I am sure that you have been a little confused this week about conflicting messages about when schools will open to pupils again. I would like to offer you some reassurances and clarification regarding the Stretford High School position.
Since closure, SHS has offered places for children of parents/carers of essential workers. A small number of families have availed of this service. It has been offered and used on a ‘needs’ basis. This means that children could come into school in line with parents/carers’ working days. This is agreed in advance with parents. This has worked well and we will continue to offer this service.
We have also offered places to vulnerable children who may have had difficulties learning at home due to a special educational needs or disability or who have other factors that meant learning in school was best for them. Again this was agreed on an individual basis. We will continue to offer this service as long as it is safe to do so.
The government has not indicated a return to school for any secondary year group other than Year 10. Years 7-9 will continue to learn from home.
The government’s ambition is that year 10 have some face time with their teachers from the 1st of June and before the summer term. This is where confusion has arisen and has lead to many questioning when Year 10 will go back to school and what will their return look like?
The answer is that it very much depends on where the school is located, the structure of the school and staffing levels available. For example, different areas of the country have differing reinfection rates and what is safe in one area may not be safe in another. Information published by Public Health England shows that London’s reinfection rate is now very low at only 0.4. However, the R rate in the Northwest is higher at 0.73. Therefore, schools in London have a much lower risk than schools in other parts of the country, including ours.
Just like the government, every school has to be lead by the science and will work out what is a ‘safe’ level of risk for their community.
For our school, in our community, we are making the judgement that the school is not yet ready to welcome back Year 10 as a whole year group from the 1st June. Our region’s R rate is the third highest in England and there are indications that the national R rate has begun to rise slightly. I would like to believe that this is a blip but I need to see sustained decreasing over time before we open to Year 10 fully.
We are also mindful of other considerations. A lot of our pupils have excelled in their learning from home and are utilising valuable independent learning skills at home. Some of our pupils have underlying health issues which means it would be dangerous for them to come into school. Some of our pupils live with family members who have underlying health issues which means it would be dangerous for their family if they came into school. Some pupils need to use public transport to get to school which puts them at a risk their parents/carers are not willing to take. Some parents/carers simply believe that this is not the right time for their children to come to school. All of the above are real and valid reasons for these children to learn at home.
Some of our pupils are suffering from the lock down restrictions and would benefit from completing their learning in school. These are the pupils we will be offering first return to – when it is safe to do so. It will be a phased return and we will seek the views of Year 10 parents /carers next week so that we are making decisions with you rather than for you.
I know that, right now, we all crave normality or, at the very least, certainty. I am aware that this is neither. What I can tell you, with absolute certainty, is that Stretford High School will always make decisions based on what is best for our children’s safety and welfare.
Stay safe and stay alert!