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SCS Newsletter 05/06/2020

by swisscottage / June 5th, 2020 / in Archive 2019/20 /

Dear Parents and Carers,

We hope this finds you well at the end of the first week of our final half term. We are writing to provide updates and viewpoints across three topics:

  1. Return to School Timelines
  2. Virtual School Review
  3. Transition Planning
  4. Political Tensions & Racial Injustice

The Senior Leadership Team is genuinely focused on getting the balance right as we continue to navigate a range of guidelines from the Department for Education and Public Health England. Please presume our honourable motives and a commitment to working with integrity. We hold the core values of this school in all of our efforts.

Return to School Timelines

We are really pleased to share that many of the safety changes we proposed for our school building are being put into place through the Local Authority. This puts us in a strong position to support preparations in line with the government’s health and safety guidelines for COVID-19.

Visual markings to promote 2m social distancing throughout corridors and shared spaces such as reception and dining halls will be installed across all four floors. This work has started and should be completed by the contractors during the start of next week. Once that installation is completed, we will work with a specific group of staff to prepare a small set of classroom environments in line with the Public Health England guidelines. This will involve removal of a range of furniture and resources alongside training staff on safety measures. We will have changes in the movements throughout the building to promote the “protected bubbles” and minimises cross-contamination. We will use these classrooms to trial teaching and learning approaches that can be facilitated with social distancing during the pilot phase.

This means we are on track for the proposal we shared in the Parent Update on 22nd May 2020. We will begin our pilot phase from Week 3 which is the week beginning 15th June 2020. This pilot phase will focus on a small cohort of pupils in three pathways:

  • Post-16 Pathway which includes pupils that are finishing at Swiss Cottage School to move on to college and vocational training.
  • Semi-Formal Pathway
  • Informal Pathway

This will be alongside the vulnerable cohort that is currently on-site for respite provision. We have confirmed an increase in this cohort for next week and that is now finalised so that we can prepare for the pilot cohorts returning on Week 3. The responses to surveys from parents and staff are informing the preparations. We know the pupils in each pilot will be mixed from different classes and the staff will also be mixed. We will write to families in those pathways next week to share the planning for this so that they can make an informed decision on whether they wish to send their child in. Many of you have confirmed you do not want to take the risks associated with returning to school and we respect this decision. It is not required and the planning is based on your feedback from the parent survey. This is why the school is equally focused on strengthening the Virtual School offer.

Virtual School Review 

The majority of our pupils will continue to access the Virtual School. The Department for Education guidelines also highlight that virtual and remote learning may remain an aspect of school provision in the next academic year due to the realities of COVID-19.

Parents have provided updates to the class teacher over the last half term as the virtual school was formally launched and settled. The half term was relatively short with only 5 weeks so the review was scheduled for the first week of this half term. This would allow us to bring together the reflections from teachers alongside parents. 20 parents joined the Virtual School review that was facilitated by Rebecca Shaw (Vice Principal) and Monika Gaweda (Head of School). We have a clear sense of what is working well and the key priorities we need to focus on to make the Virtual School better and more effective. We will focus on this over the next week in order to make immediate changes and focus training on areas that were highlighted.

Transition Planning

The final half term of the academic year is always focused on transition preparations. The transitions can be for new pupils that will be joining our school, internal transitions where pupils may change classes, and transitions for pupils that are leaving because they are in their final year within our Sixth Form.

We are planning the transition process very carefully. Due to the impact of COVID-19 on education, we have committed to a set of core principles. At the heart of this is a focus on minimising changes as much as possible. The pupils have had to navigate not being in their school building and losing the daily connections with friends and staff. We want to ensure any change is minimal. We are balancing the needs of the new cohort that is entering the school alongside this because every year involves the introduction of a new classes in response to the changing profiles in the school.

We usually confirm the class teacher and transition plans in the last two weeks of the academic year. We feel it would be more helpful to share this information earlier so that we can work together to support your child at the earliest stage. Our plan is to write to every family on Week 4 which is the week commencing 22nd June 2020 to confirm the class teacher. We would then focus the final three weeks of the academic year on a ‘Transition Curriculum’ within the Virtual School.

Political Tensions and Racial Injustice

The events in America last week with the death of George Floyd has triggered strong responses across the globe. The words that are being repeated over and over again: injustice, inequality, racism…suffering. What should be history is still a reality and one that has deep roots.

Each of us will have a different experience with racism. Our school community works with a marginalised population of pupils who experience inequalities due to their complex special educational needs. Our efforts to support their visibility and role as equal citizens sits at the heart of our mission as a school. We actively combat issues to ensure we are not passively allowing discrimination for our pupils.

We are always fighting the discrimination as educators, and with a heightened focus because of the complexity of special needs and disabilities across our pupil population. We work so carefully to help others see their unique qualities. We do not want our pupils to be ‘tolerated’. We advocate for their ‘acceptance’. We recognise the individuality that each of them reflects and through that focus we find ourselves united in promoting their role as equal citizens. Working together on this is what brings us harmony in our mission and core values.

Our school community is equally diverse. We reflect the multiculturalism of London. That does not mean we have not felt the inequalities of racism. It does not mean we are not affected by the death of George Floyd and the realities of racism.

I followed the first of three memorial services for George Floyd which took place yesterday in Minneapolis. His horrific murder on 25th May has put a lens on the fact that racial injustice has deep roots in our global society. The emotions from yet another death of an innocent black man in America ripples across the world.

Peaceful protests are taking place across many countries and in the heart of London to push for change because this racial inequality needs to stop. We want to support any member of our community that is feeling a mixture of valid emotions during this fight against racial injustice. As much as it is a time for education and engagement it is also a time for acknowledging the impact on wellbeing and mental health. We have selected a set of think pieces, videos, podcasts, and events to support our reflections as a community.

 

Yours Sincerely,

Vijita

 

Camden Council Leader Cllr Georgia Gould:

http://camdennewjournal.com/article/racism-is-not-an-american-disease

Virtual Town Hall Meeting from Former President Barack Obama

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_qB6SsErpA&feature=youtu.be

Black Live Matters

https://blacklivesmatter.com/

Lecture in Progress: Directory of recommended resources for supporting the Black Lives Matter movement

https://lectureinprogress.com/journal/resources-for-supporting-black-lives-matter-movement

Chartered College of Teaching Thinkpiece: Why Black Lives Matter in Education and Beyond

https://my.chartered.college/2020/06/why-black-lives-matter-in-education-and-beyond/

Ham&High Article: Camden Council Goes Purple in Solidarity with Global Protesters

https://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/black-lives-matter-camden-goes-purple-and-council-leader-calls-out-systemic-racism-1-6683666

Ham&High Article: Black Lives Matters Protesters backed by Haringey Politicians

https://www.hamhigh.co.uk/news/black-lives-matter-protesters-backed-by-haringey-politicians-1-6685988

The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change: Taking Up Space  (Book)

https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1117762/taking-up-space/9781529118544.html

Black Thrive: A Partnership for Black Wellbeing

https://www.blackthrive.org.uk/

Gal-Dem Thinkpiece: What to do if you can’t protest on the streets for Black Live Matters

https://gal-dem.com/what-to-do-if-you-cant-protest-on-the-streets-for-black-lives-matter/

The Vice Thinkpiece: Self-care Tips for Black People Who Are Struggling With This Very Painful Week

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/g5pgmq/self-care-tips-for-black-people-struggling-from-painful-week

 

Click here to  download a printable version of this letter.

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