Coronavirus

Parent Update 20.7.20

Dear Families

Firstly, I would like to address your children.

Children,

You are coming to the end of a school year. What a strange year for us all. It might be the end of your time at your school too. The teachers and staff at school have worked hard to make an ending so that you could say goodbyes and think back on your time in your class or school. Of course, it has had to be very different so that it was safe. This had to be the priority.

You may not know yet but you have been part of HISTORY because this time will always be talked and written about in your future.

We have seen lots of you in school and we have been so proud of how you’ve adapted and behaved. Thank you. We have also loved seeing what you have been learning and doing at home.

We are very much looking forward to having you ALL back in September to make our schools feel whole. Some things will feel quite different BUT don’t worry. The adults will explain things to you and we will work together to have safe habits.

If you are worried about learning, it is good thing that you think it is important and we are going to work with you all to make sure great learning happens.You will be able to talk over your worries with your teacher. In the meantime we want you all to have a happy, healthy and safe summer holiday. Read lots and share stories, play outside,build and design things and remember try and get more green time than screen time.

Most of all, be safe citizens so that you are taking care with your family.

Happy holidays.

Families

We cannot thank you enough for the support and encouragement you have provided our teamsI think we all know there has never been a time like it. The task of safely running schools through a pandemic is new learning for us all. We know there will some things we can improve on and we have tried to be honest and responsive to you as a community. We have been so grateful of you patience and kindness. Thank you for the may lovely comments that have be sent in the last few days and via our parent governors.

We are though, looking forward to having all children back in school. It hasn’t felt right or fair for those children not in school; however we had to work within constraints of strict guidance. Planning for September has been as challenging, but we have learned a lot from the past months. We have also really felt the benefit of being part of Evolution Academy Trust as we have had expert advice guidance and support.

You will receive a detailed document form the heads in each school so that you know what to expect in September. I do want to publicly applaud them and their teams. The information you receive has taken weeks of planning, discussion, risk assessing, adapting and creating. They really have been exceptional, with many of them also having to manage their own complex domestic situations. There is much more work involved than you can see in the document. There will still be work to be done but I really want the staff teams to be able to rest ready for the next year. It is a new way of working and requires huge levels of concentration, creativity and organisation

We will be keeping a close eye on any changes that the government issue. We will make sure any important changes are communicated to you via the website/email in the last week in August so please do check.

NURSERY/EARLY YEARS

Both nursery settings at Bignold and Angel Road Infant have also been working tirelessly. We are trying to adapt our provision to better suit your needs and trying desperately hard to get confirmation from the Local Authority linked to funding. We apologise if this is causing uncertainty, particularly at Bignold but stick with us; we are confident our plan will better suit your needs. Both nurseries and Reception units have really benefited from working with international specialists. We think you will see a big difference so please pass the message on to other families. 

SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT AND DEVELOPMENT

In the next academic year we will have the normal school improvement that you would expect a school to undertake. But we are going to use a different approach too to make sure that everyone works together on a particular focus which we build on, develop and revisit through the year.  This is delivered alongside the main subject areas. Our keys areas of focus for improvement will be:

Autumn 1

  • High Expectations – behaviour, learning, attitude, respect, conduct, teaching, relationships, adult conduct (all of us!). This sets the scene for the year so everyone knows what to expect and we maximise learning time
  • Happy, Healthy, Safe – well being, hygiene habits and safe practice

Autumn 2

  • Developing a reading culture – learning to read, listening to challenging text being read aloud by adults to develop fluency, vocabulary and comprehension, reading together, at school and at home.

Spring

  • Assessment for learning – how we check children’s understanding and the depth of their learning and use this move learning forward, how children can become independent and motivated learners

Summer

  • Science and The Arts – ensuring that children are experts and know what the best in these fields looks

GOVERNORS

Thank you to our school governors who have helped and supported. Both Anna Caitlin (Angel Rd Chair of Governors) and Nicola Naismith (Bignold Chair of Governors) are finishing in their roles. Many thanks to them for fulfilling such an important voluntary role, particularly through this period. We are working with EAT and Norfolk Governors Network to recruit an Interim Chair to work across both schools from September. If you know anyone who has the experience, interest and will please do ask them to get in touch with me via my email: execprincipal@evolutionacademytrust.co.uk

Now all that is left for me to say, is again huge thanks to the community – the children, the staff and the families. Together we have pulled through a very difficult phase and I’d like to build on this cohesion to make sure our schools are the very best they can be. We want hopeful futures for your children.

Have a good summer, as far as is possible in your circumstances – go well and play safe.

Regards
Binks Neate-Evans
Executive Principal 


Update for families 10.07.2020

Dear Families

Your schools are incredibly busy places at the moment – I’m not sure when we are not but it really is an absolute hive of activity at the moment; ending the year and planning for September. The planning process is complex and I continue to work through this with each school. School leaders will meet with both Lynsey Holzer (CEO) and I next week to review the plans so that leaders can then share information with you.  I want to reassure you that we are working hard to provide high quality provision within the government guidelines. The trust will be reviewing their Attendance policy in light of the government expectations about all children returning to school. Again, I strongly urge you to talk to school staff if you are worried about September. We hope the updates and information we share creates confidence and excitement for a new beginning.

I know many parents and carers may have worries about their child ‘catching up’.  Again to reassure you and your child, please try not to feel too anxious around this. We will be supporting all children with carefully constructed teaching sequences, low pressure checking of understanding, and tailored support when needed. We will also be very aware of the need to ‘induct’ children back into school life and this in itself will support children’s well-being. 

 During the summer holiday, formal learning will not be set as it is not appropriate to ask teachers to do this and many of you may need a break from the pressure of being ‘ home teacher’.  However, each of the schools will be sending some recommended/suggested activities. I will always promote reading and enjoying stories, playing number/board games, creative play, movement and art, and things that help children be physically active. I promote green time (outdoor and in natural environments) and reduce screen time.

Each of the schools are at a different point on the journey with online learning. Some of this is linked to budgets. We are delighted that ‘The Angels’  will soon be accessing Seesaw online platform like Bignold. This will mean that in the future, we will all be able to flex between face to face in school teaching and online learning at home should classes or year groups learning be interrupted by an outbreak of COVID or self isolation. Evolution are financially investing in this to support all schools. 

We hope the children enjoy the transition and ending events planned by each school and that you understand the need for this to be so markedly different from previous years. None of it is ideal as we would like it but hopefully, it is received as good spirited compromise to say goodbye to the academic year, our teachers, staff who have helped us and friends who are moving on. 

I hope the sun can shine a little this weekend to sustain us. Have a lovely weekend. 

Regards
Binks Neate-Evans
Executive Principal 


Learning Surveys


September Opening Trust Letter


Family Update 6.7.20

Dear Families

It has been lovely to see the different children and activities that are going on in schools as we try to increase contact. Thank you for all the encouragement and feedback.

Many of you may be aware that yesterday the government published its guidance and expectations for ALL children to return to school in September. This guidance is complex and we are still very much at the stage of processing the content of it to put into practical plans and information for you, so this is just a short update. We are delighted that we are able to fully open schools and hope this signals more stable times for you and your family.  This being said, we recognise that there are huge challenges around employment and job losses and the very significant stress this places on some of you. If you are in real hardship please contact your school.

You may have also heard, the very strong steer from Gavin Williamson (Secretary of State for Education), about the use of penalty fines for those not attending unless there are very exceptional circumstances. I would prefer to use more constructive approaches to understand barriers and worries so we can pre-empt them prior to September, as far as is possible in the current situation.  I want to reassure families that we want to work with you in a less adversarial manner, continuing to build your trust in school provision and systems so that you feel able to send your child back to school.  In may be helpful for you to consider schools as controlled environments.  So, I would ask any adult who feels very anxious about September or thinks their child may be a genuinely reluctant returner to make contact with your school so we can help you manage this before September. Please don’t wait until then to talk to us.   You do not need to wait until more formal plans are published.

In the days, weeks (and nights) ahead, I am working with school leaders and the teams in school to plan the full re-opening of our three lovely schools. We are very excited to be able to do this and have not taken our eye of the ball with school development plans either. We have robust support from the Health and Safety team at EAT who help us manage the complex process. Lynsey Holzer (CEO of Evolution Academy Trust) will be writing to you all on Monday to give the trust perspective on the re-opening and some general indicators of what this may look like.

I hope you all manage to safely enjoy some of the increased flexibility that is afforded us from this weekend – be cautious and take good care of those lovely young people. We want to keep things safe so we can look to a more positive time.

Regards
Binks Neate-Evans
Executive Principal 


Parent Update 19.6.20

Dear Families

There seems to be some better news gradually seeping our way in that the general national risk level is being decreased from 4 to 3. We are also hearing ‘media noises’ that social distancing rule may reduce to 1 metre in schools. We continue to process information as it becomes formalised as quickly as possible. We aim to communicate any changes to you as quickly as possible as we try to minimise uncertainty. I think many of you really appreciate how challenging this has been and continues to be. What I see across the three schools is an incredible sense of personal responsibility. As communities we have all really played our part but it is important that we continue to be vigilant.  I have been very impressed and heartened to see how children in schools are following the guidance we have set out and the great standards of behaviour, courtesy and general good spirits.

We are trying really hard to respond to any communications from families who may require support, advice or a friendly ear. We also listen to your comments carefully to ensure we are taking into account  the ever changing needs and concerns of children and families. As the process of safely managing and maintaining the  wider opening of our schools had developed, we are really trying to pay good attention to the needs of those not in school. I can only try to understand what that must feel like for children and families with really different circumstances. I am working hard with leaders to find safe and creative way of increasing contact for ALL children before  the end of term. We are exploring and planning things like reading and fitness workshops. Each head has been asked to keep you all as well informed as possible as things develop.

The big government announcements this week have been around funding for catch up programmes. Again we have no further detail on this. You may be pleased to know that Evolution Academy Trust is closely supporting and planning with schools to ensure we do as much as possible to quickly recover from this period of disruption. This coming week as school leaders across the three schools we are meeting as a team to really thrash out our priorities for a recovery plan for the coming year. I have always been quite straightforward in my views (with good evidence)  that reading must be a priority. But this must sit alongside the well-being of children many of whom will have to adapt back into school life. Please be assured our thinking will keep children at the centre of our thinking.

Wishing you all a good weekend and watch out for the heatwave next week.

Regards
Binks Neate-Evans
Executive Principal 


Families update 19.06.2020

Dear Mums, Dads and carers,

Boiler update and reopening – again!

Firstly, an update regarding our broken hot water boiler.

Unfortunately, a school cannot remain open if the boiler is not heating the water to the temperature required to kill bacteria. When the water reaches the sinks hot and cold water are mixed to enable a temperature which will not scald the children. We were unable to ensure that children and staff could wash their hands safely, hence the closure. I apologise if this was not clear last week.

We have been able to order a new boiler. However, this is coming from Sweden which will take 6 weeks, and therefore it will be fitted during the Summer holiday.

In the short term, remedial work has been carried out enabling the water to heat to the correct temperature. This has been monitored during the last few days and seems to be working. This means we are able to reopen our Reception bubbles on Monday 22nd June. If this applies to your child you can return using the same arrival and collection times. Staff will be testing the boiler over the weekend so we can notify you on Sunday 21st June if we discover problems.

Which groups are currently in school and why?

As the government guidelines state, as an Infant School we are open for children in Nursery, Reception and for children of critical workers. (Primary schools have been directed to open for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6)

We are ensuring safe practice for staff and children by following strict hygiene measures, rigorous cleaning controls, maintaining vigilance around signs and symptoms of COVID-19, utilising the staff and space available. We are currently able to offer class bubbles for Nursery, Reception children and children of critical workers in Y1 and Y2. If your child is in these eligible groups and you would like to enquire about a place in school please email office@angelroadinfant.norfolk.sch.uk

Reminders about coming onto school property

If you are bringing your child to school please remember the following guidelines;

  • Only 1 adult can come onsite with their child.
  • Please keep to the exit and entrance route we have created.
  • Please be on time for drop off and collection of your child.
  • Keep to the 2m social distancing markers when waiting outside the building.

Lunches

Since the boiler failure, Norse have moved their staff to the Junior School to prepare lunches. Lunches are ordered by 9.30am. If you are late to school you will have to provide your child with a packed lunch from home.

Provision for children out of school

We continue to provide weekly home learning for children at home. We are keeping this as close to the learning in school as we can so children at home are focussed on the same learning objectives as those in school. The Read Write Inc video lessons are delivered by experts in the program. The White Rose maths lessons are also being followed in school. Oak Academy and BBC Bitesize video lessons are recommended by the DfE and are delivered by qualified teachers, even if they are not your child’s teachers. We are able to assist you by printing out the worksheets which accompany these lessons or by providing exercise books. Please contact the school via office@angelroadinfant.norfolk.sch.uk or 01603 427113 if you would like us to do this.

We do try to balance this screen learning by include some non-screen activities as we know parents have concerns about the amount of time children are spending on screens.

Teachers and pastoral staff continue to make Keeping In Touch calls with children every 2 weeks.

If you are worried about your child’s engagement please contact the school by phoning or emailing the school office and we will arrange for someone to get back to you.

Some parents have expressed how much children have enjoyed hearing their teachers read a story, we will do more of this.

Transitions and end of year.

We are considering further interactive approaches to ensure we all stay connected until the end of the year. Miss Armit, Miss Cutter and Mrs Lavender are finalising some transition plans with Y3 teachers. Mr Cunningham is planning a virtual sports day for Y2 children so they can get to know him.

All infant teachers are discussing possible end of year events for each class so that children are able to say goodbye and different ways they can meet their new classes.

We will send home a school report for each child in July.

What we are doing moving forward?

We are reviewing our staffing capacity and spacing as we plan to provide some face to face reading sessions and well-being visits for all children from 29th June 2020. Further details of these will be out next week.

Classes for next year

Thank you for the really thoughtful responses regarding the organisation of classes for September. It is a complex issue that involves us thinking about future years too. No model will be exactly perfect and at the moment we are currently managing the complexity of the current times. We have to weigh up the maximum benefits for the maximum number of children whilst not placing small groups at disadvantage. We want to ensure you whatever we decide, we will have the highest of hopes and expectations for all children.  We will inform you as soon as we can.


Executive Principal Update 12th June 2020

Dear Families

I hope you all received the update on Wednesday when I informed you that there had been a change in direction from central government. This change, you will know, dictates what we can do. I want to reinforce my message that we are very sorry about the position this puts so many of you in. We continue to look at gradually widening the offer to particular groups of children. The big news of a ‘summer catch up programme’ as of yet has no detail.

Please be assured we are still working tirelessly to find some different ways of keeping our communities connected.Each school is managing in different ways and has different challenges. The Heads in each of the schools will keep you up to date with specifics at least each week and more often as relevant.  Angel Road Infant families will know the particular challenges faced there with a broken boiler. We are coming up with some solutions for that and are sorry for the disruption and how this may have unsettled our youngest learners. In never rains when it pours!

For those families with children in schools we hope you have been reassured by the measures in place. I do want to take this opportunity to really thank and celebrate the superb work the cleaning teams have done throughout this period. Their work has been pivotal in the wider re-opening and risk management in our schools. They have worked with incredible diligence and goodwill and provide a very reassuring presence for us all. Whilst they are protecting those in school their work plays a key role in reducing transmission to the wider community and within families.

Evolution Academy Trust are working with us and have been hugely supportive. With them, we are beginning to explore planning for September. As of yet, we do not know what the expectations/restrictions will be. There may be the permissions in place for schools to fully open. Undoubtedly, much stricter hygiene measures will remain in place. Or depending on how controlled the pandemic is, schools may be required to rota. I am sorry we are not yet in a position to offer clarity. I do want to make clear that we are working tirelessly to future proof our plans to try create greater certainty for our families and our learners.

As restrictions are gradually lifted we ask families to continue to work with us in partnership, by keeping us informed of any suspected cases and test results and to continue to help children understand their important role. Most importantly look after eachother and support each other to be safe as the changes are rolled out. I am not alone in feeling this phase is perhaps the most challenging and we want to do all we can to keep the virus out of our community.

Regards
Binks Neate-Evans 
Executive Principal 


Message for families – Boiler update

Dear Mums, Dads, and carers,

A like-for-like replacement boiler will take 5-6 weeks to arrive in the country and would need to be fitted during the Summer holiday. Engineers are looking into possible alternative boilers which may align with our pipework and could be transported sooner.

However, I have been made aware that it is safe to open some parts of the school. I have had a planning meeting with Evolution Academy Trust Health and Safety personnel this morning and they are satisfied with our revised risk assessment. So this is what we are hoping to do;

From Tuesday 16th June, Badger and Deer class will be open for Key Worker children in Y1 and Y2, and Owl class will be open for Key Worker children from Reception.

Fox mobile will be open for Nursery children from Wednesday 17th June.

In the meantime, we are investigating short term solutions to the faulty boiler. If these are successful we will look to open up the rest of the school again to the eligible year groups.

I will continue to keep you updated and I apologise for the uncertainty this has created after such a successful start to wider opening.

Please continue to stay safe,

Warmest regards,

Lindsay Moody


Executive Principal Update 9th June 2020

Dear Families

Many of you may have heard the government announcement this lunchtime that the decision to expand provision for more year groups/children is now  to be managed by individual schools and trusts. The government are not directing schools to do this as had been communicated previously. This is because it seems clear nationally that it would be unsafe, unmanageable and completely impractical to expect all schools to do this at this stage of the pandemic. There is not enough physical space or sufficient staff to follow and maintain safety guidelines.

I hope our previous communication  has helped you to expect that many of our children will be unable to return to school this year. We hope this has helped you top prepare children too. We realise this is bad news and disappointing for many. We are, of course, really concerned about the impact this has on children, their learning and their families. Ultimately we would have loved to have been able to open more widely, but as I have said all along, safety must not be compromised.  This communication is short as we have only received the information after the Secretary of States formal announcement in the House of Commons this lunchtime. We have promised to try to keep you as update to date as possible in very tight timescales and want to ensure you are  informed that:

  • There will NOT be a wider opening to specific year groups BUT
  • We are working to consider how we can work with targeted groups/individuals
  • Exploring the idea of ‘reading/well-being/maths’ clinic/mentor sessions IF we can find organisations to temporarily donate marquee/tents
  • Ensuring there are transition plans to provide good endings for children transferring to different schools (Y2/Y6)
  • Bignold is still trying to increase toilet and handwashing capacity for Y6

If there any families who have contact in the locality who may be able to help by donating currently unused marquees/large tents, we are exploring the idea of being able to offer some form of provision to wider groups/individuals. We are exploring this because there is some evidence to show that transmission rates are reduced outside.  Please contact the school office if you know of anyone that may be able to help but ensure you have made contact with any potential donor first. We do not want to be making ‘cold calls’ to organisations who themselves may managing difficult circumstances.

We will be in touch when we have further information about any wider provision.

Please be assured that we are working hard to try and find safe and meaningful ways to keep our communities connected and to find safe ways of expanding provision. I am really sorry not be able bring clearer plans and certainty. We are very keen to be able to support families who are struggling to cope as the impact of the restrictions continue. Please do get in touch if you would like a welfare call. Again I would ask families not to call the school office about details of re-opening as this prevents them from carrying out work that is linked to safe management of schools.

You have been so understanding and respectful of our requests and the staff teams are very grateful of your support, patience and kindness throughout this period.

Regards
Binks Neate-Evans
Executive Principal