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Trust letter to all staff 26th May 2020

 

26th May 2020

 

 

Dear Colleagues

 

This is another of my occasional letters to the whole staff team of the Trust, around 400 of you.  It comes after another set of government announcements and guidance sent over the weekend that we as school and Trust leaders are trying to get our heads around.

 

I’ll get straight to my main point on this one.  I owe you an apology for the way we distributed some HR guidance in the week before the half term break.  The many permutations of our staffing challenges around the planned wider opening of our schools are complex, to say the least.  As heads and trust leaders we are concerned that there is a real danger that some scenarios might be interpreted in different ways across the seven schools.  So, we produced a set of FAQs (frequently asked questions) around our own interpretation of the government guidance that we hope will give consistency and clarity.  We want all heads to be able to give the same message on who should come into school and who should work from home, particularly given the current proposal for full staffing to resume in our schools from 1st June. 

 

Some of our heads have fed back to me to me that a few of you have been upset in reading these FAQs, because the statements in there appear to be rather bald and harsh.  They have told me that this has undone some of the assurances I have been seeking to provide that your welfare is of paramount importance to me and my leadership colleagues.  Therefore, I apologise that you were sent these documents directly; in hindsight, they should have been sent only to your heads, to enable them to have conversations with you.  I’m sorry for any upset caused.

 

Meanwhile, I should say that these FAQs are still being reviewed as some guidance has changed since the drafting and there is a promise of further changes later this week.  However, I do not intend that these will be sent to you; please talk to your head or your manager if wish further clarification of your situation or they may initiate a conversation with you. 

 

You’ll find that at the foot of this letter I’ve pasted in a reply that we received from the government to the questions we raised as school trust CEOs last month.  Nothing to get too excited about here, but as I’d shared our original letter with you, I thought I would also share the reply.

 

I’ll cover one more point whilst writing, and that is around the general plans for a wider opening.  Many of you will have heard the Prime Minister speak on Sunday about his intention for the phased wider opening still to go ahead next week.  At this point we are not sure whether or not there will be another announcement (we had been told Thursday 28th was a likely date for one) regarding the government’s five tests and whether or not they have been met.  Therefore, we continue with our risk assessments, our planning documents and decision-making work, and our communications with parents and carers to prepare for the wider opening.  If there is more to say before the end of the week I will write again, otherwise, I look forward to seeing many of you soon, as Cathy and I plan to tour schools next week.

 

Finally, let me thank you once again for your ongoing outstanding work.  I do so appreciate all you do and continue to feel proud of the work we are able to offer to our communities in this difficult time.

 

With kind regards and appreciation

 

 

Chris Seaton

Chief Executive Officer