A message from CEO Sally Lees

A message from CEO Sally Lees

23 July 2020: Letter to parents & carers from Sally Lees, CEO of the Tenterden Schools Trust

As we come to the close of this academic year, I wanted to take the opportunity to say how much we all appreciate the support you have given the staff, leaders and Headteachers in your schools during these unique times.  They have been working hard to ensure that your children have work available to them to access from home, they have been providing feedback and liaising closely with you when issues have arisen.  At the same time, they have been providing for the pupils who have been coming into Homewood to the Tenterden Trust Small School provision, prioritising their safety and keeping them on track with their learning.  I have been very grateful to all our staff for the magnificent work they have done.  I really hope that despite some ill-informed press comments at times, the general public will have a new understanding of and respect for those who work in our schools.

But the staff are very aware that they have been relying on your partnership and active engagement in this totally new way of doing school.  Some of the work our pupils have achieved at home during this time has been nothing short of amazing and your support in keeping them focused, helping them to access the work and keeping in touch with school has been invaluable.  We know that not all of our pupils will have been able to maintain consistent focus on their work and that some will be worrying about things they have not understood fully.  Please be assured that in preparing for September, our teachers are focused on working out where those gaps are and helping the pupils to fill them.  They will also be acutely aware that some pupils may find it difficult to settle back into school life after such a long time and will be ready to provide support where it is needed.  However, we do know that young people are incredibly resilient and those who have been coming back into school over recent weeks have actually adapted really well. So for the vast majority of pupils, we think the new school year will start very smoothly and they will get back into the new routines without difficulty.

You will now have heard from your schools regarding arrangements for September.  Some of the finer details are still being worked on and you may receive further information during the summer, but you should know by now when the Autumn Term will begin for your child’s year group.  All children will be back in their own schools from September.  The plans have been drawn up to ensure that all pupils can come into school, working in class or year group “bubbles”, and that they can continue to access the full curriculum.  In preparing these plans, we have followed the guidance from the Department for Education and all plans have been agreed by the Trust Board. Some of our schools are staggering the start days at the beginning of the year to ensure that everything works smoothly and safely and numbers build gradually.

Once the term is underway, provision will be every day for all, unless your child is asked to self-isolate following a positive test for the virus in their bubble, or indeed if we enter a period of local lockdown and have to temporarily close our schools again.

Your schools will continue to keep in close communication with you as they have done throughout this period.  As we settle into a “new normal”, I trust that the close working with parents which has been developed will be a legacy of these strange times.

If you or any of your family and friends have been affected by sickness, bereavement or job insecurity as a result of the pandemic, I hope you have been able to find the support you have needed.  These times have been difficult for everyone but particularly so for those directly affected. If there is anything you feel your schools should be aware of, please do let us know.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the summer break and find some time for rest and refreshment.

Yours sincerely

Sally Lees

Tenterden Schools Trust CEO