.
- Make sure you’ve read how the pupils are expected to adapt their behaviour during the phased reopening of schools.
Write emails/letters to parents:
- Health & Safety
these will include the protective steps the school has taken and what the parents need to do – e.g. drop off/collection/lunch/no soft toys/washing uniform daily etc.
- Parents have the right to choose whether or not to send their child to school.
- School will only be open for Red, Orange, Yellow and UV, the children of key workers and some in the ‘vulnerable’ category.
- It is the School’s right to make modifications if the situation changes – e.g. as more classes return we may need to move to a rota system in order to keep to the safety guidance.
The School’s Continuing Response.
The School will keep abreast of the latest advice from Public Health England (“PHE”) together with that from the NHS.
If anyone in an education or childcare setting becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, or has a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste of smell (anosmia), they must be sent home and advised to follow the COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection guidance.
If a child is awaiting collection, they should be moved, if possible, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door, depending on the age of the child and with appropriate adult supervision if required. Ideally, a window should be opened for ventilation. If it is not possible to isolate them, move them to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people.
If they need to go to the bathroom while waiting to be collected, they should use a separate bathroom if possible. The bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products before being used by anyone else.
PPE should be worn by staff caring for the child while they await collection if a distance of 2 metres cannot be maintained (such as for a very young child or a child with complex needs).
In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital.
If a member of staff has helped someone with symptoms, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves (and in which case, a test is available) or the child subsequently tests positive (see ‘What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in a setting?’ below). They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell. Cleaning the affected area with normal household disinfectant after someone with symptoms has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people. See the COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings guidance.
What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in a setting?
When a child, young person or staff member develops symptoms compatible with coronavirus, they should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 7 days. Their fellow household members should self-isolate for 14 days. All staff and students who are attending an education or childcare setting will have access to a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus, and are encouraged to get tested in this scenario.
Where the child, young person or staff member tests negative, they can return to their setting and the fellow household members can end their self-isolation.
Where the child, young person or staff member tests positive, the rest of their class or group within their childcare or education setting should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of that wider class or group do not need to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member they live with in that group subsequently develops symptoms.
As part of the national test and trace programme, if other cases are detected within the cohort or in the wider setting, Public Health England’s local health protection teams will conduct a rapid investigation and will advise schools and other settings on the most appropriate action to take. In some cases a larger number of other children, young people may be asked to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure – perhaps the whole class, site or year group. Where settings are observing guidance on infection prevention and control, which will reduce risk of transmission, closure of the whole setting will not generally be necessary.
Reminders to children
Remind the children on a regular basis of the simple steps they can be taking to minimise the spread of all respiratory illnesses including COVID-19. Reminders about washing hands correctly are in each toilet area. information.
Teaching Staff Absence.
The school uses Firefly as a Learning Platform to deliver remote lessons through Home Teaching and Learning. In the event of School closure or the School is open but staff are ill/in isolation, cover staff can access teaching tasks though Firefly.
Further advice and guidance can be found through the website for the Government (gov.uk) (DFE), Public Health England (PHE) and the NHS.
Department for Education Coronavirus helpline
DFE have launched a helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)
Friday 29 May 2020
I hope you and your family have had an enjoyable half term.
Since my letter at the end of last week you will have been contacted by your child’s class teacher, who will have given some detail about the second half of term, whether it is providing more home education for your child, or teaching and learning in school. Like everything at the moment, it is with the understanding that things can change very quickly.
In addition, for those returning to school on Monday, Mr Gladstone has been in touch about the dropping to school arrangements. Please, the fewer people that come to the school site at drop off and pick up times, the safer we will be. Where possible, it should just be the one adult who is dropping off the children and the two-metre distancing rule should be applied when lining up; the staggered drop off times mentioned should make this a relatively easy process.
There have been no further significant changes to the guidance, accept of course to the Test and Trace. This could have a significant impact on who can attend school and so I urge you to maintain social distancing to minimise the impact on your own health, but also in the running of the school. If we keep rigidly to government guidance, and then pupils mix with friends after school, it negates the point of these restrictions.
I now want to focus on the softer but perhaps more important dimensions of the current situation, with some children returning to school and some not. The wellbeing of everyone in the community has been affected during the pandemic and at school we want to help your children as best we can.
Relationships may be different. We would love everyone to return to school, or remain at home, and be happy and cheerful all the time. My assembly on Monday will focus on the need to try to remain cheerful in adversity, however, we can’t expect all the children to return joyfully. Many of the relationships that were thriving will need to be restored and time will need to be spent on returning them to how they were before. As staff, we have talked about this in school and are planning to help, as we can’t just assume that everything will be ok. We will be welcoming the children back and helping them to rekindle relationships, which should cushion any discomfort felt by returning to school.
Children have learnt and laughed and been educated within the school community for terms, and years, depending on their age. They have now been out of the community for a period of time and so, as a school, we will listen to them and try to understand what it has been like away from school, and what they think about returning to school. We will focus on the traditional values and virtues associated with Unicorn to help with the transitioning back into the school community.
However well your child has taken to home schooling, the broad curriculum has been different. We will be open with your children and show how we are going to address any gaps; supporting pupils and parents with openness and transparency. It is worth remembering, pupils across the country have been away from school, and many of them have not had the level of home education Unicorn pupils have received.
It is very important that we do not create too much pressure to get back to normal too quickly. Your children will need space to rediscover themselves within the school environment and to find comfort in their school learning again. We want the children to rebuild their confidence in an unpressurised environment.
Alongside all of this, we are fully aware that children are all individuals and respond differently to different situations. Those children who will continue to receive home learning also need the opportunity to get support from school. As well as class Zoom sessions, and some opportunities for small group Zoom work, please speak with your teachers if you or your child need some individual emotional support. No one can predict when we will be back living and educating as normal, but I hope we can all be there to support each other, and our children, as best we can.
We are very sorry that we cannot welcome all the children back to school yet. We will see some of them on Monday and look forward to seeing you all very soon.
Friday 22 May 2020
Thank you for your support and well done to your children for all their hard work over the past few weeks.
Following up a recent email, if you haven’t already, please could you email me email@example.com and Lisa Jones Headspa@unciornschool.org.uk if you DO NOT intend for your child to come back to school after half term.
I wish all your families a restful half term.
Preparation for Monday 1 June.
Those classes NOT on the government’s list to return to school.
(Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet.)
These classes will continue to receive the Home Learning programme currently on offer.
There will be some tweaks to the delivery and you will receive information on this from Mrs Fraley and your child’s class teacher before term starts again.
Those classes due to return to school on Monday 1 June.
(Red, Orange, Yellow and Ultra Violet.)
These classes will be taught on site but the school will operate differently which will result in changes to the way they work, play and move around the school.
You will receive communication before school opens from class teachers which will include information such as:
- Who will be in each teaching group (see later information about this).
- The timings of the staggered drop off / pick up time for each group (these will be different from the normal 0820-0830 drop off time for most groups)
- What the curriculum/timetable will look like
- How the classroom/playground will look
- What home learning will look like for those who don’t come in.
Those children from eligible classes who elect not to return to school will continue to receive home learning provision which will be similar to what they are receiving at the moment. Your class teacher will communicate this with you.
How the school will operate.
Plans for the first phase of schools reopening on Monday 1 June are wholly based on Government guidelines. We request that you comply with these procedures in the interest of your child, other children, teachers and parents.
This above link is specific guidance for parents. You can access more guidance from the DfE Website.
The children in school.
The following is taken from government guidance and reviewed through our risk assessments.
- Each class will be divided into two groups.
- Each group will then become a ‘bubble’.
- They will be with this group in class, playtimes and lunchtimes.
- There will be a minimum of two members of staff assigned to each group.
- No member of staff or child can move between groups. This means that if a member of that group becomes ill only that group is affected.
- Red and Orange will be divided into a total of three groups between the two classes.
- The playground will be divided in two.
- Certain equipment such as hula-hoops, skipping ropes etc. will stay with each group and cleaned after use.
- Climbing apparatus will be wiped down regularly during the day.
- Break-times will be staggered so that no more than two groups will be in the playground at once, and they will be in separate parts of the playground.
- There will be opportunities for some lessons to be held outside with extra gazebos purchased to provide shelter.
- Red and Orange will use the coach house toilets.
- Yellow will use the junior toilets; boys and girls.
- UV will use the two downstairs adult toilets.
- Staff will use the adult toilets upstairs and the adult toilet in the coach house.
Cleaning & Hygiene.
- Children will be encouraged to wash hands regularly throughout the day and be reminded how to follow respiratory hygiene rules. There will be posters around the school.
- DfE guidance says that face coverings should not be worn in any circumstances by those who may not be able to handle them as directed, as it may inadvertently increase the risk of transmission. Therefore, pupils should not wear face masks in school.
- The school will have the equivalent of ten hours of professional cleaning each evening.
- School staff will continue to clean surfaces throughout the school day.
- We will minimise the use of resources and toys, and they will be cleaned after use. Soft toys will be kept to a minimum.
Drop off and pick up from school.
- There should be no lift sharing and only one adult to accompany the child to school.
- Each group will have a dedicated 10 minute drop off window. You must endeavour to arrive within your allotted window and not earlier or later.
- Do not linger on the forecourt or outside the school gates.
- Follow the one-way system upon entry into the forecourt and keep to the social distancing markers.
- If your child will be absent for the day please send an email to absences as usual and the class teacher.
- If you have told us that your child will not be coming back to school for the foreseeable future, there is no need to send an email to absences each day.
What to bring:
- Clothes worn in school should be washed each evening and so the children will NOT be expected to wear uniform.
- The normal school lunch provision will not be available and so children will need to bring a packed lunch, a snack and a water bottle each day.
Lunch boxes and drinking flasks should be simple, compact and clearly named on the outside.
Packed lunches should contain healthy options; cans or bottles of fizzy drinks are not allowed.
Nut spreads, peanut butter or any food containing nuts must NOT be brought into school.
- A cap or sun hat as required.
- All other books and equipment for school should remain in school.
The teachers will be sending class specific emails next week.
- On the first morning, it will be explained clearly to the children how they should conduct themselves throughout the day. We recognise that it may take time to adjust to another significant change in their daily routine.
- We will be asking parents to keep us updated on their household’s situation.
- We ask parents to be patient as we have to be flexible with these operations depending on how they work and how guidance changes.
Significant changes to the operation of the school will only be altered when we get specific guidance from the Government and Public Health England, which is always followed up by specific advice from the various associations we are members of, particularly; IAPS, the Independent Association of Prep Schools; ISBA, the Independent Schools Bursars Association; AGBIS The Association of Governing Bodies of Independent Schools.
As well as the possibility of these restrictions being loosened, it is also possible that they may need to be tightened again, which would affect how the school can operate.
If guidance changes before Monday 1 June we will resend this letter with relevant changes.
The risk assessments carried out in order to open the school are based upon the attendance of the four specified classes. We will need to carry out additional risk assessments and make necessary changes if more year groups are allowed to start coming to school again which may include children coming to school on a rotational basis.
We are not allowed to have additional classes in school until the guidance changes, and no London IAPS school will be deviating from this guidance.
Do not leave home if you or someone you live with has any of the following:
· a high temperature
· a new, continuous cough
· a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste
What happens if there is a confirmed case of coronavirus in my child’s school, college or childcare setting?
When a child, young person or staff member develops symptoms compatible with coronavirus, they should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 7 days. Their fellow household members should self-isolate for 14 days. All staff and students who are attending an education or childcare setting will have access to a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus.
Where the child, young person or staff member tests positive, the rest of their class/group within their childcare or education setting should be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of that wider class/group do not need to self-isolate unless the child, young person or staff member they live with in that group subsequently develops symptoms.
As part of the national test and trace programme, if other cases are detected within the child or young person’s cohort or in the wider education or childcare setting, Public Health England’s local Health Protection Teams will conduct a rapid investigation and will advise schools and other settings on the most appropriate action to take. In some cases, a larger number of other children and young people may be asked to self-isolate at home as a precautionary measure – perhaps the whole class, site or year group.
Where settings are observing guidance on infection prevention and control, which will reduce risk of transmission, closure of the whole setting will not generally be necessary.
Sunday 17 May 2020
Please watch the following message from Mr Thompson:
Wednesday 13 May 2020
The government have announced that there will be a phased return of pupils to primary schools after half term.
Although it is conditional, we are planning for Red, Orange, Yellow and UV to return to school on Monday 1 June with the expectation that other classes will follow sometime before July.
With these four classes in school full time we believe we can manage to follow the government’s guidelines on social distancing in primary schools. Thorough risk assessments are taking place and details of how the school will operate will be given in due course. However, in the event of being able to open up to more classes in the future, it is unlikely that we will be able to cater for all the children on site at the same time, if the social distancing conditions are to remain as they are. This is looking into the future and advice may change, but it is worth you being aware of the difficulties we will all continue to face during the Summer Term.
Please click on ‘Guidance for Parents and Carers’ document from the government which, if you haven’t already, I urge you to read.
My reason for emailing today is to ask if you intend to send you children back to school when they are allowed to return. This is for all classes, not just those due to return on Monday 1 June. It is very important for our planning that we have a decent guide of the number of pupils to expect.
We strongly encourage children to attend school unless they are self-isolating or there are other legitimate reasons.
Instead of everyone replying, please only respond if you DO NOT intend to send your children to school, which of course is your right. I appreciate that your thoughts might change as the overall picture changes, this is just for guidance.
You should email me and Lisa: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
At the moment we cannot answer all the questions you will have, and more details will follow before reopening, especially about how we intend to operate in as safe and risk free manner as possible given the age of the children and the nature of the school building.
The safety of pupils and staff remain our top priority in all decision making.
A few points I can mention now:
• We are not able to change the year groups who come into school, or add a year group, until government advice changes. The independent sector has schools with differing structures and there is lobbying to the government about flexibility with this, but at the moment we do not have any flexibility.
• We will limit the amount of contact between different groups of children through smaller class sizes with children and staff spread out more. (More information on this will come, so please wait for that email.)
• Additional protective measures, such as increased cleaning will take place.
• We will continue to promote regular hand washing and ensuring good respiratory hygiene.
• We will continue to offer places to priority groups – vulnerable children and children of critical workers.
• Siblings from different year groups (Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet) who are not children of critical workers will need to stay at home at this stage.
• Children should not attend school if they, or a member of the household, has symptoms of Coronavirus.
Please read the guidance for fuller details from the government.
Please only reply to this email if your intention is that your child DOES NOT return to school given the current situation.
Thank you for your continuing support.
Tuesday 5 May 2020
Many of you will be aware that next academic year we celebrate the 50th Birthday of Unicorn School. The school opened in September 1970 and moved into 238 Kew Road in May 1971. Local parents and teachers made great sacrifices, financially and with their time, to enable the school to open; they were determined to do it so that Kew had this wonderful school which was ahead of its time in terms of its values and ethos. As we clearly state on our website; the intentions of the school’s founders still remain at the forefront of our thinking. They created a school that educates children without a hot-house approach, encouraging them to flourish creatively and enjoy the process of learning. This is underpinned by parental involvement and the strong community which exists, with mutual respect and understanding between pupils, parents and staff.
I believe that 50 years on, we still have a wonderful school, which has remained true to the intentions of our founders, whilst moving forward as modern pedagogy requires us to do.
Parents and staff are currently making great professional and personal sacrifices in order to look after the physical and mental health of your families, to ensure continuity in your children’s education, albeit in a different environment and in a different manner. By supporting the school, you are also ensuring that it will continue as strong as it was before, when we get back to normal.
Although it feels like an eternity for many of us, schools have not been closed for that long in the overall scheme of their educational journey. Children are generally resilient and positive, and so when they do start coming back, they will adapt quickly to the change and their learning will respond accordingly.
In recent days there have been many reports about how and when schools might reopen but, if we are honest, this is all speculation and most of it pretty unhelpful. I am hoping that following the next government review this Thursday, and then a speech by the Prime Minister on Sunday, we will have a better idea about how school reopening, along with the loosening of other restrictions, might happen; we will then have a period of time to start preparing in earnest. There are ongoing discussions in school, however we cannot suitably risk assess and prepare for reopening properly until we have specific guidance from the government, Public Health England and our independent school representatives. We will of course keep you updated as decisions are made.
Thank you for continuing your positive communication with the school regarding home learning and related matters. It has been heart-warming to read what children have been getting up to and to see all the wonderful photographs and videos that have been sent in. I hope to be able to end my assembly on Monday with a montage of the photographs that have been sent in so far. In any case, each class also has a selection of photographs that you should be able to access in Firefly, under their classes and Photo Gallery.
Although every family is working under different conditions, we appreciate the sacrifices that you are making for your children, and for the future of Unicorn. Thank you.
Monday 20 April 2020
Dear Unicorn Children
I am sure your Easter holiday has been very different to normal, mine certainly has and I hope you are happy and looking forward to enjoying a new way of learning. It is going to be very different, but I know it is also going to be a fun and valuable experience for us all.
Remember that you are very special people and, whatever you might find challenging in the weeks ahead, don’t forget that there are people around you, at school and at home, who want to care and support you.
Tomorrow morning you can sign up to listen to my first assembly of term. Like you, I am getting used to using technology to do things that I wouldn’t normally do, and so it isn’t the same as a normal assembly. I am sorry if it feels a bit odd – perhaps I will get better at it next week and then even better the week after … Let’s hope so!
While you are at home I want to ask you to do four things in particular for me:
1. BE KIND
Be kind to your families, make your bed, help with the washing up, do anything that helps your parents and your brothers and sisters.
Be kind online. Think carefully before you write or send anything online. Is this kind? Is this the right thing to do?
2. WORK HARD
Using Firefly and Zoom will be new and exciting, but there may also be difficulties. As long as you try your best with your work, then that is all we can ask for. There is lots of work that can be done which doesn’t involve technology and I know you will enjoy such things as reading, writing stories and diaries, being artistic, playing music, doing sport, and so much more, that doesn’t require a computer. Remember to ask your teacher questions; they are here to help you.
3. ENJOY YOURSELF
Be creative. There are so many ways you can have fun. I wonder if you can try to take up things you haven’t done before. Whatever the limitations of staying at home, try to be sporty, dramatic, musical, arty, and of course smiley 😊. I wonder if you can record yourself singing, dancing, reciting a poem or even putting on a mini-play.
There are so many ways to relax, reading a book, listening to music, taking time out for reflection, mindfulness or yoga.
The term starts tomorrow and you and your parents will have received lots of information about how we have organised the home learning experience for you. Keep in touch, send in your artwork, recordings and photographs so that we can share them altogether.
If you watch my assembly tomorrow you will hear me read a poem, ‘The Quangle Wangle’s Hat.’ I wonder if you could make your own ‘Quangle Wangle Hat’, take a photograph and email it in to Mrs Jones. You can draw and colour it, paint or make one with materials at home; I look forward to seeing a range of hats!
Finally, a bit of fun. If you can ask your parents if you can watch the video below, where there is a little bit of fun that staff have prepared for you to see. I hope you enjoy it.
Good luck everyone and remember, Be Kind, Work Hard, Enjoy Yourselves and Relax.
Thursday 26 March 2020
Please click here to see an end of term message from Mr Thompson, Headmaster.