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Oriel High School in Crawley closes to years 10 and 12

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In his letter the headteacher Philip Stack said:

“We are working hard to remain open, but that brings considerable challenges. Supply staff that we might employ through a supply agency are not available and we have an increasing number of staff who are absent from school. Some members of staff will be away for a fixed period of two weeks because they or a member of their household is showing a symptom and so they will return in the near future.

We also have members of staff who will be in selfisolation for a lengthy period of time because they or a member of their household has an underlying health condition and they are following the instructions from the government and the NHS.

We are now at the point where keeping the full timetable running across all year groups is not possible given the level of staff absence and consequently we are asking Year 10 and 12 students to embark upon home study from this afternoon which will increase our capacity to cover the lessons of absent colleagues with other year groups.”

He added:

“Our priority is to keep the rest of the school running which is asking a great deal from staff who are here, but in addition our subject leaders and their teams are putting together work plans for home study for other year groups should we send another year group home or indeed if we have to close the school. This must be our priority over and above trying to set work individually for a student who is well, but is in self-isolation. I hope that families will understand this approach and the demands it is placing on the staff here.”

Coronavirus

West Sussex refuses to support Crawley schools decision of NOT fining parents for keeping children absent

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September seems to creeping ever closer and with it comes the supposed return to school for children across the town.

But with the news that parents ‘must’ send their children back to school come the start of the new school year, also came the news that one head in paticular had gone on record to say he would not fine any parent who kept their child at home.

Head of St Wilfrid’s Michael Ferry was interviewed on breakfast television where he stated that he would not fine a parent. This then led to a whole debate about who was right and what the right decision should be.

Now West Sussex County Council has added to this furore by refusing to support a decision to not fine a parent made by any head teacher or school in Crawley.

In a statement a West Sussex County Council Spokesperson said:

“We welcome the plan for all children to return to the classroom in September after, what has been for many, a lengthy absence.

“We recognise that some children may be anxious about returning to school and will work closely with our schools to help them prepare children and build the confidence of parents  and carers in the plans for a safe and managed return.

“We will continue to work with schools to engage with and support parents and carers in getting their children back into school before considering issuing penalties for poor attendance. Issuing fines for non-attendance is always a last resort.”

The lack of apparent support from the county council shows an ever growing divide on decisions being made around the ongoing problems with the coronavirus.

Responding to the comments from West Sussex, Michael Ferry said:

“The guidance allows head teachers as far as they can to make local decisions to meet the needs of their school communities.  If one of those decisions happens to be that we are not going to fine people for something that isn’t their fault then I would expect the local authority to support the headteachers in doing so.

If only 10% turn up when we reopen then I would say I have failed because I have not got across the message about what measures we are taking to protect our students.”

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