Letter to all parents/carers – start to spring term

Dear Parent/Carer

I am writing to you to update you all following the announcements made yesterday by Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education.

From the start of the spring term, there will now be a staggered return to school for different year groups and a plan to introduce a testing regime in school to identify anyone who is asymptomatic, yet positive for coronavirus.

The only students who should return to school on the 5 January are the children of critical workers and vulnerable students. I have included a list at the end of this letter to guide you if you are unsure about these categories.

In the week beginning 11 January all Y11, Y13 and students in Y12 who have imminent examinations will be able to return to school for face to face teaching.

From 18 January all other students in Y7, 8, 9,10 and 12 may return for face to face teaching.

Students who are being asked to work from home over the period announced by Mr Williamson will receive remote learning through google classroom. School buses will run as normal to ensure the students who are entitled to attend school can do so.

Testing will begin for students in the week beginning 11 January for those who are on site. The test we are required to offer is called a lateral flow test. This is a self-administered swab test that is undertaken in a controlled environment on the school site. It will be offered to all students in the week that they return, and again if they are identified as a close contact for someone in the school community who is positive for coronavirus. It is not compulsory, and consent must be given for these tests to be taken. I will send more information regarding testing, along with a consent form and information early next week.

Regardless of the staggered start for students, if your son or daughter has an external examination next week, they should attend school in order to take it. If they are unable to return home immediately after the examination because they rely on a bus for transport, then they can stay in school for the remainder of the day and undertake work that would have been set remotely. If you have any questions about exams, please contact Mr Palmer who will be happy to help you. His email address is b.palmer@tavistockcollege.org.

If you are concerned about remote learning because your son or daughter cannot access a computer, we have a limited number of chromebooks available for student use. Mrs Stephens is able to advise if this is the case. Her email address is w.stephens@tavistockcollege.org.

I know many of you will have additional questions and concerns. I am sorry to be sending you this information at such short notice for the start of term, but the announcements were only made yesterday.

There will be a further update as soon as the term begins on 5 January. Thank you for your patience.

May I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy new year

Yours sincerely

Sarah Jones


Vulnerable children and young people

Vulnerable children and young people include those who:

  • are assessed as being in need under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, including children and young people who have a child in need plan, a child protection plan or who are a looked-after child
  • have an education, health and care (EHC) plan
  • have been identified as otherwise vulnerable by educational providers or local authorities (including children’s social care services), and who could therefore benefit from continued full-time attendance, this might include:
    • children and young people on the edge of receiving support from children’s social care services or in the process of being referred to children’s services
    • adopted children or children on a special guardianship order
    • those at risk of becoming NEET (‘not in employment, education or training’)
    • those living in temporary accommodation
    • those who are young carers
    • those who may have difficulty engaging with remote education at home (for example due to a lack of devices or quiet space to study)
    • care leavers
    • others at the provider and local authority’s discretion including pupils and students who need to attend to receive support or manage risks to their mental health

Critical workers

Parents whose work is critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and EU transition response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined in the following sections.

Health and social care

This includes, but is not limited to, doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributors of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

Education and childcare

This includes:

  • childcare
  • support and teaching staff
  • social workers
  • specialist education professionals who must remain active during the coronavirus (COVID-19) response to deliver this approach

Key public services

This includes:

  • those essential to the running of the justice system
  • religious staff
  • charities and workers delivering key frontline services
  • those responsible for the management of the deceased
  • journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting

Local and national government

This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of:

  • the coronavirus (COVID-19) response, and the delivery of and response to EU transition
  • essential public services, such as the payment of benefits and the certification or checking of goods for import and export (including animal products, animals, plants and food), including in government agencies and arms length bodies

Food and other necessary goods

This includes those involved in food:

  • production
  • processing
  • distribution
  • sale and delivery
  • as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines)

Public safety and national security

This includes:

  • police and support staff
  • Ministry of Defence civilians
  • contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and EU transition)
  • fire and rescue service employees (including support staff)
  • National Crime Agency staff
  • those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas

Transport and border

This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the coronavirus (COVID-19) response and EU transition, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass and those constructing or supporting the operation of critical transport and border infrastructure through which supply chains pass.

Utilities, communication and financial services

This includes:

  • staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure)
  • the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage)
  • information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the coronavirus (COVID-19) response
  • key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services)
  • postal services and delivery
  • payments providers
  • waste disposal sectors