Parents asked not to send children to Derby school unless absolutely necessary

A Derby primary school has appealed to parents not to send their children to school currently unless it is absolutely necessary.

Last week, following the start of the new national lockdown, the head of Springfield Primary School, in Spondon, 132 children applied to attend lessons in person at the West Road school – more than a third of pupils on roll.

Announcing the lockdown, the Government said that schools would remain open only for children classed as vulnerable, and those whose parents are key or critical workers.

But head of school Jane Joyce has now sent a letter to parents asking them that if they are working at home, have another adult at home or can manage to keep a child at home, that they do so.

She said: “I appreciate this is not possible for everyone and they are the people we want to support.

“We would like children who really need to be in school to attend full-time. I am increasingly concerned about the staff and the position they are in. The last thing I want is to have to send any critical worker’s children home to isolate, if we get any positive cases.”

Mrs Joyce said that she expected the demand to be high and added: “This does not make school feel as though we are in a lockdown with the numbers of children attending.

“However, we really want to support those who are having to leave home to go to work in critical roles each day or are in genuine need of our support.

“We need to have the children in small bubbles to allow for social distancing and this is proving challenging.”

Schools have been told by the Government that they should not limit the number of key workers’ children attending lessons despite concern from unions over the demand.

But the Government guidance did add that key worker parents should “keep their children at home if they can”.

Additionally, numbers also increased at some schools after it was confirmed by the Government that pupils without digital devices would be allowed to continue going to school, adding to the numbers.

It is understood that several schools in the Derby and Derbyshire areas have set up waiting lists for children whose parents want them to attend in person.

Schools are now providing online lessons for all pupils who remain at home – something that was not in place in the first lockdown last March.

Mrs Joyce said: “The expectation on school supporting those learning remotely at home has changed since the previous lockdown, and to enable us to ensure that those children not attending school continue to learn in a way that maintains their progress.

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“We are having to ensure that teachers have time devoted to supporting remote learning, as well as them teaching a class of children in school.

“This is a challenge – to balance everything and keep the children and staff in school as safe as we can.

“Please support us in supporting those who really need to attend school; keep your child at home if you can.”

David Blackwell, Springfield executive head, said that the aim of the lockdown was to reduce transmission levels.

He said: “As a school community, we can support this most effectively by keeping the number of pupils to a minimum.

“Our parents and staff have been absolutely fantastic during the past week, and overwhelmingly supportive and understanding of the school throughout.”

Judith Blake, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said that schools had been placed in the “invidious position of balancing safe pupil numbers”.

She said: “This is made worse by reduced on-site staffing levels in some schools. Further clarity is needed to help schools make safer and fairer decisions for their pupils, staff and families.”

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