Weekly Update from the Head

Monday 11 January

Dear Parents/Carers

I hope that you and your families are staying well.

Critical worker update

These are very serious times for us all. Infection rates in London are reported to be as high as 1 in 30 and the Mayor has declared a ‘major incident’ because there is a very real risk of the NHS in London being overwhelmed. The new variant of the virus is clearly much more infectious than before and the message is clear – we must all stay at home and the majority of children should not be in school. We must all do everything we can to reduce our contact with other people at this time.

In response to this, the Department for Education updated its guidance on provision in school for critical workers. This guidance was changed on Friday afternoon and now states that “children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school or college if required, but parents and carers should keep their children at home if they can.”

Given the seriousness of the situation we are all facing, I would urge all critical worker parents who have requested a place in school for their children to only send their children in when there is no alternative. The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, said in an interview over the weekend, “Schools are there for key workers’ children where key workers need to have children in school in order to be able to get to work.” He stated that if you are a key worker and your partner does not work then you should not be sending your children to school.

While we are doing everything as before to make the school as COVID-safe as we can, coming in to school and mixing with children from other households and with a range of adults each day runs the risk of children potentially passing the virus on to others at home or in school. This is why schools are closed to the majority of children. In order to support the NHS and reduce the likelihood of transmission of the new variant, please keep your children at home if you can.

Remote learning and support for families

Staff have been working hard at putting together meaningful and high quality learning that children can access at home. A comprehensive timetable of remote lessons and tasks is being posted on the school website in the Home Learning pages for each year group. This is more than just worksheets on the school website. It is made up of online lessons recorded by William Byrd staff for William Byrd children, online lessons from the well regarded Oak National Academy and online learning resources. In addition, staff will be regularly in touch with you and your children to offer support, provide feedback on work that children have done and sent in and just generally to motivate and encourage children to stay focused on their school work.

I fully understand how challenging it can be for parents having to support home learning and I must thank you for everything you are doing to help ensure children do not fall too far behind. Where we can we have offered different types of support to parents, including providing laptops and data-only SIM cards to families in need. Should anything be unclear in the work that is set, parents can communicate directly with class teachers through the year group email address.

Additional support for families eligible for Free School Meals

I have already emailed all parents whose children are entitled to free school meals with an update on plans to support them while the school is closed. Please let us know if you did not receive this email. I will be in touch again once I have more information from the Government. In the meantime, please contact the school if you have serious issues at this time and we will do our best to help you.

And finally

I will aim to give you regular updates during the coming weeks and we are here for you if you need us. You can call the school office between 9am and 3pm or simply drop us an email on enquiries@williambyrd.school

Please take care and stay well.

Mrs S Roberts
Head of School