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Warning – Free school meal scam

DFE have made us aware:

Be aware of scam emails

We have been informed that some parents have received an email
stating the following: ‘As schools will be closing, if you’re entitled to
free school meals, please send your bank details and we’ll make sure
you’re supported’.

We can confirm that this is a scam email and is not official. We urge
parents that if you receive any emails like this, please do not respond,
and delete it immediately.

COVID-19 Pandemic – Parent Update – 20 March 2020

Dear Parents and carers,

The Government, via the Department for Education (DfE) has now given the additional clarity we need to develop our plan for the next phase of the national response to COVID-19. This includes information on ‘Key Workers’ from ‘Critical Sectors’.

Staff and I will work on our response to this additional guidance during the day, so we can share this with you at the end of the school day. 

You can find the full DfE guidance by clicking here. I have copied the key points in to this letter below:

  • As a country, we all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. That is why the government has given clear guidance on self-isolationhousehold isolation and social distancing.
  • If children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading. That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.
  • It is important to underline that schools remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.
  • Schools are, therefore, being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.
  • Vulnerable children include children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.
  • Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined below. Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.
  • If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision:
    • Health and Social Care
    • Education and Childcare
    • Key Public Services
    • Local and National Government
    • Food and Other Necessary Goods
    • Public Safety and National Security
    • Transport
    • Utilities, Communication and Financial Services
  • If workers think they fall within the critical categories above they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.
  • If your school is closed then please contact your local authority, who will seek to redirect you to a local school in your area that your child, or children, can attend.

The DfE has also produced these key principles for us to follow:

  1. If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
  2. If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
  3. Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
  4. Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
  5. Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.

Cathy Clay

Head Teacher

Derrymount School staying open

Following recently updated guidance the Government has made a decision to close schools. Provision for vulnerable pupils with an EHC Plan  has been made and therefore Derrymount will remain open.  Ongoing discussions regarding  the health and wellbeing of pupils, together with safe levels of staffing may cause this to change at some point.  We will of course keep you updated when we have more information and more details will follow tomorrow.

COVID-19 Update

Dear Parents/Carers,  

As the national response to the COVID-19 virus continues to develop, we aim to keep you as informed as we are able to. It is possible that the situation could evolve quickly over the coming days, weeks and months, so please bear with us.  

At Derrymount we will continue to follow the government response and latest guidance from Public Health England (PHE) and the Department for Education. This includes the expectation of a calm and measured response to the situation. Please make sure you also continue to follow the latest government advice

This advice now states that pupils should self-isolate for a period of 14 days if they or anyone in the house has a new continuous cough or high temperature. It is important that you continue to notify the school of any pupil absence as usual or if anyone in direct contact with your child is displaying these symptoms. 

If symptoms present during the school day, we will contact parents/carers to inform you that your child requires collecting and should self-isolate for 14 days, as per the national guidance. We know that this is likely to cause inconvenience but it is vital in order to maximize the safety of all pupils and staff, therefore your understanding is much appreciated. 

If your child becomes ill and you are concerned it may be a case of Covid-19 or a worsening medical condition during the period of self-isolation, please make sure you follow the latest NHS advice available 

We recognise the current national guidance to all schools is ‘business as usual’ and we will adhere to this as much as is appropriate. However, as a staff team we are very aware of the increased vulnerability of many of your children and we take our responsibility to keep all children safe very seriously. Your children are very important to us all and we fully respect the decisions you will take in the current circumstances to keep your children safe and well.   If you feel it is in your child’s best interest to restrict their social contact, we fully respect your decision and will authorise this absence.  

If you are the parent of a pupil with complex health needs, especially an underlying respiratory or heart condition, we understand that you might want to take further advice from your child’s paediatrician or consultant, and we will of course respect this. You may even feel it necessary to restrict their social contact. Again, we will authorise this absence. If you would like to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to contact me. 

As a school we continue to ensure all staff and pupils are hand washing with soap and hot water frequently, visitors are informed of these guidelines and if any students develop symptoms or a temperature during the day you are contacted immediately. We are ensuring the school building is kept as clean as possible and disinfected regularly.  As a school we are restricting the number of visitors and non-essential meetings to further reduce possible contact with the virus.

I will write again in the coming days to update you on our next steps and information regarding school work for pupils whilst they are offsite.  

Yours faithfully 

Cathy Clay

Head Teacher
Derrymount School

Storm Damage = new opportunities

It is clearly evidenced (below) that Storms of 2020: Brendan, Ciara and Dennis have left their mark on DMS’s adventure school – as well as more widely and destructively around the country, of course.

Can we fix it?

Over the year we have patched up the shelter with taps, extra canvas, branches and home-made industrial strength tent pegs and guys. But as can be seen, we’re getting to the point were we need to think of a replacement. And a replacement is definitely warranted (and needed) as the shelter, and the general area we have developed into our Adventure School, provides an important role in encouraging people into the outdoors (to enjoy the benefits that being outside brings).

Moving forwards

And so, as we move into the spring, the young people at Derrymount will be involved in a new Outdoor Learning Project called, Shelter 2.0.

And whilst plans are still a bit sketchy at the moment, the vision is for something initially like this (but bigger) …

That will ultimately be developed into something like this…

Well, OK… this might be a little ambitious (and too contained) but there’s no point in NOT dreaming big, is there… after all, that’s what dreaming is all about, isn’t it?

Derrymount School