Coronavirus Update

We wanted to keep you up to date and reassure all of our parents, carers and the wider community of our support and understanding during these challenging times. We are taking significant steps to reduce the risk of infection in school and remain open at this stage.

We will be using this space to update you with the latest information and decisions made by the Headteacher and Senior Leadership Team.

 

Wednesday 13th May at 10:40pm

Dear Parents/Carers,

Following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation on Sunday evening and the further information he has provided in the House of Commons yesterday, schools will now be asked by the Government to plan for ‘re-opening in stages’, from 1st June (subject to certain conditions).

I know for many of you this will have raised a great number of questions rather than provide clarity and answers. We are working with ongoing legislation and guidance to make sure we are doing all we can. We know that things will have been difficult for most families and some of you are keen to be accessing school as soon as possible to provide support and because it will signal a return to some form or normality. We are just the same, we are really keen to see everyone and get back to life at the Beacon, but we are also determined that we will not compromise the safety of our children. You trust us on a daily basis to provide the best possible learning experiences and care for your children and young people, we value this trust and relationship. Rest assured we will be taking all measures possible to manage whatever phases we are able to put into place in a considered way, but we will not be taking risks with any of the lives of the families within our community. That firmly includes our 270 staff who work at the Beacon.

What I can clarify is this, the approach set out by The Prime Minster will begin with mainstream Primary school age pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.  The Prime Minister further stated that it is the Government’s ambition for all Primary age children to return to school before the summer holidays. All special schools have been advised to work towards a phased return without a specific focus on year groups. This will be centred on the continued use of risk assessments to determine vulnerability, risk and safety measures for each pupil. This is something we have already been doing throughout this pandemic and we will continue to do so.

As you are aware we have remained open for children and young people of ‘critical workers’ and other pupils who have needed to be in school because our support was essential to maintain their safety. Please be assured that this approach will continue until the end of this term, Friday the 22nd May and is likely to remain through the “holiday” period of Tuesday 26th to the Friday 29th May.  We will of course be continuing the support for pupils who have remained at home. We will keep providing regular updates of refreshed resources and maintaining our teacher and support staff contact with families to make sure those conversations around care, safety and learning are all still happening and keeping us connected.

I am pleased that the government has recognised for a Special School, prioritising chronological year groups will not be the most appropriate provision to support all our pupils, the needs of each of our pupils is unique and therefore this will not be a blanket or one size fits all approach; you wouldn’t expect that or want that for your child and neither would we. A number of you have already contacted us to express your concern because you do not feel that it is in your child’s best interests or it is safe enough yet for you to be making any decision about getting them back to school in the near future. I can confirm that any pupil self-isolating or shielding due to any health conditions will be expected to remain doing so and will continue to have our full support. No parent or carer of any pupil at The Beacon will be fined or pursued for any non-attendance during this time. When the time comes for your child or young person to start to reintegrate with school, you can rest assured that we will be working with you and we will all be supporting the right actions to keep your child safe.

When assessing the risks and safety measures in school we have to consider our pupils’ understanding and their ability to comply with social distancing. We are pleased to be a popular school with a large community but with a cohort of 380 pupils and 270 staff the prospect of social distancing will cause us the biggest challenge. We are awaiting further communication from the government outlining how their plans will be implemented or guidance about how we can ensure the safety of all our pupils, their families and the staff at school; including their transport to and from school. We will be factoring all these things in as further guidance becomes apparent and this will inform our approaches from the 1st June onward.

Each week the Senior Leadership Team work with colleagues at all levels, to assess the safeguarding, wellbeing and academic needs of each individual student.  Where we consider it appropriate, we then work with families to identify the most appropriate ongoing provision for certain pupils.  This may be at home or at school, but this decision is always based on the desire to keep pupils and their families safe.  We will continue with this approach and will be sharing our strategy to adapt any provision for Term 6, communicating with all families prior to Friday 22nd May.

Wherever possible the decision to ‘Stay Home and keep safe’ will be the default approach that we will take.  This will continue until a point at which we feel the conditions at school mean we can expand the numbers attending each day.

In undertaking this approach, we will be assessing the capacity of our buildings, rooms, corridors and communal spaces; the school will then make appropriate adjustments in-line with social distancing rules and Public Health England guidance. As a reminder to us all, our staff are affected by this as well and have continued to put themselves on the front line to keep critical worker families and those needing essential support functioning at this critical time. Whilst we are currently forming our actions we will be considering the school staff availability, their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) requirements and their wellbeing needs in relation to their self-isolation, shielding status and illness.

Using this information in relation to our capacity to support pupils, we will work with the Local Authority, Social Services and parents to identify pupils who we jointly consider are safer attending school and those who we consider would be still be better supported and safer at home.

Student and staff safety will always be of paramount importance and will guide all our decisions.

Please be assured that we will continue to follow all Government guidance and put in place the measures that are required to keep people safe.  However, there is no doubt that whatever measures are put in place, we cannot eliminate the risk that the virus could spread in a school due to the fact that we work in close proximity to each other.  As we increase the numbers of pupils coming into school, the risk of contracting the virus will increase.  Therefore, we will only allow more pupils to attend – once we are sure that we are able do all that we can to protect our school community.

We know you understand, sharing our concern and sentiments. Thank you for your continued support, as a community we couldn’t wish for a better group of people and we hugely appreciate all the positive comments and communication via email, phone calls and social media. We really are looking forward to being back in touch face to face, but only when it is safe for us all to do so.

Please stay home where possible, follow the Government’s guidance and maintain social distancing protocols.

Kind regards

Ady Young

Headteacher

Wednesday 6th April at 2:35pm

We wanted to make sure you are all aware of the specialist resources now available through the Oak National Academy.   This is a national initiative designed to provide lessons and resources for young people currently at home.  We are proud to have played a part in developing this important resource to support our young people and their families.  On the site you will see content produced by our very own Casey Fletcher, a teacher in Zone 1 and Leader of Learning.

 

The specialist section of this virtual school has gone live this week with a range of resources to support teachers and families of children with more complex needs. Further lessons are currently in production and will be on the site shortly.

Monday 27th April at 2:50pm

Two new stores have join the voucher system. You can now choose:

  • Aldi eGift cards are now available for parents/ carers to redeem as of today (27th April)
  • McColls will be joining from Wednesday this week (29th April) and can be spent in McColls and Martin’s stores

 

Thursday 9th April at 5:00pm

We have just received updated information on the Government Free School Meal Voucher system.  Good news, the voucher system will now start next week from Tuesday 14th April.

If you have informed us you would prefer an e-voucher these will be sent to the email address you have provided on the 14th April, so please check your inbox regularly.

For those of you who have told us you would prefer a voucher by post these will be sent out in the week following 14th April but please bear in mind that there are some delays to postal services at this time.

If you have informed us that you would prefer to continue to receive a food bag, these will still happen weekly.

​We hope you and your families are all keeping safe and well.

 

Monday 30th March at 1:09

The current situation brings us many challenges and some opportunities. It is important that we look after our mental health and well-being and that of our young people. The Government have put together some helpful advice which you can find by following the link below.

If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us.

Claire Gregory
Claire.gregory@thebeacon.kent.sch.uk
07741643485

Stephanie.Bezuidenhout
Stephanie.bezuidenhout@thebeacon.kent.sch.uk
07799259265

Claire Lucas
claire.lucas@thebeacon.kent.sch.uk
07741643483

 

Monday 23rd March 2020 11:55 pm

If you are worried about help & support if school is closed, please find below some helpful telephone numbers & websites.

Should you need to speak with the Multi Agency Support Team we can be reached on:

Claire.Gregory@thebeacon.kent.sch.uk  Mob: 07741643485

Stephanie.Bezuidenhout@thebeacon.kent.sch.uk Mob: 07799259265

Claire.Lucas@thebeacon.kent.sch.uk Mob: 07741643483

 

NHS Direct

Call 111 or visit https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/

 

Non-emergency Police – 101

 

Social Services

Worried about a child – 03000 411111

Worried about an adult – 03000 416161

Out of hours 03000 419191

 

HMRC: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

 

DISK – Disability Information Service Kent:  01303 226464

DISK can advise on a range of topics such as benefits; holidays; mobility and transport and services available that promote independence.

 

Young Minds: https://youngminds.org.uk/

Parents Helpline – call 0808 802 5544

Young person looking for help and support

Text the YoungMinds Crisis Messenger, for free 24/7 support across the UK if you are experiencing a mental health crisis.

If you need urgent help text YM to 85258

All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors

Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus.

 

Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk

Advice & support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem

Infoline: 0300 123 3393

Email: info@mind.org.uk Text: 86463

 

Samaritans: https://www.samaritians.org/

Tel: from any phone 116123

Email: jo@samaritans.org

 

Childline: 0800 1111 https://www.childline.org.uk/toolbox/calm-zone/

 

Mindfulness: https://www.headspace.com/meditation/kids

 

IASK – Information Advice & Support Kent – Information advice and support for SEND Children & Young People.

Helpline 03000 413000 9am – 5pm

IASK@kent.gov.uk

 

Family Lives

Confidential free helpline for emotional support, information, advice & guidance on any aspect of parenting and family life

0808 800222

 

FOOD BANKS

Ashford                                              01233 500477

Family Food Bank                               familyfoodbank@children-families.org

Unit 4, St Johns Court                        Open 8.30am – 4.00pm

Ashford Business Park, Foster Road

Willesborough, Ashford

TN24 0SJ

Shepway

Folkestone Rainbow Centre               07913 573403

69 Sandgate Road                              foodbank@rainbow-centre.org

Folkestone, CT20 2AF                       Open Tuesdays & Fridays 2.00pm – 3.30pm

New Romney

New Romney Christian Centre           Open Tuesday 5.30pm – 7.00pm

North Street

New Romney

TN28 8DW

Lydd

Hardy Hall                                           Open Friday 6.30pm – 7.30pm

Skinner Road

Lydd

TN29 9HN

Dover

One Church Distribution Centre (Formerly The Ark)

The Ark Church                                  Open Wednesday

Noahs Ark Road                                 info@dover.foodbank.org.uk

Dover

CT17 0DD

Canterbury

To self-refer please call 07718 108875

Health Visiting Service

Ashford                                   Canterbury & Coastal

0300 1233092                         0300 7900156

Dover                                      Shepway

01304 799700                         0300 1231240

Thanet

01843830225

 

Friday 20th March 2020 at 4:20pm

Dear Parent/Carer,

 

We are writing to you as we have followed the government and local authority guidelines and have prioritised placements for keyworkers children and for those deemed to be vulnerable with an EHCP. We are constantly monitoring our staffing expertise, ratios and illness so that we can still safely offer the best service we can in the current climate and conditions.

 

Therefore, we are not expecting your child/young person in school from end of school today Friday 19.03.20 until further notice. We have already worked extremely hard to support with activities, guidance and advice across a wide range of areas (not just pure education and learning!) you will see this outlined below. Please be advised that if your child/young person does come into school on Monday and they are not due in, we will unfortunately be sending them home as there will be no school -based provision for them.

 

We would like to let you know about some of the ways we are trying to support your young person whilst the school is closed.

 

The building may be closed but our support of you and your family will carry on.  Here are some of the ways we hope this period of closure can be made a more positive experience for all:

 

 

Beacon Learning Zone

We have set up a ‘virtual classroom‘ for every class in school.  We will try and update this as frequently as possible to ensure there will be work put into the pupil’s class page by their teacher.  It could be a task for them to complete, some links to useful websites, suggestions for activities and some suggestions for you as a parent to help support your child at home.  These have been produced by the class teacher specifically for your child’s class and they will be updated regularly. To find them you need to go to www.blz.org.uk.There is also a direct link to BLZ on the parent zone of the website.

 

 

Communication

 

We will be producing a weekly newsletter which will be put on our website and on Facebook so that we can keep in touch and keep you updated in these difficult times. We will be putting regular posts on our Facebook page so that we can keep in touch and can keep you informed about anything you may need to know.

 

We will remain contactable via email you can use the parent voice email parent.voice@thebeacon.kent.sch.uk  or email me or your child’s head of zone if you have any specific questions or concerns.

Our emails are listed here:
Deputy Headteacher alison.cole@thebeacon.kent.sch.uk

Zone 1- Nursery to Year 6- jackie.macfarnell@thebeacon.kent.sch.uk

Zone 2- Year 7-9 and Specialist Classes- irene.white@thebeacon.kent.sch.uk

Zone 3- Year 10-14- stefanie.zintelwarner@thebeacon.kent.sch.uk

Beaconplus- College Base Provision- mel.winter@thebeacon.kent.sch.uk

Headteacher ady.young@thebeacon.kent.sch.uk

Safeguarding

 

If you have a safeguarding concern or wish to contact any of our multi –agency support team, their contact details are below.  There is also a safeguarding information leaflet on the parent section of our website.

 

Zone 1: claire.gregory@thebeacon.kent.sch.uk 07741643485

Zone 2: stephanie.bezuidenhout@thebeacon.kent.sch.uk  07799259265

Zone 3: claire.lucas@thebeacon.kent.sch.uk 07741643483

 

We hope that you and your family keep safe and well and that it won’t be long before we see you back in school.

 

If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Best wishes

 

Ady Young

Headteacher

Friday 20th March 2020 at 8:55pm

We are open to the children of key workers as on this list.

We have asked that by midday today parents on that list let us know if they are intending to send there young person in today. In terms of vulnerable young people due to the specialist staff that are needed to make safe prevision for our specific young peoples needs, we will be open to those we have identified as those who are most in need of our specialist support.

This will be subject to change daily dependent of those who available

All other learners will have access to remote learning and support from the school details will be out today.

Thursday 19th March 2020 at 4:20pm

Dear Parent / Carer,

I write with reference to  our recent correspondence and the announcement by the Government regarding School closures for all UK schools, however there were exceptions to this directive.

The exceptions related to children of key workers and vulnerable children.

Key workers have been defined as follows:

  • NHS Staff
  • Police & Emergency Service workers
  • Delivery drivers who need to deliver food and supplies such as petrol

Vulnerable Children have been defined as follows:

  • Any child with a social worker
  • Any vulnerable child with an EHCP  – I am currently awaiting further guidance in relation to the parameters around this requirement

 

I must emphasis not all children and young people who have an EHCP will be expected or able to attend school from Monday 23rd March 2020.  We will be confirming arrangements for your child/young person tomorrow which will include distance learning from home and for an identified group some provision in school will be made available subject to staffing.

 

If you are a Key Worker (as identified above) and will need your child to attend school next week, we ask you to advise us by email return and at the latest by 12.00 pm tomorrow Friday 20th March. We will then endeavour to make contingency planning to support you in some way. In the first instance please can you email the school at the address below to advise us of your requirements, stating the following:

  • Your name:
  • Your child’s name:
  • Confirmation that you are they only person available to care for your child during this time:
  • Days next week you are working:
  • Yes – My Child will attend, my profession is:
  • I request the school to call me to discuss my circumstances further  (contact number please):

Alison.Cole@thebeacon.kent.sch.uk

Please note we only require one response per family.

If you do require a call from the school a member of staff will be in contact with you within the next 24 hours to discuss your intentions.

As I have referenced in recent letters regarding the Coronavirus; if your child has an underlying health condition and or you consider it is in the best interest of your family to keep your child at home for the duration of the pandemic please do so. This will not adversely affect your child attendance record.

For those parents of pupils who have already chosen to keep their child at home or are now choosing to do, please continue with these precautions for the foreseeable future and continue to check the parent emails/communications we send and the website which will be updated frequently .

 

A huge thank for all your continuing support, please stay safe and keep well.

 

Kind regards

 

Ady Young

Headteacher