Hi Ho, Hi Ho it's back to school we go

'Whilst we have moved into tier 4, education remains open to all children and young people' says education director  for...

'Whilst we have moved into tier 4, education remains open to all children and young people' says education director for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Jonathan Lewis. - Credit: Archant

Head teachers across Cambridgeshire face an unprecedented barrage of pressure to ensure their schools are ready to re-open this month.  

Education bosses assured parents and carers in a New Year’s Eve email that no Cambridgeshire or Peterborough primary schools have been included in the areas where the government has indicated a delayed start will occur. 

The information was sent out to all parents of pupils attending schools in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough by Jonathan Lewis, director of education. 

But there are some notable caveats in his advice to parents that he hopes will provide “local clarity” to statements made by education minister Gavin Williamson the day before.   

"Whilst we have moved into tier 4, education remains open to all children and young people,” says Mr Lewis. 

He says the expectations for opening in January are: T 

Early years - Parents and carers can continue to access early years settings as normal from January 2021. 

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Primary schools (including infant and junior schools) - Primary schools will open and provide on-site teaching as planned from their advertised first day of term and will allow all pupils to attend as they have since the start of the school year. 

No Cambridgeshire or Peterborough primary school have been included in the areas where the government has indicated a delayed start will occur. 

Secondary schools / colleges – Your school / college will be in contact with to outline their plans for the phased opening which will happen in 3 phases until full return on the January 18.  

“Places for all vulnerable children and young people, and the children of critical workers will be prioritised,” says Mr Lewis.  

“Schools and colleges are also busy developing their process for regular testing of all pupils and we kindly request that parents support schools through the prompt completion of consent forms to allow this testing to be undertaken” 

Special schools, he says, have been flexibility on opening to ensure that testing arrangements are in place for children. 

Mr Lewis says: “We are monitoring the Covid-19 situation on a daily basis. 

“We have, in conjunction with school leaders, taken appropriate action to limit the impact of positive cases by working closely with Public Health England and the Department for Education.” 

Mr Lewis argues that being in education is vital for children's development and wellbeing.  

“Time spent out of settings is detrimental to children's learning, development and wellbeing, particularly for disadvantaged children,” he says.  

“In line with government expectations, we expect pupils to attend their education establishment. 

“If you are concerned about the safety of your child returning to their education setting, please speak to school/college leaders for further advice on the precautions they are taking.” 

Mr Lewis adds: “For school age pupils, attendance remains compulsory.” 

Other advice includes advice for clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people who are told to follow shielding advice.  

“If your child is considered CEV, you should follow shielding advice and should not attend school, because the risk of exposure to the virus in your area may currently be very high,” says Mr Lewis.  

“But all other children and young people in the household who are not CEV should continue to attend school. “Children and young people whose parents or carers are clinically extremely vulnerable should also continue to go to school.  

“There are a number of staff affected by the CEV change so there may be changes to how education is delivered. 

He adds: “I appreciate this is a challenging time for parents and pupils.  

“Education establishments in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough have worked tirelessly to put safety for pupils and staff first and these measures have been hugely effective.  

“Safety remains our key priority, and we will take appropriate steps where we feel this could be compromised.  

“It is important that all parents continue to observe social distancing rules both on school premises and in all places outside of your own home in line with the tier 4 arrangements.  

“We also ask you follow requirements arising from the education establishment risk assessment.”