Woodland Middle School

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An update from Mr Conquest 17th June 2020

Dear Parents/Carers,

This week has seen the re-opening of Woodland to Year 6 pupils in addition to the key workers’ children and vulnerable pupils that we have been open to all the way through the Covid-19 restrictions. Year 6 pupils have all been given the opportunity to come back for lessons on a limited timetable, so that we can facilitate safe movements into, out of and around school, have them seated with 2m distancing and stagger their break and lunchtimes. Parents of Year 6 pupils that have not returned to us, we would encourage you to make an application for your child to join a ‘bubble’ by emailing Mrs Hardacre on hardacres@woodlandacademy.co.uk . At the same time, the key workers’ children group has doubled in size as more parents have been able to return to work – so we now have 6 classes of key workers in school too.

This new timetable will now be in operation for 4 further weeks until w/e 17th July 2020 – the end of the school term. We are putting our efforts into planning for September and the various scenarios that might exist for education by then. I am asked repeatedly about how I think schools will operate by September and although I have no inside knowledge it is very clear that the limiting factor for schools is the 2m social distancing guidelines. The Government states that it is guided by science, and 2m is the current safe guideline. If this remains in place, we are likely to be able to operate at around 25% capacity. Should the distance be reduced to 1.5m, in our school context (small rooms and narrow corridors) would make little difference. If however social distancing is reduced to 1m then we could operate at around 50% capacity. Only with no social distancing for pupils could we return to full capacity. We may not know what the Government deems safe until sometime in the summer holidays. Schools receive their guidance in the politicians briefing  - so we will all find out together in a future daily briefing.

It does mean that we can sadly announce that we do not have the capacity to bring back more pupils in other year groups this term and so the only offer for Years 5, 7 & 8 is the remote education provision we provide via Google Classroom. Now that teaching lessons (to Year 6) have begun again in school, we are looking at recording some of this quality teaching to make this available through Google Classroom. This is to improve the array of resources available to our pupils but also with half an eye on next year as we may not be able to offer full time education to all pupils.

The timetable and staffing for next year (for returning and new pupils) has been written and we are fully staffed but which variant of this that we run with depends on the social distancing requirement. We therefore are having to say farewell to Year 8 without the ability to do this in person. Mr Hughes is working on a few ideas (a memory video that we would like pupils to contribute to, a leavers’ hoodie to order and voting for the “Woodies” awards that we usually hand out on Prom Night) to mark the end of Year 8’s time with us. Pupils and parents (through a Twitter poll) have let us know that they would prefer a leavers’ assembly next year when it is safe to do so. If we can put this assembly on before the end of 2020 we will certainly do so.

The Government has today announced that free school meals will be provided for eligible pupils through the summer holidays this year. I do hope that this is continued year round in future years too, as it has always puzzled me how hunger might end during holidays. The Government may make other summer holiday announcements but we are not currently aware about any other plans. If you feel you are eligible for free school meals or need to check please call 0300 300 8306 to talk to an advisor at Central Bedfordshire Council. You will need to have your National Insurance number. If you are eligible we will be notified and not only will your child receive free school meals but you will also be given £150 per year towards school trips or uniform.

Invitations have gone out for parents to book an appointment to come and empty their child’s locker. To book an appointment can you please visit https://forms.gle/k3ixrAqCGrkVJL7x6- if you need help please email Mr Griffin on griffinl@woodlandacademy.co.uk .

Kindest regards,
Jeff Conquest