Applause for teachers would be most deserved

Monday 6th April

Officially the first day of the school Easter holidays.

I have blocked out a four week period – which started last week – making sure all staff have their contractual two weeks annual leave but it is very difficult for them to switch off knowing the school is open.

Teachers have eased up on the home learning. Parents have been provided with ideas and links which they can use if they want.

11 pupils today. Boris Johnson was admitted to hospital last night.

Over the weekend government ministers threatened that the lockdown may have to go further if small but significant numbers of people continued to flout the new laws.

Michael Gove surprised everybody when he announced the free school voucher scheme would now be available to families during the holiday.

Nothing official came in overnight to confirm this.

If it is true then this will catch a lot of schools out and probably Edenred, the company managing the scheme, too.

They are already struggling to process all the applications.

Tuesday 7th April

Big news overnight.

Firstly, Boris Johnson’s health worsened and he was moved to Intensive Care.

The DfE announce the voucher scheme will apply from yesterday! Good news for families.

What schools have still not been told is whether they have to open on the Bank Holidays, now only three days away.

Plenty of staff have volunteered.

We are planning to be open if parents need us but so far all those families still sending their children to school have informed us that they won’t need to on those two days.

10 pupils today.

Ray Goooding, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, has written a letter to all Essex schools’ staff which I passed on to our team.

It was a lovely letter and he was keen to point out that school staff are key workers and at 8.00pm on Thursdays the nation are applauding our efforts too in providing a valuable service to our country’s most valuable key workers – hospital staff.

“The difficulty that this Covid-19 crisis has shown is that despite the adversity, the lack of guidance and information, the manner and speed with which schools and the teaching profession have responded is exemplary.

“Schools have never been closed in this manner and the teaching profession have never needed to react to such a constantly changing situation.

“I salute you all for the way you have reacted….. So, most of all I want to say a big “THANK YOU” for everything you are doing and next week for the Thursday Clap I will be bequeathing three of every four claps for schools and teachers!”

Wednesday 8th April

5 pupils today.

This morning the government finally made its decision on whether schools should be open on the bank holidays.

The answer is “yes please,” if key workers need it.

All the prevarication has meant parents have got it covered.

The message of the day from the LA is what schools need to put in place for the summer term to keep in touch with all families.

It is anticipated that the longer lockdown and school closure continue, the greater strain on family life.

Tragically this will include coping with bereavement for many.

How can schools support all our families remotely? That is the challenge we face.

Other agencies – such as Social Care, the Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Service, school nurses and health visitors – all will be expected to work with schools and families.

These services have reduced their reach over the past years because their capacity has been reduced.

All professionals feel frustration at this. How will they cope over the next few months with this additional expectation in supporting more families through this crisis?

Thursday 9th April

I woke up this morning to see that the print and tv media are running four main stories which are creating a feeling of confusion.

Boris Johnson remains in intensive care and there is a concern that big decisions will not be made until he has recovered which could take weeks; yesterday the highest number of deaths in the UK were recorded – 938; as the Bank Holiday weekend approaches there is a fear of social distancing being breached on a large scale so there could be an increase of lockdown restrictions, and finally there is talk of schools re-opening. How are schools and families to make sense of all that?

Where is the logic in opening schools during a lockdown?

I am all for getting back to normal but not before the risk has been managed successfully.

The FSM voucher scheme has hit the national headlines today for all the wrong reasons, prompting Clare Kershaw, Director for Education, to write a letter to all Essex families explaining that Edenred, the company managing the scheme are really struggling and it is not the school’s fault if families have not received their e-voucher codes yet.

They are not coping.

Friday 10th April

Good Friday.

The school does not need to open today.

A long weekend of sunshine to look forward to.

Will enough people show self-discipline and not make matters worse.

France banned exercise earlier in the week.

Let us hope it does not need to come to that here.