It has most certainly been one of the most intense and challenging weeks in our careers, as you as school leaders begin the process of re-purposing schools for a safe return of pupils and staff. Heads are in discovery mode, having never done anything like this before and the decisions required in opening schools, will impact on a large number of people, all of whom are dealing with this at an emotional level.

As Martin Pratt mentioned in the ‘Tea time’ bulletin on Thursday, the concerns of staff, as expressed by their professional associations and unions must be taken seriously, and there is hope that the DfE and the Government will be able to work with the unions at a national level to address their legitimate concerns. As I write my blog, the media have reported that a cabinet minister has said, the government will work with unions to provide “as much comfort as we possibly can” over its plans to begin reopening schools next month. My suggestion during the Thursday heads conference call was that we take this period whilst politicians and unions discuss the points of concern, to consider and complete the school risk assessments and plan ahead for the time when pupils will be able to return safely. All schools are different – whilst some schools are able to adapt and enable pupils to return safely, other schools may not be able to do this under the current circumstances. I recognise that the governance position is different for some Camden schools but hope we can think through the challenges together.

I don’t spend huge amounts of time on social media, however, I thoroughly enjoy regularly scanning Twitter to see what is going on every day in our schools, it is a real window into the terrific work that our schools continue to do with the young people in their care. Just some snippets from schools include watching an assembly with Lucy at Rhyl, Torriano sharing their oracy teaching with other schools, La Sainte Union publicising their virtual library and use of Teams for queries and UCLA celebrating another great day of online learning; and finally Fleet who celebrated the publication of a professional looking newspaper report on the 1969 moon landing. There is also the fun element captured too, where Regent High School celebrated the overall winner of the inaugural loo roll challenge!

Finally, you should all have received the Camden Risk Assessment template on Friday along with the updated slides from Dr Leonora Weil. Once you have completed your RA please send it to Portia Lamb Portia.Lamb@camden.gov.uk by Thursday 21st May 2020.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director of Camden Learning

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