CE First School

Inspiring Learning for Life

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Whole School Information Letter 28.01.21

Thursday 28th January 2021

Dear Parents,

First of all, we recognise that you will have received many emails from school recently, the majority of which relate to remote learning, and this will especially be the case if you have more than one child at the school. We are conscious of this and therefore have deliberately limited whole school correspondence, such as our weekly newsletters, for a short period. We also know many of our families are in regular contact with class teachers through our various communication platforms.

You will be aware that yesterday the Prime Minister announced that schools will remain open to vulnerable children and the children of critical workers after February half-term, as they are now, and that all other pupils will continue to be educated remotely. It is also hoped that subject to national public health data and pressure on NHS capacity we will be able to readmit other pupils from Monday 8th March. For all of our children, parents and staff the thought of operating as we have been, with a blend of on site and remote provision for another ten days, following the February half term will not have been welcome news, although for many it will have been expected given the wider public health situation. However, we can take heart from the fact that we know we have done this before. We can do it again.

Thank you for all for the wave of positive comments regarding both remote and on site provision we have received since the start of term. They have meant a great deal to all of the staff team who are living with the same uncertainty we are all faced with at this very difficult time, and are continuing to adapt to a different way of providing learning. We, like you, have appreciated the regular contact, and your vital feedback as to what is working well and what isn’t. This has already helped us improve and develop the ways we support our children. Thank you again for your engagement with this process. We will continue to learn, adapt and improve at what we do, to make this challenging period the best it can be for our children and families as we work under these restrictions for the safety of all. We’ve done this before. We can do it again.

Like in many schools, and due to a range of factors, we have seen an increase in the attendance of the children of Key Workers in comparison with those attending during the first national lockdown in March. Children in school are accessing a blended curriculum, learning alongside pupils who are at home, and learning remotely on days when they can remain at home. When children are at school, this provision is being facilitated by our skilled and talented support staff, whose commitment and resolve to supporting our frontline workers has been amazing. A key component of lockdown is to limit contacts for us all and we will continue to implement our risk management plan, a part of which is to limit the number of contacts that children and staff experience when in school for everyone’s safety. Staff are now also taking part in rapid lateral flow testing twice each week. Parents whose children are attending school continue to support our risk management measures in a range of ways, such as following the government guidance which states ‘parents and carers should keep their children at home if they can.’ and only sending in children when they cannot stay at home. We also know that some parents are working with their employers to ensure they need to send children into school as little as possible. Everyone should of course continue to maintain social distancing from others and wear face coverings during collection and drop off times, and as always, under no circumstances should anyone send a child to school if anyone in their household is displaying the symptoms of COVID-19, until they have received a negative test. All these measures look set to be with us for quite a while yet and although there is a sense of fatigue, we are grateful for everyone’s continued cooperation with these measures. We have all done this before. We can all do it again.

We know that we are in a situation that none of us want to be in, we know things are very far from ideal and we know there is nothing that comes close to replicating a child’s experience of a fully open school, surrounded by their friends, teachers and support staff. We know that supporting children with remote learning – whilst juggling full time work, caring for younger children, elderly or vulnerable relatives, or trying to fulfil almost any other commitments is not only challenging and exhausting – there are days for some it can feel impossible. We know most of our families are managing, but we all know it is far, far, from easy, there are good days, bad days and some very difficult days too. Remember to be kind to yourselves, so many are feeling the same way. Everyone is doing the very best they can, in their own uniquely challenging circumstances. It is normal to worry about our children’s education and well-being under these circumstances, we all do so because we care so deeply. This week we have faced once of the most harrowing and difficult weeks we have yet faced during this pandemic, and it is difficult to not be able to operate in the way we would want to, especially when our children and families need us the most. But we will get through this. We have done this before, and from this we can know that we can do it once again, for what we all dearly hope is for one final time.

Finally, it was with great sadness that we received news this week of the passing of a great friend of the school, Mrs Helen Fowler. Helen worked with the children of Cropthorne with Charlton for so many years, sharing her love of gardening through leading many projects and clubs, leading Open the Book Assemblies and raising money for wonderful causes such as Alzheimer’s UK. Many of our families who have older children who have now left the school will remember Helen with such fondness, as do we all. Helen was also a huge part of our local community, but I know that others are far better qualified than I to reflect upon her contributions to our villages more fully, and I am sure they will be paying their tributes to her in the days to come, of which there will be many. Our thoughts and prayers are very much with Helen’s family and friends at this time. Words cannot fully illustrate what Helen meant to our school – its children, staff and families, but for those of us privileged enough to know her, we only need to look upon the imprint she has left upon on our hearts.



Thank you for your ongoing support,


Rob Bothma