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Cirencester Deer Park School

Cirencester Deer Park School

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Staff Shortages

Welcome back and actions in response to staff shortages

Since writing this piece, we have had a single confirmed case of a Year 11 pupil with coronavirus. Read more...

Thursday 5 November 2020

We were pleased to welcome pupils and staff back to school on Monday 2 November 2020 following the short October break. Chiquita Henson, Headteacher, provided pupils and staff with an update in her assembly which was ‘broadcast’ in MS Teams across the school. She thanked pupils for their cooperation in Term 1 and reminded pupils and staff of our shared responsibility to look after each other and the need to comply with our protective measures.

I appreciate school still feels different to normal, but I am grateful to pupils and staff for helping each other. It is important this continues and that no time is wasted. I trust everyone will continue to comply with our protective measures and school standards. This respect, and acts of kindness, will ensure everyone in our school community can fulfil their roles effectively, feel safe and can continue with their learning.

Chiquita Henson, Headteacher

We were very fortunate in not having a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the school last term. However, we are monitoring pupils’ and staff attendance closely. Where colleagues are likely to be off school for a significant period of time and for reasons unrelated to COVID-19, we have appointed and are recruiting specialist staff to cover their timetables.

This week a member of our Maintenance team, who last worked in the school on Friday 30 October, during half term, confirmed he had had a positive COVID test. We notified Public Health England and took appropriate action. Because he had no contact with our pupils, we were not required to 'close' any part of the school.

Unfortunately, two of our teachers are currently working from home as a result of separate 'track and trace' activities. They are following the guidance and are self-isolating.

During any period of self-isolation, teachers who are off school, but well enough to do so, are expected to teach some of their lessons remotely through the use of MS Teams. While we have ensured pupils in these classes are supervised, seeing their own class teachers on screen and responding to directly targeted questions has ensured the pace of learning at Deer Park can continue. We are grateful to our colleagues who have already engaged their classes in this way.

With the increasing incidence of infection in the Cotswolds and Stroud, it is likely more members of staff will come into contact with COVID-19 and be required to self-isolate. Therefore, we anticipate there may come a time when we are unable to cover all of their lessons.

As a part of our emergency planning, we advise parents that in these circumstances we may have to close the school to half a year group or a whole year group at short notice and we are looking closely at how we minimise the disruption to learning and families.

In the event of having insufficient teachers available to cover all lessons, it is highly likely that we will close the school to groups of pupils in Year 9 in the first instance. In line with our remote learning plan they will be expected to continue their education at home by using Show My Homework and MS Teams for the period they are out of school. This may be as short as one or two days and we may alternate the groups to reduce any one group’s time out of school.

It has been a very difficult decision as to which year group we would send home first: we feel in the event of significant staff absence, keeping pupils in Years 7 and 8 in school will help families who might otherwise need childcare and we want to ensure pupils in Year 10 and 11 have as much face-to-face time with their class teachers as possible in preparation for their public examinations.

Should we need to partially close the school as a result of significant staff absence we will endeavour to advise parents by email and text either the night before or before 8:00am in the morning of the affected day.

We remain committed to keeping Cirencester Deer Park School open. Thank you in advance for your understanding. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience this may cause.