Parent/Carer Update – 22nd September 2020
This is your daily email to keep you updated on the government’s response to coronavirus (COVID-19).
We have translated our guidance for parents and carers with children in nursery, school, or college in the autumn term.
The guidance is now available in the following languages:
The information below hasn’t changed since our last update.
The Department for Education coronavirus (COVID-19) helpline is available to answer questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) relating to education and children’s social care. Staff, parents and young people can contact this helpline by calling:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm
Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 4pm
Parent/Carer Update – 18th September 2020
Once again a huge thank you to all parents for keeping your children at home if they are unwell or showing symptoms of COVID 19.
There are so many possible scenarios we have spent the week trying to clarify the advice we are giving parents. Hopefully this will help.
As you will have seen in the media it is very difficult at the moment to get a test. The tests are released in batches from 08.00 to 20.00 so it is worth trying throughout the day. We are told this will improve in a few weeks!
The flu vaccinations will take place the week beginning 5th October 2020. More than ever this year it is really important that our children and young people have the vaccination. All children who have the flu vaccination will need to be accompanied by a parent. The vaccinations will take in the training room, parents will park in the café car park and wait in the car until they are called. You will be given an hour time slot and can arrive anytime during that hour. When you park in the café car park a member of staff will log you in and contact the class to bring out your child.
A letter containing a link to an online form will be sent out early next week via ParentMail.
We have a vacancy for a parent governor. The role of a school governor is extremely important. Governors are not involved in the day to day running of the school. It is a strategic role that involves supporting the school vision, ensuring financial probity and being a ‘critical friend’ to the Head and the Leadership Team. Parent governors should have a school wide perspective and be focused on outcomes for all cohorts of children and young people. I have attached the paperwork to this email and if you are interested please complete the application return it to school. Currently all meetings are being held via Zoom. Visits to school are being replaced by meetings with specific staff to gain a greater depth of understanding of areas on the School Improvement Plan.
Letter to Parents/Carers – 11th September 2020
First of all I would like to say a huge thank you as people are being really cautious when children are unwell and keeping them at home. Any sort virus, be it a common cold, sore throat or flu will reduce the immunity and make someone more susceptible to COVID. Keeping children home will speed recovery and prevent the spread of minor ailments and hopefully keep the virus at bay.
Meetings in the Autumn Term
Certainly for the Autumn Term we will conduct all meetings virtually. The school are using Zoom which can be accessed via PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone. If you do not have access to a device to attend a virtual meeting please contact the school. Attached to this letter is a guide to using Zoom for those unfamiliar with it.
If we get a confirmed case of COVID we may need to close down a ‘bubble’. At that point I would seek advice from Public Health England. We would continue lessons remotely and therefore it is crucial that your child has access to a laptop or tablet. Please let us know if your child don’t have access to device at home and we can apply for one on your behalf. This would be a loan device and be for educational use only but it will ensure that learning can continue virtually.
There has been a lot in the news about not being able to get tested quickly if you are displaying COVID symptoms. I know people have had trouble getting through on 119 and booking tests. I understand from the nurses that COVID tests slots are released several times during the day so keep trying. There is a walk in testing centre at Hockwell Ring Community Centre and you can be tested the same day. You should only use this if your child is displaying symptoms. You should get the results within 24 hours.
Have a great weekend,
I have attached the Parental Code of Conduct to this email.
Friday 4th September 2020
It feels so good to have the pupils back in school and they are all adjusting to the new ‘normal’. It was fantastic to see how pleased they were to be back and see them settle so quickly into life at school and new routines.
Having these two days has allowed us to refine our plans and ensure that our risk assessment is updated to reflect this.
Staff and some pupils are wearing masks when moving around the school but when in classroom bubbles they are removed.
The timetable reflects the COVID restrictions and will be regularly reviewed as the situation changes. At the moment there is:
For the first half term all meetings will be held virtually via Zoom to reduce the number of people entering the school environment. For the time being we are not using home/school books and the class teacher will feed back on the day via email. We have a policy in school that we do not email before 8am or after 6pm to ensure the work life balance for our staff. If you email after 6pm you will not receive a reply until the next working day.
The adaptations to the school car park should have been completed in the summer holidays but I am told it will be finished next week. This will provide a safer drop off area for students in wheelchairs and a one way system with an exit on Lygetun Drive. A huge thank to parents who are dropping off their children for being patient and following the current one way system. There may be some waiting but it does mean the car park is orderly and most importantly safe.
School Transport (PTU) have informed us that if you have applied for school transport or are awaiting the result of an appeal it could be two weeks before you are allocated a place if you are successful.
It has been a difficult year but with your support we can keep the school open and the children safe in their bubbles. You have been incredibly supportive throughout this pandemic and although we will not be able to see many of you face to face we aim to set up virtual events to keep you up to date with your child’s progress. More information on these events will follow once the term is in full swing.
I just wanted to give you an update prior to the start of term on Thursday 3rd September.
COVID 19 Update
School will open to all students. In order for this to remain so, we will need all families to be extremely vigilant about COVID 19 and keep your children at home if they show any symptoms. I know that some students will suffer from colds and seasonal flu throughout the winter but in order to keep the school running effectively you will need to keep them at home until they have been tested.
If one child comes in with COVID 19 then the whole bubble will be closed and that will affect the education of up 80 children and 50+ staff and their families.
If in doubt HAVE A TEST. You will get the results within 24 hours.
If you want your child to be in school, we must all play our part and not take risks or chances. We have some very fragile children in school who may not survive coronavirus so please do not send your children into school if they are unwell in any way. If your child is unwell please notify school by telephone (not via the transport) on the first day of absence.
All children and staff will have their temperatures taken before they are allowed in school. If your child has a temperature you will be expected to collect them immediately and take them directly for a test. Please ensure that you are able to do this.
School Bags and Home/School Books
We want to minimise the amount of unnecessary equipment that comes into school and back into your homes. The virus can live on plastic for 72 hours so please only send in essential items. If you don’t need to send in a bag then please don’t. For the time being teachers will email daily rather than use the home school books. Sports kits/tracksuits should be worn instead of uniform on the day the children have PE. Children should have their own labelled water bottle.
Swimming will not start until after half term at the earliest.
Packed lunches can be sent in a lunch box but preferably a disposable plastic bag.
All children except those in FE are expected to wear uniform. On the day your child has PE they can wear PE kit/tracksuit.
School lunches will be available for children eligible for Free School Meals and for families who wish to purchase them. There will be a limited choice of hot meals as they will be delivered to classrooms by trolley. Children will eat in classrooms.
Government guidance is that all secondary aged students (that are able to) should wear masks when moving around the school in corridors and on transport. As this is going to be part of life for the foreseeable future we will encourage students (and staff) to do so when moving around the school building and on the journey into school on PTU transport.
Students that have allocated a place on LA transport
Students being dropped by parents/carers
This is a difficult time for all of us and priority has to be keeping all our students and staff safe. The timetables will be different as will many lessons but we will do our best to create a 'new normal' where children will learn and thrive. We look forward to working with you all this year. Initially all meetings will be via Zoom or over the phone as we will try to limit face to face contact certainly for the first term. We will constantly risk assess the situation and I will give you weekly updates via Parentmail, the website and social media.
Update 3rd August 2020
We continue to monitor and situation both nationally and locally and are working towards a full opening in September. Ultimately this will not be our decision as we are advised by Public Health, the Local Authority and the Government.
As you are aware things change very quickly at the moment and any updates will be via the website, social media and Parentmail.
Please do not ring the school for information.
Hopefully transport will be in touch later in the holidays. They are working on routes that try to keep the children and young people in department 'bubbles'.
Please be assured as soon as I know anything I will share it with parents.
Update for Parents 17th July 2020
As we break up for the holidays I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your support through this difficult and hugely worrying time.
Some of our students will find returning in September difficult and we are happy to work with you to support them. We have two training days on Tuesday 1st and Wednesday 2nd September and then students are back on Thursday 3rd September 2020.
You will be contacted directly by transport over the holidays. They are working on transporting children in ‘bubbles’ so it is massive logistical task so please bear with them. If you have any questions please contact:
We Are Luton Summer Support
Over the summer period We Are Luton can help with the following:
We Are Luton can also support people who are experiencing financial hardship with:
If you want to access any of these services please visit www.weareluton.org
Please check the website for updates but unless the situation in Luton or nationally changes radically we will be opening in full in September.
Take care and stay safe,
10th July 2020 - Update for Parents
Planning for September
Thankfully I have very little to update you on this week. Infection rates in Luton continue fall and hopefully this remains the case over the summer. You will have all seen the plans I shared last week and we continue to work towards Plan A (full opening) on:
Thursday 3rd September 2020
We have shared our plans with transport and they are looking at how they can safely bring students into school, staying within their department ‘bubbles’. They will contact you directly during the holidays with the information for September.
The Travel Assistance Team are just beginning to process new applications and will contact families directly.
If you move house or your child has changed their wheelchair during lockdown please contact the Travel Assistance Team and the PTU on the email address below to inform them.
The school will not be notified of transport decisions or route plans until September so if you have any queries please contact them directly.
Use of Technology in September
We are moving into an age of virtual communication. COVID-19 is not going away any time soon so if you need support to develop your skills using Zoom we have information sheet or we arrange training in September. Certainly for the foreseeable future annual reviews and meetings will be virtual and not face to face. Personally I cannot wait to talk to people face to face but at least the use of technology will allow us to keep moving forward.
Communication through the holidays
I will do an update next week and then have a break for the early part of the holidays. If anything changes or if there are important updates I will of course update the website and send out an email via Parentmail. During the last two weeks of the holidays I will post updates on the website on the 21st and 28th August.
Take care and stay safe.
Return and Recovery Plans Woodlands School - September 2020
As you are probably aware the Government has announced that all children will return to school in September. However, our experiences this term have taught us that the situation can change very quickly. As a consequence of this we have put together three potential plans for September.
Our intention is that Plan A will go ahead and all children will return in September unless the situation in Luton with COVID-19 changes.
Government guidance published 2nd July:
It is our plan that all children will return to education settings full time from the beginning of the autumn term. Returning to school is vital for children’s education and for their well-being. Time out of an education setting is detrimental to cognitive development, particularly for disadvantaged children. This impact can affect both current levels of learning and children’s future ability to learn, and therefore we need to ensure all pupils can return to their setting sooner rather than later. Attendance will therefore be mandatory again from the beginning of the autumn term. There cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ approach to account for every scenario. Education setting leaders will be best placed to understand the needs of their settings and communities, and to make informed judgements about how to balance delivering a broad and balanced curriculum with the measures needed to manage risk.
Essential measures include:
How contacts are reduced will depend on the setting’s circumstances and will (as much as possible) include:
The majority of children will return to school in September.
Children will be in department/class ‘bubbles’.
Lunches will be in classrooms.
Children who are extremely clinically vulnerable will have individual arrangements
Slightly reduced day for the first half term (to be reviewed).
Arrival time 9.00am
Departure time 3.00pm
The ‘extra’ time will be used by school staff to ensure bubbles are set up safely and to allow time for cleaning.
All staff in school.
All children to wear school uniform.
Children will come into school for a week with a normal length day and then have a week off.
Children will be in department/class ‘bubbles’.
Lunches will be in classrooms.
Vulnerable and Key Worker children will attend full-time.
Group 1 children will be in school on the week beginning:
7/9, 21/9, 5/10, 19/10
Group 2 children will be in school on the week beginning:
14/9, 28/9, 12/10
All staff in school
All children to wear school uniform.
The school is closed to most students.
Vulnerable and Key Worker children will attend full-time.
School will reopen with Plan B when restrictions are lifted.
Staff on a rota.
No uniform required.
School website: https://www.woodlands.luton.sch.uk/covid-19-updates/
Official Woodlands Secondary School
Update 26th June 2020
Following the Government announcement on Friday 19th June we are looking at the best way to get all our children back into school safely in September. Social distancing is being relaxed to 1m which makes life a little easier. We are working with our colleagues from transport to find the best and most efficient way to get children to and from school safely. Although the timetables may look a little different, our planning will ensure children will be in class groups with consistent staff. Parents of children with complex health needs will be sent a questionnaire next week asking about provision for September. School is closed over the summer but I will keep you updated via the website and social media with our plans. Obviously all our planning is dependent on the number of cases of COVID-19 declining in Luton.
18th June 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
We have begun to increase the number of children attending school based on the following criteria:
Vulnerable children and the children of key workers
Parental requests for a place
A thorough risk assessment of the ability of the child to socially distance and follow good hygiene practices
The availability of appropriate PPE for staff working with children who cannot social distance.
We are working with individual families to try and tailor support for students who will find the changes in school difficult. Students may not be:
in school full time
In their usual class groups
In their usual class rooms
With familiar staff all the time
Following the usual curriculum
We are aware this may cause anxiety but much of this is beyond our control.
At this time we are not insisting that any child or young person attends school unless they fall into the vulnerable/at risk category, due to safeguarding. It has been entirely a parental choice.
For those that are in school we have rigorous cleaning protocols in place, temperature checks, social distancing both around school and in the classrooms. All pupils have their own equipment on their desks, no bags/home/school books or clothing is permitted to come into the building. Parents are contacted at the end of the day by email, spare clothing is being kept in school and pupils just bring in packed lunches in a labelled lunch box. Movement around the building is limited, pupils who are brought into school on transport are two/three to a bus and each department has their own entrance and exit. Students brought into school by parents are collected from cars by staff. All meetings are conducted virtually and there is limited access to the school for professionals and parents.
For those pupils unable to attend school school staff have kept in touch with families by telephone every other week, throughout Lockdown, to check in on how the pupils and families are, to supply school work and information about activities that can be carried out at home and to follow up on any issues arising.
We are of course planning for September but the information coming from the Government at the moment is very unclear and changes daily. Free school meals is a really good example of this, there was a complete u-turn on Monday and vouchers will now be provided over the summer which is great news for a great many families.
We will have a plan to share before we break up for the summer and we will stick to it unless there is a second spike and schools are forced to close again. It is unlikely that ‘normal’ schooling will resume even in September so we are looking at how best to meet the needs of all our students.
We are at the end of the phone if you need us. I am in school every day and the family workers are available if you need support.
I understand some parents are concerned about the lack of support from the school during this pandemic and I am happy to address individual concerns. Please contact me. Throughout this difficult time we have tried to support families and have individual conversations with parents about when/ how their child can return to school and this has been entirely parental choice, the exception being if they have a shielding letter.
As requested I will send out a weekly update via email and the website.
Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, schools, colleges and childcare providers will be closed to the majority of pupils until further notice.
Woodlands will therefore following this advice and be closed for the majority of pupils until further notice.
Stay at home and stay safe.
Free school Meal Voucher Update
The week beginning 23.3.20 voucher is coming from a company called Wonde, and they say the email to the parent should go through by the end of the week.
The week beginning 30.3.20, and all future weeks, is coming from a company called Edenred, who are the supplier operating the DfE run scheme. Every school in the country is registering so this may take a little time however our account has been updated to say an eCode is being delivered, so hopefully this will be emailed to the address provided.
Ten parents requested a physical voucher from the Edenred scheme, those relating to week beginning 30.3.20 were posted first class on Friday.
20th March 2020 – Coronavirus Update
Woodlands Secondary School will be closed to all students and staff until Monday 30th March.
We will re-open on Monday 30th March for students in the following groups only:
Both these groups will be required to attend school.
3. Children of Key Workers
Key Workers are those people identified in the Key Worker list identified by the Government advice:
If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision:
Health and social care
This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.
Education and childcare
This includes nursery and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.
Key public services
This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.
Local and national government
This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response or delivering essential public services such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arm’s length bodies.
Food and other necessary goods
This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).
Public safety and national security
This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.
This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.
Utilities, communication and financial services
This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.
If you are a key worker and need your child to attend school, please complete and return the form below by Tuesday 24th March at 5pm in order that we can plan to safely look after your children.
Please click on the link to submit information
We need to know these names and numbers in order to ensure we have enough school staff available to support the children, to provide school meal, to ensure transport is available for those entitled to it and to ensure we can address medical needs.
Thank you for your continued support at this difficult time.
19th March 2020
Firstly my apologies for the lack of an update today both the website and ParentMail crashed due to the sheer volume of traffic.
I would like to give you the rationale behind our decision to close the school as of Friday 20th March.
A large proportion of our staff are either ill or self-isolating. Those in self-isolation will not be back in school for 14 days. Following a risk assessment yesterday it was decided it was unsafe to remain open beyond the end of the week with the number of staff available and rate people were developing symptoms.
Our children require structure, routine and familiar and well-trained staff to deliver the curriculum. We cannot currently provide this and this has led to an increase in student's anxiety and challenging behaviour. It will not be possible to ‘child mind’ children because this is not what they expect from school.
In our PMLD department children need trained staff to deliver medical interventions and personal care and this is not currently available.
Our students do not understand social distancing and proper hand washing so it is impossible to limit the spread of the virus among the adults working closely with them.
We were hoping for some further information from the DfE tonight but that has not been forthcoming.
Even after the Easter break it is highly unlikely that the school will not reopen fully as we have a number of staff that have underlying medical conditions such as asthma and diabetes who will need to seek medical approval before they can return to the front line. The Government would like all children with an EHCP to be in school but the reality is we need our staff back at work in order to do this.Our greatest priority is to keep our children and young people safe.
Please use the resources on the website daily to support home learning.
We will be working on a phased return starting with the children of key workers and the most vulnerable groups. The school will be deep cleaned and we will work with the PTU and school meals service to ensure that we can return to normal as soon as possible.
We will start working our plans next week and share them with you once they are finalised. We are living in uncertain times and we need to work together to support our children and young people.
Keep safe and well.
19th March 2020
After much thought and soul searching I have decided to close the school from Friday 20th March 2020, initially until after the Easter holidays (Monday 20th April). This may change and we will keep you updated via the website, Parent Mail and social media. We have a training day on Friday 20th so the last day the school will be open will be tomorrow Thursday 19th March 2020.
We are living in extraordinary times and this requires us to make difficult decisions. It is impossible to maintain the standards of hygiene required to prevent the spread of Coronavirus in a special school as our students do not understand social distancing and thorough handwashing. Our students fall into the vulnerable category and it is important we do everything we can to protect their health and well-being during this time of crisis.
The school has developed a Home Learning page on the website and we will continue to add to this during the closure period. There are work sheets, interactive activities, songs, videos and games. Please support and encourage children to access these.
This includes a social story to help our children and young people to understand the current situation. We will also upload videos and messages onto Facebook (Official Woodlands Secondary School).
We will have a skeleton staff in school during term time to pick up messages and respond to questions, coronavirus permitting.
Stay safe and well. Our thoughts are with you all during this difficult time.
A copy of the school prospectus can be downloaded from the website.
Paper copies are available, on request, from the school office.
If you have any other queries, please contact Sam or Natalie in the school office.