To help parents make a decision about child care in the Coronavirus outbreak..
A Letter to Parents from our Director of Children’s Services in Hartlepool
In Hartlepool, we are looking very carefully at the Government’s announcement of the intention to re-open schools for certain year groups from 01 June. We want to work together across the town to make sure we make the right decisions for our pupils, our families and our staff.
Although nationally the evidence would suggest that some areas have past the peak of the Coronavirus outbreak, in Hartlepool local information shows that the number of cases is still rising. For this reason, we must think very carefully about the safety and protection of all when developing any plans to re-open schools.
Our ambition is to be able to welcome some children, in specific year groups, back into school in the coming half term and we are planning for this. However, it is vitally important that any plans have the protection and wellbeing of children and staff at the heart of them and we will only re-open schools when we are confident that children and staff will be safe. We are working together to make sure that when we re-open schools, you can be confident to send your children to school and that we will keep them safe.
At the moment, the view of the local authority and our schools is that 1st June is too soon. We consider that the earliest date that school in Hartlepool will re-open will be 8th June, but it may be later than this if needed. We intend to re-open schools on a phased basis, one year group at a time, in order to make sure that we can welcome our children back into school and manage them safely.
Please be reassured that everyone in the council and our schools is committed to the education of your child and their wellbeing. I will continue to work with schools to develop plans for re-opening this term if at all possible. Your child’s school will keep you informed of these plans as we move forward and provide you with more details.
Extending School Opening Survey
If parents could complete the short survey, following the link below, this will help guide the thinking of schools and the Local Authority as we begin to extend the opening of school in the coming weeks.
Guidance for parents and carers on supporting their children’s education during coronavirus (COVID-19)
The Department for Education has published information, guidance and support for parents and carers of children who are learning at home during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Guidance on helping children aged 2 to 4 learn at home can be found here:
Guidance on helping primary school aged children learn at home can be found here:
Guidance on helping children with special educational needs and disabilities learn at home can be found here:
The guidance for parents and carers on the closure of educational settings has been updated with additional information on the support available for parents, online educational resources and support for vulnerable children.
The guidance can be found here:
NHS Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group: Health Advice
COVID 19 is unlikely to cause a serious illness in children, but please remember children can still become seriously unwell from other causes that are always around. Please do not let concerns over COVID 19 stop you from contacting medical services. If you are not sure if your child needs to be seen please go to https://www.what0-18nhs.uk/national for advice or contact 111 or your GP. If you think your child is seriously unwell call 999.
School Nurse Consultation
From Monday 4th May the School Nursing service will be offering support for parents and to young people via virtual drop ins. Contact can be made using telephone, What’s App and Skype. School Nurses can offer support around a wide range of issues such as, emotional wellbeing, risk taking behaviours, sexual health, behaviour, sleep, toileting and diet. If you would like support from our school’s allocated School Nurse then please contact the service and an appointment will be arranged for the School Nurse to contact you.
Our school is served by Nurse Laura Bradwell and Staff Nurse Sarah Robinson
Free School Meals Voucher Scheme
Please check you may now be eligible for free school meals, if in any doubt contact Hartlepool Borough Council via the link below.
The government has announced today an e-voucher/e-gift card scheme for pupils who are eligible for benefits-related free school meals. All schools are awaiting further information on the scheme so that we can roll the programme out.
The e-vouchers/e-gift cards are for term time only and we are working through the detail as we receive the information. Our plan is to continue as we have been, offering packed lunches, until after the Easter holidays, but if we can, we will claim your e-voucher/e-gift card this week.
For the next 3 weeks we will continue to provide FSM’s as we have been so please continue to come into your school to collect your FSM. We will inform you of further information as soon as we have it. Further information about the government schme can be found in their guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance/covid-19-free-school-meals-guidance-for-schools
Free School Meal families – Updated 7th April 2020
We hope you are now receiving government food vouchers, if not please let us know (It may take a week or two for this system to work properly and packed lunches are still available for collection until 17th April, until the system is working properly). In setting, we are providing hot meals, so you can either provide your child with a packed lunch, funded by the vouchers, or you can pay £2.05 per day for your child to have a hot lunch on the days that they attend the setting for care (and use the vouchers for food for the other days and food for the family). Please can you email firstname.lastname@example.org to advise which option you prefer. If you can let admin know, when booking the place in school, as soon as possible to enable our cook to order food for hot meals. Thank you.
Key worker’s children (not free school meals)
School can now provide your child with a hot lunch for £2.05 per meal. If this is something you would like, please can you email email@example.com as soon as possible. You can still provide a packed lunch for you child if you would prefer.
Universal free school meals(UFSM)
No provision of UFSM during this crisis, so far. However, if you are a key worker, school can now provide your child with a hot lunch for £2.05 per meal. If this is something you would like, please can you email firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. You can still provide a packed lunch for you child if you would prefer.
All bookings for children eligible to access the provision need to be made by email to email@example.com by Thursday of the week before. Any alterations to these requirements should follow by email too, so that we can keep a record and report accurately to the Department for Education.
The setting will be open to staff from 7.30am to 6.00pm, with sign-in as normal, and to children from 7.45am – 5.45 pm. Monday to Friday every week, who will be signed-in and out by staff. The attendance register is given to the senior leader at the end of the day, to be retained in accordance with normal practice.
Children arriving before 9.00 a.m. will be welcomed outside the hall door, with only children entering and going immediately to wash their hands. Children leaving after 3.00 p.m. will leave from the hall. Children arriving or leaving between 9.00 a.m. and 3.00 pm should use the main school entrance, where one family at a time can access the lobby. Each child leaves their coat and belongs on ‘their’ chair in the hall to again ensure minimal infection risk.
All children and staff begin the day in the Hall, for breakfast (if needed) with children sitting as a household, and exercise followed by Collective Worship. The groups are then allocated, in which household members are kept together, and are guided by staff to rooms. We are managing room rotation, week-by-week and keeping rooms in reserve, in case needed.
In each room, we are establishing continuous provision of activities that the children are able to choose, while maintaining social distance from others outside their household. All have access to the outside for periodic breaks and can access the school field, when weather permits, across the day. Staff can negotiate a timetable for access to the field as required.
For lunch, the groups return to the hall, either together or in rotation (depending on numbers) and again are well spaced while they enjoy their packed lunch or prepared meal. (We hope to offer hot meals again soon.) They return with their group to their bases for the afternoon.
After 3.00 pm, the children remaining in setting, return to the hall where they enjoy a snack and engage in games, reading, story-telling or other fun and relaxing activities.
Safe Practice in setting
Staff and children should wash their hands very regularly – on entry to the setting, after break times, before lunch, before leaving the setting and obviously each time they use the toilet.
The rooms are kept well aired during the day so staff and children may need warmer clothing than would be usual for our setting.
A social distance of 2 metres is maintained between all staff and children while in the setting. Obviously, for younger children, they are reliant upon the staff helping them to maintain a safe distance but there will be times, if they fall over or have an accident, when they will need closer-contact and this will be given as judiciously and safely as possible.
Tables and chairs in the hall are washed after breakfast, after lunch and at the end of the day. Equipment (pencils, rulers, toys …) used by individuals, once finished with, is left for a thorough washing before being available for use again on a future day.
Both children and staff are not in setting in a standard pattern. Generally, children reflect the shift pattern of their parents while staff are now deployed in two teams that work shifts across alternate weeks.
An isolation room is available, just in case children become ill during the day. If children display any symptoms of the infection, they are immediately withdrawn from their group (if with family, the entire family is withdrawn). They are placed in the ‘Numbers Counts’ Room, adjacent to the upper playground door, supervised by an adult from the corridor. Parents are immediately contacted and collect their child(ren) from the playground door. The room is then left to be thoroughly cleaned. Obviously, childhood ailments, such as ear-aches, rashes and tummy pains, are not symptoms of Covid-19, so we don’t presume that every illness requires isolation.
Hartlepool Support Hub
During the Coronavirus outbreak, if you are self-isolating or unable to leave your home, we’re here to help you to stay safe, stay well and stay connected.
The Hartlepool Support Hub offers:
- Information and advice
- Emotional support
- Delivery of shopping / newspapers / prescriptions
- Links to other services that can support you
You can contact the Support Hub by:
01429 272905 (10am-4pm Mondays to Fridays and 10am-12 noon Saturdays)
firstname.lastname@example.org (Please provide your contact details and we will get back to you)
There is also lots of information available at www.hartlepoolnow.co.uk, and via the Hartlepool Now App, available on the App Store and Google Play.
If you would like to volunteer to support your local community, you can contact us using the same details (call 01429 272905 or e-mail email@example.com) and we will let you know what you can do to help.
Some of our residents will receive a letter advising them to self-isolate for a period of 12 weeks and that they can ask for support for food supplies if they need it. This will be co-ordinated at a local level by the Hartlepool Support Hub – but our hub services go further than that and are for all those choosing to self-isolate.
Open Letter to Children and Young People with SEND, their Parents, Families and Others who Support them from Vicky Ford MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families
24 March 2020
This is an open letter distributed through as many of our partner organisations as possible. I would be grateful if you could circulate it as widely as possible to children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), their parents/carers and families, and all others who support them.
This is an unprecedented, uncertain and testing time for all of us due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is particularly challenging for children and young people with SEND, their families, and those who work tirelessly to support and care for them.
This is why, over the past week, we have made announcements and issued guidance about how we will meet the needs of children and young people with SEND during this challenging time. As the Minister responsible for SEND, I wanted to write to let you know that we are committed to doing everything possible to support you during this difficult time.
We are working in partnership with many organisations, including the National Network for Parent Carer Forums and the Council for Disabled Children, to make sure we are focusing our efforts in the right places. In all our decisions, the needs of SEND children and young people and their families and carers, and safeguarding these vulnerable groups, are at the forefront of our minds.
The Government published guidance about supporting vulnerable children on 22 March. It includes a number of frequently asked questions and is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-vulnerable-children-and-young-people. We have also published new guidance that provides household isolation advice for children and young people who live in residential settings, and the staff that support them. This guidance is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings.
The guidance on supporting vulnerable children states that local authorities, nurseries, schools, special schools, colleges and other training providers should undertake a risk assessment to establish the individual needs of each child or young person with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. This assessment should incorporate the views of the child or young person and their parents. This will inform the decision about whether they should continue in school or college, or whether their needs can be met at home safely.
If needs are best met at schools or colleges, we will support their school or college to meet their needs, wherever possible. For those on SEN support, schools, colleges and local authorities have discretion to use the same risk judgement to decide whether home or school is the safest setting for these children. It is, however, important that as many children as possible remain at home during this time in order to help reduce transmission rates.
On 19 March, the Government introduced new legislation into Parliament, in the form of the Coronavirus Bill (‘the Bill’), in response to the outbreak (https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2019-21/coronavirus.html).
Our overwhelming aim for SEND, through the Bill and the proposed changes to regulations that are to follow, is to balance the needs of this vulnerable group to receive the support they need with managing the demands on local authorities and health bodies to respond to this outbreak. As a result, we have included in the Bill temporary emergency powers to enable us, where necessary, to modify the legal requirements on local authorities in fulfilling their duties in relation to EHC plans.
In practice, this will mean that where a local authority is, because of the outbreak, unable, for example, to put in place stated provision, they will need to use their reasonable endeavours to do this, but won’t be penalised for failing to meet the existing duty as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014. These emergency powers will only be exercised for the shortest period and where necessary, and will be regularly reviewed. We will also be seeking to amend regulations on the timescales for EHC plan processes where this is appropriate because of COVID-19. I want to reiterate that these decisions are not taken lightly but I believe strike the right balance in these difficult times.
I encourage you to keep up to date by regularly checking the gov.uk webpages, and raise awareness of the DfE Coronavirus helpline we have established for local authorities, providers and parents to get information on the latest Government advice. The number is 0800 046 8687, and lines are open 8am-6pm (Monday – Friday), and 10am – 4pm (Saturday and Sunday).
I realise that the impact of these extraordinary circumstances on this group of children and young people can be particularly acute. This is why I have asked the Council for Disabled Children, in partnership with Contact, to ensure that their websites and forums regularly update both families and services on information, which is available to support them. I have also asked them to collate any questions and queries from stakeholders so that we can maintain as many routes of contact as possible into Government to ensure our actions continue to be focused on prioritising where help is most needed.
The challenges we are now facing serve to further highlight the importance of ensuring the system of support for children and young people with SEND is as effective as possible in the future. Rest assured that completing our review of the SEND system remains a priority for me and for the Government. In light of the current situation, we will think carefully about the right way and timescale to do this. Right now my focus, like yours, is on managing the current situation and keeping vulnerable children safe and supported.
I know that by working together, we can ensure that children and young people with SEND receive the support they need during this difficult time.
Vicky Ford MP
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families
Thank You Letter to Practitioners – Gavin Willamson MP
Over recent days, the Government has taken steps that are simply unprecedented in the history of this country. The decision to close all schools, except to a minority of pupils, is an essential part of our fight against the spread of Covid-1 9. I have enormous appreciation for the work you do every single day and recognise that, with these extraordinary measures, I am asking you to go to exceptional lengths to rise to the challenge we face.
The weeks and months ahead will undoubtedly be testing for everyone. As we move further into unchartered waters, I wanted to express my deepest gratitude for the absolutely vital service that you are providing for our children, young people and communities. By maintaining school provision for those who need it most, leaders of our schools and colleges — and your staff – rightly take their place next to our NHS staff and other critical workers as central to our country’s efforts in battling this virus.
Thank you for stepping up to this challenge with such dedication and determination. know that you have moved quickly to implement last week’s announcement. Over the last few days, I have heard extraordinary examples of school leaders and teachers responding with flexibility, pragmatism and creativity — demonstrating true civic spirit in unparalleled circumstances. Thanks to you, and particularly those of you working in our special schools, our most vulnerable children and young people will still have the support, care and constancy of school environments if they need it. You are also the reason critical workers across the country can continue to deliver the crucial frontline services that are central to our national effort to tackle Covid-19.
I know this Will be a difficult time. I’m aware that the challenge of delivering these measures sits alongside considerations about your own health and that of your families. I recognise that you will also be anxious about the wellbeing of your staff and about the longer-term impact of this crisis on the children and young people you care for and educate every single day. We have published initial guidance on how best to keep your staff and students safe, and will continue to work with the sector to answer your concerns. I will do everything in my power to support you.
On behalf of the Prime Minister and the entire Government, thank you once again for all your work.
Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP – Secretary of State for Education
Message from the Diocese of Hexham
26 March 2020
Dear Headteacher and Staff
It was a year ago yesterday that I was installed as Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle and exactly a year ago today that I had the pleasure of meeting you and your pupils at the special event at St Mary’s Cathedral. I remember that day with fondness. I was moved by the welcome and by the gifts that I received. To be warmly welcomed by the Diocesan family of schools in such a way and to see first-hand your commitment to the mission of the Catholic education within the Diocese was overwhelming.
With the emergence and spread of COVID-19, we are now all facing a significant and unprecedented challenge. Public Mass and worship have ceased. People are being advised by the government to socially distance themselves where possible, or to self-isolate. Headteachers and school staff have found themselves to be integral to the collective response to the virus, to the support of vulnerable children, and to the maintenance of the provision of public services and the NHS.
I have been kept informed by Deborah Fox of the expectations that have been put on you and of the very generous and selfless ways in which you and those in our school communities have responded. I am especially proud of the efforts that have been made to support the most vulnerable children and families in our school communities and beyond. These actions are a real testimony to our Catholic faith.
I would like to encourage you and to affirm you at this very difficult time. Please be assured of my prayers and spiritual support as you face the daily challenges. I pray that you, your family and loved ones, and all in our school communities stay safe and experience the presence of God at this time.
With every good wish and blessing
Rt Rev Robert Byrne CO – Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle