Statements from the CEO

Statement to Stakeholders                                                                                                   8 October 2020


Dear Colleagues

The new term continues to go well.  Attendance last week and so far this week was 96.7 % across the Trust, which is fantastic.

My thanks once again to all the staff who are working extremely hard to bring about a successful recovery in these difficult and testing times.  

The Executive Board met last Thursday, and the overwhelming consensus was that things are still going extremely well, with most children settled and happy to be back in school, and with most parents being extremely supportive.

Of course, as stated previously, our main strategic aim now is a continued and sustainable recovery, with a particular focus on mental health and wellbeing. With this in mind, we are in the process of setting up a Wellbeing Leaders’ Group to share practice across the Trust, inform policy and develop action plans for each setting going forward.  It is intended that this group will meet after half term, with their first task being to implement a staff wellbeing survey.

Our Pupil Premium/ Recovery Leaders’ Group is also in the process of being established, and will be meeting with an expert from Blackfriars Teaching School Alliance after half term to work on/ refine a three year PP improvement strategy for each setting.

Other working parties that either have already met this term or will be meeting after half term are:

  • SENDCos
  • Family Support Leaders
  • Philosophy for Children Leaders
  • EYFS Leaders

In November, we will also be relaunching our MAT to MAT collaboration with the New Guild Trust and others, also in conjunction with our partners from Worcester University, initially via TEAMS. This is such an exiting opportunity to generate opportunities for strategic peer supported development, which is so important even/ especially in these unusual times.

Work on setting up a Cloud based digital platform using MS TEAMS to support remote learning is now complete, with the exception of Oaklands (which is in hand).  Relevant staff have now also received initial training on using the platform, which will help to facilitate a blended approach to remote learning as and when required.

The Condition Improvement Funding (CIF) projects at both Ellison and Summerbank are now almost at the completion stage.  The CIF project at Gladstone to completely refurbish the SEN Block there commenced this week.  I am still awaiting the outcome of the appeals submitted for the proposed safeguarding improvements at both Ash Green and Goldenhill.

As you know, all trust and local governor meetings/ activity is encouraged to resume this term with a focus on recovery. Details of all trust and local meetings can be found on the Trust’s website under Calendar of Events.  A copy of the latest governance handbook is also available under Key Information/ Resources.

All Trust Covid-19 Policy and Addendums are available on the Trust’s website under Covid-19.  Each setting’s latest risk assessment can also be found on the Trust’s website under Covid-19.

Many thanks for your continued support of the Trust and its settings, which is appreciated by all.

My very best wishes,

Jon Lovatt

Chief Executive Officer

 


Statement to Stakeholders                                                                                                   26 September 2020


Dear Colleagues

Reopening continues to go well, with all our children (approx 1,950) now safely at school and in full time education once again.  Attendance this week was 95.2 % across the Trust, which is fantastic.

My thanks to all the staff who are working extremely hard to bring about a successful recovery in such difficult and testing circumstances.

The Executive Team continue to meet at least once a week, and at the last meeting yesterday the overwhelming consensus was that things are going extremely well, with most children settled and happy to be back in school, and with most parents being extremely supportive.  Of course our main strategic aim now is a continued recovery, with a particular focus on mental health and wellbeing; and as I said in my update last week, one of our next steps is to establish a Wellbeing Leaders’ Group to share practice and inform policy going forward.

Our current Trust Education Partner, Julie Ash, is stepping down, and I am very exited to announce that Sarah Preston, a very well respected school improvement specialist, will be replacing her.  My thanks to Julie, who has been an exceptional school improvement partner over the last two years, supporting the trust and its settings on our journey of continuous improvement.  As you know, our Academy Performance Review cycle is currently suspended, most likely until the spring term at the earliest; Sarah will however be visiting each setting over the rest of this term to meet with senior leaders and to offer guidance and support where needed.

Work on the Trust’s digital platform using MS TEAMS to support remote teaching and learning is still progressing well, with the installation due to be completed by 5 October at the latest.  Staff will receive training on using the platform on 6 October, which will help to facilitate remote learning (as and when required) as part of a blended approach to teaching and learning.  Each setting will also be sending out a ‘Remote Learning’ survey to all parents on Monday, which will be used to establish which children may require additional IT support at home, so they can fully engage with a blended approach to teaching and learning remotely whenever the circumstances may require it.

The Condition Improvement Funding (CIF) projects at both Ellison and Summerbank are also progressing well, with both almost at the completion stage.  The CIF project at Gladstone is due to commence next week.  I have also now submitted appeals for the proposed safeguarding improvements at both Ash Green and Goldenhill, whose CIF bids were only 1 mark off the threshold for being successful.

As you know, all trust and local governor meetings / activity is encouraged to resume this term with a focus on recovery. Details of all trust and local meetings can be found on the Trust’s website under Calendar of Events.

All Trust Covid-19 Policy and Addendums are available on the Trust’s website under Covid-19.  Each setting’s latest risk assessment can also be found on the Trust’s website under Covid-19.  I have now also extended the Trust’s HR Policy Addendum for the Closure Period to cover the ongoing Pandemic – this is attached and also available on the Website under Covid-19.

Many thanks for your continued and invaluable support of the Trust and its settings.

Best wishes,

Jon Lovatt

Chief Executive Officer

 


Statement to Stakeholders                                                                                                   18 September 2020


Dear Colleagues

Reopening continues to go well, with all our children (approx 1,950) now safely at school and in full time education once again.  Attendance this week, which is down slightly on the previous week (mainly due to the number of children off with cold like symptoms), was at 92% across the Trust.

My thanks to all the staff who are working relentlessly to make this success story happen.  

Two of the Trust’s Steering Groups met on Wednesday this week – the Pupil Premium / Recovery (PP/R) Steering Group and the Inclusion and Wellbeing (I/WB) Steering Group.  

At the PP/R meeting, each setting shared the amazing work going on to help children catch up with their learning whilst also maintaining a focus on their mental health and wellbeing.  One of the next steps for the Trust now is to establish a Pupil Premium / Recovery Leaders’ Group, bringing leaders together from across the Trust to establish a three year PP/Recovery strategy for each setting, working with an expert from Blackfriars Teaching School.  

At the I/WB meeting, each setting shared some of the measures in place to ensure the mental health and wellbeing of the staff.  Another next step is to now establish a Wellbeing Leaders’ Group, giving leaders across the Trust the opportunity to share practice and plan collectively.  Furthermore, through the fantastic work of our SENDCo Leaders’ Group, the trust has also managed to secure high quality educational physiologist time for each of our settings from a group of external providers.
 
Work on the Trust’s virtual learning digital platform, using MS TEAMS, is progressing well, with the installation at each setting due to be completed over the next two weeks.  Staff will then receive training on using the platform, which will help to facilitate remote learning (as and when required) as part of a multifaceted approach. 

The Condition Improvement Funding (CIF) projects at both Ellison and Summerbank are also progressing well, with both ahead of schedule for completion.  The CIF project at Gladstone is due to commence at the end of September.   

We are now in the window for producing our final accounts for the year ended 31 August 2020, and so all our business managers are working flat out to meet the various reporting deadlines.  They each have my thanks for the extraordinary work they do to support their own settings and the trust as a whole, especially at this time when just managing to maintain normal school operations is so onerous.  

As you know, all trust and local governor meetings / activity is encouraged to resume this term with a focus on recovery. Details of all trust and local meetings can be found on the Trust’s website under Calendar of Events.

All Trust Covid-19 Policy and Addendums are available on the Trust’s website under Covid-19.  Each setting’s latest risk assessment can also be found on the Trust’s website under Covid-19.

Many thanks for your continued support of the Trust and its settings, and have a great weekend.

Best wishes

Jon Lovatt

Chief Executive Officer

 


Statement to Stakeholders                                                                                                   11 September 2020


Dear Colleagues

I hope this email finds you well and that you have had a good summer break despite all the various restrictions.

Reopening has gone very well indeed for Societas, with all our children (approx 1,950) now safely at school and in full time education once again.  Attendance has been fantastic with 96% attendance across the Trust.  The children have settled down really well and all our staff have, as usual, been amazing.  Parents have also been extremely supportive.

As said by Guy at the end of last term, the last six months have provided unique and unprecedented challenges for us all, and together as an organisation we have faced and successfully overcome them and will continue so to do, which fills me with immense pride.

So once again, my sincere thanks to all our incredible staff for the fantastic job they have done, and continue to do, supporting our children and families through what has been, and continues to be, one of the most challenging periods in living memory: they each have my enduring gratitude for the selflessness they have each shown to date.  

As you are aware, the closure of schools due to the pandemic sadly meant we had to postpone the planned enrichment events for the children right across the Trust, including the Shakespeare performance of Romeo and Juliet at the New Vic, and the MAT Olympics at Stoke City F.C. However, we are now exploring how we can safely begin to organise these and other events (including our MAT to MAT collaboration project supported by Worcester University) again this year, so please watch this space.

All trust and local governor meetings / activity is encouraged to resume this term with a focus on recovery; where possible, however, meetings should continue to take place remotely via virtual means until further notice. Details of all trust and local meetings can be found on the Trust’s website under Calendar of Events.

A copy of our latest reset and recovery policy can be found on this website under Covid-19 / Policy and Policy Addendums.

Each setting’s latest risk assessment can also be found on this website under Covid-19 / Setting Risk Assessments.

Another piece of fantastic news to end on: during the holidays, we were notified that Gladstone has also been successful in their condition improvement fund (CIF) bid to refurbish the S.E.N. block there, bringing approx. £200k additional funding into the Trust towards the cost of this essential project for the benefit of some of our most vulnerable children.  This means that over the last two years, we have been successful in gaining additional funding to support four essential infrastructure improvement projects across the trust to the tune of approx £750k.  As you might expect, we will be pushing hard for more of the same going forward.

Many thanks for your continued support of the Trust and its settings, which is invaluable to all the head teachers and me, and the morale of all the children and staff.

Best wishes

Jon Lovatt

Chief Executive Officer

 


Statement to Parent and Carers                                                                                         15 July 2020


Dear Parent/Carer

Pupils Returning to School in September 2020
 
As we approach the end of this most unusual Summer Term, I would like to set out the arrangements which will apply in all the Trust’s school settings from September 2020. The period of lock-down during the pandemic has required an unprecedented response in terms of changes to normal school provision.  At Societas, we have been working with other school leaders, as well as following the latest guidance from Government, to provide the assurances which will be required to bring all pupils back into full-time education from the start of next term.
 
The expectation is that reopening in September should be as close as possible to the ‘normality’ of before lock-down, although it is inevitable that there will be aspects of school daily life which will still continue to reflect the extraordinary circumstances generated by the pandemic.  Schools are also prepared to support the continued effort to suppress the virus and will be alert to the prospect of a return to more restrictions should they be re-imposed if the public health situation requires this.
 
The safety and wellbeing of children and staff have driven our approach at all times, and will continue to do so.  We are satisfied that the new term offers the opportunity for all year groups to re-engage fully with education within their school setting.  I therefore ask that you follow the instructions from your child’s school and join them in their efforts to allow pupils to catch-up with learning.
 
I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to you as parents/carers for your understanding during this difficult time, as well as to all our staff for their ongoing work to ensure all children can continue with their education in a safe and secure way.
 

With my very best wishes,

Jon Lovatt

Chief Executive Officer

The Societas Trust

 


Stakeholder Update – Week Ending 10 July 2020


Dear Colleagues

Expansion continues, with all children requiring a place this term catered for.  Numbers continue to rise with 700 children having accessed on-site provision since June 1st, representing one third of our total population.

Once again, my immense thanks to all our incredible staff for the fantastic job they continue to do supporting our children and families, both on and off-site.  

Children at home continue to have the same great learning opportunities as those attending school, with staff in regular contact with them, those who are struggling in particular. For details of each setting’s home learning arrangements, please go to www.societastrust.org.uk / High Quality Learning / Home Learning Arrangements.

With the further easing of restrictions from 4 July, all our settings will be closed to all children over the summer holiday period.  Individual settings may arrange summer holiday clubs / activities if they wish.

The Governments guidance for the full opening of schools from the start of the autumn term can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak

This guidance appears to be securely grounded on current Public Health advice and to give leaders the flexibility they need to plan for a full return of children and staff from September, with the necessary controls in place to mitigate the risk of contagion in a measured and effective way. In light of the new guidance, all settings are now reviewing their site risk assessments; individual risk assessments for any staff considered vulnerable should they catch the virus, currently working from home, are also underway to mitigate risk so they can return to work as safely as possible in September.

All our settings will be closed to children on Tuesday 1st and Wednesday 2nd September for INSET, and will begin welcoming children back in a phased way from Thursday 3rd September.  Attendance will be compulsory again from Monday 14 September.  Letters to parents informing them of the arrangements for September are now going out from each setting.  I am currently in the process of aligning our Reset and Recovery Policy with the new guidance, which will be available for general circulation by the end of next week.

Some more very exciting news: Ash Green Primary Academy and Gladstone Primary Academy have both been awarded the Bronze Philosophy for Children (P4C) award by SAPERE; all 6 of our settings have now achieved this prestigious award and are well on track to achieving the silver award next year.  My congratulations to all the staff and children at both settings on this fantastic achievement, bringing immeasurable benefits to the children.     

The Executive Team continue to meet weekly via Microsoft TEAMS, and the remaining trust and local governing board meetings this term, also via Microsoft TEAMS, are planned as follows:

  • 14th July – 13:00 – Executive Board (including Deputy Heads)

TEAMS meetings to date have gone very well indeed, and have been very well attended.

All local governor meetings / activity will be encouraged to resume next term with a focus on recovery; where possible, however, governor meetings should continue to take place remotely via virtual means until further notice.

Many thanks for your ongoing support, and please stay well and take care!

Jon Lovatt

Chief Executive Officer

The Societas Trust

 


Stakeholder Update – Week Ending 3 July 2020


Dear Colleagues

Expansion continues, with all children requiring a place this term now catered for.  Numbers continue to rise with 690 children having accessed on-site provision since June 1st, representing one third of our total population.

Once again, my immense thanks to all our incredible staff for the fantastic job they continue to do supporting our children and families, both on and off-site.  

Children at home continue to have the same great learning opportunities as those attending school, with staff in regular contact with them, those who are struggling in particular. For details of each setting’s home learning arrangements, please go to www.societastrust.org.uk / High Quality Learning / Home Learning Arrangements.

With the further easing of restrictions from 4 July, all our settings will be closed to all children over the summer holiday period.  Individual settings may arrange summer holiday clubs / activities if they wish.

The Governments guidance for the full opening of schools from the start of the autumn term has now been released and can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak

This guidance appears to be securely grounded on current Public Health advice and to give school leaders the flexibility they need to plan for a full return of children and staff from September, with the necessary controls in place to mitigate the risk of contagion in a measured and effective way.

I will be meeting with the Executive first thing on Monday morning to discuss more detailed plans for reopening in September, and will update you again after this meeting.  However, all our settings will be closed to children on Tuesday 1st and Wednesday 2nd September for INSET, and will begin welcoming children back from Thursday 3rd September.

Some exciting news:  we have been successful with two of our Condition Improvement Bids (CIF), which will see the second and final phase of a new heating system at Ellison Primary Academy; and a reconfigured entrance area, including new office space and a safer space for meetings with parents and other agencies, at Summerbank Primary Academy.  Initial site meetings with contractors are taking place, with the works on both sites planned for the summer break.  The additional funding coming into the Trust to support both projects is in the region of £370,000.

The Executive Team continue to meet weekly via Microsoft TEAMS, and the remaining trust and local governing board meetings this term, also via Microsoft TEAMS, are planned as follows:

  • 9th July – 13:00 – Executive Board (including Deputy Heads)

TEAMS meetings to date have gone very well indeed, and have been very well attended.

Many thanks for your ongoing support, and please take care!

Jon Lovatt

Chief Executive Officer

The Societas Trust

 


Stakeholder Update – Week Ending 26 June 2020


Dear Colleagues

Expansion continues, with all children requiring a place this term now catered for.  Numbers continue to rise with 646 children having accessed on-site provision since June 1st, representing almost one third of our total population.

Once again, my immense thanks to all our incredible staff for the fantastic job they continue to do supporting our children and families, both on and off-site.

Children at home continue to have the same great learning opportunities as those attending school, with staff in regular contact with them, those who are struggling in particular. For details of each setting’s home learning arrangements, please go to www.societastrust.org.uk / High Quality Learning / Home Learning Arrangements.

With the further easing of restrictions from 4 July, settings will be closed to all children over the summer holiday period.  Individual settings may arrange summer holiday clubs / activities if they wish.

Our Covid-19 Reset and Recovery Policy has also been updated to include:

  • Legal Framework (page 2)
  • Unnecessary gatherings (page 4)
  • Clarification on what to do if a child / member of staff tests positive (Page 10)
  • Who is considered a contact in a school setting? (Page 11)
  • What happens if the household member of a child / member of staff who attends school tests positive or is symptomatic? (Page 11)

We are still awaiting detailed guidance for September; however, all settings will be closed to children for INSET on Tuesday 1 September and Wednesday 2 September.

The Executive Team continue to meet weekly via Microsoft TEAMS, and the remaining trust and local governing board meetings this term, also via Microsoft TEAMS, are planned as follows:

  • 2nd July – 10:00 – Directors’ Board
  • 9th July – 13:00 – Executive Board (including Deputy Heads)

TEAMS meetings to date have gone very well indeed, and have been very well attended.

Many thanks for your ongoing support, and please take care!

Jon Lovatt

Chief Executive Officer

 


Statement to Parents and Carers                                                                                              29th May 2020


Dear Parent and Carers,

As you are no doubt aware, the Government has now requested schools to expand provision from June 1st, as it deems its five key tests ‘are being met’. As you know, considerable work has been undertaken by the Trust and each setting to ensure that their environments are as safe as they possibly can be both now and going forward.

We have liaised extensively with various Government/Council bodies, Public Health, Trade Unions and other Health and Safety agencies on the matter of safety, and have taken expert advice on safer working practices within educational settings, to help form our own policy and procedures. This work will continue to ensure that risk assessments and safer working practices are maintained and improved upon where necessary.  A copy of the Trust’s Covid-19 Reset and Recovery Policy can be viewed here: Societas Covid-19 Reset and Recovery Policy

As stated previously, in preparation for this initial phase from June 1st, all our settings have applied the same consistent approach (list is not exhaustive):

  • The safety of everyone in school is paramount;
  • Supporting a consistent and collaborative approach;
  • Following social distancing guidance as far as possible in all classrooms and the school environment;
  • Encouraging all eligible vulnerable children to return to school;
  • Agreement that the year groups prioritised within the government guidance will be the initial focus;
  • Settings may plan for a phased / incremental expansion of pupils in the first two weeks to allow staff time and space to properly train for and test safety procedures and systems;
  • Settings to liaise closely with transport providers as they develop arrangements to allow the transport arrangements to be planned;
  • Individual settings will decide the safe numbers of pupils per group (up to a maximum of 15) and will therefore manage attendance of pupils to reflect this (However, initially, groups should not exceed 10 pupils where possible; 8 pupils in Nursery settings);
  • Individual settings to manage daily attendance;
  • Staggered starts, breaks and ends to the day to support social distancing;
  • Minimising the number of pupils that each staff member has contact with;
  • Staff and pupils deemed clinically extremely vulnerable, or living with someone in this category, should not work on-site until further notice;
  • Staff and pupils deemed clinically vulnerable, or living with someone in this category, should be encouraged to stay and work from home, where possible, until further notice;
  • If it is deemed by the setting that a child may not be able to follow instructions, then the setting should carry out a risk assessment to determine what mitigation needs to be put in place and whether they should stay at home. For those children with a social worker, the expectation is that they should attend their setting unless a risk assessment concludes they will be safer at home;
  • If a child, member of staff, or member of their household, is experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, they should self-isolate immediately and be sent for testing.

As you can imagine, it has been a mammoth task to risk assess and re-organise each of the settings in preparation for the initial phase of expansion after half term, and I would like to thank all the staff involved.

All settings will be closed to all children on June 1st to allow time for staff training on the Covid-19 safer working policy and practices; risk assessments will also be shared and adapted where necessary. Settings will then begin to extend provision to eligible children from Tuesday, June 2nd, phased over a two week period.  

Please remember that, unless you have registered as a critical key worker with your setting or your child is deemed vulnerable (i.e. assigned to a social worker and/or has an EHCP), then please only bring your child to school on June 2nd if you have received a written offer of a place from your setting.  Please also note that the offer of a place may be conditional on you accepting the terms and conditions of any home / school agreement your setting may require, to ensure everyone’s safety at school.

Thank you once again for your patience and understanding!

With my very best wishes,

Jon Lovatt

CEO


Statement to Parents and Carers                                                                                              22nd May 2020


Dear Parent and Carers,

Further to my statement below, dated 16th May 2020.

As you are aware, the Government has requested schools to expand provision from June 1st, if it is deemed safe to do so, and I am sure that you all have some reservations about this. I can assure you that the wellbeing of your children and our workforce are of paramount importance to us, and considerable work has already been undertaken by the Trust and at each setting to ensure that their environments are as safe as they possibly can be for all, and will continue to be so.

We will continue to liaise with the various Government/Council bodies, Public Health, Trade Unions and other agencies on the matter of safety, and have taken advice on safer working practices within educational settings, to help form our own policy and procedures. Once our settings do begin to expand their provision, whenever that is, this work will continue to ensure that these practices are maintained and improved upon where necessary.

A copy of the Trust’s Covid-19 Reset and Recovery Policy can be found here: Covid-19 Reset and Recovery Policy

Our settings have now analysed the results of the parental survey regarding the potential expansion of provision from June 1st at the earliest, ahead of confirmation that the Government’s five key tests have been met, and have applied the following consistent approach in preparation for this initial phase (list is not exaustive):

  • The safety of everyone in school is paramount;
  • Supporting a consistent and collaborative approach;
  • Following social distancing guidance as far as possible in all classrooms and the school environment;
  • Encouraging all eligible vulnerable children to return to school;
  • Agreement that the year groups prioritised within the government guidance will be the initial focus;
  • Settings may plan for a phased / incremental expansion of pupils in the first two weeks to allow staff time and space to properly train for and test safety procedures and systems;
  • Settings to liaise closely with transport providers as they develop arrangements to allow the transport arrangements to be planned;
  • Individual settings will decide the safe numbers of pupils per group (up to a maximum of 15) and will therefore manage attendance of pupils to reflect this (However, initially, groups should not exceed 10 pupils where possible);
  • Individual settings to manage daily attendance;
  • Staggered starts, breaks and ends to the day to support social distancing;
  • Minimising the number of pupils that each staff member has contact with;
  • Staff and pupils deemed clinically ‘extremely’ vulnerable, or living with someone in this category, should not be on-site until further notice (i.e. people who have been advised to shield themselves by a health care professional);
  • Staff and pupils deemed clinically vulnerable (i.e. at a higher risk of a more serious outcome if they catch the virus), or living with someone in this category, should be encouraged to stay and work from home, where possible, until further notice;
  • If it is deemed by the setting that a child may not be able to follow instructions, then the setting should carry out a risk assessment to determine what mitigation needs to be put in place and whether they should stay at home for their own and others’ safety;
  • For those children with a social worker, the expectation is that they should attend their setting unless a risk assessment concludes they will be safer at home;
  • If a child, member of staff, or member of their household, is experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, they should self-isolate immediately and be sent for testing.

As you can imagine it has been a mammoth task to properly risk assess and reorganise the settings in preparation for this potential expansion, and I thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.

As directed by the Government, our settings have prioritised the following year groups for the initial phase of expansion: Nursery and Reception, followed by Year 1 and then Year 6.

Please note that, if you are offered a place, only your children in the above Year Groups will be able to attend, and any siblings in Years 2, 3, 4 and 5 should remain at home (unless classed as vulnerable or those of registered key workers).

If you have indicated you would like a place for your child(ren) from June 1st (and if the Government deems it safe to expand provision from then) either via the survey or in person, and your setting is able to offer them a place, they will now be contacting you by letter to explain the exact terms and conditions of the provisional offer.

Please be aware that, due to availability of staff and health and safety reasons, settings may not be able to provide full-time places for all eligible children, other than for those children classed as vulnerable or those of registered Key Workers.

To minimise the risk to children, staff and parents, and to give everyone the chance to familiarise themselves with the new Covid-19 safety routines, and if deemed safe by the Government, settings will initially expand provision over a two-week period beginning Tuesday, June 2nd.

Please note, all our settings will be closed to children on Monday, June 1st, including those classed as vulnerable and of registered key workers, to enable whole staff training to take place.

Unless you have registered as a critical key worker with your setting or your child is deemed vulnerable (i.e. assigned to a social worker and/or has an EHCP), then please only bring your child to school on June 2nd if:

  • The Government does eventually announce it deems it safe for schools to expand provision from June 1st; and,
  • You have received a written offer of a place from your setting.

Thank you once again for your patience and understanding!

With my very best wishes to you and your own families,

Jon Lovatt

CEO

 


Thank You Message to all Stakeholders                                                                                       22 May 2020


Dear Colleagues

As we now enter our third month of closures I would like to take this opportunity to reach out to all of you on behalf of The Societas Trust. The last few months have been challenging for all of us and the coming months I am sure will continue along those lines.

It is with great pride that we have seen all our settings face these challenges head on and work together to ensure that school provision can be maintained for the vulnerable children and the children of key workers, as well as providing work and support for the children at home.

We have seen technology introduced across the Trust to allow virtual meetings and document sharing to continue whilst we all continue to socially distance ourselves, and I am sure this will have positive impacts on working practices as we start to return to “normal”.

As you are all aware, Government is keen for schools to expand provision from the 1st June, if it is deemed safe to do so, and I am sure that you all have some reservations about this. I can assure you that the wellbeing of our children and workforce are of paramount importance to Societas, and there is considerable work being undertaken by the Executive and at each setting to ensure that a safe environment can be provided for all.

We are liaising with the various Government/Council bodies and the Trade Unions on the matter, and taking advice on safe working practices within educational settings, to help form our own policy. Once our settings begin to expand their provision, whenever that is, this work will continue to ensure that practices are maintained and improved upon where necessary.

With the half term holiday up on us, I again sincerely wish to thank you all for the work you have been doing and the support given to your settings, children and their families.

Best wishes to you and your own families; I hope you all remain safe and stay in good health as we move into the next stage of the Pandemic together, as we all try to recover some sense of “normality” in our lives.

Guy Weir

Chair

The Societas Trust

 


Reset and Recovery Plan – Principles                                                                                             22 May 2020


Context

This statement sets out principles and ambitions for reset and recovery for school settings in Societas, to develop a consistent approach to enable them to interpret and implement the latest government guidance in preparation for expansion of provision from June 1 at the earliest, ahead of confirmation that the Government’s five key tests have been met.

Overarching Principles

Our approach is based on the following principles:

  • The highest priority and consideration is the safety and wellbeing of children, staff and other key stakeholders;
  • Flexibility and local decision making;
  • A collaborative approach involving Local Authorities and professional associations/trade unions;
  • Recognition of the different layers of accountability and responsibility including government, countywide, trusts and individual schools;
  • Supporting each other (e.g. hub arrangements, Emergency Locality Teams in each district, effective practice, talking and sharing).

Specific Principles/Plans for Initial Phase:

  • The safety of everyone in school is paramount;
  • Supporting a consistent and collaborative approach;
  • Following social distancing guidance as far as possible in all classrooms and the school environment;
  • Encouraging all eligible vulnerable children to return to school;
  • Agreement that the year groups prioritised within the government guidance will be the initial focus;
  • Settings may plan for a phased / incremental expansion of pupils in the first two weeks to allow staff time and space to properly train for and test safety procedures and systems;
  • Settings to liaise closely with transport providers as they develop arrangements to allow the transport arrangements to be planned;
  • Individual settings will decide the safe numbers of pupils per group (up to a maximum of 15) and will therefore manage attendance of pupils to reflect this (However, initially, groups should not exceed 10 pupils where possible);
  • Individual settings to manage daily attendance;
  • Staggered starts, breaks and ends to the day to support social distancing;
  • Minimising the number of pupils that each staff member has contact with;
  • Staff and pupils deemed clinically extremely vulnerable, or living with someone in this category, should not be on-site until further notice;
  • Staff and pupils deemed clinically vulnerable, or living with someone in this category, should be encouraged to stay and work from home, where possible, until further notice;
  • If it is deemed by the setting that a child may not be able to follow instructions, then the setting should carry out a risk assessment to determine what mitigation needs to be put in place and whether they should stay at home. For those children with a social worker, the expectation is that they should attend their setting unless a risk assessment concludes they will be safer at home;
  • If a child, member of staff, or member of their household, is experiencing Covid-19 symptoms, they should self-isolate immediately and be sent for testing.

 


Statement to Parents and Carers                                                                                              16th May 2020


Dear Parents and Carers,

First of all I want to thank you for all the hard work you have been doing with your children; for being so supportive of their school (“setting”) and the staff who are trying their very best to support both them and you.

I’m sure you’re aware of the Prime Minister’s recent announcement indicating that some children might be able to return to school from June 1st, if it is safe to do so. We have since received more Government guidance on how this can be done keeping children and staff as safe as possible, and our settings have now been able to start reading, understanding and begin planning to hopefully welcome some children back to school before the end of term.

The following link is to the guidance for parents and carers that the Government has also issued: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/reopening-schools-and-other-educational-settings-from-1-june

The key messages from the Government are:

  1. Schools should continue to offer places to vulnerable children, including those with Education Health Care Plans (EHCPs), and children of Covid-19 Critical Key Workers.
  2. Nursery and primary schools should look at ways to open to more children from June 1st if is considered safe to do so.
  3. Parents will NOT be fined for not sending their children to school.
  4. Children considered clinically extremely vulnerable should NOT attend school just yet – if you are unsure about this, please speak to your GP.
  5. If a child lives with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable, then they should NOT be in school just yet – again, if you are unsure about this, please speak to your GP.
  6. Groups of children must NOT mix together or come into contact with each other, and children within a group should ideally remain 2 metres apart, if they can. I’M SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THAT THIS WILL BE VERY HARD TO ENFORCE IN A SCHOOL SETTING, PARTICULARLY FOR YOUNGER CHILDREN.
  7. If there is a shortage of teachers, then a teaching assistant can lead a group.
  8. The aim is for all nursery and primary school age children to have some time in school before the summer holidays.

As advised by the Government, from June 1st our settings will seek to welcome back pupils in the following year groups:

Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.

If you do have children in the above year groups, any siblings they may have in years 2, 3, 4 and 5 should remain at home for the time being, unless you and / or your partner are a Covid-19 critical key worker, and have already registered with your setting, or your children are deemed vulnerable – i.e. assigned to a social worker or have an EHCP.

However, to try to keep everyone as safe as possible, it may not be possible to accommodate all children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 on a full-time basis. This will be dependent on what numbers of children our settings can expect to attend from week beginning June 1st, and how many staff can be available.

Although our settings will try to ensure that your child is with their usual teacher, this may not always be possible. Although the Government, if considered safe, may encourage parents of Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 to send their children to school from June 1st, the decision whether to do so or not is purely yours to make, and you will not be penalised for non-attendance.

What do we need to do now?

Our settings now need to comprehensively plan in case they are asked to welcome more children back from June 1st, to ensure all children and staff can be as safe as possible, so they will be doing the following over the next couple of weeks (list is not exhaustive):

  1. Sending out an online survey to find out how many parents may want to take up places for eligible children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 from June 1st. This will be sent by Friday 16th May and responses are required early next week.

(NB: Please complete the survey separately for each of your children regardless of their year group. However, unless you are a key worker or your child is considered vulnerable, only children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 will be considered for a place from June 1st)

  1. Analysing the responses to identify key groups of children in Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.
  2. Reviewing staffing to ensure enough staff are well and available to work.
  3. Ensuring adequate and appropriate cleaning resources are available.
  4. Updating risk assessments.
  5. Moving all desks and seats to provide appropriate separation of children and staff in the classroom (2m apart where possible).
  6. Planning timetables to offer as much outdoor learning as possible, weather dependent of course.
  7. Planning how staff can continue to support ‘home learning’ for children still at home.
  8. Planning for groups of children to be with the same staff members at all times, to minimise changes in personnel.
  9. Re configuring their environments so that groups of children and the staff with them can stay together during the whole day.
  10. Planning for staggered break and lunch times, so the groups are not mixing together/moving around at the same time.
  11. Planning how and where lunches will be provided and eaten.
  12. Planning staggered drop-off and collection times – only one parent can bring their children in, so settings will need to consider drop off/collection points and timings for each group.
  13. Planning for increased cleaning, as toys and equipment should only be used by the same group.
  14. Planning for increased cleaning during and end of each day.

Other Considerations:

For those children who are welcomed back from June 1st, if deemed safe, then there are some strict guidelines we should all follow, specified by the Government:

  1. No unnecessary use of buses/coaches/taxis for children to travel to school – please encourage your children to cycle or walk to school.
  2. No one (visitors/staff/children/families/contractors etc.) should enter the grounds or buildings if they have symptoms.
  3. Only 1 parent/carer should escort their children to school.
  4. Parents/carers should not gather at school gates or entrances to the buildings.
  5. Stationery and other resources should not be shared.
  6. Shared areas and surfaces should be cleaned daily, and disinfected/bleached frequently.
  7. No possessions or other resources from home will be allowed in to school (except for packed lunches).

(NB: SHOULD ANYONE IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD DEVELOP COVID-19 SYMPTOMS, AS PER THE HEALTH ADVICE BELOW, THEN YOU MUST NOT BRING YOUR CHILDREN TO SCHOOL. PLEASE CONTACT NHS 111 FOR ASSISTANCE.)

What do you need to do now?

I urge you to complete the survey over the weekend so that our settings can make more detailed plans.

Please complete the survey by 12pm on Monday 18th May.

If you have not received a link to the survey, please contact your setting.

If on the survey you indicate you would like a place for your children from June 1st, then your setting will contact you in due course to let you know more specific details of the provision for them. If you do not complete the survey, your setting will assume you do not require a place for your children from June 1st.

However, please bear with your setting while they carry out the necessary risk assessments and work out all the logistics, so that from June 1st, if the science support this, they can welcome back as many eligible children as it is safely possible to do, and ensure that their experience of being back in school will be a happy one.

I hope that the content of this statement helps to reassure you how important your child’s safety is to us.

With my very best wishes,

Jon Lovatt

CEO

 


Current Health Advice                                                                                                updated 20th May 2020


It is important that we follow the medical evidence and take the right actions at the right time to help and support each other.

Current advice is:

  • If you have Covid-19 symptoms, such as:
    • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature);
    • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual);
    • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

self-isolate by staying at home for 7 days. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days. If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible. There is more information about staying at home that you can read by clicking here

  • Those who are at increased risk of severe illness from Coronavirus (COVID-19), including the over 70s, need to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. You can read more about this by clicking here

If you need to self-isolate because of the symptoms mentioned above, please call your immediate line manager and report this immediately, as you would any other absence. 

 


Update – 11th May 2020


Following the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday, we are now focusing on 1st June for a managed and ordered return to school in stages, to ensure we can undertake social distancing and have adequate staffing and health and safety arrangements in place at each of our settings.  Our children’s education and learning is hugely important, and we want their eventual return to school to be successful, positive and safe.

However, as stated by the Prime Minister, reopening of schools will only happen if it is considered safe to do so. Until then, our settings will continue to provide places for workers designated as Key to fighting the Pandemic, and children considered vulnerable.  We will of course keep parents and carers informed of our plans for reopening in a timely way.

 


Initial Statement Issued at the Outset of the Closure of Schools                 updated 16th May 2020


Dear colleagues

We have now moved into the ‘delay’ phase of the Government’s plan to manage the Coronavirus outbreak and further guidance has been issued overnight. This means that new actions will be taken across the country to reduce the number of people who are affected at the peak of the virus and to delay this peak as far as possible into the summer months when the impact on people and the NHS will be reduced. 

What we are doing as a Trust

We have been working with our settings and other partners across the region to develop solutions to the rapidly changing situation to:

  • Identify vulnerable groups;
  • Identify numbers of key workers;
  • Identify the provision of ongoing services, including school meals;
  • Deal with challenges of the health needs of staff in our settings.

The work being done by our settings in partnership together, and with other agencies across the region, is set to provide a strong basis for whatever requirements the coming weeks present. 

To all our staff – thank you for the exceptional pace and professionalism with which you have collectively responded to these unprecedented challenges.

From Monday 23 March 2020, whilst all schools nationally will be closed for the foreseeable future, all our settings will still be open to care for children of key-workers, vulnerable children and children with EHCP’s. The decision to offer a place, and the continuation of this provision, will ultimately rest with the Trust in consultation with Head Teachers. For these children, their setting’s normal school hours will still apply, along with the usual catering arrangements. The Trust will be constantly reviewing the model of provision available going forward.

Since the decision to close schools was announced by the Government on Wednesday, we have been waiting confirmation regarding the definition of ‘vulnerable’ children and ‘key workers’. The guidance was been published this morning. Full details are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

It is essential we get the balance right between those children needing to attend school in lieu of child care. We will need as many key workers available as possible to maintain essential services. All our settings will endeavour to offer children of key workers a place in lieu of childcare, where ever possible. However, in-line with Government guidance, where those key workers can establish appropriate care arrangements for their children at home they should do so, and use schools only as the alternative, rather than ‘default’. Where a key worker parent is having difficulty making such alternative arrangements, they should discuss this with the setting concerned. The decision to offer a place, and the scope of that provision, rests with the Head Teacher.

Vulnerable children are those defined as Child in Need, Child Protection, Looked After Children, i.e. those with a social worker; along with young carers, disabled children and those with EHCP’s. Looking after these children will enable schools to support the country through this incredibly and extremely challenging time. However, whatever the definition, our settings know the identity of the wider group of vulnerable children and will, wherever possible, maintain a pastoral relationship with them.

In terms of Free School Meals, we have been advised that government will give schools the flexibility to provide meals or vouchers to children who are eligible for free school meals. The Government are looking to put in place a national voucher system for every child who is eligible for free school meals. Guidance for schools will be published by the DFE shortly. 

In the meantime, our settings are developing their own ongoing free school meals provision and will contact relevant parents / carers about these arrangements as soon as possible.

HR Policy for the Closure Period (updated 16th May 2020)

Whilst the Trust continues to offer care for children of key-workers, vulnerable children and children with EHCPs, all staff who are employed are also considered by the Trust to be key workers and will continue to be required to undertake work, provided they are well enough to do so.

In practice, this means that staff will be required to be available to undertake tasks which are broadly in line with their usual work and commensurate with their grade.   

Staff with children of school age (3 years old to 17 years old), who are having difficulty making suitable childcare arrangements in order to continue to work, should speak to their Head Teacher, as our settings have been asked to make provision in lieu of childcare available to staff where possible. Staff with children under school age (younger than 3 years old) should make their own arrangements; however, please speak to your Head Teacher if you’re having difficulty doing this. Staff who would prefer to stay at home to look after their children, despite the offer of a place or assistance finding one elsewhere, may make an application to their Head Teacher for unpaid compassionate leave. Such applications will be considered on a case by case basis.

In cases where a staff member is having to self-isolate, or has been identified by their setting (or a health care professional) as at significant risk (i.e. deemed clinically extremely vulnerable or clinically vulnerable), or lives with another adult or child deemed at significant risk, the work may be undertaken from home and would not involve direct pupil contact. Examples of work which may be undertaken would include but not be limited to preparing resources, setting of work for pupils to complete remotely, planning, updating monitoring etc. Staff who are available to work during the school closure period will receive full pay.  If you have any concerns about either your own welfare, or the welfare of anyone you live with, please speak to your Head Teacher.

Staff who have previously been available for work but then become incapacitated by any illness and unable to work, should ensure that they report this in the usual way to their line manager using the correct reporting arrangements for their setting; they will then be considered to be off sick for the duration of their illness and will receive full sick pay entitlement for the period of which they are unwell. Upon recovery, they should advise their line manager that they have returned and are now available to undertake work.

Where it is not possible for an employee, either in self-isolation or in a high risk group, to complete any work from home during the school closure period due to the nature of their role, the employee will continue to receive full pay and their attendance record will not be affected.

As already stated, school employees are key worker staff and able to access school provision in lieu of childcare. For our staff, their children of school age (3 to 17) can attend the setting at which they work if this is appropriate; the preference of the parent/carer; and with the permission of the Head Teacher.  

 


Current Health Advice                                                                                               updated 20th May 2020


It is important that we follow the medical evidence and take the right actions at the right time to help and support each other.

Current advice is:

  • If you have Covid-19 symptoms, such as:
    • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature);
    • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual);
    • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

self-isolate by staying at home for 7 days. If you live with other people, they should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms. If you live with someone who is 70 or over, has a long-term condition, is pregnant or has a weakened immune system, try to find somewhere else for them to stay for 14 days. If you have to stay at home together, try to keep away from each other as much as possible. There is more information about staying at home that you can read by clicking here

  • Those who are at increased risk of severe illness from Coronavirus (COVID-19), including the over 70s, need to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. You can read more about this by clicking here

If you need to self-isolate because of the symptoms mentioned above, please call your immediate line manager and report this immediately, as you would any other absence.