I have been in touch with the Head Teachers of all our local primary and infant schools to thank them for all they are doing as they prepare to re-open in early June. One of the Government's announcements of most keen interest for those with children, or grand-children, is the intention to re-open schools for some children from 1st June. This is to let you know how Surrey County Council has been working with, and will continue to support, our education sector over the coming weeks and months. Exactly when a school re-opens is the decision of each school.
WHAT'S HAPPENED SO FAR? Surrey County Council's education team established a strong Covid 19 working party with the CEO of the Surrey education partnership SAfE and the Headteachers of all the Phase Councils (Early Years, Primary, Secondary, Special and FE) well before the lockdown began on 23rd March. This enabled Surrey's education sector to navigate successfully through the closure of schools for all students except vulnerable children and the children of our critical workers. This working party ensured that schools were able to get daily free school meals to some 15,000 Surrey children who needed them, that schools were supported with good resources on curriculum development for home learning, that laptops are available for students at critical stages who are without them at home, that our early years providers and school transport providers received financial assistance to stay afloat, and that good practice was shared.
The council's role has been, and will continue to be, to provide support to schools to deliver a safe, effective and consistent approach to education through this pandemic. SCC is supporting nearly 500 schools in Surrey, including independent schools, and over 1,000 early years providers.
Communications are through schools and directly with parents and carers to support them through this difficult period - to help the children stay safe and healthy in the home.
THE PLANS THAT ARE NOW IN HAND. As we see the easing of some restrictions by the Government, and the intention for a phased opening of early years settings and schools from 1st June, SCCs plans are responding. It is working with the education sector to re-open schools for Surrey's children and young people in a pragmatic way which is risk assessed and takes account of children's needs.
The plans include: Early Years settings:
- Continuing to work with these settings to support their financial sustainability as they take steps toward reopening. Primary and Secondary Schools
- For primary schools, we are supporting them to plan for welcoming back nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils from 1 June at the earliest.
- For secondary schools, we are working to ensure that as many vulnerable pupils as possible can attend as well as the children of critical workers. This includes providing risk assessment tools and guidance so that schools can prepare effectively.
We are identifying gaps in the supply of protective equipment and supporting schools to procure what is needed at a reasonable price. Special Schools: Supporting special schools with both risk assessments and protective equipment as they put in place their plans to extend the number of pupils returning to school in a phased approach and across year groups. This is being done in partnership with parents/carers and on a needs led basis with ongoing risk assessments.
School Transport Providers: In addition to financial support, SCC is introducing a new purchasing system to provide greater transparency and assurance for transport providers around procurement.