Hello and welcome again to Heads Up.
It’s been a challenging week for so many of you, we are well aware, as cases continue to rise among our children and young people in schools and settings. We know that this was almost inevitable as so much freedom to circulate socially has suddenly come back.
The response of Warwickshire schools has been terrific. In line with Government guidance there has been every effort made to keep children at schools and settings and this may have meant the reintroduction of some fairly basic steps such as wearing a face covering, increased hands washing and some social distancing. Where this hasn’t worked and schools have had to limit attendance, this has been done proportionately and with the best interest of both the school and the broader community at heart.
Thank you to all schools and settings for doing that. We also need you all to be stringent in your reporting to the DfE portal of any Covid related pupil absences. It is critical both to the DfE and to our own Public Health colleagues that they have the most current data and that it is accurate. Schools are integral in this process so please do remember to make the reporting of your absences data a must-do job. The same applies to early years settings and, again, it is vital that Early Years settings report any Covid absences at the earliest opportunity by following advice here .
Another ask is around school closures due to broken boilers, bad weather and the like which would necessitate shutting the school for all pupils. It is the individual school or setting’s responsibility to notify parents of emergency closures and to put the information on their websites while using whatever channels of communication, be that bespoke emailing systems, text messages or social media to notify parents.
Previously this happened through the county council which issued an alert system out of hours. In some cases, schools’ websites are still referring parents to the School Closures page on our website which will only show schools that are shut that day and is updated during the daytime. Can you please check your websites and ensure that parents understand how to find out about emergency closures and that any links to the council’s website for finding out about school closures are removed as that will not be directing parents towards the information they need.
On a happier note, throughout the period of the pandemic, one of the upshots has been the close working that we at the County Council have had with you. Undoubtedly, we have been given a real sense of purpose in all of our work to support you and I hope that you feel that the closer working relationship and the support you get from County Council staff is something that you want to build on.
Next Tuesday, new head teachers will have their induction and various officers from Education Services as well as colleagues from across the county council will be showcasing their areas of work and how they support schools and settings. We have talked about how passionate our staff are about what we do and I hope, for all new head teachers, that comes across in the induction next week.
It’s a great opportunity to build some relationships not only with our staff but also among yourselves and get a network of peer support. My colleague Debbie Hibberd will be leading the session and looks forward to seeing you there.
For me, I look forward to seeing many of you at next Tuesday’s head teachers call. And I am also looking forward to the weekend after another taxing week. I hope you all are too and that you take the chance to draw breath and relax.
So until next week, take care.