Friday 10th July 2020 Update   

Dear Parents/Carers

As we plan for the final week of school and home-based learning for all our pupils at West Oaks, it is with immense pride that I reflect on how we have all approached the Covid-19 situation.

There has been a tremendous safe effort by all concerned to offer some normality in the madness of the UK pandemic situation. This experience has taught me, again, how much responsibility we have to our 293 pupils and their families and the responsibility I also have for my 150 staff.

We have entered a new world of Google Meets, home visits, telephone 1:1’s, family outreach support, home learning, on-line learning, complemented by our school-based approaches for over 190 pupils weekly. We will use this experience to enrich our learning offer as my staff continue to plan for all pupils returning in September.

Your support has been phenomenal, and we do appreciate how difficult it is to home-educate our pupils, but the priority is and still will be, keeping everyone safe during the transition to a new normal.

We are very fortunate at West Oaks that things are never normal as we constantly look for ways to challenge ourselves, improve the experience for our pupils and their families and strive for excellence for everyone in our group.

As I write this update, I am waiting on the LA’s latest version of their school-based risk assessment template following on from the Government guidance released last week.

Please, be re-assured that West Oaks will be open to all our pupils from September 8th and we have planned well for this. Our pupils will be taught in class-based groups (bubbles) with consistent staffing and areas to work, play and learn in. We have been developing teaching and learning spaces, both indoors and outdoors for our new academic year and will share with you those developments next week.

I know staff have been gathering information from you regarding your child’s return to school during the virtual/online parents’ evenings this week so thanks for this.

Pupil reports will be sent out next week with a newsletter and whilst this year has been dis-jointed, there have been so many achievements to celebrate.

We are very proud of the effort everyone has made to stay safe and continue to engage in their learning. On that note, please keep sending your versions of “Proud” into info@westoaksschool.co.uk and we will get the third and final version of our sing/sign challenge out to you at the end of next week.

If I can be of any support or you want any further clarity regarding our provision, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes

Andrew

Friday 3rd July 2020 Update 

 Dear Parents/Carers

 The latest round of weekly/daily guidance includes confirmation from the DfE that there no expectation that schools should open for vulnerable children and children of critical workers over the summer holiday.

At West Oaks we are having significant works taking place on both sites, but we do intend to run a one-week play scheme on both sites from 3rd to 7th August and those offered a place have now been contacted.

The DfE further added: “We can confirm that providers offering paid childcare will be able to operate over the summer holidays, in line with protective measures guidance. Additional funded activities may be available in local areas, such as the Holiday Activities and Food scheme.”

We will make sure that any FSM voucher scheme, promised by the Government over the summer is implemented, and we will be in touch with you regarding this.

 Whilst planning to open to all our pupils in September, we are reading through the advice and guidance from the DfE this week regarding full school opening and we are considering the implications for us.

We will work with you to ensure a safe return for all our pupils. I am also aware that some parents/carers have expressed concern regarding the Tuesday 8th September return for their children and we will work with you regarding this. We will be contacting you next week, to ask whether a Tuesday 8th September or a Monday 14th September return would be preferable, just for initial planning purposes, and we will let Transport know. We will, of course, keep this under constant review.

After a summer deep clean of our provision, our bubbles/class groups will increase. As our usual groups are small anyway, pupils will be taught in their September class groups (bubbles) by a consistent class lead with consistent staffing in areas that are allocated to them.

After School Club will not take place for the first term and all activities will be site specific. Given the increase in our numbers from the 190 pupils that accessed our provision this week, we will link with SEN Transport and LCC Catering to ensure appropriate systems are in place to meet all our pupils needs.

I have attached a letter that Sal Tariq, Director of Leeds Children’s Services, has asked me to send out to you.

Finally, thanks for the “This is Me” contributors. We have one final 10 day challenge that we will share with you on Monday as we begin the last two weeks of a very difficult year. Thanks for your support and have a great weekend.

Best wishes

Andrew

Updated Leeds Position letter for Parents July 2020

Friday 26th June 2020 Update 

Dear Parents/Carers

It has been another busy week and whilst the shift in the UK seems to be on a relaxing of the lockdown and trying to get to a “new normal” by moving the economy and country forward, hopefully safely, we are still adopting a cautious approach at West Oaks.

I cannot thank the work of our parents/carers enough, because, without your understanding regarding our 2,4,5 day offer we could not have moved safely to providing provision for 167 children weekly.

Nationally, Special School pupil attendance has now reached 15%. This week our daily attendance was 40% and over 56% of our pupils accessed school provision. Next week, 22 more pupils join us for the last three weeks of term and attendance will continue to rise.

However, we were reminded this week of the reality of Covid-19 in Leeds, as reports of staff and pupils testing positive for Covid-19 across the city. There have been three isolated cases in 3 different primary schools. In all three cases, head teachers took prompt action; they collapsed the affected bubble and informed the LA, Public Health England, and supported the pupils and parents.

Reports of positive cases do cause real concern, but it is important to remember that there are 274 schools in Leeds with nearly 15,000 pupils now attending on a regular basis.

Where children or members of staff are showing symptoms of Covid it is important to follow the guidance and contact us so we can support you and our school community.

As we enter the last three weeks of a strange term, we will remain vigilant and will continue to work with you and will keep you informed regarding our plans.

This week, two Leeds Health and Safety Advisors visited the school and reported positively on our practices and protocols. They stated, “It was pleasure to see first-hand the excellent practice to minimise the transmission of COVID and to hear about the measures to maintain staff and pupil wellbeing.”

With safety and wellbeing at the forefront of everything we are trying to achieve for our children and young people, we do not propose making any further changes to our groups (“bubbles”) in the next three weeks, unless there is an urgent need.

We have worked hard to keep our groups constant, with the same staffing and pupils in the group and will maintain the same systems for the remainder of term. Group and transport changes are difficult to implement, whilst trying to keep everyone safe so thank-you for your understanding, particularly the parents who have had their 4 day offer reduced to two days to ensure more pupils can attend West Oaks safely.

We will continue to visit our home learners and I know both pupils and staff really enjoyed the visits this week and thank-you for your hospitality. Parent/Carer evening is also coming up and we will be in touch next week to arrange either a telephone or goggle meet session.

If you have a concern regarding your child’s wellbeing, please contact me, Keeley Murray or Katie Hurley (Family Support Manager) to discuss how we can best support.

Next week we will share with you our “This is Me” collaboration and we will continue to plan for September, where we hope to welcome all our pupils back as per the government announcement this week. This will not be without its challenges, particularly as Leeds stance is still 2m social distancing which equates to 50% pupil occupancy and SEN transport may also be an issue.

At West Oaks we can only control the controllables and we try to plan for every scenario and will keep you informed weekly. I can take great comfort in the strength of community that is West Oaks and how you have all responded. Thank-you, take care everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

 

Thursday 18th June 2020 Update

Dear Parents/Carers

In a week when education and the teaching profession has faced significant challenge, I am pleased that we have retained our focus on our core business of safely educating our pupils both in school and at home.

Many schools have now re-opened, albeit to very small numbers and for a limited time. West Oaks has remained open throughout this crisis and we have tried to be equitable to all children and families who have requested a school return this week.

This week we welcomed back 74 additional pupils, taking the total number of our pupils accessing a 2,4 or 5 day offer up to 152. At West Oaks 51% of our pupils are now attending and whilst in the UK, 90% of special schools are open, only 13% of their pupils are attending. The figure of pupils attending mainstream primary and secondary schools is even lower.

Our driving force behind our school offer has been the health, safety, and wellbeing of all of our pupils and staff and I am very grateful for the support of our parent and carer community to achieve this.   The level of understanding regarding the reduction of days for pupils to accommodate the children who have not been accessing school for 11 weeks has been brilliant.

Thank-you for your patience and understanding as this approach sits perfectly with our “excellence for everyone” ethos and we will also continue to work with our 126 pupils who are part of our home learning cohort.

As we plan for September 2020, with realistic social distancing in place and all the protective measures we have in our “protective bubbles” of no more than 50% in class at any one time we need to be open and honest with you around workable solutions moving forward.

Should, the UK move slowly to a September return for all pupils and social distancing has not been relaxed sufficiently or there is a second spike in the COVID virus, we will modify our current school offer to safely meet need.

If schools are still operating safely within 50% occupancy, we will have to adopt a shift rota system as a last resort. We would educate 150 pupils in school and 150 pupils will be educated and supported via home learning. Unfortunately, should we revert to this system children will be in school every other week and they will be allocated a week 1 or week 2 slot in the first instance.

For new starters and pupils who would have been out of school for 6 months we will certainly try to increase their offer if it is safe to do so. This would only be as a last resort and not something I want to work towards but should the need arise we will adopt this system from September so 90%+ of our pupils can access 5-day provision over the fortnight.

Please do not contact school to discuss this now, because it is only a suggestion should the national situation change. I wanted to give you advance warning of what we would do should the UK pandemic situation and response not alter in the coming months.

Leadership is vital in these situations and we have a strong team driving us forward. I am grateful for their support, guidance, and decision-making in these tough and challenging times.  From September 1st I am pleased to inform you that Keeley Murray has been appointed Vice-Principal of West Oaks. The decision to promote this exceptional leader was taken by the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Governing Body in consultation with me recently.

Keeley will continue to be Head of Woodhouse Learning and I will continue in my Head of Boston Spa role as well as the Principal role at West Oaks.

We have also appointed Sarah Wicks and Elisha Pighills to permanent Teaching and Learning Co-ordinators (TLCo) at Woodhouse and Melissa Rushton as maternity TLCo cover at Boston Spa.

This week we have also commissioned Pennine playgrounds to build a daily mile track, MUGA facility, 16+ Outdoor gym, Quad improvements for Dove play space at Boston Spa Learning.

The improvements at Boston Spa are a direct result of the £10 million extension that started at Woodhouse last week.  Both environments are important for high quality teaching and learning to take place and when all our pupils return in September, we wanted our offer enhanced.

Finally, now is not the time to be complacent with our protocols and systems and we will ensure that we remain vigilant as we provide a safe and welcoming environment for our pupils and staff whilst also maintaining a key link with all our home learners.

Please take care everyone and be safe.

Best wishes

Andrew

COVID-19  Risk assessment

Coronavirus risk assessment – updated June 2020

Thursday 12th June 2020 Update 

Today we communicated our offer for a phased return for more pupils and as you can appreciate it was extremely difficult to allocate, however, our current offers will stand as we have no capacity to safely increase pupil numbers further. We are guided by many factors, including Government policy, who advise a cautious approach and I will not compromise the safety of my pupils or my staff.  If things do change, we will, of course, review our current offer. Thanks for your understanding.

Best wishes Andrew

Wednesday 10th June 2020 Update

Dear Parent/Carer

I will try to keep this update short, but after Health Secretary Matt Hancock conceded that secondary schools in England may not fully reopen until September “at the earliest” and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson also stated schools needed time and more cautious steps to bring pupils back over the coming months, we have had to review our offer.
After consulting with our Governing body last night, we have taken the decision as a school to revert to a rota system to enable more children to attend West Oaks before the end of term. We will constantly review our position and should you have any concerns, please email info@westoaksschool.co.uk in the first instance.

West Oaks, like many schools in Leeds is already at full safe current capacity, with 97 of our 293 pupils in school and the remainder learning at home. Parental expectation to increase our number further has been extremely challenging for us and after yesterday’s Government announcement made even harder.
We will continue to educate pupils in small classes which has always been under-pinned by a safety-first approach. There is now a clear move to give schools “flexibility” over whether to admit more pupils and whilst we aim to bring back more pupils, it can only be on a shift/cohort basis.

Schools, and special schools, have remained open throughout the lockdown for children of key workers and vulnerable children with EHCP’s so we will have to think innovatively about how best to meet demand over the next few weeks and months.

We had planned to take in a new group of pupils on June 15th and July 1st but must now concede defeat as it is impossible for us to meet the growing demand for West Oaks places whilst keeping pupils and staff safe. Today, we have had to revise our plans to ensure more pupils can return safely to West Oaks over the next 5 weeks whilst also planning for a safe September return for everyone.

We will be in contact tomorrow to discuss our provision offer and confirm our final numbers for the next 5 weeks of term. Our phased approach will continue with 50% occupancy in class groups (Bubbles).

The provision model we are adopting will see children of key workers receive a 5-day offer (Cohort 1). Please confirm via info@westoaksschool.co.uk whether or not you are requesting a place for your child on the basis of one keyworker in the family as soon as possible.

Wednesday will be for key worker children only and will allow for deeper cleaning across both sites to prevent any spread of infection and prepare for a different shift on the Thursday/Friday.
Cohort 2 will be allocated a place on Monday/Tuesday
Cohort 3 will be allocated a place on Thursday/Friday
Cohort 4 are our Home and remote learners and we will enhance our offer to those remaining at home until September (more Goggle meets/visits/check-ins).
Cohort 5 are our new entrants and a Transition programme will be put in place to meet their needs so we can successfully welcome them to our provision in September.

We have now had 66 requests for our August 3rd summer playscheme, and unfortunately, we are unable to take any more requests. All 66 requests will be allocated a place at either our Boston Spa or Woodhouse campus. I am very grateful for my team who have volunteered to staff the playscheme, because, without them it would not be able to go ahead.

Finally, thank-you for your understanding. This was not an easy decision to take and was based purely on safety and equity for all our pupils who wish to return to school before September.

We appreciate all that you have done to support your child/young person during this crisis.

Take care everyone.
Best wishes
Andrew
Principal
West Oaks

 

Friday 5th June 2020 Update  

Dear Parent/Carer

I hope everyone is OK and thank-you for all that you are doing to support your child during these challenging times.

I am sure you are like me, when craving structure, routine and striving to get to a new normal as quickly and as safely as we all can.

West Oaks continues to work to meet the needs of our pupils, 95 on-site and 198 at home and we are trying to find a way to enable more of our pupils to return to school in the safest way possible.

The Department for Education (DfE) guidance has suggested schools welcome children back gradually, reducing the number of children and young people in classrooms compared to usual, and put protective measures in place to reduce risks, including keeping children in small consistent groups.

We have been focusing on the measures we can put in place to help limit risk of the virus spreading within our setting and we have created 30 groups with 50% occupancy as per Government guidance.

Social distancing is difficult in our setting and pupils are not taught in their normal class groups as many of their peers are at home. The best way appears to be to implement a “bubble” approach, where pupils are taught in the same group, by consistent staffing with access to outdoor provision. Again, deep cleaning and washing of hands is taking place on a regular basis.

Nationally, schools are being phased back with more pupils returning in the next few weeks to their schools. We are no different, as we are managing more requests for a return to school daily but managing our provision safely will be a challenge from 1st July.

Assuming we continue to relax Government imposed restrictions our next entry point of 15th June will see 32 more pupils return to school, taking our number to approximately 128. We will move to a five day offer for our current cohort from 15th June.

Thank-you for those who have indicated that you want a September return as this has helped our planning significantly. If anyone else is planning for this, please let us know.

Our school safe capacity within our current framework, based on local and national guidance is a total of 150 pupils across both sites. I am not proposing a shift system as this may prove more problematic to manage.

We have an indication that 60+ pupils wish to return to school on 1st July which could take our numbers above our safe capacity. With this in mind, we will prioritise pupils of keyworkers, pupils who have been at home during lockdown to return on 1st July and for some of our pupils who would have been attending provision since 22nd March may not be allocated a place on 1st July.

We will carry out individual pupil risk assessments and discuss with you, but I must give you advance warning regarding our plans. Because it may not be possible to bring back all children and young people for whom a return would be appropriate straight away, for example, due to staff absences, SEN transport, safety concerns.

Our parent meetings at the end of June and beginning of July will take place via Google Meets and we will share with you information regarding September groups on Monday 8th June. We had intended to move to September groups on 15th June but given the latest advice regarding consistency of groups and staffing we will continue with the existing groups and review for the last 3 weeks of term on 1st July.

Reports and IEP information will be posted out in July and information regarding our August 3rd play scheme will be shared with you next week.

Thanks for you support, take care and be safe everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

 

 

 

May 20th 2020 Update

Dear Parents and Carers

With all the updates, both locally and nationally, you probably could do without another but hopefully this update will give you some clarity regarding information and our approach to a phased return of more of our pupils.

160 Parents/Carers have already indicated they would like their children to return to West Oaks by the end of June with another 60 pupils wanting to return during July.

Currently, 62 parents/carers have indicated that their children are likely to return on September 8th, 2020. We still have some 50 unknown responses and we will continue to link with families over the next few weeks to plan safely for our pupils to return.

Thank-you for your patience and understanding regarding placements at West Oaks; it is a difficult time for everyone and throughout this process, the safety of pupils and staff has been at the heart of all our decision making and all our decisions are kept under constant review.

Yesterday, Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Executive Member for Learning, Skills & Employment and Sal Tariq, Director of Children and Families Leeds, informed me that they would be:

“writing a letter outlining our approach to the re-opening of schools which you can send to your parents. We will make it clear that schools will need to adopt different policies based on the individual circumstances of that school and we will ask parents to be respectful of the decisions made by school leaders.”

Please find below a copy of this letter.

They LA also reminded me that:

“It is possible that with the sheer amount of guidance that came out last week the following point did not receive sufficient emphasis. Vulnerable children and young people – regardless of year group – that have not been attending in the recent period are expected to return to school where this would now be appropriate for them to do so. If you haven’t already done so, please factor this into your plans.”

We are acutely aware of our obligation to our vulnerable learners and everyone associated with West Oaks has worked hard to educate 61 children daily in school and reach 232 pupils through our home learning offer, via google meets, home visits, check-ins etc over the last two months.

You are a truly remarkable group of parents/carers and I am appreciative of the way you have responded and worked with us to keep everyone safe. It is your collective attitude and actions that have enabled us to plan the next phase of our provision for a wider group of pupils.

Cllr Pryor and Sal Tariq also reminded me:

“In deciding what is feasible, schools are being asked to carry out an initial comprehensive risk assessment so that leaders can evaluate potential solutions on how they could safely and effectively accommodate eligible pupils. We would ask schools, in the first instance, to take a phased approach to how many pupils they take back and from when schools are ready”.

We have carried out a comprehensive risk assessment and have decided, in the first instance, that 100 pupils will return to West Oaks on June 1st. Parents/Carers of children returning in this next phase and during June will be contacted soon and pupils will be educated in small groups with consistent staffing.

We have agreed to an increase of 18 pupils at Boston Spa (n=40) and 21 at Woodhouse (n=60) as part of our phased approach. There are several clarifications and actions that are still needed from the Government before numbers returning to school can substantially increase, and we will wait for further guidance.

I am also waiting on clarification around the appropriate levels of social distancing that will need to be implemented, as it is difficult to implement in our special school setting. However, increased control measures will be implemented, see below. It is important that our standards, expectations, and safety measures are always adhered to.

Moving forward, basic West Oaks principles will be, safety first for all pupils and adults. These include:

  • class sizes that are at 50% capacity
  • groups will have a designated area and staffing (“their Bubble”)
  • dining arrangements will be extended to other designated spaces
  • further staff room space will be introduced
  • additional protocols for hand washing and cleaning will be adopted
  • reduced usage of shared areas and more learning taking place outdoors
  • use of PPE for intimate care only as per DfE guidelines.

When we return to school on June 1st, we will operate a fortnightly programme for our groups of children who will continue to be in for four days. Friday will remain in the keyworker timetable from June 1st until 15th June, when, pending a safety review, we will move to a 5-day timetable for all our school groups.

On June 1st we had planned to move to September groups but to ensure consistency, safety and to prevent un-necessary mixing of our groups, we will now review this option on July 1st. Depending on the national situation and government guidance more pupils may be phased back from June 15th, but we will review this.

Our August 3rd playscheme now has over 60 requests and we will provide you with more information regarding the scheme w/c June 1st and whilst there is a £100 charge for the week (£20 per day). Any concern around payment, please discuss with our Family Support Team and we will ensure pupils can access the scheme.

Thanks for your ongoing support.

Please be safe and take care everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

 

LEEDS LETTER TO PARENTS 20 May 2020

 

 

May 13th 2020 Update 

Dear parents/Carers

Firstly, I want to say how proud I am of everyone over the last few months who have tried to make learning accessible for all our pupils, whether at West Oaks or through home learning. My staff, you the parents, carers and especially our pupils have been amazing. I know it is difficult, so thank-you!

You will have all seen recent guidance and media announcements regarding the phased re-opening of schools. West Oaks has met as a Leadership team and held discussions with the LA, our Chair of Governors to decide our next steps.

Having considered DfE next steps guidance that “ vulnerable children of all year groups continue to be expected and encouraged to attend educational provision where it is appropriate for them to do so” and phased back from June 1st, we have decided our phased approach will continue to be 4-day week offer, prioritising Nursery/Year 1 and Reception pupils, Year 14 leavers and any pupil that needs a West Oaks place (including current attendees and pupils of key workers).

We recognise and understand that not all our children are ready to return just yet and are still shielding or have concerns about returning to school due to the pandemic so we do not expect everyone back before September 8th and totally respect those decisions.

West Oaks has had no known Covid-19 cases amongst our 293 pupils and to date, only one staff member contracted symptoms whilst in self-isolation in March. Thankfully, the member of staff now has a clean bill of health, has tested negative and only this week returned to work.

I have always stressed the safety and wellbeing of my pupils, staff, and school community so if anybody exhibits any symptoms of Covid-19 they should self-isolate. We will constantly review our position and only move to the next phase if it is practical, manageable, and safe to do so.

Our phased approach will involve a four-day week for pupils, with Friday being only for Keyworker children. We will also use Friday to plan for the following week pupil admissions, assess next steps considering Government/local guidance and ensure LCC carry out a weekly deep clean.

Staff and pupils will ensure regular hand washing continues to be a priority.

Our plans for the remainder of the year include a two-week Transition/Reintegration programme starting from June 1st and from 15th June we will move to a five-week Transition/Induction programme for pupils attending school and we will move to our September 2020 groups. We will also maintain the link with our home learners during this period.

You will be contacted on Monday by class leads to establish whether you are requesting a phased return for your son/daughter on June 1st, June 15th, July 1st, or September 8th. Once we have this information it will help us plan, safely, the final 7 weeks of a difficult year and consider learning, catering, transport, groupings etc.

Despite having a new roof put on our Boston Spa building and a building work starting on our £10 million Annexe at our Woodhouse campus we intend to offer parents/carers an August 3rd 1-week summer playscheme to try to bridge the gap over the holidays. If you would like a place please contact info@westoaksschool.co.uk and register your interest. More details will follow when we know the demand for the playscheme.

Thank-you for everything you have done since the pandemic started: for your patience and resilience and if you have any issues or concerns, please discuss them with the class leads or contact me or Keeley.

Take care.

Best wishes

Andrew

 

May 1st 2020 Update

Happy May Day everyone!

West Oaks School and College has been closed for a considerable time now due to the Covid-19 lockdown for the majority of our 293 pupils.  However, 53 pupils of Keyworkers have continued to attend, and we are looking forward to the next announcement by the Government regarding a phased re-opening of schools.

The Education Secretary’s statement this week said that he does “expect schools to be opened in a phased manner” and that he intends to give “schools as much notice as possible,” is welcomed.

Realistically, I cannot see any changes being implemented before June so we will plan for May being very similar to the previous weeks.

On a Thursday at 8pm when we clap for the NHS, key workers, emergency staff and carers; I am clapping for my pupils, staff, parents and carers who are also working hard to get through this.  It is not easy, and I am full of admiration for you all.  The work that is going on both in school and at home to support structure and learning is amazing. Thanks for sharing your stories, experiences and successes whilst also dealing with other demands on your time.

Alongside the home learning work we are sending home, you may wish to try using the other resources referenced in our packs or if you find resources you value, please share so we can signpost other parents/carers to them.  We are all in this together and we will see it through together.

The change of routine and staying at home may make this a difficult time for some children and Public Health England has published advice on their website on how to support your child’s wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak.

It was fantastic to re-connect with many of our pupils through Google Meets this week.  It was a great success and it was important for pupils to see their peers again, albeit through video link.  Next week we will add a further session and broaden the scope of the sessions and we will be in contact with you to arrange them.

We also realise for some of our pupils, it is hard to get the right level of engagement and interaction, but we will continue to strive to get it right. We will be adding 1:1 sessions and additional content for pupils who would benefit from an alternative input in the coming weeks.

Nationally, schools continue to be closed as it is safer for children to stay at home.  Only 1% of the UK pupil population are attending school right now.  At West Oaks this is nearer 16% as 53 pupils access provision on our two sites.

Several of you indicated you would not be sending your son/daughter back to school until September and that is why we asked the question in our weekly welfare telephone call. Thanks for your honesty and for the information provided regarding shielded children.

We are not proposing any changes now as we are waiting for Government guidance, but we are thinking and planning the next phase.  It will take some organising to get to the “new normal” and social distancing will really challenge SEN Transport and our provision when we fully re-open.

What is clear to me; with your support, we have managed Phase 1 of the lockdown safely at West Oaks, so when we enter the next phase and the final phase we must do so with the same determination and with everyone’s safety paramount.

Please keep sending us information regarding life and learning during lockdown as the content is extremely impressive. The positive messages via email, photographs, class dojo, twitter or telephone help capture the positivity that surrounds our school and college community during these unprecedented times. Keep going everyone!

Final note, please keep the “count on me” full videos or snippets coming in as they are fantastic. We will move to the editing phase w/c 11th May, so you still have time to send in your work. Given the quality of the submissions so far, we will also celebrate the top three submissions in their entirety as it would be wrong to edit.

Have a great weekend, be safe, take care and be happy.

Best wishes

Andrew

April 24th 2020 Update

Dear Parents/Carers

This has been another strange week at West Oaks, and I want to personally thank you for all the work you are doing with your children at home during these exceptional times. Also, thank you for the very supportive messages that have come through via class dojo, email or via our weekly telephone check-ins. I know my staff value this feedback and it is very uplifting.

At the weekend, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said no date was set for pupils returning to school, quashing speculation about an imminent return for many children in the UK.

He also mentioned that when five thresholds in the fight against coronavirus were reached, a date could be set for schools to reopen:

  • the NHS’s ability to cope is fully protected
  • the daily death rate is dropping
  • infection rates are falling to manageable levels
  • there are sufficient supplies of testing and protective equipment
  • there is no risk of a “second peak” of infections

It is a safety-first approach, and we are being asked to back the reliance on medical advice, which of course we would always do. West Oaks would also expect a further “lead in” time, to prepare for a complicated, staged return that enables our pupils to return safely.

It is frustrating for us as it is for you, but I am grateful for the way you have implemented learning in the home and within your family settings. Absolutely brilliant activities going on and clear structures in place, thanks for sharing.

Clearly the home learning packs on our website have also helped as you have worked through those and we will of course deliver a pack if you are struggling to download the resources. This week we delivered 65 packs out to our pupils.

This week we also launched the West Oaks Choir; a collaboration between our 293 pupils, 149 staff and 600+ parent/carers. A fantastic collective either singing, signing, or generally having fun and should be a great piece of work.

How you interpret the Bruno Mars ‘Count on Me’ song is entirely up to you and both singing and signing versions are on our Twitter feed but can also be found here (paste link) –

https://youtu.be/Yc6T9iY9SOU  Singing version

https://youtu.be/uF9mvzhg0-c  Signing version

 

We have set a deadline of two weeks for initial submissions, so please send in full/part pieces to info@westoaksschool.co.uk and a further 31st May (or before) deadline to get a finished song/production completed. The results will be amazing, and I look forward to sharing them with you all.

One recurring theme that has been mentioned this week during our weekly telephone check-in, is that our pupils are missing their friends and whilst some can and do contact their friends outside of school, others find it difficult.

To help re-connect with our pupils and through their home learning, we will be contacting you next week via Google Meets through individual pupil school Gmail accounts.

Their class teacher will contact them/you next week and will let you know via class dojo the email password (if you do not have one) to access a class virtual meet and discussion.

All our pupils have a log in, it is the first letter of their name followed by surname @westoaksschool.co.uk and all in lower case. They will be sent a password which you should then change to one that is personal to you.

Example log in ygough@westoaksschool.co.uk

As the weeks progress we will add more video content including storytelling, bucket sessions and challenges for pupils to access on our website and introduce more Google Meets and virtual therapy sessions, whilst still providing weekly home learning packs for all our pupils in each curriculum pathway.

As we work together to get through this national crisis safely you can and should ‘Count on Me’ to always strive for excellence for everyone in our school and college community.

If you need anything from me or my team please contact us through info@westoaksschool.co.uk or via class dojo or telephone –

Andrew Hodkinson 01937 844 772

Keeley Murray 0113 323 5871

If you think your son/daughter would benefit from a telephone call from either Keeley or myself, let us know and we will call them at home next week at a time convenient to you.

Take care, be happy and stay safe everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

April 15th 2020 Update

Dear Parents and Carers

Thanks for sharing your Easter projects and activities with us.  Please keep sending the photos on class dojo or via email as they help our school community to stay connected.

Just to update you briefly and to help you plan for next week.  Currently, the Government advice has not changed regarding Covid-19 so we will continue to be closed to most of our pupils.

The overriding principle reinforced by the Government is that schools remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend. Most children will be made safer if they remain at home.

West Oaks will now only be open to pupils where both parents are critical workers and to pupils where they would not be safe at home. Please can parents submit a request email for a place and for keyworker children an email stating your critical worker roles to info@westoaksschool.co.uk.   Please do not use class dojo to communicate the need for a place.

The information is vital as we continue to plan our provision and we will review our position fortnightly, or in light of any new Government guidance as we adhere to the “stay home stay safe” advice and play our part in social distancing and self-isolating to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The government FSM (Free School Meal) voucher scheme appears over-loaded and we are working hard to get the vouchers to you, whether electronically or we can also deliver to your home address if email is an issue.

The FSM vouchers are for eligible pupils who are currently not in school and please link directly with Anna Stevens regarding access to the scheme on anna.stevens@westoaksschool.co.uk

On Monday we will be uploading our Home Learning resources onto our website for each curriculum area.  We hope you are finding these useful and should you have difficulty gaining access or printing the resources off, please let us know via class dojo and we will deliver packs to your home.

We will re-start our weekly 1:1 “check ins” next week and it will be great to catch up again and we hope to get back to some normality soon as our school community is not the same and we miss our pupils.

As I have stated previously, it has been a real team effort over the last few weeks, and it will be in the coming weeks.  Thanks to every one of you.

Please keep safe, be happy and take care.

Best wishes

Andrew

Principal

West Oaks

Update 3rd April 2020

Dear Parents and Carers

A massive thank you to you all.  The way you have supported the home learning experiences for your son/daughter has been inspiring and reminds me that I am in a very privileged position in leading West Oaks.

Just to update you briefly and to help you plan for after Easter.  The Government advice has not changed regarding Covid-19 so we will continue to be closed to most of our pupils.

After consultation with Keeley Murray, Head of Woodhouse Learning,  we have decided to shut West Oaks for the vast majority of Easter, as it important for us, that we play our part in social distancing and self-isolating to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.  A prolonged break will enable us all to rest and re-charge.

The communication has been brilliant between home and school and we have valued the 1:1 “check ins” this week and it has been great to chat to some of the pupils too. We will ensure this continues after the holiday as we wait for Government guidance on next steps nationally and for our school community.

As previously stated, class dojo communication will be co-ordinated by Bryony Bolland-Wai at Boston Spa and Abby Armstrong at Woodhouse.  Whilst we are shut over Easter, please use dojo to message or email on info@westoaksschool.co.uk and we will get back to you. We are working on the 14th, 15th, 16th April for keyworker children, we can also be contacted on 0113 323 5871 on those days.

Thanks for the feedback regarding our resource packs and should you need the pack delivering after Easter, please contact us.  The Easter home learning project pack will be on the school website later. Again, these are optional activities and will help provide some structure over the next two weeks if you need them.

It has been a real team effort over the last few weeks, and it will be in the coming weeks.  Thanks to every one of you.

Please keep safe, be happy and take care.

Best wishes

Andrew

Principal

West Oaks

Update 30th March 2020

Dear Parents and Carers

We are looking at provision for children during the Easter holidays, we will be open on 14th, 15th and 16th April, to pupils where both parents are critical workers and to vulnerable pupils where they would not be safe at home. The Easter provision will be based at Woodhouse Learning for pupils from both sites.
Please could you let us know if you need provision over the Easter holidays and which days you would need at info@westoaksschool.co.uk.
Please remember that schools should only be available for vulnerable children and children of key workers who are unable to make alternative childcare arrangements.
We don’t know the current situation with transport but will keep you updated with the information we have.
Thanks for your patience during this difficult transitional time.

Update 27th March 2020

Dear Parents and Carers

It has been a difficult week for everyone.  I would like to thank you for your support this week. Most of our pupils have been kept safely at home, as per Government Guidance and this has really helped us to organise our provision so thank you!

West Oaks have responded as I knew we would, without fuss, created a plan and then we just got on with it.  I would like to acknowledge the support I have received from Keeley and her team at Woodhouse who have been fantastic and of course Bryony, Liz, Anna and Ian who have equally been awesome at Boston Spa.

Can’t thank the staff enough and a special shout out to Katie and Jemima for all their work supporting our families.  They will be in touch again next week as will other members of staff to check in with you.

We are currently educating 38 pupils on our two sites and have now moved to a rota system for staff.

Key action taken by West Oaks this week

  1. Keyworker group identified and offered places to 60 pupils. Currently 38 attending a 4-day programme (normal hours).
  2. 255 pupils being kept safely at home by parent/carers. We will contact you next week to check in with our pupils.
  3. Families communicated with and updated via our website and Class Dojo. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require advice/support.
  4. Home Learning packs of activities based on each curriculum area on our website and other packs distributed directly to pupils.
  5. FSM system established so children will get their weekly food voucher (17 others are in receipt of a hot meal in school) and we will carry out a welfare visit to deliver the voucher/home packs if necessary.
  6. Audio and Virtual Library work established and launched via Twitter today. This work will enable our pupils to become re-connected to our school and this work will gather momentum in the coming weeks.
  7. Radio West Oaks will be re-launched next week with regular podcasts for our pupils.

Take care and keep safe everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

Update 23rd March 2020

Dear Parents/Carers

Firstly, I want to thank you for all your support and understanding during this difficult time. As the local and national guidance changes so rapidly regarding Covid-19, we must respond safely and sensibly.
Many parents and carers have contacted the school and have let us know that you will be keeping your children at home and self-isolating for the foreseeable future as this is the safest option. We agree with this approach as it will safeguard our pupils, parents, carers, staff and wider community.
The overriding principle reinforced by the Government is that schools remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend. Most children will be made safer if they remain at home.
Please can you let us know if your child is staying at home as soon as possible via info@westoaksschool.co.uk or Class Dojo as this still seems to be the safest option for everyone.
West Oaks will now only be open to pupils where both parents are critical workers and to pupils where they would not be safe at home. Please can parents submit an email stating your critical worker roles to info@westoaksschool.co.uk. The list of critical workers can be found below. We will need both parent’s names and information of the critical role you do.

Thanks for your support. I will be in touch regarding our distance learning and on-line support package in the coming days.
Best wishes
Andrew

If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision:

Critical workers

Health and social care
This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

Education and childcare
This includes childcare, support and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.

Key public services
This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.

Local and national government
This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response, or delivering essential public services, such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.

Food and other necessary goods
This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).

Public safety and national security
This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.

Transport
This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.

Utilities, communication and financial services
This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.
If workers think they fall within the critical categories above, they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.

Visuals supports

Please download the Powerpoint below to use at home with your children. It includes a social story and instructions on how to use it.

Visuals and Social Stories – school closure

 

Letters to Staff/Parents/Carers re Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

To all our Parents and Carers 20th March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

In a week that has been challenging I am writing to thank-you for your ongoing support and share with you the latest advice and guidance we have received regarding COVID-19 and the actions we are taking in school.

Whilst we had 189 pupils in across both our sites today, many of you have indicated that from next week your children will be staying at home for the foreseeable future. This is important information for our planning and is in line with the government’s stance as they have now stated it is not a ‘requirement’ that all children and young people with Education, Health and Care plans attend school during the period of closure.

Section 1.10 of the information for families is clear that decisions should be made locally based on risk assessments of health and safeguarding. The guidance is now clear that some children will be safer at school (or in their usual educational setting) whilst others will be safer at home. Schools, LAs and colleges are advised to make this decision on a case-by-case basis and in consultation with parents and carers.

West Oaks will re-open on Wednesday March 25th for those children who really need to attend by virtue of their vulnerability or because they are the children of keyworkers and those workers cannot look after the children at home. We aim to check in with you over the course of Monday and Tuesday and to ask whether your child intends to be in school from Wednesday 25th March. It is vital that we have this information so we can map a school programme for our pupils who intend to be in school, plan a home/distance learning programme for our pupils who are not in school and also link with transport over pupil travel numbers.

We will also be establishing if you are keyworkers and whether “reduced provision” is required for your sons/daughters over the Easter period and to try and establish what our role could be in helping to provide support.

We note that the Government have indicated that families where one parent is a key worker should be eligible for the provision. I have shared with you the new definition of key workers as set out in the government guidance.

The Government guidance, issued late last night, stated that we should follow the following key principles:

  1. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
  2. If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
  3. Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
  4. Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.

Whilst Government advice suggests that parents should keep their children at home, wherever possible, they have also asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend. We will be open for our pupils, we just need to know the numbers of pupils we need to plan for. We will review our planning on a regular basis and are aiming to plan up to and beyond Easter in this first phase. We will of course keep you informed.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch and thank-you for your continued support.

Yours sincerely,

 

Andrew Hodkinson

Principal

West Oaks

 

Key links:

Closure of educational settings – information for parents and carers

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers

Maintaining educational provision

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision

 

Guidance (including list of key workers):

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision

Information for families:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers

If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision:

Key workers

Health and social care

This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

Education and childcare

This includes childcare, support and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.

Key public services

This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.

Local and national government

This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response, or delivering essential public services, such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.

Food and other necessary goods

This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).

Public safety and national security

This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.

Transport

This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.

Utilities, communication and financial services

This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.

If workers think they fall within the critical categories above, they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19th March 2020

Dear Parent/Carer

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update  

Dear Parents/Carers

As a Special School we have been instructed by the Government to stay open to pupils with EHCPs.

We had intended and planned to continue to support our pupils through this crisis and we are now implementing that plan. Many other UK providers are closing (except for keyworker children/ children with EHCPs) and we will link with the relevant agencies as we move forward.

We have 293 EHCPs in our school and about 35 children who have keyworkers as parent/carers.

Just to give you the context we have been working in during the last three days.

We have remained open and provided a safe and manageable curriculum to our pupils and this is a credit to our staff group. The pupils have been superb and a real credit.

The situation has been difficult as our staffing/pupil numbers decreased daily but currently our provision is still manageable. We will, however, constantly review the situation.

West Oaks Overview

Tuesday 17th March – 36 staff off, 43 children off.

Wednesday 18th March – 37 staff off, 73 children off.

Thursday 19th March – 36 staff off, 98 children off.

As a school community you have been amazing, so thank-you! Many of our vulnerable pupils have remained off school in these exceptional circumstances and this is a very wise precaution.

I hope you will understand, but after tomorrow we will close to pupils for two days and we will re-open on Wednesday 25th March if it is operationally safe to do so. West Oaks will be closed on Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th March to pupils only, so we can deep clean the school, on both sites after the high number of pupil/staff isolations.

Our key priority is to keep our pupils and staff safe and the two days next week will also enable us to clean the school, review our overall strategy moving forward, plan home school resource packs and respond to any operational changes. I know this is a distressing time for our pupils and I will send home a social story created by Talking House to help explain the current situation.

I know the situation is unprecedented and we will always play our part in educating our vulnerable group, but we need the support of all agencies across Leeds to do so. I have written to the Director of Children’s Services for further assurances and will keep you all updated via our website, twitter and class dojo.

Have a great weekend when it arrives and thanks for your ongoing support and please stay safe.

We look forward to welcoming our pupils back to school on Wednesday March 25th.     Please do not hesitate to contact us at school.

Best wishes

 

Keeley Murray

Head of School

Woodhouse Learning

West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College

 

Andrew Hodkinson

Principal

West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College

 

17th March 2020

To all: Staff/ Parents/Carers

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

I am writing further to my letter dated 13th March to provide you with an update regarding the actions we are taking in school in response to the latest government guidance relating to COVID-19.

There have so far been no cases of coronavirus infection of any staff or pupils in school but there are pupils and staff self-isolating as a result of their vulnerability and underlying health issues. This is a precaution and we are supportive of this action and we will continue to follow the latest guidelines, monitor the situation and update you regularly.

The guidance is now that:

  • if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started
  • if you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill
  • it is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
  • for anyone in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period
  • if you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period
  • if you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible
  • if you have coronavirus symptoms:
    • do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
    • you do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home
    • testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home
  • plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home and consider what can be done for vulnerable people in the household
  • ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home
  • wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser
  • if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999

As you are aware, additional measures have already been put in place, that all non-essential meetings have been postponed and all off-site trips and visits and swimming have been cancelled until Easter 2020. New daily routines have also been introduced ensuring touch surfaces and ICT equipment are subject to additional cleaning procedures. To ensure that both sites remain open, I have taken the decision with effect from tomorrow, Wednesday 18th March that:

  • where key staff are absent, classes may be merged and activities be modified to ensure children can remain safely in school
  • there will be no After School Club (we will review this decision after Easter 2020)
  • stay and play session on 28th March is cancelled
  • those with underlying medical conditions are advised to take advice from NHS 111
  • staff who are pregnant have been advised to work from home whilst we await further guidance

I will continue to keep you updated. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch and thank-you for your continued support and understanding.

Yours sincerely,

 

Andrew Hodkinson

Principal

West Oaks