What the Government/Dfe have said:
As of Friday afternoon (March 20th) many schools across the country will officially close.
Some schools will remain open to children of key workers as safe spaces. This list includes workers from the NHS, the military, teachers and childcare, care homes, social workers, police, fire, prison officers, delivery drivers, supermarket workers, infrastructure, highways agency, environmental health and local authority planners. This list may be added too. Those with EHCPs, Children looked after and children with a social worker will also be able to attend school. The Government expects this to be around 10% of the usual school population. These schools will remain open over the usual Easter holiday.
A plan is currently being worked on for a national voucher system that can be used in supermarkets for those on free school meals to ensure no child goes hungry when away from school.
There will be no formal exams this Summer, this includes year 6 SATs, year 11 GCSEs and year 13 A-levels. There will also be no school league tables published this year.
The Government have said that how grades will be awarded will be announced tomorrow (20/3) and the aim is to award grades under a different process and system in August.
Universities have said students should not lose out on the chance to go to University this year.
Trainee teachers have been told that they will pass their teaching qualification year and provide support in the next couple of years.
Here in Reading
Please check your individual School website for the best and most up to date advice. You can also check for updates on the Dfe website and the Brighter Futures For Children website. These will have the best, most accurate and up to date website.
We have been working on and speaking with our schools to decide which will be open and available for key workers in the coming weeks, we will let everyone know as soon as we can which and where these are. It is a huge logistical challenge with many people working round the clock to sort.
Working at home
I know that many Schools and many teachers would have already been in contact regarding working from home. But please remember that teachers are humans too. We have our own families we may well now have to look after, relatives to provide for and may be fighting illness themselves. I’m sure you’re aware of how much time, effort, energy and passion your child’s teachers put in and will continue to do so. In many ways schools have not closed, they have adapted. We are all getting used to this and will evolve. I couldn’t be prouder or more grateful for how much work the school staff across Reading’s schools have put in this week. To every one of them, thank you so much.
These are unprecedented times, this is all new and many people are working flat out. I would urge the Government to act quickly to provide clarity, guidance and assurance on a range of school issues however. Head teachers have been amazing this week but they deserve more help.
A personal view
I’ve been a secondary school teacher for nearly 15 years and have never known a day like today. I looked round many times today with a tear in my eye to other staff I’ve worked with for a long long time, we’ve seen and experienced many things but this was tough. We had to tell both years 11 and 13 that all the work they’ve put in over the years will not have a definitive end point. That we don’t know how their grades will be awarded. That we don’t know how their University places will be decided. That we don’t know when or if they will be back in school. That their last day is either now it tomorrow when they expected it to be 2 months away. That we dont know when they will get their prom. I know all of our teachers have had to have these discussions with worried students from all year groups and how hard it is. I have found the day incredibly emotionally draining and when I left school just burst into tears.
But wanted to end with another huge thank you. These are incredible times but luckily Reading is lucky to have incredible people running and working in our schools. We will adapt, we will provide and we will educate. It’s what we do best.