Returning to School

We are looking forward to welcoming all children back to school in September, please find below lots of important information below to help the transition back to school to go as smoothly as possible.  You will also find some social stories and information on our special code of conduct.

Please rest assured that whilst some of the information can appear startling, we have had children in Reception, Year One and key workers children in school for a significant period of time already during the summer term. The children have been welcomed with the warm and loving faces of the team at Houghton and have responded accordingly. Children who have been in are skipping into school and are enjoying, achieving and learning as they did before. There are some changes, but nothing that our resilient and amazing children have not taken into their strides superbly. If your child is yet to return, rest assured they will be fine! We for one cannot wait to see and hear our school filled with the buzz for learning it has missed for so long.

 

All children in Reception to Year Four are expected to return to school in September The Department for Education have made clear, that now the circumstances with regard to the Coronavirus have changed, it is vital for all children to return to school to minimise as far as possible the longer-term impact of the pandemic on children’s education, wellbeing and wider development.

School attendance will therefore be mandatory again from the beginning of the autumn term. This means from that point, the usual rules on school attendance will apply.

The government have published guidance about how schools should work to facilitate all children returning from September. In interpreting this guidance, we have given careful consideration to pupil and staff safety, the logistics associated with how school will run given our classroom and external spaces, size of buildings and corridors, numbers of entrances and exits, timetabling and staffing capacity.

We have planned for a staggered drop off and collection with children in two/three classes allocated to a “bubble”. Within this wider bubble there will be a sub-bubble which will be your child’s individual class.

These bubbles will remain together at allocated times of the school day, for example at playtimes and at lunch.

Bubble Group 1: Robins (Reception)

Bubble Group 2: Sub bubbles containing –  Doves (Y1) and  Owls (Y2)

Bubble Group 2: Sub bubbles containing – Hawks (Y3) and Eagles (Y4)

Bubble Group 3: Sub bubbles containing – all Preschool children

These classes have been assigned to a bubble as members of staff will be moving between classes as we have a small staffing team. It also enables children to widen their social groups at playtimes.

  • As advised by DfE staff will arrange the classrooms with forward facing desks and staff are required to maintain their distance from pupils and other staff as much as possible. All of this forms part of our revised, detailed risk assessment which will be carefully considered by Governors.
  • Each child will be given their own pack, containing equipment which they need and which will not be shared.
  • Classroom based resources, such as books and games, can be used and shared within the bubble; these will be cleaned regularly, along with all frequently touched surfaces.
  • Where whole-school shared resources are needed, these will be cleaned before and after use with appropriate cleaning materials.
  • Staff will be able to work across ‘wider bubbles’, for example to support groups of children or to cover for absent colleagues, but they must maintain social distancing from the children and other adults and this will be minimised where possible.
  • We will be able to invite some visitors into school, such as education psychologists, social workers and supply teachers.
Timings of the day: staggered starts and collection times Arrival and departure times for school children will be confirmed to you once our parent consultations regarding timings for the school day are completed.

BUBBLE GROUP ARRIVAL DEPARTURE
Bubble Group 1 – Robins 9.10am 3pm
Bubble Group 2 – Doves and Owls 9.10am 3pm
Bubble Group 3 – Hawks and Eagles 8.50am 3.15pm
Bubble Group 4 – Preschool 9am or 12.20pm dependent on session booked 12pm, 12.30pm or 3:30pm dependent on session booked
  • For those who are not familiar with the arrival/departure system, parents are asked to form an orderly line along the left-hand side of the walk-in path to prevent gathering of groups of people.
  • The path is marked with a one-way system and 2-metre markers, which we require you to adhere to.
  • You will be asked to walk up the one-way system and stop at the white box at the green gate. At that point it is expected that your child will walk in through the school gates independently.
  • We would appreciate that only one parent/carer drops off their child.
  • No parents will come beyond the school playground gates unless you have an appointment prearranged.
Pre-school
  • We are delighted to be able to safely open Houghton Conquest’s Pre-School once again to full capacity.
  • Children who are returning to preschool can start from Monday 7th September at 9am depending on the sessions you requested.
  • New pre-school joiners will be required to arrange settling in sessions with our Room Leader prior to starting. Our Room Leader will be in touch with you.
  • All children in pre-school will remain in one bubble.
  • Timings for arrival and departure will remain as the official times, and stated above; however, your child will be expected to enter the external door that is supervised by your child’s key worker. This will be communicated to you directly.
  • We have looked at the equipment we use and have selected those toys which are most easily cleaned.
  • We will limit the number of children playing at any activity at any time, but it must be recognised that children will be playing alongside their friends and sharing equipment and that cleaning and handwashing will be key ways that risk is minimised.
  • Parents of children who attend more than one setting will be asked to share this information with the pre-school, in order that we can feel assured of alternative settings plans to keep children and staff safe, prior to agreeing to any sessions in our pre-school.
Curriculum The wellbeing of pupils will be high priority on our return, with time given to have individual conversations, more focused learning time and more frequent breaks for exercise outside. Teaching staff have been discussing information about their new class, which will show where there have been gaps in the teaching; so, lessons in September can then be planned to meet these needs.

  • Curriculum delivery will return to normal. Children will receive a broad and balanced curriculum with wellbeing at the heart of curriculum decisions.
  • As all year groups will be spending as much time outside as possible, please could you send your child to school with a pair of (named) wellies or outside shoes. We will store these at school and it means that the children can get outside regardless of the weather.
Lunchtimes:
Packed Lunches
We have opted to continue with the ‘pack-up’ lunch, as this means children can either eat in their classrooms or with their wider bubble in the school hall, cleaned in between each bubble. We will review the implementation of packed lunches on a half termly basis, and we wish to reintroduce hot dinners as quickly and as safely as we can accommodate it.

All children who are entitled to ‘Free School Meal‘ and and those children entitled a ‘Universal Infant Free School Meal‘ (this is all children in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2) can have a packed lunch provided by the school upon request each day.

All other children, and anyone not wanting to take up the offer of a free school packed lunch, will need to bring in a packed lunch from home which contains a healthy, balanced diet.

Play times
  • We feel that children in their ‘wider bubble’ (key stages) can play together, outdoors, with socially-distanced inspired play, where they have washed their hands before and after their playtime. This will allow further social opportunities and support social and emotional wellbeing.
  • The playground will be partitioned into these widened bubble zones. Each zone will also contain a calming area if children would prefer to play quietly.
  • Playgrounds will be equipped with their own ‘bubble boxes’ which will be used only by children in that bubble and cleaned daily.
Things to bring into school on a daily basis
  • Book bag
  • Water bottle
  • Packed lunch if you are not entitled to Universal Infant Free School Meals or Free School Meals.
  • Coat
  • Sun hat (depending on the weather)
  • Children will be allowed to take home reading books. When children return them, they will be ‘hibernated’ (left unused and out of reach) for a period of 48 hours.
Uniform
  • All children will be expected to wear school uniform.
  • On your child’s PE day, your child will be required to come dressed for PE that day in the appropriate attire.

Mon (Y4), Tues (Foundation), Weds (Y2), Thurs (Y1) and Fri (Y3)

Home from Home: Out of hours care provision
The Department for Education guidance explains that, “both the approaches of separating groups and maintaining distance are not ‘all-or-nothing’ options and will still bring benefits even if implemented partially. Some schools may keep children in their class groups for the majority of the classroom time, but also allow mixing into wider groups for…wraparound care.”

Therefore, we will be running Home from Home wrap around care provision for the Autumn Term 2020. Please do understand that your child may be mixing with children from another bubble.  Unfortunately, we are unable to run separate sessions to align bubbles with the school, due to limited staff numbers. We are delighted to be able to support working families once again and please understand we will be encourage socially distanced care as much as possible.

Bookings for September 2020 are open on WisePay for current children.  If you are new to our school and need to book please contact us via email and we will get back to you on the 3rd September when staff return to school.

Sickness A child who has symptoms should not be sent into school.  For more information please see our ‘symptoms and isolation’ page.

We will not be allowing children to enter the school building wearing a face mask. We would kindly ask the parent to remove their child’s face mask before entering the school grounds and take it home with them. You are more than welcome to wear them on your commute to and from school; however we will not be excepting children who are wearing them coming onto the school premises.

 

In addition to the above, we can confirm that the following actions will be a part of your children’s experience

 

  • A comprehensive cleaning routine will continue in the new school year – at the beginning, middle and end of the day, in addition to a continuous cleaning programme of commonly touched surfaces.
  • Entrance and exit to school will be at strictly allocated times to limit footfall.
  • Children will be encouraged to come onto the school site with one parent.
  • Parents will not be allowed into classrooms and at times, not allowed on site unless prearranged meetings are scheduled
  • Parents will be responsible for maintaining the social distancing of their child upon entry and exit to the school.
  • Scooters and bicycles will not be allowed past the main green gate onto the school playground but can be used in getting to school and placed in the racks outside the green gate or alternatively, parents can take them away after.
  • Children will be required to wash their hands on entering their classroom. Children will be required to wash their hands very regularly with soap and water and will be monitored in doing so.
  • Children will be allocated toilets which will be used by their wider bubble only.
  • Where possible, children will be encouraged to apply their own basic First Aid (e.g. the comfort of a wet paper towel). Where children require First Aid, the adult will be wearing personal protective equipment.

Our Special Code of Conduct Poster for children
Returning to school Children’s Special Code of Conduct
Returning to School Social Story
Returning to Pre-school Social Story
Keeping Safe at School – Parents Guide

Set up a back-to-school routine

Having consistent bed and wake-up times will help. The National Sleep Foundation suggest starting two weeks before the first day of school to set sleep routine habits. But even a week beforehand will help your child adjust.

The first week back will be difficult, transitioning from being in ‘home mode’ so don’t worry and indeed expect this. Try to maintain healthy habits around sleep (around 9-11 hours for children aged 5-13), exercise (around one hour per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity three times a week) and a healthy diet.

Create structure with a ‘school’ routine during most weekdays if you can. Be guided by your knowledge of what best supports your child during times of change and transition.  For some children, a visual calendar will help ‘count down’ and know which days are weekends.

You could set up a practical chart for getting ready. You could include:

Talk about going back to school

Most children have some level of stress or anxiety about school.  You can offer support by normalising experiences of worry and nerves. Reassure your child the feelings they have are totally normal and very common, and they will likely overcome them once they have settled in. Worries and courage can exist together.

Depending on your child’s age, you could also try writing a social story  about going to school and the routine ahead.

Help create a sense of school belonging

A sense of belonging at school can really affect academic success and well-being. Parents can facilitate positive attitudes about school by setting an encouraging tone when talking about it.

Look out for signs of stress

Parents can spot stress if their child (depending on age): is more clingy than usual; appears restless and flighty, or cries; shows an increased desire to avoid activities through negotiations and deal-making; tries to get out of going to school; retreats to thumb sucking, ‘baby’ language, habits they had previously grown out of, or increased attachment to favourite soft toys.

We have all been through a huge ordeal and change to our routines; stress responses are to be expected. However, if these behaviours persist for more than a few weeks, talk to your class teacher about what is happening. Together, we can work on a strategy of support.

Encourage questions

Encourage questions children may have about coming back. What will be the same? What will be different? Be open about what we do know and what we do not know yet. Tell your child who they can talk to at school if they have questions. We will all be completing ‘Helping Hand’ when we get back so that everyone has a ‘go to’ person who can help.

Also, let your child know, nothing is off limits to talk about. Have in your head some time set aside to talk informally and with low pressure (usually whilst doing something else, like driving somewhere, cooking together etc.) Most importantly, do not over-do it: too much talk can worry children too.