Hello and welcome to Heads Up.
Before we get down to business, I’m going to take the chance to issue a really important reminder. It is great to see admissions being completed and that numbers on roll in schools are increasing but we are fast approaching the DfE Pupil Census count on Thursday 1 October.
It is essential that we have as full a pupil count as possible in time for the school roll census, as I said last week. School budgets are dependent on this so I will repeat my plea to you to support the council’s admissions team and avoid any delay in responding to their requests so that they can swiftly process applications and allocate school places to any children currently without one.
Down to other business. It has been a very busy week, indeed. The wide range of challenges of opening schools fully in the COVID context has been increasingly evident, as has the fantastic response from schools. The first week was one of delight, where we celebrated getting our children back into schools. There was a feeling almost of euphoria after all the hard work that had gone on for so long to make it possible.
As the term progresses, we are seeing some bubbles having to be sent home to self-isolate and in some cases the numbers involved can seem dauntingly high before we can return children as soon as possible.
This risk management process is inevitable as we look to move forward, but we must not lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of our children are back safely in a school setting. This is an immense step that was unlikely to happen without incident. We have approximately 90% of our children at school and the steps that you have taken to reduce the risks of transmission in your schools are keeping the numbers down of children having to go home to isolate.
Reopening our schools to all of our pupils is second only in priority to keeping pupils, staff and the wider community safe and controlling the spread of the virus. To support you, we have kept the leadership helpline open to you so that you can call for guidance and reassurance. Should you get any media calls, please forward these to email@example.com where the council’s communications team will deal with them on your behalf.
School settings are not the only places where there is a risk of transmitting the virus. School transport is another and pupils’ behaviour on that is key. Please reiterate to pupils that it is essential that they maintain social distancing on buses, sit in the same seats each day and, where possible, wear face coverings.
Parents also have an important role to play. They also need to maintain social distancing when dropping off or collecting their children. We have produced a suite of social media messages which we will be pushing out. We have attached these to this edition for you to download and share on your social media accounts to remind parents of the ways in which they can help.
Finally, last week I mentioned the importance of working together and sharing our best practice. Can I ask you to save the date of Wednesday 21 October (morning) in your diaries for our autumn term virtual Head Teacher Conference. Details are in the WE3 section of this issue, but I wanted to draw your attention to it here as well. It is so important that we work together and support each other. These conferences have always been integral to that and now, perhaps more than ever, we need to draw on each other for support.
Have a good weekend, everyone.
Assistant Director for Education Services