Coronavirus Updates

17/07/2020 - Message from the Headteacher

Dear Parents and Carers

I just wanted to reassure you that although school has finished today for pupils, Furze Down staff are in school next week and will be finalising plans for September.

By now you should have received your child's school report and a follow up phone call from your child's new Form Tutor. If this has not happened please email office@furzedownschool.org.uk and we will ensure this piece of work is completed next week.

We will be using the time next week to to reflect on all the feedback we have received as well as researching what has worked well in other schools so that we are ready to respond should we be placed in a localised lock down in the future. We will be issuing a final questionnaire which will enable you to summarise what has gone well and even better ifs. There will also be an opportunity on this form to raise any concerns in relation to September.

It continues to be our intention, in line with government guidance issued on the 2nd July, to open to all pupils when we return in September. Sandra Firth is currently in discussion with the transport team as most questions from parents and carers are around what this will look like next term. We also need confirmation from transport about the taxi your child will be placed on so that we can use this information to plan our staggered starts and finishes at the beginning and end of the day. When planning timings, where possible, we will take into consideration siblings who are in different Key Stages and requirements if you transport your child yourself. All measures put in place will be in line with government guidance.

Next week we will share with you the health and safety measures we have put in place and maps and photos that you can share with your children in relation to the changes that will be in place. Once you receive this documentation please let us know if you feel your child will need any additional transition resources in order to prepare them for the new term.

Next week we will also be following up any applications in relation to Tom Edwards' letter about using Direct Payments or Disability Living Allowance to organise respite care over the holidays. We have staff available who can support you and we are happy to make initial introductions but the contract will be a private one between you and the individual. If setting this up is a cause for concern or anxiety we are happy to support you with the process. Please get in touch if you would like this support.

In addition to this please let me know by Monday if there is anything we should be aware of before we finalise plans.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend

Best wishes

Alison


08/06/2020 - Message from the Headteacher

Dear Parents/Carers

Apologies that I did not send an update last week but I was absent from work.

I have spent today catching up on the work the team have put in place since I last emailed you before the half term holiday. I have also been in discussions with other special schools locally and nationally in order to learn from them what plans they have put in place.

In school Provision

In my absence the School Team have been incredibly busy preparing the school site, and contacting parents who indicated that their child would like to return to school this half term. They have also been finalising risk assessments so we can ensure rigorous health and safety plans are in place.

Risk Assessments and ‘Bubbles’

Due to all pupils in special schools being eligible to return to school, subject to a risk assessment being completed, we have had to look flexibly at how we enable as many pupil to be on site without compromising health and safety. This has led to part time provision being put in place and this is in line with what other special schools locally and nationally are providing.

Pupils who wish to return to school have been placed in ‘bubbles.’ This is in response to government guidance. The government suggest that these bubbles should not mix with each other therefore they have a set base that includes indoor, outdoor and toilet provision that only they access. This means that should anyone within the bubble develop Covid 19 symptoms we can quickly contact everyone within this bubble so that government guidance in relation to staying at home and testing can be put in place.

All parents/carers of pupils who are returning should have received visual resources to support your child to understand what will be different when they return. These resources are comprehensive however if you feel anything is missing please contact the office account with any suggestions.

Feedback from groups in school last week has enabled us to review and refine our plans as more bubbles are introduced this week.

School Transport

I know that many of you in the questionnaire raised concerns about safety measures in place on school transport. All school transport is available and we have been informed by the Local Authority (LA) that risk assessments have been carried out and appropriate plans have been put in place.

In order to minimise the number of children travelling on school transport we have been informed that if your child is eligible for free transport and you can transport your child yourself, you can reclaim fuel costs in line with the LAs policy.

Sandra Firth is your point of contact if you require more information. sfirth@furzedownschool.org.uk

Additional Information

If you initially indicated that you didn't want your child to return but you would like more information about in school provision and ‘bubbles,’ then please email the office account and a member of the SLT will contact you to share plans. I would like to reassure you that whether your child is in school or at home they are all accessing the same learning menus that are published online.

Online Learning

In addition to our onsite work our online provision has continued to flex and change based on responses received from the parent/carer questionnaire issued by Heads of Centres before half term. Each Head of Centre has analysed your feedback and they will be in touch separately to let you know what has been said and how they are responding within their Centre.

If you haven’t yet responded to this questionnaire please could you do so today so they can factor your feedback into their response.

Recovery Curriculum

On top of this work we have also continued to develop our recovery curriculum. This is based on the work by Barry Carpenter. https://www.evidenceforlearning.net/recoverycurriculum/

The Emotional Health and Well-being Team led by Sarah Watson (Deputy Head) will be rolling this work out to all pupils whether they are in school or at home. Further details will be shared in the following weeks.



Google Meets

These are now in place across Key Stage 4 and 5 and are in the process of being rolled out to our younger pupils

Annual Reviews

If you were due to have an Annual Review this term then you should have been contacted by a member of staff to discuss whether you would like to continue this term or postpone until next term. If you have not been contacted and you think you were due to have an Annual Review please make contact via the office account.

Class Lists for September 2020

Our priority this week is finalising our class list for September 2020 so that we can let you know which class your child will move to in September and who their teacher will be. I have been unable to finalise this information any sooner as I am still receiving admissions and I also needed to finalise staffing for September 2020.

Transitions

Normally we would start all our transition work the first week in July as by this point all our Year 11,12,13 and 14 leavers have left, this provides us with the flexibility to enable pupils to get to know their new teachers and class group.

Due to current circumstances this will have to look very different this year. Laura Price, Caroline Bagshaw, Sarah Anthem, Gina Cotterill, Suzanne Kendrick and Eleanor Attridge supported by Sandra Firth have been working hard behind the scenes to develop plans and resources to support transitions and they will be in a position to share these with you once class groups have been confirmed. I know many of you feel your child needs to know which room they will be in and also need time to get to know their new teacher. The team have been exploring how this can happen regardless of whether your child returns to school this half term or in September.

Once you have had time to review these plans we would then very much welcome feedback on what else might need to be in place to support your child to transition as smoothly as possible back into school.

Next steps

We are still in the position where we do not know what the government will expect provision in schools to look like in September. At this moment in time we are planning as if everyone will have returned whether this be part time or full time.

It is however likely that advice will continue to change on a day by day basis. I receive a DfE briefing every day which provides a daily update on changes to be implemented, we use this to inform our plans.

In relation to major government changes I do not get any advanced notice of these and receive these in the same way you do via the televised briefings.

I along with everyone else am hoping that by September we will be able to return to having all pupils back on site whether this be full time or part time.

I am incredibly proud of what the school team have achieved during the last eleven weeks. We responded as rapidly as we could to provide online learning and support to enable you to access this. This was based at the time on the government stipulating that pupils were ‘Safer at Home’

We have worked tirelessly to support the most vulnerable within our community and we have tried to respond proactively to any feedback you have given or at least explain why we have made the decisions in place if we cannot accommodate your request.



We have not got it right all the time but we have always made decisions based on 'What we think is right and what is responsible.' These decisions have been in line with our school values and the available government guidance. There have been occasions when it may have seemed we have not communicated in a timely fashion to update you and this has caused frustration and anxiety. This has usually been because we haven’t had all the information we required to make those decisions quickly.

Everyone will have had a very different lock down experience for some it will have been very positive but for many it will have been incredibly difficult. Everybody and every school will have responded differently based on the community they serve.

For me the following lines from a poem by Damian Barr sums this up.

“We are not all in the same boat..we are all in the same storm“.




For me it describes the deeply personal, vastly different experiences and emotions we are all feeling right now and the fact that everyone has responded differently depending on these experiences and emotions.

If you have any feedback or queries in relation to this email please get in touch via the office account. office@furzedownschool.org.uk We will endeavour to respond proactively if it is within our means to do so.

Very best wishes

Alison

Alison Rooney

Headteacher


06/05/2020 - Message from the Headteacher

Dear Parents and Carers


We are approaching the end of the third week of the Summer Term and I wanted to update you on what has been happening.




1. DELIVERING RESOURCES

The team have been busy delivering Chrome books, I pads, sensory equipment and resources to those who have requested them. If you are still awaiting things to be delivered or now need items delivering, please get in touch.

If you are struggling to access a reliable internet connection or need to borrow a laptop or an iPad then please email office@furzedownschool.org.uk




Linda Patterson has been in touch with all Parents and Carers who are eligible for free school meals, in order to issue the next batch of vouchers. This has been a fraught process as the new system set up by the government has been very difficult to access



2. COMMUNICATION

Doorstep Visits

We have continued to carry out doorstep visits providing face to face support

Regular Phone calls

For those parents who have requested a regular check in via the phone these are being carried out by members of staff who have the capacity to do so.



Emails, SeeSaw and Google Classroom Messages

  • Messages have been sent from Form Tutors via SeeSaw and Google Classroom

  • Emails have been sent from Form Tutors if you are not using SeeSaw or Google Classroom

Support from the Wellbeing Team

  • Elizabeth Winks (Clinical Nurse Specialist) and Tom Edwards (Family Liaison Lead) are in regular contact with parents, carers and pupils they were supporting, when we were in school.

If you are struggling and feel you would benefit from a (socially distanced) doorstep visit or a regular phone call then please ring one of the numbers below and we will arrange this.




3. LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

  • All classes have a suggested weekly timetable in place. This is posted at the beginning of the week on the school website and also in either Tapestry, SeeSaw or Google Classrooms
  • These timetables include topics that pupils would have been following if they were in school. Therapists are also adding personalised class suggestions into these timetables.
  • We are constantly revising these so if you have any feedback please get in touch.



As I stated at the beginning of term, these learning menus cannot possibly replace the dedicated individualised attention your child would get normally and I am aware that many of our pupils will struggle to access learning unless heavily supported by an adult.


The learning opportunities signposted continue to be suggestions and are optional.


There are many other ways in which pupils can learn at home by getting involved in; cooking, cleaning, gardening, daily walks or bike rides and by talking about what you can see and what you are doing. Another important way in which you can help is by reading to your child and talking to your child about what has been read




If you are struggling to find the timetable please email; office@furzedownschool.org.uk

If you are struggling to access the home learning then Paul Adams is available to support you.

Home Learning Technical Support Helpline 01865 589047




Furze Down TV and Radio - Accessed via SeeSaw

A team of Teachers, Therapists and Learning Support Assistants are continuing to upload stories, games, dances and short information clips to Furze Down TV. If your child would like to feature on FDS TV then please let Elle Mansfield and Emily Bell know via the SeeSaw platform

Feedback on work posted

Teachers, Therapists and LSAs will continue to comment on any work posted in either Tapestry, SeeSaw or Google Classroom. These comments will aim to be motivational, we will not be in a position to provide detailed marking.




4. SOCIAL OPPORTUNITIES

We know from the parent/carer questionnaire that many pupils are missing the opportunity to see and talk to their teachers and friends.

We have started using Google Meet to provide an opportunity for pupils to talk to their Teachers, Learning Support Assistants, Therapists as well as other members of the class.

We will be rolling this out to more pupils over the coming week.

In order for this opportunity to take place safely we first need parents and pupils to agree to some rules. You will be contacted by a member of staff to discuss these and then you will be issued, via email, instructions on how to join a meeting.

5. RETURNING TO SCHOOL

You will be aware there has been much speculation in the press about when schools will return. It is expected that there will be an announcement on Sunday about next steps. As a community we are really missing being in school and we are all looking forward to returning, but only when it is safe to do so.

We know that when we do return there are many things we are going to have to deal with as a community.

Although not Covid 19 related, we have already lost two members of our community. The news of the following deaths has been devastating.

Joan McCauley

Joan worked at the school for 28 years retiring in 2018. Joan passed away on the 13th April. Joan was a long standing member of the Furze Down family and will be greatly missed by her friends and colleagues who worked alongside her.

Helen Mannion (Yr 10)

After a long illness, Helen passed away at the beginning of April. We know Helen's death has caused significant distress to both staff and pupils. We are exploring with parents and carers how we best support children through their grief.

If your child has been affected and you require further support please get in touch.

We have set up a fund in memory of Helen and when the time is right we will meet with Helen’s parents to discuss how we use this money in Helen’s memory.

If you would like to contribute to Helen’s Fund, then the link is below.



https://paypal.me/pools/c/8osFbxGQsj

Our thoughts are with Joan's and Helen's families at this incredibly difficult time.




We know these wont necessarily be the only bereavements that affect our community. We are in the process of planning what our recovery curriculum might look like, so that when we do return, we have the right support in place to meet the many needs that will have arisen as a result of this pandemic.




Again if you have any feedback in relation to this please let me know.




Had we been in school this week, Friday would have been a Bank Holiday to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of VE Day. If you are planning to celebrate, and if you would like to, please upload to SeeSaw what you did so we can share your celebrations on Furze Down TV



If you are not sure how to get in touch via SeeSaw or how to upload items please contact Paul Adams on the number above and he will support you




Finally I would like to thank you all for your ongoing support, we are all living through challenging times and whatever learning you are making happen at home, we thank you.




Please focus on meeting your child's basic needs by providing routine and a calm, safe and loving environment.



If you have any concerns, queries or suggestions please let me know via the office account.



Stay safe and well



Many thanks

Alison

Alison Rooney

Headteacher

EMAIL

If you have any queries or suggestions in relation to this email or home learning please could you email the office account; office@furzedownschool.org.uk


Phone Numbers

Headteacher - Alison Rooney - 0749 8429643

Deputy Head - Sarah Watson - 0749 8429716

Assistant Head - Caroline Bagshaw - 0749 8429734

Family Liaison Lead - Tom Edwards - 0749 8429741

Clinical Nurse Specialist - Elizabeth Winks - Tues, Wed, Thurs - 0749 8429744

The timetables for each class group will be posted in the following places.

Tapestry

  • Birch Class

SeeSaw

  • Maple Class
  • Oak Class
  • Willow Class
  • Cherry Class
  • KB Class
  • GC Class
  • PO Class
  • EN Class
  • EB/KG Class
  • IM Class
  • AK Class
  • LF Class

Google Classrooms

  • 10 CM
  • 10SK
  • EK
  • EA

20/04/2020 - Message from the Headteacher

Dear Parents and Carers


I hope everyone is safe and well and is managing to stay positive.

If you have been watching the news you will know that there has been lots of speculation about when schools may reopen.


Gavin Williamson stated yesterday that:


'Five "tests" must be met before education establishments could reopen including a fall in the daily death rate from coronavirus, reliable data showing the rate of infection was decreasing to "manageable levels", and being confident any adjustments would not risk a second peak.'


It is currently too soon and unwise to speculate about what might and might not happen this term.

If required, for a very small minority of vulnerable children (significant social care involvement) or for children of two key workers (where no alternative child care can be arranged) we will provide childcare at Furze Down or at a hub special school in Aylesbury.

As outlined by the government, schools are closed therefore there will be no formal learning opportunities scheduled as part of this offer. We are being urged by the Local Authority to keep numbers in school as low as possible so as to minimise the risk of infection from COVID 19.

If you request childcare a risk assessment will be carried out with parents/carers in order to determine whether it is safe for your child to be in school.

Under normal circumstances today would have been an INSET day and I have meetings planned with the Senior Leadership and Management Team, Teachers, Therapists and LSAs to discuss next steps in terms of learning opportunities.

What I can confirm at this point is that due to safeguarding protocols we will not be proving any live video lessons, we will however continue to signpost online learning opportunities via; Tapestry, SeeSaw and Google Classroom depending on the age and aptitude of pupils.

I am aware that under the current arrangements it is inevitable that there will be an impact on the progress every pupil makes. It is impossible to recreate online the level of personalisation and academic rigour each child would receive if they were in school. I am also aware that many of our pupils will be unable to access online learning without significant adult support.

Engaging in learning posted by Furze Down will continue to be optional. Whatever you plan needs to fit in around the other demands within your household. What is most important, is that your children are calm, safe and happy.

We will be emailing you again later on today with a link to our well being questionnaire and an update on next steps in relation to learning. By filling in our well being questionnaire it will help us determine how we can best support everyone moving forwards.

Please do not hesitate to email office@furzedownschool.org.uk or ring one of our emergency numbers on our website if you have any queries or concerns.

Many thanks

Alison

Alison Rooney

Headteacher


03/04/2020 - Message from the Headteacher

Dear Parents and Carers

Under normal circumstances today would have been the last day of the Spring term, therefore for the next two weeks teachers, therapists, LSAs and the administrative, catering and site team will be taking a two week break.

Over the Easter break there will be a very reduced skeleton staff working on a shift basis, to support any families who are in crisis or require emotional or financial support. This support can be accessed by emailing office@furzedownschool.org.uk or phoning one of the emergency numbers on the website. https://www.fds.org.uk/

So that we can get a feel for what support may be required over Easter please could you fill in our

'Week 3 Parent Questionnaire' by clicking on the link below

https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=3Qusec_cEUiLyrceqfDUj9LR4lxGr1xKjO6foa4IuvBUQTFNR0Y1VlAwT1BMVkVGVDVFVlVNVzlaUC4u

Teaching and Learning over Easter

During the Easter break no further activities will be posted in SeeSaw, Tapestry or Google classrooms. This does not however stop you continuing to access the activities already posted. if you want further learning tasks or therapy tasks these can be accessed through the links posted on our website.

If you haven’t yet managed to access online learning, Paul Adams can be reached on 01865 589047. Paul can offer you support to get online via Skype.

You can also arrange to borrow a device from school if you do not have one at home. Please let us know if this is required by answering the IT questions in the parent questionnaire.

Teaching and Learning after Easter

After Easter, we are not currently expecting school to reopen, therefore we will continue to post activities and work on Tapestry, SeeSaw and Google Classrooms. Some parents have asked about live streaming lessons or providing Skype or Zoom sessions, due to Local Authority and school safeguarding advice ​we are not able to provide this service.

I know from communication with many of you, that you are finding accessing learning at this time overwhelming. We are not expecting you to be home-schooling by replicating what we do in the classroom. That would not be possible, and we don’t want anyone to feel pressured, or to feel inadequate if ‘learning’ during this time is very different from learning in school. We know that many of you are working hard to support your children both physically and emotionally, as well as others in your family network: our staff are also in similar situations. Learning during this time might be about coping with loss of routine and the lack of contact with others, be that school friends or family members.

Can I reassure you that completing any prerecorded or preloaded work is completely optional and I would urge you to find a routine that works best for your family.

Finally I would like to wish you all a peaceful Easter and remember to please reach out if you require support.

Take care and stay safe

Alison

Alison Rooney

Headteacher


30/03/2020 - Message from the Headteacher

Dear Parents/Carers


Thank you to everyone who has completed Friday's questionnaire. If you haven't done so yet, you can access it by clicking on the link below.


https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=3Qusec_cEUiLyrceqfDUj9LR4lxGr1xKjO6foa4IuvBUNFFCSkhRU1EzRUswNU5WVzFJQ0pHOElYUS4u


The questionnaire will be issued every Friday so we can get a feel for how things are going.


Today we will be working through the spreadsheet and identifying the following:

  • Families who would like to borrow a lap top - We will aim to deliver these either today or on Tuesday 31st March. We will ring when we arrive and leave the laptop on your doorstep.
  • Families who are struggling to access online learning
  • Families who would like a phone call- We will start to make these calls today


It appears from the replies to the questionnaire that many of you eligible for Free School Meals have not yet received your vouchers. These were posted last week, if you have not received them by the end of today please could you email office@furzedownschool.org.uk and I will get in touch with a solution


If you requested a BACS transfer this will happen on the 4th April once your details are processed.

Again can I remind you that emergency contact numbers are available 11-2. These can be found on our website. https://www.fds.org.uk/

Please do not hesitate to ring if you are in crisis and require support.

Take care

Alison

Alison Rooney

Headteacher


27/03/2020 - Message from the Headteacher

Dear Parents and Carers


This really has been the most unimaginable week. I hope you are all slowly readjusting and are keeping safe and healthy.


So we can get an understanding about how things are going for you and your family please could you complete our 'Week 2 Parental Questionnaire' by clicking on the link below.


https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=3Qusec_cEUiLyrceqfDUj9LR4lxGr1xKjO6foa4IuvBUNFFCSkhRU1EzRUswNU5WVzFJQ0pHOElYUS4u


As a school we have spent most of the week exploring how best to support our school community over the coming weeks. Teachers and Learning Support Assistants, supported by our amazing ICT team have spent the week updating our home learning resources and exploring how they can communicate with each other using technology. The Administrative team have also spent time ensuring all logins for your child are in one place and next week these will be emailed out to you. If you are still struggling to get online please get in touch.


It has been a pleasure to look through Tapestry, SeeSaw and Google Classrooms to see all the things you and your children have been doing at home. Please remember any learning activities are just suggestions. What is more important is that you find a routine that works best for you and your family.


If you are struggling either with your health, emotionally or financially please get in touch by phone or email and we will endeavour to put in place the support you require. Many families have reached out via email this week and we have managed to respond within 24 hours to all communication.


Moving forwards to help us respond more rapidly you can also make contact via one of the four telephone lines available.

Phone Lines will be open Monday to Friday 11 am-2 pm

Headteacher- Alison Rooney

0749 8429643

Deputy Head- Sarah Watson

0749 8429716

Family Liaison Lead- Tom Edwards

0749 8429741

Clinical Nurse Specialist (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday)- Elizabeth Winks

0749 8429744

When phones are not switched on you can continue to email office@furzedownschool.org.uk and someone will get back to you within 24 hours.


If you have any suggestions about further help we can provide please mention them on the Parent/Carer questionnaire.

Please all stay safe.

Sincerely,

Alison

Alison Rooney

Headteacher


24/03/2020 - Message from the Headteacher

Dear Parents and Carers

I delayed sending my email yesterday as I wanted to wait and see what announcements were made by the government.

It is really clear that the best thing we can all now do to slow down the spread of COVID-19 is:

Stay At Home and Stay Safe.

I am aware however that some of you are front line workers and are still required to go to work.

Our children at Furze Down are very vulnerable and I would urge you not to request child care unless it is absolutely essential that both you and your partner continue to go to work and you have nobody else who can look after your child

If this applies to you please email me at office@furzedownschool.org.uk so I can evaluate the need for child care on a case by case basis

The Special Schools Headteachers are in daily communication to see how we can best meet these child care needs across Bucks, while significantly reducing numbers in schools.

Teachers and Teaching Assistants

At a time when we are trying to reduce the number of people moving around it does not make sense for teachers and teaching assistants to go to work meaning that someone else then has to look after your child. Neither does it make sense for you to take your child to your place of work therefore increasing numbers in attendance at that school.

If you are a teacher or a teaching assistant who is being told you must go into work then I am happy to speak to your employer to see if you can be relieved from this duty. Please email me with your employers contact details.

Children with allocated social workers

Myself, Sarah Watson, Tom Edwards and Elizabeth Winks are meeting today to discuss how we can provide support to you moving forwards. This will be through emails, phone calls and providing we are allowed doorstop visits (Social Distancing Rules will be in place)

Free School Meals

Linda Patterson and Tom Edwards rang all parents/cares that this applies to yesterday. We are in the process of purchasing vouchers and these will either be emailed to you or posted to you once we receive them

Struggling to provide food for your family

If you are not eligible for free school meal vouchers but are struggling to provide food for your family please get in touch with Sarah Watson (Deputy Head) swatson@furzedownschool.org.uk

If you are in crisis or finding things difficult

The following emergency numbers will be available from Friday

The phone lines will be available between 11am and 2pm - Monday to Friday

Phone Numbers

Headteacher

Alison Rooney – 0749 8429643

Deputy Head

Sarah Watson – 0749 8429716

Family Liaison Lead

Tom Edwards – 0749 8429741

Clinical Nurse Specialist- Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

Elizabeth Winks – 0749 8429744

When phones are not switched on you can email office@furzedownschool.org.uk

and someone will get back to you within 24 hours

Tom Edward has also sent you a comprehensive list of other support that is available should you be experiencing difficulties. This has been posted on our website https://www.fds.org.uk/

Home Learning

Caroline Bagshaw and Laura Price (Assistant Heads) sent you an email yesterday in relation to our home learning webpage.

Please do not cause yourself additional stress by getting into battles about school work, instead be there for your child and keep them safe. We have posted all of you a home learning pack which includes social stories, activities and a suggested timetable. This is just a suggestion.

We are all going to need to adjust to being in close proximity to each other for long periods of time. I will certainly be agreeing rules with my family ensuring we are kind to each other.

Please also be aware that many teachers are either unwell, looking after their own children or caring for other vulnerable family members. If you have any queries about home learning email office@furzedownschool.org.uk and I will ensure the right person contacts you. Please do not put additional pressure on teachers by contacting them directly

Thank you once again for your continued support. Please stay safe.

Sincerely

Alison

Alison Rooney

Headteacher


24/03/2020 NEW RULES ON STAYING AT HOME AND AWAY FROM OTHERS

The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

When we reduce our day-to-day contact with other people, we will reduce the spread of the infection. That is why the government is now (23 March 2020) introducing three new measures.

1. Requiring people to stay at home, except for very limited purposes


2. Closing non-essential shops and community spaces


3. Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public


Every citizen must comply with these new measures. The relevant authorities, including the police, will be given the powers to enforce them – including through fines and dispersing gatherings.

These measures are effective immediately. The Government will look again at these measures in three weeks, and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.

1. STAYING AT HOME

You should only leave the house for one of four reasons.

Shopping for basic necessities, for example food and medicine, which must be as infrequent as possible.


One form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle - alone or with members of your household.


Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person.


Travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.


These four reasons are exceptions - even when doing these activities, you should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your household.

These measures must be followed by everyone. Separate advice is available for individuals or households who are isolating, and for the most vulnerable who need to be shielded.

If you work in a critical sector outlined in this guidance, or your child has been identified as vulnerable, you can continue to take your children to school.

2. CLOSING NON-ESSENTIAL SHOPS AND PUBLIC SPACES

Last week, the Government ordered certain businesses - including pubs, cinemas and theatres - to close.

The Government is now extending this requirement to a further set of businesses and other venues, including:

all non-essential retail stores - this will include clothing and electronics stores; hair, beauty and nail salons; and outdoor and indoor markets, excluding food markets.


libraries, community centres, and youth centres.



indoor and outdoor leisure facilities such as bowling alleys, arcades and soft play facilities.


communal places within parks, such as playgrounds, sports courts and outdoor gyms.


places of worship, except for funerals attended by immediate families.


hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial/leisure use (excluding permanent residents and key workers).


3. STOPPING PUBLIC GATHERINGS

To make sure people are staying at home and apart from each other, the Government is also stopping all public gatherings of more than two people.

There are only two exceptions to this rule:

where the gathering is of a group of people who live together - this means that a parent can, for example, take their children to the shops if there is no option to leave them at home.


where the gathering is essential for work purposes - but workers should be trying to minimise all meetings and other gatherings in the workplace.


In addition, the Government is stopping social events, including weddings, baptisms and other religious ceremonies. This will exclude funerals, which can be attended by immediate family.

DELIVERING THESE NEW MEASURES

These measures will reduce our day to day contact with other people. They are a vital part of our efforts to reduce the rate of transmission of coronavirus.

Every citizen is instructed to comply with these new measures.

The Government will therefore be ensuring the police and other relevant authorities have the powers to enforce them, including through fines and dispersing gatherings where people do not comply.

They will initially last for the three weeks from 23 March, at which point the Government will look at them again and relax them if the evidence shows this is possible.

23/03/2020 - Home Learning Update

Dear Parents and Guardians

Thank you for all the messages of support you have sent us during this challenging time. The teaching and support teams have been working hard and you will be receiving a pack in the post of home-learning activities for your child to do, together with a suggested timetable. This is very similar to the timetable your child follows at school, and we are sharing this to support you to help your child keep to their usual routines.

Please go to our website, www.fds.org.uk where you will see we have spent time setting up home learning so that we can signpost you to various websites and activities. You can access these via the new ‘FDS Home Learning Site’ button on the home page. This will take you to a page with links at the top right to each key stage, and within these folders there are weblinks to sites which teachers recommend. There is also a ‘Therapy’ area with a range of additional activities which you may find useful. We will continue to add new, appropriate materials to these areas, so please do keep checking them.

At the moment we are not setting specific work and we aren’t marking work, so please don’t feel that any particular tasks have to be completed or returned. We will review this over the next weeks, mindful that we don’t want to place any additional stress on you and your child, and also that a number of our staff are not available to set and mark work at the minute.

If you wish to get in touch with us, please can you do so via the email office@furzedownschool.org.uk. This email address will be checked throughout the school day and we will aim to respond to you within 48 hours. We are asking you not to email your child’s class teacher as we cannot guarantee that they will be in a position to respond.

We hope that you and your child can use this time together to practice life skills, enjoy reading and have a look at some of the activities we have put links to. We will continue to keep in touch with you and wish you and your families the very best.

Kind regards

Laura Price Caroline Bagshaw

Assistant Head Assistant Head

EYFS-Year 8 Years 9-14


22/03/2020 - Urgent Message from the Headteacher

Dear Parents and Carers

Apologies for not emailing on Friday, it took us longer than we expected to gather all the information we required to make decisions for Monday

Thank you to everyone for responding to our parental questionnaire.

I am aware that the advice issued by Boris Johnson in relation to school closure was very confusing.

Since this announcement Gavin Williamson, Education Secretary, has been very clear. He has said

You should only send your child to school on Monday if you have to, because your work is critical to the COVID-19 response.

If you are able to keep your child at home, you should.’

He goes on to say

‘The fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.”

I will be asking all Furze Down staff with their own children to stay at home so they do not add to the numbers being cared for outside of the family home.

At Furze Down we are ready and willing to do our part to provide childcare for those parents who are COVID-19 front line workers. We contacted all Parents/Carers who fall into this group on Friday and will be offering childcare as of Monday.

We will contact further parents on Monday to clarify what is required however, we will not be able to have medically vulnerable children in school and it is really important that we keep the number of adults and children in school as low as possible to ensure we do not compromise anyone’s Health and Safety.

I would like to thank you all profusely for recognising this.

An overwhelming majority of you have opted to keep your children at home, this in turn will support me to keep everyone safe.

Staff who are working remotely will keep in touch with you via SeeSaw, email and phone and if you are experiencing any difficulties you can email office@furzedownschool.org.uk

I will issue emergency mobile phone numbers tomorrow.

Thank you once again for your incredible support

Sincerely,


Alison

Alison Rooney

Headteacher


20/03/2020 - Message from the Headteacher

Dear Parents and Carers

Thank you to all of you who have already filled in our URGENT INFORMATION FORM

If you haven’t yet completed it could you complete it as soon as possible this morning.

Sandra emailed the link yesterday. (Ignore the link I sent as it doesn’t work) Moving forwards I will leave the technical side to others!!!

Once we have a response from everyone we will formulate a plan in relation to how we will work with you over the coming weeks. I will email you all again this evening with an update.

If you are worried or have any concerns please email office@furzedownschool.org.uk and someone will ring you.

Later today we will send out a list of mobile telephone contacts enabling you to speak to someone in person if you require additional support.

Once again I would like to thank you all for your patience and kindness. It has made a very difficult time so much easier.

Look after yourselves

Alison

Alison Rooney

Headteacher


18/03/2020 - Message from Headteacher - Temporary school closure

Dear Parents/Carers

I have made the decision to close the school again tomorrow and Friday.

The reason for this is so we can have a proactive approach to supporting you over the coming weeks rather than being reactive on a day to day basis. Please could you reply to this message to acknowledge receipt.

Staff who are able have spent today:

  • Building a home learning website for each key stage
  • Starting to record learning sessions and uploading work
  • Providing links to websites

The health and wellbeing team have compiled a list of families who may require more significant support moving forward and we will be in touch with these families separately tomorrow.

We are also looking at how we can provide meal vouchers for our free school meals pupils. Tom Edwards has compiled a health and wellbeing support list with links which was emailed to all staff this morning and will be our on our website.

Although we haven't had any reported cases staff have also spent today steam cleaning soft furnishings and disinfecting toys, resources and hard surfaces. This is in readiness for implementing a partial reopening next week providing the Government does not close all schools.

Tomorrow please could families check they can access our home learning site via our school website. Separate instructions will be sent once the site is live.

If you are unable to access this please let us know. If you do not have a computer or a tablet that you child can use please let us know and we can arrange to lend you a device.

Choosing to close the school is never an easy decision to make but the health and safety of our school community must always come first. Staff were exhausted as a result of covering for staff who are self-isolating or medically vulnerable, and it is important if we are going to provide much needed support going forwards that we also look after ourselves, particularly as this situation is not going to go away quickly.

If you have any individual concerns please make sure you email school office@furzedownschool.org.uk and we will get in touch. We have started to compile a list of FAQs and these will be available on our website tomorrow.

Mobile phones have been allocated to key members of staff and these numbers will be issued tomorrow so you can ring if you need to speak to someone in person.

Finally I would like to thank you for your quick response yesterday and the many messages of support that I have received from you.

Alison Rooney

Head Teacher

17/3/2020 Message from the Headteacher - school closed tomorrow (18/3/2020)

I would like to thank Parents and Carers for your prompt support in my decision to close the school early today.

We would like to reassure you that we are taking all the necessary steps to protect our school community and are continuing to follow the official guidance from both Public Health England and the Department of Education.

School will continue to remain closed tomorrow for a deep clean and to give staff the opportunity to formulate a plan of how we can support families moving forwards amidst this rapidly changing landscape.

We need to take into consideration that we have a number of staff who are self isolating and a further 30 staff who are classified as being ‘vulnerable’.

We will provide an update to all Parents and Carers tomorrow, as soon as we have finalised this information.

If you have any concerns please email the office account and where possible we will factor these into our plans moving forwards.

office@furzedownschool.org.uk

Thank you for your continued support at this unpredictable time.

Take care.

Alison Rooney

Headteacher

17/3/2020 Lettings Hire Suspended

In light of the latest Government advice, we have now taken the decision to suspend all hire of our school building with effect from today. We will not expect you to continue to pay for your bookings and will continue to hold your booking open so that we can resume once we are advised it is safe to do so.

In the meantime, we will continue to keep you informed of the latest advice from Public Health England and the Department of Education and hope that both you and your group all keep safe and well.

17/3/2020 Message from the Headteacher

Dear Parent/Carer

In light of the new guidance that was issued by the government yesterday, please can you ensure that you do not send your child into school if anyone in the household is self isolating due to a temperature and/or persistent cough.

The new guidance now also states that anyone who is self isolating should do so for 14 days.

Please help keep others healthy by following this advice.

Many thanks

Alison Rooney

Alison Rooney

Headteacher

Furze Down School

16/3/2020 Letter sent home: Coronavirus Update

Dear Parents and Carers

RE: Coronavirus Update

Whilst at this time of writing, the Government advice is that schools continue to remain open, we are currently in the process of planning how we can continue to support students’ home leaning and at the same time continue to provide support to Parents and Carers if we are placed in a position of having to close the school; either due to unsafe staffing ratios because of self-isolation or as a Government directive.

This includes:

  • Preparation of ‘home learning packs’
  • How we can continue to provide access to telephone support to Parents

Updates and links to on-line learning are available on our school website.

Please be aware that our staff may also be looking after their own children or elderly dependents during this time and therefore this may limit the amount of resources available.

If the decision is made to close the school, the local authority is notified and the information is posted on the Bucks County Council website (https://closures.buckscc.gov.uk). Once we have submitted this information on-line this will automatically notify local radio stations (www.mix96.co.uk) officers within the Local Authority, Communication Team and Passenger Transport, and will be posted on the council’s website for the benefit of parents and staff. This is by far the most effective way of ensuring that details of the closure are circulated quickly. We will also notify Parents and Carers by text message and/or email.

I would be grateful if you could check that we hold the correct contact details for you, by updating any recent changes via ParentApp , office@furzedownschool.org.uk or by telephoning the main school office.

If you feel that there is anything else you feel we should consider during our planning or have any individual queries, please do not hesitate to contact either myself or Linda Patterson, School Business Leader, lpatterson@furzedownschool.org.uk

As you will appreciate, this is a rapidly changing situation and we will continue to keep you informed as the guidance changes.

Yours sincerely,

Alison Rooney

Headteacher

13/3/2020 - Letter sent home: Delay Phase

Dear Parents and Carers,


You will have seen that the Prime Minister has announced that the UK has moved to the 'delay' phase in response to the Coronavirus (COVID19).


Following the advice of Public Health England and the Department For Education, the main developments from our school's perspective is that both pupils and staff should self-isolate for 7 days if they show symptoms of a new or continuous cough and/or high fever.


https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-people-with-confirmed-or-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection


We continue to operate procedures to try and prevent the risk of germs spreading in the school and ensure that pupils are following good hygiene practices by washing their hands when they get off their taxis in the morning and are regularly washing their hands with soap and water throughout the day. We have anti-bacterial pump stations in every classroom as well as on the corridors. These are being supervised as we know that prolonged use can cause irritation to hands.


Please be aware that whilst Annual Reviews will continue to be held, we are currently cancelling all non-urgent meetings in school. External visits are being risk assessed on an individual basis following the guidance issued by Public Health England and the Department for Education. As you will appreciate, this is a rapidly changing situation and we will continue to keep you informed as the guidance changes.


To support your access to the most up to date information, we have also added a new link on the front page of our school website.


Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Linda Patterson

School Business Manager.