Schools report - amazing efforts by everyone

Plymouth’s schools - and parents - have been given 10 out of 10 and gold star for their amazing efforts as the city shuts down.

Schools closed on 20 March to the usual learning and curriculum suspended following the Government announcement as part of its measures to tackle COVID-19.

However schools were open last Monday

  • To make sure critical workers able to access childcare so they could carry out their jobs
  • Those most vulnerable children to get the support needed.

Over 1, 000 children and young people were in on the first day, but as the week has progressed, this has settled to around 700 children. Plymouth usually has 39,300 children and young people in all its schools and nurseries.

As a result 13 primary schools and three secondary schools have liaised with other schools to join sites so that if one site is shut parents can access another. They are also introducing rotas so that they are open throughout the holidays.

Councillor Jon Taylor, Cabinet member for Education, Skills and Transformation said:  “On Monday we had no idea how and if this was going to work. It was a complete unknown for everyone. But I have been blown away by the efforts of everyone, schools and parents to do the right thing.

“We have been working closely with the schools who have all been incredible at sharing ideas, keeping in constant contact and doing their utmost to keep children and parents up-to-date and safe.”

Schools sent pupils home with learning packs with access to educational materials on line and many are updating their websites constantly with activities and learning for families.

“This is a constantly changing situation and we are doing all we can to make sure that those families of key workers who need childcare can get it.  They should contact their school or nursery setting in the first instance, but if they are struggling to get a school place contact Childrensservicesresponse@plymouth.gov.uk.”

Because of the high level of vulnerability of pupils, some of the special schools have closed, but staff have been visiting families and keep in contact with them regularly. Jon added: “I want to do a special shout out to our special schools and staff who have been working so hard directly with the families."

Headteacher of Woodlands School Andrea Hemmens said:  “Everyone we work with from pupils, staff, parents and local authority teams have been incredibly understanding, positive and supportive of the actions we have had to take as a school. 

“When I have needed support or an opportunity to discuss a potential decision, I have been able to contact senior officers from the Local Authority and Public Health.  They have been responsive and available for me day and night!  I simply would not have been able to do my job without them.”

Eat That Frog is a DfE registered Specialist Post 16 Institution, providing bespoke education for young people with Special Educational Needs. Managing Director Ian Powell thanked Council staff as “working in partnership with them has helped us to get ahead of the game, preparing our young people and staff for online learning and support. 

“Council staff have hosted briefings with the post 16 education provider to ensure that there are excellent routes of communication and sharing of good practice and staff skills.  Our students are able to stay safe whilst still accessing their full time education with the tutors they know and trust.”