About: Mrs English

School closed

The school grounds are treacherous this morning, so we have made the decision to remain closed. Online learning will continue as usual.

Vouchers for free school meals

We’ve had quite a few calls asking about when vouchers will be available for pupils who have free school meals. We have been informed that this will be “soon” but haven’t yet got a date. We will let you know as soon as we receive word about how and when this will happen.

Change of return date

In order to make sure that we keep everyone as safe as possible given the current situation, we have decided to close to all pupils until Thursday 7th January. This will allow time for us to organise and undertake training for testing procedures. We realise that this is short notice and apologise for any inconvenience caused. everyone will return to school and to learning on Thursday.

Return to school

Just to let you know that The Oaks will be fully open to pupils from Tuesday 5th January. The only exceptions to this are pupils who fit into the government’s Clinically Extremely Vulnerable category who must shield at home. If your child is clinically extremely vulnerable and will not be able to return, please would you let us know via the school email.

We will be engaging in the testing process for pupils whose parents give consent. This will not happen during the first week back to allow us time to plan and prepare for the process. You will be sent a letter regarding consent in due course.

We hope that you’ve all had a lovely holiday and look forward to seeing our pupils back at school in the new year.

Latest Government announcement

You will have heard that the government have announced changes to the return dates for secondary schools. We are not yet clear how that impacts on us in special schools, but as soon as the guidance is published we will be in touch to let you know.

Happy holidays!

Thank you from everyone at The Oaks for your patience and support during this difficult term. We hope you all have a lovely summer and look forward to seeing all of our pupils back in September. Year 7s start on Thursday 3rd September and all other year groups return on Monday 7th September.

Provision for pupils after half term

Following the recent government announcement regarding a phased return to school for some pupils, we have been working closely with Durham County Council to establish what is right for our school. The council is supporting all schools in the county, to establish a pattern and timeframe that works for them. They have provided a risk assessment, which is designed to put the health and safety of children first and ensure each school mitigates, to the best of their ability, risks associated with a phased return. Working with the Council, we have decided that the following approach best suits the needs of children and families at The Oaks.

Pupils who have been attending school (children of key workers and pupils deemed vulnerable at home) will continue to attend.

The school will contact and offer places to a very small number of additional pupils whose parents are key workers or who are deemed vulnerable at home to begin to expand provision when we believe it is safe to do so. This will not be before 8th June.

Following this, it may be possible to hold meetings between staff and Year 10 pupils who have already begun working towards exams next year. All other pupils will continue to receive work at home and regular welfare calls from staff.

We have carried out risk assessments and believe that this is the safest approach for our pupils and staff at the current time. We will continue to update you via the school website.

Latest guidance

Following the Prime Minister’s latest announcement regarding slowly increasing the numbers of pupils in schools, we are considering carefully how we can achieve this safely at The Oaks. As soon as we have a potential plan, we will let you know.

Free school meal vouchers

The DFE have just released guidance this morning to allow us to pay free school meals vouchers to parents of qualifying children throughout the Easter holidays.

We have 137 pupils on Free school meals but only have emails for 101.
We have processed these so if we have parents’ email addresses you should receive your first £15 voucher tomorrow (for this week) followed by an email every Monday for £15 up until the 18/05/2020 depending on when the schools re open. Once you receive this, you will be able to choose which of the six supermarkets you want to use this voucher at.

For those families for whom we don’t have email addresses, we will be sending this week’s and next week’s vouchers out by post hopefully on Friday. This will cover you for the Easter Holidays. After this time these will be sent out every Friday until the schools re open. Unfortunately, you will have no choice about which supermarket you can use.

As the system is new and very busy there could be a delay initially but after the first couple of days this should just be a rolling system.

I will post some frequently asked questions separately.

School meals vouchers

The government has developed a scheme to send vouchers to families whose children have free school meals. We will be taking part in this after the Easter holidays and will organise weekly vouchers for parents worth £15. We do not have email addresses for all parents. If you receive an e-voucher, this will last for a year and you will have a choice of supermarkets. If we do not have your email address we will post a gift card to you. These only last for 1 month and will be specific to one store, so it would be better for you to receive e-vouchers. If you have an email address but have not shared it with us at school, please could you do so using the “contact us” form on the website. Please note that food parcels will not be provided again after this week and will be replaced by vouchers after the Easter holiday.