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About Pennthorpe

Protective measures against COVID-19 following partial re-opening

Please find below answers to a range Frequently Asked Questions regarding the re-opening of Pennthorpe following the COVID-19 lockdown in Spring 2020.

General Questions


Whilst we do not have access to all the facts, we believe that the Government’s strategic aim is to replenish the economy; so that people can return to work and childcare will be provided by primary schools.
The Government also remains concerned about disadvantaged children who will be in receipt of no education or social care whilst schools remain closed.
Why are the Government re-opening schools?

Pennthorpe still remains under the legal guidance of the Department for Education, which authorises bodies such as ISI (Independent Schools Inspectorate) to implement the work of Ofsted in the private sector. Should Pennthorpe not fulfil the requirements of the DfE, it risks liability, breach of the Coronavirus Act and other legislation which could result in closure.
As an Independent School, can Pennthorpe act independently from the Government?

We believe that the Government has prioritised opening Nurseries to provide childcare to working parents who are able to return to work.
Reception and Year 1 are critical year groups as they are the first years of proper education, incorporating numeracy and literacy skills as well as social skills.
With regards to the Government decision for Year 6 to return, this is based on state primary schools, rather than the independent sector which remains a minority. In the state system Year 6 is a key transition year group, when pupils move to their secondary school. However, this does not apply to Pennthorpe where the key transition year is Year 8.
What is the rationale for which Year Groups the Government has stated should return first?

The Government has said its strategic plan is to have all state primary school aged pupils back in school by the end of the Summer term (Reception to Year 6).
If all of the five criteria that the Government have set are met, Pennthorpe will plan to have all children (Reception to Year 8) back in school before we end this academic year, with the relevant social distancing and other requirements, in place.
When will other year groups return to Pennthorpe?

No. Whilst we will do everything possible to reflect our normal Pennthorpe, there are strict requirements related to social distancing and protective measures. Additionally, staff members’ vulnerabilities, and vulnerabilities within their households will have staffing implications, which may result in school feeling quite different.
It is important both parents and their children are aware of this before returning to school to avoid any unnecessary distress or anxiety.
Will my child be returning to normal school?

Teaching and Learning


This is explained in more detail in the Heads letter which has gone to parents. The Department for Education guidance states that there must be no more than 15 children in a group. At Pennthorpe the size of the groups will be within this maximum, and in many cases groups will be much smaller. Staff members allocated to each group will be dependent upon the availability of staff (staff members’ vulnerabilities, and vulnerabilities within their households will have staffing implications). As such children may not have their normal teacher.
If children are divided into smaller groups, how will the groups be divided and teaching staff allocated?

Our priority is safety and well-being of pupils. We are not expecting pupils to return to school and follow their previous teaching timetable although we will do our best to reflect the usual subject areas.
Pennthorpe will continue to offer a COVID-19 applicable PSHE program, designed to deal with the issues arising from the pandemic and alleviate the concerns our children might have.
How will teaching methods change to work around the new guidelines?

Managing virtual learning and supporting children in school will be a challenge, specifically in the Prep school, where children enjoy subject specialist teaching. As such, until all year groups in the Prep school are able to return, Year 6 will receive virtual teaching supervised by a staff member in school. This will enable our specialist teachers to continue to provide lessons for all year groups, it will reduce the risk of transmission by having fewer teachers on site, as well as enable our staff resourcing to accommodate any staff members’ vulnerabilities and vulnerabilities within their households.
In the Pre-Prep, our aim will be to continue offering parents the choice to stay at home or return to Pennthorpe for the remainder of this term. This will be frequently reviewed, to ensure it remains viable.
For children in the Honey Pot and Beehive, our virtual provision will not continue once children are able to return to site. This reflects the principal need being childcare in this age bracket.
How will those who choose to keep children at home be supported?

No. Children will have individual resources allocated to them which will be cleaned daily after use.
Will children share resources as before?

Outdoor learning and exercise will form part of the routine for all children each day. However, due to our reduced timetable, it is recommended that children continue to take opportunities to exercise outside of school in addition to in-school opportunities once they return.
Will the children have the opportunity to complete exercise during the school day?

All pupils will receive a copy of the new COVID-19 guidelines which lay out a few, basic expectations of behaviour when returning to school. These will be discussed with pupils, in an age appropriate manner, at the beginning of each day or session to ensure the children understand the expectations.
Pennthorpe will continue to follow the behavioural expectations laid out in the school’s Behaviour Management and Sanctions Policy; however, there will of course be leniency surrounding the need to socially distance and follow the new rules.
How will new rules and guidelines be communicated and enforced amongst children during the school day?

Practical Questions


Break and lunch times will be staggered with each group allocated a particular play space. This is explained in more detail in the Heads letter which has gone to parents.
How will break times work?

Pupils will be asked to bring their own nut-free snacks and lunch to school as our kitchen and dining facilities will not be operating. This is as a result of the complexity of implementing the protective measures required in our kitchen and dining rooms. Fees will be discounted accordingly.
Will snacks and lunch be provided?

The school hours will be reasonably similar to usual, but your child’s start and end times may differ to enable us to stagger the drop-off and collection of children, to help manage social distancing. The specific timings for each year group is explained in the Heads letter which has gone to parents.
There will be no Wraparound Care, Breakfast Club or Extra Curricular Clubs for the remainder of the Summer Term. Those parents who had booked Flexiday via the portal, will not be charged for these activities.
What will the timings of the school day be?

Honey Pot and Beehive who will wear their normal uniform. Children from Reception and above should wear their PE or Games kit rather than full uniform.
In line with the required protective measures, children must wear clean and freshly laundered clothes each day they attend school.
Will the children be expected to wear school uniform when they return to school?

Protective Measures


In primary schools, it is recognised that social distancing is not practical nor, in most cases, possible. Managing social distancing in a classroom will be very difficult therefore it is essential parents are aware that the DfE requirement, and the Pennthorpe approach, is to manage ‘safe distancing’.
Pupils will be encouraged to remain at a distance from their peers and staff but a 2 metre distance between individuals cannot be guaranteed and we do not expect our very young children to be able to manage this. Instead we will create safe ‘bubbles’ within the school, which minimise the interactions between different groups of pupils. Children will only mix within their group. The staff in each of these groups will remain the same throughout each day, where possible; the staff will also not mix with each other or between different groups.
The physical environment in school is already undergoing some changes. Classrooms will look different. We will be minimising the furniture in rooms and classroom layouts will be different to that which we left. All soft furnishings, bean bags, dressing up clothes, rugs etc will be removed from classrooms. Where desks are in place for pupils these will be safely distanced from one another, however not always 2 metres apart.
How will the physical environment at school change to adhere to social distancing and new hygiene guidelines?

No. The guidance states that it is not necessary for staff to wear masks, gloves and aprons unless they are carrying out activities that would usually require the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) or if a child or staff member becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus while in their setting and needs supervision until they can return home.
“Wearing a face covering or face mask in schools or other education settings is not recommended. Face coverings may be beneficial for short periods indoors where there is a risk of close social contact with people you do not usually meet and where social distancing and other measures cannot be maintained, for example on public transport or in some shops. This does not apply to schools or other education settings. Schools and other education or childcare settings should therefore not require staff, children and learners to wear face coverings.”
(Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings: updated 12th May 2020)
Will the staff be wearing masks? / Would you expect the children to wear masks? / Will children and teaching staff be expected to wear PPE?

Absolutely! This is a fundamental safety precaution that will be in place. There will be clear expectations for all pupils and staff to wash their hands several times per day. This will include arriving to and leaving the site as well as at any transition points throughout their school day, after visiting the toilet, and before and after eating.
Will children be encouraged to maintain hand washing as they were prior to lockdown?

Each year group returning to school will have their own designated toilets to reduce the risk of groups mixing throughout the building.
Will children share bathroom facilities?

Hand washing will be the first essential task for all children and staff on arrival to the setting.
A full order of all supplies has been ordered and is ready in school.
Will hand-gel be used at the front door? Does the school have sufficient supplies for this?

No. There is no DfE requirement to check children’s temperatures as they arrive at school. All families will be expected to monitor their child’s temperature, and general health, at home and report any symptoms of Coronavirus to the school as soon as possible.
“Parents, carers and settings do not need to take children’s temperatures every morning. Routine testing of an individual’s temperature is not a reliable method for identifying coronavirus. Educational and childcare settings should reiterate to parents the need to follow the standard national advice on the kind of symptoms to look out for that might be due to coronavirus, and where to get further advice.”
(Coronavirus (COVID-19): implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings: updated 12th May 2020)
Will there be daily checks on staff and children for high temperatures?

A detailed drop-off/collection process has been devised. This is explained in more detail in the Heads letter which has gone to parents. This includes; no parents having access to the school site, staggered arrival and collection times, designated drop-off/collection locations and children being escorted to their on-site location by staff members at a physical distance.
Parents must be patient whilst dropping-off and collecting their children, as the process will be more time-consuming than normal. All parents must respect social distancing requirements whilst waiting outside school.
How will parents/children/teachers be protected whilst dropping-off and collecting children?

Any child showing any symptoms of ill health will immediately be isolated and parents will be asked to collect as soon as possible. The child will be kept in a separate room and supervised by Matron until collection. In the case of an emergency, 999 will be called.
Anyone showing symptoms is advised to follow the published guidelines, which include remaining self-isolated at home for 14 days.
All staff and pupils who are attending Pennthorpe will have access to a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus, and are encouraged to get tested in this scenario.
Anyone who has been in contact with someone who has become unwell will not be sent home unless they develop symptoms themselves or the person subsequently tests positive (see ‘What happens if there is a confirmed case at Pennthorpe?’ below). All will wash their hands thoroughly, and the area where the unwell person has been will be cleaned.
What happens if a child shows symptoms of coronavirus whilst at school?

Families are required to inform Matron if their child exhibits any coronavirus symptoms. They should not be brought into school unless they test negative or have no symptoms and have remained self-isolated at home for a period of 14 days since their symptoms were identified. Anyone showing symptoms is advised to follow the published guidelines.
All staff and pupils who are attending Pennthorpe will have access to a test if they display symptoms of coronavirus, and are encouraged to get tested in this scenario.
What happens if my child shows symptoms of coronavirus at home?

Tests will be made available by the government for any child, staff member, or family member of a child or staff member, should they become symptomatic.
Where a child or staff member with symptoms tests negative, they can return to Pennthorpe and their fellow household members can end their self-isolation.
Where a child or staff member tests positive, the rest of their class will be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of the wider class do not need to self-isolate unless the person that they live with from the class subsequently develops symptoms.
Will anyone with symptoms be tested?

Where a child or staff member tests positive, the rest of their class will be sent home and advised to self-isolate for 14 days. The other household members of the wider class do not need to self-isolate unless the person that they live with from the class subsequently develops symptoms.
As part of the national test and track programme, if cases are detected at Pennthorpe, Public Health England’s local health protection team will conduct a rapid investigation and will advise Pennthorpe as to the most appropriate action to take. In some cases, a larger number of people may be asked to self-isolate as a precautionary measure.
What happens if there is a confirmed case at Pennthorpe?