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The Buckingham School

The Buckingham School

DfE Guidance for full opening: schools - Headteacher Update as at 3 July 2020

As you will have heard on the radio and on TV, yesterday the Government published its guidance for the planned return to school for all pupils in the Autumn Term. The guidance can be found here:

A In a nutshell, we are expecting all students back in September, wearing full school uniform with pride, with a full set of equipment, and ready to learn. You are required by law to send your children to school in September. There will be a full curriculum, though initially there will be limitations on practical subjects and extra-curricular activity.

The Government document gives us clear direction on some aspects of re-opening and allows us the decision-making necessary to reflect local factors. The document acknowledges that we cannot create a risk-free environment. We’ve worked hard as a school, learned a great deal and we are confident that we can balance and minimise any risks from Coronavirus (COVID-19) with providing a full educational experience for children and young people.

We will be ready for three broad scenarios that may present themselves in the next school year: -

  • Virus no longer prevalent in society and therefore full normality returning
  • The scenario the guidance covers: living with the virus and doing what is possible to minimise risk
  • Another lockdown, whether it be local or national

There are a number of principles driving our detailed planning now. Rigorous implementation of the Public Health England ‘system of controls’ will reduce the risk of transmission and make the school safer and so our actions will be driven by this. This will include:

  • Making sure people who are ill stay at home.
  • Making sure that our immediate response to anyone at school with symptoms is secure and confident.
  • Reviewing our systems and facilities in place to support robust hand and respiratory hygiene when all pupils and staff have returned to school.
  • Reviewing our cleaning arrangements so that we can maintain enhanced hygiene across the school site. 
  • Making sure we are absolutely clear about how active engagement with NHS Test and Trace will work as more staff and pupils return to site, so that we can continue to keep everyone as safe as possible.

We will also be planning a revised way of running the school to reduce contacts and maximise distancing between those in school wherever possible, minimising the potential for contamination so far as is reasonably practicable. Our initial plans will be looking at:

  • Phasing the return of the school community in the first week. (Phasing the return will ensure that staff and students are fully trained in the new routines and expectations.)
  • Maximising student access to a full curriculum entitlement.
  • Considering what we are able to do to manage the school day with groups avoiding contact with each other as much as possible – there are significant limitations on what is possible in this regard.
  • Ensuring that staff are able to maintain distance from pupils and other staff by arranging our classrooms and modifying shared areas to accommodate this.
  • Highly co-ordinated timings of movement and circulation around the building will also form part of our control measures here.
  • Rigorous risk assessment of practical subjects so that we are clear about how we will ensure that our children continue to have a broad and balanced experience whilst still keeping safe.
  • Detailed planning of our extra-curricular provision; this is likely to be phased in over time.

In readiness for September, the full school timetable is in place, and the staffing and resources are all ready, in anticipation of teaching the full curriculum. We have liaised with other local schools and I meet with all of the Secondary Head Teachers in Buckinghamshire, to share our planning for the different scenarios that we may face.

We will not commit to all of the planning being ready by the end of the term, because the quality of it is more important at this stage. We will share our plans when they are ready, well before September.

With my very best wishes

Mr A McGinnes, Headteacher