Planning for the future

The government has made it clear that schools should prepare to partially reopen their doors on Monday 1st June. Other than for the children of key workers, the only year groups being brought back are Reception, Year One and Year Six. Nurseries have also been told that they should prepare to reopen. Headteachers face the invidious task of distinguishing between legitimate concerns and the increasingly bellicose political rhetoric emanating from organisations such as the NEU (National Education Union). Inevitably, the shameless politicising of an issue which stands to place teaching unions against the Department of Education is a distraction from the health and safety issues at hand.

At Rossall, our number one priority will always be the safeguarding and health of everyone within this community. We need to make decisions that are based on logic rather than the tyranny of parental WhatsApp groups or media speculation. We need to be attentive to the educational, emotional and psychological factors impacting upon all families. Our online provision is working remarkably well so I would be tempted to postpone any reopening until September. However, we also recognise that some of our parents desperately need to get back to work and that to remain fully closed would be to place additional strain on families and businesses at the very time when they need our support most. Additionally some parents will be eager for their children to benefit from activities, games and social contact.

I know that Matt Turner and senior colleagues have consulted with the majority of families in the year groups listed above and I know that our parents will make judicious decisions based upon their individual circumstances. We are entirely understanding of the fact that our parents will adopt differing positions regarding the timing of a return to school and there is absolutely no judgement on our part. We trust our parents to make the right decisions for their children and we will continue to work with families to ensure that we emerge from this safely and with confidence.

It does seem incredible that public examinations have been cancelled given that these routinely take place in buildings where social distancing is perfectly possible and yet we have invited nursery children back to School – this seems to constitute a deficit of logic. Nevertheless, we are committed to minimising risk and creating as safe an environment as possible for our returning youngsters. Next week, Matt Turner will communicate specific arrangements to parents but I would not countenance any return were it not for my belief that we are able to do so safely and sensibly. We are particularly mindful of the ‘R’ number both regionally and nationally and were this to rise significantly then we would delay any reopening.

We are cautious and have consistently exceeded government expectations in every regard. I am incredibly grateful that Hazel Trapnell has kindly agreed to pay for a state-of-the-art thermal imaging scanner and attendant software. This means that we will be able to scan all pupils, staff and visitors quickly and safely. We owe her an enormous debt of gratitude and it is difficult to think of a more important gift at this time. I should also like to thank the Rossall Foundation for kindly agreeing to pay for the redecoration of the Dining Hall this summer. Over the years, the plasterwork has become damaged by water ingress and the paint that must have shone so brightly when it was applied immediately before the Queen’s visit to Rossall twenty six years ago has now faded. To know that it is now going to be restored to its former glory is tremendously exciting and, once again, attributable to the generosity of those who have known and loved this school for so many years. To be supported in this way is fantastic and attributable to the strength of this remarkable community.

Our children have achieved so much this half term and I am full of admiration for the resilience, compassion, determination and kindness demonstrated by so many Rossall families. Rossallians have demonstrated an indefatigable spirit during these times and I know that future generations will look back with pride at a community that showed courage and humour during a situation which could have potentially left all of us feeling isolated and disconnected. Personally, I enter this half term break bursting with pride in our staff and children, and in the sure knowledge that we are beginning to emerge from the most testing of times.

Have a wonderful break and let’s now begin to turn our minds to the future in the sure knowledge that better days are rapidly approaching.

Mr Jeremy Quartermain