Dear Head teachers, teaching staff, support staff and governors,

I wanted to write to you all, not just to heads this week, to acknowledge and thank you all for your amazing response to the COVID crisis in our Camden schools. The schools’, children’s services and wider community response has been remarkable and the contributions that staff have made are not forgotten nor taken for granted. None of us have faced a challenge like this in our lifetimes. Our response to the pandemic has different impacts on different people, but we know that these have been particularly hard for those children and young people with complex health needs, disadvantaged, learning disabilities, autism and challenging behaviour, and their families.

We in Camden recognise the importance of place; schools remain the pillars of society and families have looked at our school-based staff for care and reassurance in these times of crisis, also for support and guidance on themes that are way beyond education. I have been overwhelmed by the anecdotes of compassion that our schools, social workers, play leaders and others have provided over the last few weeks; with an ‘all hands-on deck’ approach to distributing food parcels, providing books, learning resources, paints, pencils-anything that would help families in such a difficult time. School leaders have shown compassion by taking in pupils from other schools and other boroughs, to enable critical workers to undertake their essential roles. Our schools know our communities better than anyone, you are trusted and influence what goes on around you.

I have been catching up with school leaders on a regular basis and I have been impressed with the dedicated and imaginative approach schools have taken to provide home learning. Your willingness to adapt your teaching styles and use of technology has been incredible, where young people have been accessing learning over the last few weeks, have done so in more varied, thoughtful and engaging ways.

I appreciate that many of you are anxious about what comes next, when there will at some point be the phased reopening of schools, which has been described by observers in many different ways; recovery, restoration, renewal (all seem to start with the letter R). However, there will be the emergence of a new normal, not just for schools, but for the way society will need to live, and schools will have the responsibility to help shape and define what that looks like-this really can be described as schools’ new civic leadership as the foundation for the new future.

I want to assure you that Camden Learning will be working diligently and carefully with school leaders, the council (who have been incredible in this crisis) Union colleagues and the DfE, to ensure that the recovery plan for schools is well considered and safe for the return of children and staff.

Thank you once again for all you are doing.

Jon Abbey

Managing Director of Camden Learning

Please find attached Barry Carpenter’s “Recovery Curriculum” – where he outlines what he calls his recovery curriculum which outlines 5 pupil losses (routine, structure, friendship, opportunity and freedom) that can trigger anxiety, trauma and even bereavement – and identifies 5 levers – to support children re-engage with learning and with school. It provides a useful child focused approach to the return to school.

Click here to download

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