CEO Letter to all Anglian Learning Staff
Firstly, I wanted to write and thank you for your work this week in responding to the national lockdown direction by the Government. While we expected some sort of delayed start for the return of secondary school pupils, the scale of the decision taken by the Government and the speed by which we had to enact this was a surprise. However, given the rate with which the new variant of COVID-19 is increasing transmission around the country, the terrible impact upon hospital admissions and the rising mortality rate, this decision was both inevitable and a relief to all of us who had argued that this was a course of action that should have been taken earlier.
Our focus has now moved to supporting the learning of pupils, whether online or in school. Making sure we continue to provide a positive and valuable experience for those pupils working at home will be both challenging and demanding on staff and I thank you in advance for all that you will do in setting live or recorded lessons; independent learning tasks; or directing pupils and parents to nationally produced resources such as those provided by the BBC or Oak National Academy. We are aware that quite a few of our younger pupils do not have access to wi-fi enabled devices and, as a Trust, we are purchasing laptops to close this digital divide while the Government scales up in its own programme; we are also funding free school meals for eligible families while again we wait for a government decision. For those supporting our pupils who are attending school, I would also like to pay particular thanks – to our site teams for maintaining schools, to teaching assistants supporting in the classroom, to our caterers and cleaners and for everyone else who is playing an absolutely vital role in protecting vulnerable pupils who may be at risk of disadvantage or harm and in ensuring that our parents who are critical workers can continue the fight against COVID-19 by being able to place their child in school.
At the same time, we take incredibly seriously our responsibilities as an employer. We are reviewing risk assessments on a regular basis, in line with PHE guidance and in some cases going further than that advice; we have shared these with professional associations and unions for their perspective. At all times we encourage you to contribute to this review process as your contributions to the risk assessments are valuable. Our secondary academies are now gearing up for lateral flow device testing and as a Trust we have bulk purchased protective equipment to ensure these tests, which can play a key role in breaking the chain of transmission between school and home, take place safely and efficiently and we are also seeking to roll these out to our primary colleagues sooner rather than later. At the same time, the national and local media make clear the risks posed by this virus and it is absolutely essential that all of us continue to follow the controls that are in place in school and in our private lives to limit the spread of COVID-19 and in so doing protect ourselves, colleagues and loved ones, as well as supporting the national effort.
A way out of this pandemic is now clearly on the horizon, even if we have to face some restrictions for many months to come. But in the meantime, your work in Anglian Learning is having a critical, essential impact on helping our community through this period and ensuring that, as much as possible, our children do not suffer significant detriment for years to come from the loss of education taking place now. On behalf of Trustees, Governors, and Trust and school leaders, thank you for all that you are doing, and will continue to do, for our young people.
Chief Executive Officer