Letter from CEO of REACH2 to parents
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Continued School Closure
Dear Parents and Carers,
As you will be aware, the government announced on 28th May that they are continuing with plans to re-open schools for education provision in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.
Although we are really looking forward to the opportunity to see as many of our children as possible again, we have unfortunately had to take the decision to not re-open our school to any other year groups on 8th June 2020. This is not a decision that we have taken lightly, but we do feel that it is absolutely in the best interests of our school community at this time.
I wrote to you on 11th May to explain that there is nothing more important to us than the safety of our children and community. This is our absolute commitment to you as parents and carers. We will only re-open the school when we are in a position where it is completely safe to do so following a full risk assessment.
At this time, we are unable to re-open the school because our risk assessment shows that:
- We do not currently have enough suitably qualified staff available for work at this time to facilitate a wider re-opening.
- We are still awaiting the delivery of enough PPE for key members of staff that will ensure the safe operation of the school throughout the day.
We will be reviewing our risk assessment each week and will continue to keep the situation under review. When our risk assessments show that it is possible to open the school up to other year groups we will do so as soon as possible and be sure to let you know at the earliest opportunity.
Childcare and Home Learning
We will continue to operate a childcare facility for:
- Children of critical workers
- Vulnerable pupils: those with a EHCP, with a Social Worker, or those with vulnerability to whom the school have decided to offer a childcare place.
In addition, we will also continue to provide home learning activities for the following groups for all other pupils who are not at school.
I would like to thank you all again for your support for the school in recent times. When it is safe to open our doors to more children again we really look forward to seeing them. Working together we will find a way through this and make sure every child, has every chance, every day!
Mr Anthony Cosans
Today is the first day of the May half term, so there will be no work up on the Class Pages over the next week. We hope you enjoy the time together in the sunshine and stay safe.
Yesterday we said farewell to Mrs Mary Gasson, who is retiring after 20 years at St Andrews/Unity. Mrs Gasson has worked as an LSA and, more recently, working with pupils one to one and in groups on their speech and language development. She has had an incredible impact on the lives of the pupils of our community over the years and, even though we haven't been able to celebrate altogether, we send our best wishes for a happy and healthy retirement.
We also said 'see you later' to Miss Halls, who started her maternity leave yesterday. We wish her the best of luck and are really looking forward to seeing mum and baby (from a distance!) in the future.
REAch2 have taken the decision to reopen all schools within the academy trust no earlier than Monday 8th June in order to give head teachers and staff an appropriate amount of time to prepare and ensure that the environment is as safe as possible. Please see the letter below, which has been sent by email to all parents, explaining the decision.
Unity Primary Academy continues to risk assess and plan for reopening and will keep parents informed as and when a decision on what this will look like is made. Thank you for your ongoing support and patience.
We would like to inform you that the next set of vouchers have been ordered by the school but we are still waiting for them to be issued by the government. As soon as they have been issued, we will send out the vouchers to you in the usual way.
Unity Primary Academy
Unfortunately, after a substantial amount of time waiting to hear back and many emails, Essex County Council have refused our request to check the eligibility of parents in EYFS and KS1 for benefits-related Free School Meals. As you know, this is also not currently possible for parents through their website. We are looking into how we can assess this information and ensure we have the funding to pass on to schools. As soon as we know how this can be done, we will contact parents. We apologise for this disappointing outcome and are doing everything we can to ensure that FSM vouchers get to the families that need them.
It's great to hear how many families are enjoying the learning and activities that are going onto the class pages daily. We have had lots of positive feedback and great photos and emails of what you have been up to. Some families are telling us that they have done so much that they need new exercise books.
If you need a new exercise book, you can come to the school office and pick one up. Alternatively, if you are unable to leave the house, please call the school office to arrange to have one posted.
Please also let us know if you need any resources or extra work and we will endeavour to provide that too.
The children's annual reports have gone into the post for families this week for pupils in Reception up to Year 6. The reports were written and completed by the Easter holidays and reflect on children's progress so far in the year.
If you have any questions about reports, please use the contact form on your child's class page to contact the class teacher and they will get back to you.
There are lots of links, resources and ideas on our Wellbeing page to support your family's mental health at this time. There are also links to websites and charities that can support parents' mental health and opportunities to speak to professionals via helplines and referral processes.
Please click on the link below to go straight there.
Welcome back to the Summer term at Unity Primary Academy. All staff are now busy back at work and teachers are again providing daily activities on the class pages on the website and on Tapestry for children to complete at home.
As well as this there are two national learning services that have launched today: BBC Bitesize is releasing daily videos and lessons for children and the government have create the Oak National Academy for daily online lessons. Links to both websites can be found below.
Unity Primary Academy is updating the website including the Home Learning page on a regular basis. We also have two new pages under the News and Events heading called Domestic Violence Support and Bereavement Support. These are challenging times for all of us and our staff are still working hard to help as best we can. Please reach out to us if you need anything by calling the school, using the contact forms on our website or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We apologise for the delay in getting this week's Free School Meal vouchers to families. The vouchers were ordered on Tuesday 7th April and still have not been processed by the company providing them. We have communicated our disappointment and requested that this is resolved as soon as possible. As soon as the vouchers for this week are approved, they will be sent to families.
If you sent your information to the school last week to check if you were eligible for Free School Meals, we are still waiting for confirmation of this from Essex County Council. We are expecting that information to come through next week and as soon as it does we will contact all families who applied to let them know the outcome.
Axel Scheffler (of The Gruffalo), has illustrated a new book which is designed to help children understand Coronavirus. It answers all the questions a child might have, including ‘What is Coronavirus’ and ‘What happens if I catch Coronavirus? This is available as a download or as a virtual magazine.
Coronavirus - A book for children
Our teaching staff will be taking their Easter holiday break as normal over the next two weeks. This means that there will be no daily activities or phone calls during this time. More information about the arrangements for learning after Easter will follow. Our teachers have put up ideas for activities to do over the Easter holidays on their class pages and there are also lots of resources on the Home Learning page of our website, which we are adding to regularly.
If you need to talk to anyone from the school during the Easter holidays, please use the contact form below and we will endeavour to get back to you. Please note, there will be minimal staffing in our school office during the holidays.
Need support? Have a question?
Please fill out this contact form with your question or request for contact and a member of staff will get back to you to help you with your query. We will endeavour to call you back within 24 hours.
Free School Meal Vouchers
On Monday, the government announced a nationwide vouchers scheme for pupils who currently receive benefits-related free school meals. This was due to be distributed to schools on Tuesday, however, the information required from the government only arrived at Unity Primary Academy on Thursday. Our staff have been working hard today to ensure that those who are currently eligible, receive their voucher by email or post by the end of this week. We apologise for the delay in this.
Please note, the vouchers will be issued by email or post every week during term time only. This means that families will receive the next voucher in the week beginning 20th April and subsequent weeks after that.
How to explain what is happening.
Our Prime Minister, Mr Johnson said you can only leave your home to:
- shop for things you really need, like food or medicine
- for exercise once a day either on your own or with people you live with
- for medical reasons or to help elderly or vulnerable neighbours
- grown-ups can travel to work but only if it is essential and they cannot work from home.
He said all shops selling things that weren't essential would have to close. Parks will stay open for exercise but playgrounds will be shut, as well as libraries and places of worship like churches and mosques.
The prime minister also said he did not want people to gather in groups of more than two, unless it is people they live with.
He finished by saying the rules would be looked at again in three weeks - when they might be relaxed if they had worked.
Some countries around the world have similar rules in place to help them defeat coronavirus.
Remember, when big changes like this happen, it can make you feel scared or confused - but that's completely normal.
Free School Meals Vouchers
Next week Unity Primary Academy will no longer be preparing packed lunches for collection. Instead, we will be moving to a voucher system. This will be for children who are registered as Free School Meals on our management system (which we regularly update from Essex County Council). Unfortunately, this does not include children on Universal Infant Free School Meals.
We will be getting in contact with families soon to let them know how the vouchers will work. If your circumstances have changed or you think you qualify, you can register for Free School Meals at the link below. Essex County Council will then inform the school of any successful applications.
New web page - School Closure Support
We have a new page on the website under the News and Events tab called School Closure Support. This page is dedicated to links and places in the community you can find support for food and supplies whilst self-isolating or socially distancing for 12 weeks.
As a school, we are doing everything we can to support our families, however, our main focus is providing childcare and protecting staff and children. Please do get in touch with us if you need any support and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.
Sharing your learning with us
We would love to see what you are getting up to at home. If you would like to send photographs of your learning and activities at home, please send them to email@example.com with your child's class or class teacher in the subject heading. The office team will then forward these to staff and we will upload them to the website. If you are on Tapestry, you can upload your own photos and videos straight to the app.
Please keep checking this page and the class pages regularly for learning ideas and activities. The Home Learning page is also being added to on a regular basis.
Learning from home
Along with the home learning packs of daily activities and key skills practise, Unity Primary Academy's teachers are working hard at home to put up daily activities on the school website or, if your child is in Nursery or Reception, on Tapestry.
Under the menu heading Children you will be able to click on the Class Pages. Here you can go into your child's class and find a daily reading, writing, maths and foundation subject (such as art, science or history) activity to complete at home.
On Tapestry, there will be a daily reading, phonics, number and other area of learning (such as physical education or being creative) to complete. Don't forget to take photos and videos to upload and share.
Your child's class teacher will also touch base with you and your child during a weekly phone call (during term time only). You can ask any questions about the learning or get advice on teaching ideas.
If you have any questions, get in touch through the contact page on your class page and we will do our best to help.
Enjoy your learning
Free School Meals
As the government has announced, all children who receive Free School Meals (not including Universal Infant Free School Meals) will continue to receive a lunch or food vouchers whilst schools are closed. The government has not yet clarified what the voucher scheme will look like yet, however, REAch2 are providing schools with pre-packed sandwiches and lunch items for Free School Meal children.
On Friday we emailed letters to all parents who receive Free School Meals to explain how they could collect their lunch from the school. If you have yet to reply, please either email us firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know whether you will or will not be coming to collect your child's lunch.
We are aware that large amount of our families who receive Free School Meals are currently in the 14 day self isolation period and have voiced concerns about how they will collect lunches. Where possible, please ask a member of your family (not living in your household), a neighbour or a friend to come and collect the lunches for you. We will be meeting tomorrow to try to find a way to ensure that all families receive the meals their children are entitled to. Please bear with us as we try to solve this challenge.
Yesterday we had to say 'see you soon' to the vast majority of our pupils as our doors closed for the foreseeable future. Everyone at Unity Primary Academy has worked so hard over the last week to ensure our children had a normal, positive week at school amongst lots of worry and anxiety. We want to say a huge thank you to our staff and we thank you, our amazing school community, for all of your messages of support and kindness.
We are still here for each and every one of you and we will keep in regular contact with families. Please do reach out if you need any help and we will see what we can do to support you, even if it just a listening ear. If you have any questions about learning, there will be a contact page on each class website which will go to your class teacher and they will give you a call once a week during term time. If you need any other support, there will be a contact form on the Covid-19 page which will go to a member of SLT who will be in touch when they can. We will also continue to update the website regularly. We will send further information about what to expect from us in terms of home learning soon.
Every member of staff at Unity Primary will miss the pupils and families, however, we know that we will see each other again as soon as it is safe to do so. Keep safe and look after each other.
Miss Williams and Miss Halls
The government has now published its list of key workers who may be entitled to a place at school.
The government is recommending that, where possible, children remain at home to slow the spread of the virus. If families are able to provide childcare at home, the government asks that they do so.
If you feel you are a key worker, please call the school office and let us know your name, job and names of your children. The school will be in touch with you today to confirm whether your child has a place at Unity Primary over the following weeks.
Miss Williams and Miss Halls
You will have heard by now the government’s announcement that schools in England will close to the majority of pupils for the ‘foreseeable future.’ Currently, we are seeking further guidance as to who is eligible to still continue to come to school.
So far the government has specified that the children of key workers and vulnerable children will still be able to attend school. You may be a key worker if either parent works in the emergency services (police, fire, armed forces, prison staff) or in the NHS (including cleaners, admin staff and porters) or as a delivery driver. Vulnerable children have so far been specified as those with an EHCP or a designated social worker.
If you think you qualify as a key worker, please telephone the school office and leave your name and contact details, job description and the names of your children. We will then be in touch with families to confirm whether your children are eligible to still attend school. We will be in touch with families who may also qualify as having vulnerable children.
If you do not fall into either category, your child will not be able to attend school until further notice. However, along with the packs we have sent home, we have put in place support for parents teaching children at home over the next two weeks and possibly beyond. This will include:
- For EYFS pupils in Nursery and Reception, a daily reading, phonics, number and general activity put up daily on Tapestry.
- For KS1 and KS2 pupils, a daily reading, writing, maths and foundation subject activity on each class page on the website.
- A contact form on the class page to ask questions or share work with the class teacher.
- A weekly phone call from the class teacher (please ensure your phone does not block private numbers)
- A Home Learning Page on the website with up-to-date activities and links across the internet.
- A contact form on the Covid 19 page to request contact from a member of the Senior Leadership Team.
It has been confirmed that there will be no National Assessments this year for Year 1 Phonics, Year 2 and 6 SATs and Year 4 Multiplication Check.
We want all parents to know that we are still very much here for our community and all of our children. Please do reach out to us if you need anything.
Miss Williams and Miss Halls
Home learning packs
Today we are sending home with the children home learning packs in case families are required to self-isolate over the coming weeks. These packs include an exercise book, stationary and key skill activities (such as handwriting, times tables, mental maths activities, letter and number formation, etc) that we would like parents to practise on a daily basis with their child.
We will soon update the website with our plans for learning to continue in case of school closure and a list of websites and resources you can use to learn at home.
If you are already absent due to illness and self-isolation requirements, we will organise a delivery of these packs to your home over the coming days. Where possible, we will post them through the letterbox. If this is not possible, we will leave the packs on the doorstep and notify the household by ringing the bell or knocking on the door.
There will be no contact between staff and members of the household who are self-isolating.
Explaining Covid-19 to young children
We have been sent through an educational booklet that the NHS has been using to explain Covid-19 to young children that you may want to use with your own children at home.
We would like to reassure parents that we continue to follow all the appropriate guidelines from Public Health England and the guidance issued by the Department of Education with regard to how educational settings should handle the current situation. The guidance is updated daily and we will continue to post the links to this on our school website so that parents always have easy access to the most up to date information available.
Senior Leaders at Unity Primary Academy and within REAch2, are working around the clock to safeguard and plan ahead. Daily meetings are taking place to put necessary processes in place to continue to support our families.
At Unity Primary Academy, we take our responsibility to safeguard and support vulnerable families very seriously, and we do not want the help and care that we currently offer to you and your child(ren) to stop during this time. To enable us to continue to offer you our support, we will be making regular phone contact with some families to ask how you are doing, offer advice and support where we can. You will be contacted by your designated staff member if additional support at this time has been identified for you.
Our community fridge remains open to everyone. If you are self-isolating and you need support with food, please call into school.
Unity Primary Academy remains open as normal and staff are working hard to ensure children's health and hygiene remains a top priority.
We are aware that government advice has changed in the last 24 hours and whole families are now expected to self-isolate for 14 days if any member of their family displays one of the symptoms of Coronavirus otherwise they should attend school as normal.
If children become unwell at school with a new continuous cough or a fever, they will be isolated and sent home, along with any siblings.
If parents choose not to send children to school without a valid reason, this will be marked as an unauthorised absence.
Please do keep reporting attendance to our Attendance Officer by phoning the school on 01206864226, emailing at email@example.com or submitting an online form on our website.
We are working hard to find a way to provide learning for those children currently at home and will continue to keep you updated on our website.
Miss Hall and Miss Williams
Dear Parents and Carers
We understand that many of our school community will be concerned about the ongoing situation regarding Covid-19. This page will provide you with the guidance and advice that we are currently receiving from Essex County Council, REAch2 and the government. It will be updated on a regular basis to help keep you fully informed of our preparations and actions at Unity Primary Academy.
Currently, the government has advised that no educational setting should close and so Unity remains open to all pupils, with appropriate plans and procedures in place.
Lucy Williams and Rebecca Halls
Covid-19 Newsletter (including cancellation and postponing of events)
Letter from Sir Steve Lancashire, CEO of the REAch2 Trust
How to talk to your children about the coronavirus
It might feel challenging to talk to your child about the Coronavirus, however, there are child-friendly ways to share information with them about what is going on without causing anxiety and panic.
- Ask them what they're actually worried about.
- Be honest but not alarming.
- Be mindful of your own reactions - children will look to you for reassurance and feed off your anxiety.
- Explain that things in the media may sound worse than they are.
- Explain that Coronavirus is not serious for the majority of people - especially children.
- Teach them the importance of hand-washing and good hygiene.
- Explain that Coronavirus won't go away overnight but will hopefully begin to go away in the future.
- Only use accurate sources of information like the NHS website rather than speculation.
Watch this video from Newsround that answers key questions about Coronavirus
Hygiene and Handwashing
Current government advice is that we 'supervise young children to ensure they wash their hands for 20 seconds more often than usual with soap and water or hand sanitiser and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues'.
At Unity Primary Academy, children and adults have completed lots of practical and informative activities about the best way to keep hands clean and germ-free. We have been using lots of resources that you can find below and use with children at home.
Preparation for possible school closures
No schools have been directed to close at this point, however,Unity Primary Academy has taken guidance and advice on what needs to prepared and carried out in the case of mandatory school closures issued by the government. We are preparing to ensure all pupils still receive daily learning activities as well as resources they may need to record their learning. We are also looking at ways that families can stay in touch with the school and how we can continue to offer early help and services remotely.
If you do not have internet access at home, please let the school office know as soon as possible.
We would like to reassure you that cleaning of the school is being prioritised with extra care given to high contact surfaces such as door handles and light switches.
We are asking all visitors to use the hand sanitiser underneath the signing in screen upon entering and exiting the reception area, even if only visiting for a short time.
To support the delay of the spread of the virus, the DfE has asked anyone who shows certain symptoms should stay at home for 7 days, regardless of whether they have travelled to affected areas. This means people should stay at home and avoid all but essential contact with others for 7 days from the point of displaying mild symptoms. The symptoms are:
- A high temperature (37.8 degrees and above)
- A new, continuous cough
If you have made the decision for your child to self-isolate, please inform our attendance officer that this is the reason they are not at school. This should be through the usual procedures found on the Late/Absence page of the website. Your child will not be able to return to school for 7 days, even if they feel better and no longer display the symptoms.
Currently, the guidance states that siblings and members of the family do not also need to self-isolate, unless they are also displaying the symptoms. However, they will be closely monitored whilst at school.