I hope you and your family are staying safe and well during this incredibly challenging period for all of us.
It is important for you to know how much we appreciate the work of local schools and how much we value the role of governors. Our schools, of course, did not simply shut down in March – they continued to give vital support to vulnerable pupils and the children of key workers. We know our schools and education settings have gone above and beyond at an unprecedented time and their response to the Covid-19 crisis has been an inspiration.
We absolutely recognise that, in normal circumstances, governors often face complex, difficult and vital decisions. During the pandemic this has become even more the case, especially after the government’s announcement that schools may potentially start welcoming back more children from June 1st.
We are working closely with our local schools to support them in their planning and I have no doubt that you are also supporting your school in every way you can. Our shared priority is to keep pupils, staff and families as safe as possible. How to take this forward will look different for every school, and we recognise the sheer volume of work required at a local level. We know that all schools will consider every single issue before they decide how and when to start welcoming more pupils back into the classroom.
The government have been clear that each school will manage the potential return of further pupils in the way that best suits the needs of its community. This means schools will make their own arrangements, taking account of their own unique circumstances. However, I can assure you that the local authority is supporting its family of schools and will continue to do so. We are committed to working collaboratively in partnership with our schools to secure a positive return and it is with this in mind that we are in frequent discussions. We have, for example, created four working groups – all with school and governor representation – to ensure that, together, we capture the key themes and undertake the required planning.
Safety underpins everything we do and we are taking all the latest advice from Public Health colleagues to underpin our work. We are talking to schools about how they will support children who are returning and we will keep clearly in view those who continue to be at home.
Governors clearly have an essential role in this process, not only now but also in the future when schools are planning for larger numbers of pupils to return. Whilst this is an enormous challenge I want you to know that Kirklees Council is committed to providing advice, resources, support and guidance to enable practical solutions and robust, strategic decision making.
We will undertake this work collaboratively and with the oversight of the Education and Learning Partnership Board, This Board is chaired by the Lead Member for Learning, Aspiration and Communities, Cllr Carole Pattison, and brings together school leaders, governors, trade union representatives and Kirklees Council senior officers.
We are currently looking at ways for you as Kirklees governors to talk to us directly, so that you can discuss any questions or concerns. We will bring you more details as soon as possible.
I know you will have been a huge source of support to your schools and that you understand how far your head teachers and school staff have gone in order to ensure that pupils and families have been looked after during this most unusual time. Our school colleagues have worked under tremendous pressure and, as they have continued supporting children during the school holidays, you will know as well as I do that there have been limited opportunities for any real break for several months. I know you will do your best to look after their wellbeing and encourage your leaders in particular to take some of their protected time
Thank you again for supporting our children, our schools and our communities at a time when the challenge has never been greater. We are grateful for everything you do.
Strategic Director for Children's Services