Medway’s schoolchildren will learn from home from Monday, 4 January in line with new government guidelines and as part of a phased return of pupils throughout January.
On Wednesday, 30 December, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson addressed the House of Commons on new guidelines setting out the return of primary and secondary school pupils throughout January. The new contingency framework also sets out new guidance for nurseries and childminders.
Primary schools – learn from home
Although the majority of primary schools across England will open their doors to pupils from 4 January, Medway is one of a small number of areas across the country where primary schools will not reopen for in-person teaching.
Instead, primary school children across Medway will learn from home until a further government review by 18 January. Each primary school across Medway is making and communicating its own home learning arrangements directly with parents and carers.
Secondary schools - exam year groups to return from Monday, 11 January
In line with the new national government guidelines, all pupils in years 11 and 13 will return to the classroom from Monday, 11 January. All other secondary year groups, as well as college students, will return from Monday, 18 January.
During this time, secondary schools are encouraged to offer home learning to pupils from Monday, 4 January.
Continued support for critical workers and vulnerable children
Medway’s primary and secondary schools will, however, work together to remain open to provide support for vulnerable children and pupils of critical workers from Monday, 4 January.
Special schools – can remain open
Government guidelines recommend special schools continue to allow pupils to attend full-time, and post-16 settings should allow students to continue to attend as per their usual timetable.
Early years – can remain open
The government’s new contingency framework advises that early years settings, including nurseries and childminders, should continue to allow all children/pupils to attend as normal.
School-based nurseries in primary schools have discretion to follow arrangements for the primary school.
The guidelines have been put in place to protect pupils
Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “Medway is one of a small number of areas across the country where primary schools will remain closed for in-person learning following the Christmas break. This will be upsetting news for many children who were looking forward to catching up with friends, but the new government guidelines have been put in place to protect pupils, teaching staff and their families living in areas where infection rates are currently amongst the highest in England. Medway’s primary schools are now working quickly to put learning from home arrangements in place for their pupils.
“All schools and academies across Medway have continued to support their pupils and provide a high-quality education throughout the pandemic, despite the challenges they have continued to face. Medway’s teaching staff, as well as the children and parents, have adapted incredibly well with every change that’s been thrown at them. It’s been a difficult few school terms and tough times remain ahead, but hope is on the horizon especially with another new vaccine being approved this week.”
Ensuring children and young people get the support they deserve
Cllr Martin Potter, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Education, said: “Medway’s schools and academies continue to work exceptionally hard to ensure children and young people receive the support they need and deserve. Although primary schools will be adopting a learning from home approach for the time being, in line with the new national guidelines, I am pleased secondary exam year groups 11 and 13 are able to return to the classroom from 11 January. All schools across Medway already have plans in place to allow children to safely study in the classroom when they return. Until then, children and young people are encouraged to continue with their studies at home until they return to face-to face learning.
“I would like to thank all of Medway’s schools for their ongoing hard work and commend them for their ongoing efforts to work together to ensure vulnerable children and pupils of critical workers continue to be supported throughout these challenging times. We are committed to ensuring that all of Medway’s children have the opportunity to thrive and learn well, and we will continue to work with schools to offer our support.”