As you are aware, the Government has confirmed that schools will begin to re-open initially with Nursery (if we can accommodate them safely and securely), Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils, some time from 1 June, providing the key indicators enable them to do so. I surveyed parents in these year groups last week to ascertain if they would be willing to send their daughter’s back to school. Whilst broadly in favour, there were still many who said ‘no’ or that they were ‘currently unsure’.
We now have further guidance to work with, both from the Department for Education and the GDST, and are in a position to give more details of our proposals. Further information will also be available in the ‘Return to School: Your Questions Answered’ section at the bottom of this page.
Our Senior Leadership Team has considered extremely carefully how to balance the safeguarding of the health of our pupils, staff, and families with the educational needs of our entire Prep School community.
In this context, we plan to open the school in a way that employs all reasonable measures to protect the safety of pupils, staff and parents and also delivers an excellent education, both academically and pastorally; for those pupils in school and, indeed, for the significant number of those who continue to learn from home.
As pupils begin to return to the Prep, inevitably, we cannot offer complete security (not least as our youngest pupils, despite any measures in place, can only be trained to socially distance to a certain degree) nor will education be exactly as it would have been before the virus. Some of you may change your mind over time and we need to take account of that as well. In saying this, as the excellent and dedicated staff have already shown, our school is always innovative, committed and 100% focused on the wellbeing and education of your daughters.
It is vital we create a prudent and realistic path, which acknowledges the importance of pupil-to-staff contact and pupils’ peer-to-peer contact, while being clear about the fact we are still in the midst of a pandemic and need to mitigate risks to the extent this is possible.
To take into account government hygiene and spacing guidelines, each class will be split into two (up to four in Nursery) smaller classes called ‘bubble’ groups.
Zing, our cleaning team, has remained in school to undertake additional cleaning and sanitising for our keyworker provision and this will continue. The team will also undertake a thorough cleanse of the school each evening and at regular points within the school day. Additionally, we have an extra cleaner allocated to the Prep to support us and our girls.
A full time nurse will be on site daily to support staff with the wellbeing of our girls.
Our re-opening plan is designed so that we can respond and adapt effectively and smoothly to changing circumstances, most notably the return of other year groups. You will know that the Government’s ambition is for a return of all primary age children during the summer term, if possible.The timings and structures may also change over time.
It is also designed with each of our girls at its centre, acknowledging the importance of connecting with expert staff, and designed to ensure an effective and inspiring learning experience for all. The basis of the offer will mean girls, whether at home or school, continue to have as rich a learning experience as possible for the remainder of any lockdown restrictions. It will be, I stress, very different to that provided prior to the lock-down.
If families choose not to send their daughter, or owing to personal family circumstances, are prevented from a return to school at this time, then the Guided Home Learning continues and can be accessed five days a week. We will survey you regularly so we can ascertain whether parents have changed their minds on whether they wish their daughter to come to school or not which could impact our ‘bubble’ provision.
To ensure we follow the government’s guidelines, it is necessary to run the school in a different way. As previously stated, our proposed plan allows not only for the initial reopening with four different year groups and key worker pupils but also for the potential addition of further year groups later in the Summer term. We have been keen to establish a robust and sustainable model.
There will be a phased reintroduction for our girls.
Reception and Year 1 will be with their teacher and a TA. Depending on numbers they will either be taught as one bubble, or split into two bubbles. They will have four days onsite and GHL on Fridays. Miss Lockyer and Miss Milton will be in touch with the specific timings of this with you shortly.
Year 6 will be with Mrs Hayes, Ms Grimmer and another teacher as well as further TA’s. The girls will be split into three bubbles across the year group. This will be for 5 days on-site learning and they will finish at 1 pm on Fridays.
Please stick to these arrival slots
As outlined at the start I have compiled a ‘Return to School: Your Questions Answered’ document which gives further details on the proposals which I urge you to read.
Although we would prefer to have all the girls back in school as soon as possible, we are required to follow the DFE guidance and are therefore restricted to the return of Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 at this stage. Alongside, the return of these year groups, the SCPS team and I will continue to review and refine the five-day guided home learning programme to ensure it runs smoothly and effectively. Of course, within Reception and Year 1, where the girls are back on site, there might need to be a reduced GHL offer as these teachers will be involved in the reintegration of the girls in their care.
As ever, the plans outlined above are based on the most recent situation and advice. Should that change, then these plans may change too, and I will be in contact again.Additionally and very importantly, it is dependent on us being able to staff the provision safely and appropriately.
I would also like to ask you to ensure that the Guided Home Learning link that you use, which may be stored in your bookmarks or web browser, is accurate. In the midst of all this planning, we have re-launched our new website. If you preserved the link for Guided Home Learning from the old website you will need to follow the new one which is:
In the meantime, thank you as always for your continued support and understanding.
Please do keep safe and well.
With my best wishes,
‘Your questions answered’
Q. When will school resume for girls in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6, providing that we are able to do so?
A. June 1st will be devoted to staff training so everyone in the team can get used to the safe systems we will be adopting when school resumes. On Tuesday June 2nd subject to scientific/medical advice we will begin to bring in Y6, then the following day Y1, then Reception then Nursery. Nursery provision, if we can facilitate it, will be morning only.
Q. Will there be further parent surveys?
A. Parents in N, R, Y1 and Y6 indicated their initial support or otherwise. We will need to ascertain the exact numbers wishing to return ahead of June 1st and then you will need to keep us informed weekly after that in case of a change in numbers. This is essential in order for us to ensure we have the right number of staff in each ‘bubble’ group. Parents whose daughters are in other year groups will be surveyed as the situation evolves.
Q. So I can change my mind?
A. Yes, but you would have to wait for the start of a week if you wanted your daughter to resume school. For example, if you didn’t plan to send your daughter in w/c June 1st but changed your mind by the time that week’s questionnaire was circulated, your daughter would be able to resume school from w/c June 8th, and so on.
Q. What if I send my daughter in on June 2nd but change my mind and want to withdraw her?
A. That is fine, but she would not be able to resume until the Monday after you had made it clear to us that was your intention. We can’t allow a pick-and-mix type provision.
Health and safety:
Q. Will the teachers be wearing PPE?
A. The government advice is that wearing PPE is of limited benefit, except for brief social encounters, such as on public transport. Our teachers will be allowed to wear PPE if they wish, but it is not mandatory.
Q. Should our girls be wearing PPE to, and in, school?
A. They may do so, if you wish. It is not compulsory. If using public transport it is recommended
Q. Will the girls be hand-washing regularly?
A. The girls will be encouraged to wash their hands frequently with water and soap, for at least 20 seconds. Each girl will carry hand sanitiser at all times in a purse belt along with tissues. Other hand sanitisers will be placed in obvious positions in every building and the girls will be encouraged to hand-sanitise regularly.
Q. Will the facilities be regularly cleaned and how will the school reduce the threat of infected surfaces?
A. School facilities will be deep cleaned every day by additional cleaners on site, with particular attention paid to hard services regularly in use, such as desks and door handles. Very few books will be used and only hard toys. Girls will be provided with individual zip-lock bags which will contain the school equipment we will be providing for them. These wallets will be regularly cleaned and remain on the girls desks at all times. Equipment should not be brought in from home with the exception of Year 6 iPads (see below under ‘practical matters’).
Q. What if my daughter is unwell at school?
A. The sick bay will be open and a school nurse present every day. Girls can be taken to the nurse in the normal way if they are ill or injured. There is a triage system in place for this.
If they are sent home as displaying COVID-19 symptoms and are later diagnosed as having contracted the virus, they and all their school ‘bubble’ group, and the teacher or teaching assistant attached to the group, will have to shield at home for 14 days. In this scenario, the school would contact the other families of girls within the group as soon as possible.
Q. Will the school provide tissues?
A. Girls will need to bring their own. Once used, they will be put in the bin immediately, and hands washed. Staff will constantly be reminding the girls of the correct procedures.
Q. What other precautions will be in place to safeguard my daughter’s health?
A. The school nurse will respond to any situation where someone is feeling unwell and make an assessment, both by taking a temperature reading and by advising staff and parents.
Q. Will there be a school bus service or breakfast or after-school club?
A. Currently, no. We cannot maintain the ‘bubble’ groups that the girls have to be in for the rest of the day if we mix them.
Q. Will the school day be the same?
The start and finish of the day will be staggered so that Y6 arrive first, then Y1, then Reception and then Nursery. Nursery, if we are able to provide it, will end at 12pm for all the girls. The end of the day will also be staggered so that Reception finish first, then Y1 and then Y6. All girls will have left the premises by 4pm at the latest. There will be a socially distanced sister’s waiting club for families in different year groups.
Q. Can I come on-site to drop your daughter?
No. You will be asked to drop your daughter at the entrance; the black gate for Y6 and the EYFS playground for Y1, Reception and Nursery and key worker girls.
Q. What about snacks and lunch?
A. Girls should bring their own snacks (2 snacks ideally, one for morning, one for the afternoon, inline with the healthy eating policy) and packed lunches, chilled if possible. Packed lunches will need to be prepared in accordance with the normal school food rules (no nuts, no sweets and pre-wrapped bars). They will be kept in a chiller.
Lunches will be eaten by the girls within their ‘bubble’ groups, in their ‘bubble’ classroom or outside on sunny days. Hands will be washed before and after.
Q. What about school bags?
A. Girls should use their school rucksacks to bring in their lunch and snacks (and iPads/head-phones for Year 6). These should be cleaned every night in preparation for the next day.
Girls who need to carry medicine around school with them and take it home each evening, such as an Epi-pen or asthma inhaler, should carry these around in a purse-belt.
Q. Will there be extra-curricular provision before, during or after school? What about learning support lessons?
A. No, as we cannot maintain the ‘bubble’ groups and mix the girls for other activities.
Q. Will my daughter have to wear school uniform?
A. No, home clothes please, changed every day, comfortable enough for her to do physical activities. Sensible footwear should be worn. A T-shirt, a plain jumper or cardigan, shorts or leggings and practical trainers. No jewellery is allowed and hair must be tied back at all times.
Q.What should I do if I want to speak to a member of staff?
A. Please avoid face-to-face contact with staff. We need to keep entrances and exits clear and vacate swiftly, and maintain social distance as much as we can. If you have any queries, please email as you have been during the GHL period.
Q. What about Year 6 and iPads?
A. It is essential the girls bring in their devices and that each girl brings her own set of head or ear-phones. School head-phones will not be in use. iPads and head-phones should be cleaned every evening. The girls will have to fully charge their iPads at home in readiness for the school day.
Social and academic:
Q. Will my daughter be with her normal classmates?
A. No. She will be in a ‘bubble’ group composed of her own cohort/year, who for a few weeks will comprise her ‘SCPS family’. Looking further ahead, it is a wonderful way to make new friends ahead of next year.
Q. How does the rota work?
A. We have set up a two week rota based on a cycle. In line with our questionnaire feedback where over 40% of families were unsure or said no about their girls return, we wanted to set up a model that provided both ‘on-site’ and ‘GHL’ provision. Your daughter will be allocated to a bubble, and their rota will be shared accordingly. Reception and Nursery will operate differently with Reception offering a weekly rota and nursery will be mornings only.
Q. Why are the girls not back full-time and undertaking all their usual lessons?
A. We wanted to create a ‘sustainable and robust’ model in line with our staffing availability and space. Due to the stringent government guidelines regarding the necessity to group the girls within ‘bubbles’ we have had to split majority of our classes. We wanted to facilitate high quality on-site learning alongside continued GHL provision. We wanted to give as many girls as possible access to a teacher for their maths and English teaching; whilst this won’t be the case all of the time, we hope we can facilitate this as much as possible.
Q. Who will teach and supervise the girls?
A. The girls will be taught and supervised by a combination of teachers and teaching assistants. Wherever possible, the teacher or teaching assistant will remain with the group for the whole of the period they are on-site. However, other teachers may be involved in the education or supervision of a group, such as at playtime and for daily PE lessons
Q. What will they be taught?
A. Guided Home Learning will be the basis of our delivery to girls in and out of school. It provides a rich and varied programme for them. Crucially, it strikes a balance between excessive directed screen-time and free-choice activities.
Q. Will there be play times?
A. Play is integral to school life and normal play slots will be factored into the girls’ day. The girls will play within their ‘bubble’ groups. We will look to maintain social distancing, to the best of our ability, in the playground. Girls will be provided with structured play activities, wherever possible.
Q. Will the girls be able to move around school freely?
A. Movement will be systemised – one-way defined and keeping to the left – and girls will remain in their ‘bubble’ group classrooms for lessons. However, ample playtime has been factored into the school day. Girls will not be able to move around school freely as we need to adhere to government guidance.
Q. What can I do to prepare my daughter for return to school?
A. Talk to her about the information on this document, and answer any questions she might have.
Be honest that school will feel different from normal.
Make sure they come to school with only the prescribed equipment: school rucksack, snacks and lunch and iPad and headphones (Year 6).
To view the full risk assessment for the re-opening of SCPS please click here.