Chiswick School is one of those which will remain open for children of key workers, the school announced on Thursday.
The Government announced on Wednesday that schools, colleges and nurseries in the UK would close this Friday (20 March) but that some would remain open too look after particularly vulnerable children, and those of key workers.
Chiswick School has put out a statement saying:
‘During this challenging time, schools across the country want to support their community, particularly their vulnerable children. In times of worry and uncertainty, communities often overcome huge challenges to achieve amazing feats. This appears to be our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come together to do what we can to support each other through kindness, compassion and generosity.
‘Chiswick is an astonishing place full of astonishing people. At Chiswick School we are working tirelessly to be our best and continue to support the community we serve in whatever way we can.
‘Chiswick School will remain open for children of key workers, those who have EHCP (Education, Health and Care Plan for children with special needs) and those who are supported by social services’.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson announced that exams are cancelled for this academic year in England and Wales. Speaking in the House of Commons he told MPs officials were working with exam boards “to ensure that children get the qualifications that they need”. Schools have been preparing for this, with some giving children work to do at home and others creating using online learning links.
Nurseries, private schools and sixth form colleges are also being told to follow the guidance to close their doors. The schools are closed indefinitely. Head teachers think schools will not open again properly in England before September.
Image above – Head teacher Laura Ellener with pupils
Schools “not dangerous”
Mr Williamson said in England the aim would be to provide support in school for an estimated 10% of pupils. Examples of key workers include NHS staff, police and supermarket delivery drivers.
“The scientific advice shows that the settings are safe for this small number of children attending, but asking others to stay will just go towards helping us slow the spread of this virus.”
Chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty told the BBC that school is “not dangerous” for children during the pandemic, but that the decision to close them would slow the rise of infections.
Ready to be the hub of the local community
Chiswick School’s headteacher Laura Ellener said she was ready to offer the school to be a hub for the local community, if asked. “We have been planning how to provide food for our children who have free school meals and we are working with Innovate, our catering provider, in order to do this”.
Over 40% of children at the school are entitled to free school meals, which means the school normally feeds them every day.
“We need to raise money to enable us to support these families in a different way” she said, “so today we have launched a fundraising campaign. Money will be spent on supporting vulnerable children and their families in the community”. If you would like to donate please visit the school website – www.chiswickschool.org to make a donation.
‘Important to establish a daily routine for children’
Chiswick School’s statement continued:
‘Understandably our Year 11 and Year 13 students who have been working hard in preparation for their examinations are very disappointed and we would like to pay particular credit to these students who have been in school and working hard as usual today. They will be set work online to complete, along with the rest of the school. Staff have been working tirelessly to ensure that they can provide lessons in this way.
‘It is very important that parents establish a daily routine for their children and we are sending guidance to our families about this. Children of all ages need to be up at the usual time, completing their lessons, getting exercise and helping their parents or carers around the home. We are recommending that children do not have their mobile phone during the day, as this will distract them. We are also concerned that the constant supply of information will damage their mental health.
Chiswick school staff and students offering support for anyone in isolation
‘Chiswick School is offering support to anyone in isolation who may appreciate contact via email or a weekly phone call from our staff or students. If you know anyone who would benefit from this support, please get in touch by emailing the school directly on email@example.com. We have a fantastic staff and student body who would be happy to help where they can.
‘Once again, we would like to pay credit to our students, staff and local community for their resilience during this difficult time. We know that Chiswick School will continue to be ambitious and proud, and come together to support each other as best we can’.
Read other stories on The Chiswick Calendar