Update 23rd February 2021  

Dear Parents and Carers

I had hoped to wait until Friday to update you but after yesterdays’ announcement by the Prime Minister that all schools would be open from March 8th with mandatory pupil attendance, I thought I would confirm our arrangements for the remainder of this term and for the rest of the academic year.

As you are all aware, we have been open throughout the pandemic and have tried hard to adapt our provision, so over 250 of our pupils could attend weekly and 50 pupils could benefit from our remote learning offer.  I am proud of what we have achieved.

The Government have now stated that “there is no requirement to reduce occupancy in schools” and “instead, everyone must follow the system of controls and there is no need for class sizes to be adjusted from the usual size.” DfE February 2021.

Over the months we have worked hard to offer places to all our pupils, and we are now looking forward to the remaining 50 pupils returning to West Oaks, whilst acknowledging some pupils, parents and households may be reluctant or anxious about attending school.

We will contact you to discuss any concerns you may have and provide reassurances on the control measures we are putting in place at school.

As stated previously, our current arrangements will remain in place until March 8th.

From March 8th we will transition more pupils back into school and especially those pupils who have previously been home learning.

Our intention is to be open to all our 301 pupils from March 15th and we will be in contact to discuss your child’s return so we can link with LA transport and the class teacher to ensure a smooth transition and return to full-time schooling.

The week commencing 15th March will be a full five-day offer for all our pupils as West Oaks returns to normal.

After Easter, w/c April 19th we will re-introduce after-school club for those parents who absolutely need the provision for their children. If it is not a necessity, please do not take up the offer.

During the last 13 weeks of the academic year, we plan to spend more time outdoors and we will finish the summer term with a magnificent 7 weeks of activities that will truly celebrate the resilience and creativity of our pupils.

This journey has been a lengthy one but with most of my staff vaccinated, UK infection rates coming down and our internal control measures such as timetabling, lateral flow testing, social distancing (where we can), use of face shields/PPE, increased hand washing, frequent sanitising, robust cleaning regimes in place, we will remain vigilant and move forward without regression.

To ensure adequate control measures continue, we need your support to ensure this is the case.  It is important that if your child is unwell or displaying COVID-19 symptoms that they self-isolate and seek a test.  This has been a key control measure and one that has served the school population very well.

We are certainly optimistic of a safe return to normality and we are in a stronger position than most schools, as we only have to reintegrate and welcome back 50 of our pupils over the remainder of this academic year.

We cannot wait for their return and we are grateful for all your continued support.

Take care everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

Update 12th February 2021  

Dear Parents and Carers

We are half-way through our current academic year and whilst challenging at times, working at West Oaks is extremely rewarding.

We are grateful for the support we receive from all of you and the positivity that staff, pupils, families demonstrate daily, which really permeates through the school and makes our team stronger and underpins our philosophy and positive approaches.

Thanks for working with us to keep everyone safe and by keeping your child off school if they are unwell.  This has really helped protect everyone and has had a noticeable impact in school. I am pleased to say, there have been no COVID-19 cases in school over the last four weeks and there have been no collapsed class or transport bubbles.

We will continue with our current systems and have updated our school risk assessment to reflect any local/national changes. We are relying on everyone’s vigilance.

More of our pupils are returning to school after half-term and whilst we will still have 60 pupils remote learning, the majority are attending school.  Our attendance is significantly higher than the special school average attendance of 30%.

After half-term, our four-day offer will be Monday to Thursday and Friday will now be our weekly “critical key worker day” and as there are only five Fridays before Easter (April 2nd), we will be planning for more of our pupils to return on April 19th full time.  Any pupils that wish to return to school before then, please let us know and we will work to facilitate that transition.

Also, our termly parents/carers meetings will be virtual via Google Meets w/c 8th March and the Class lead will contact you to arrange.

We aim to deliver a fantastic curriculum offer in school for all our pupils in the summer term, culminating in a magnificent last 7 weeks of term.  We will, of course, continue to work with those pupils and families who will still be shielding and look forward to them returning when it is safe for them.

Soon, most of our staff will have had their second vaccination and we hope the infection rate will be under control so when restrictions are lifted, we will be able to take part in even more activities on our school sites.

We are also really pleased to announce that our expansion to 500 pupils and onto a third site at Headingley Learning has gone through public consultation, statutory consultation, and Executive Board this week and has now been formally approved. We also continue to work on our Woodhouse expansion for completion September 2021.

At West Oaks, we are very clear about our priorities for our provision and for our pupils and we are convinced that the latest expansion and developments will ensure excellence for everyone for decades to come.

We will enjoy the half-term break and come back refreshed as Leeds and the UK continues to move forward and hopefully get back to some normality soon.

Take care everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

Updated COVID 19 Risk Assessment – February 2021

Ongoing procedures

Preopening checks

Testing

Update Friday 5th February 2021

Dear Parents and Carers

A brief update today and apologies if my communication last week was confusing.
We have and continue to adapt West Oaks provision to meet individual pupil needs during this Pandemic and value your support.
We are responding to many requests for pupils to return to school or increase days.
Currently 240 pupils are now accessing weekly provision safely and after half-term that will no doubt increase.
We are positive about the UK getting back to normal and particularly for us during the summer term.
We are grateful for the work the NHS is doing and the vaccine roll out which our staff are receiving.
We know L.A. Transport plan to keep numbers on the buses low and this is another positive safety measure.
We will continue with our class arrangements, internal control measures and routines up until Easter when we will review.  Friday will continue to be a deep clean and critical key worker day.
We are anticipating that the vast majority of our pupils who are still remote/home learning will return to West Oaks full time Monday-Friday from Monday April 19th so we can all have a fabulous Summer term.
Have a great weekend and take care everyone.
Best wishes
Andrew

 

 

Update Tuesday 2nd February 2021

Due to heavy snowfall and hazardous driving conditions, we are having to take the decision to close school today. This is not a decision we take lightly, but feel it is in the interest of the safety of all. Take care.

Update Friday 29th January 2021 

Dear Parents and Carers,

This week, we were pleased that the Leeds Prioritisation Vaccination programme committed to vaccinating all Special School staff in Leeds. We welcome this initiative as it another control measure for the school and our frontline staff and hopefully a step closer to getting more people across Leeds vaccinated quickly.

West Oaks staff will begin to be vaccinated over the next few weeks and this will enable us to continue to stay open, whilst other schools are shut in the UK. I would also hope our clinically extremely vulnerable pupils and all our pupils are prioritised ahead of their mainstream peers and I will lobby the LA for this to take place.

Since September 2020, our weekly attendance has remained at approximately 70% which compares very favourably with the 30% national Special School attendance and Leeds average.

More parents are contacting us regarding increasing our provision offer and the possibility of our remote learners returning to school. Bearing in mind the Government is still promoting the “stay home and stay safe” message and most UK schools will not start returning before March 8th, we are asking for your support to enable us to plan a safe and sensible offer for all West Oaks pupils.

If you are requesting a place or a possible increase in days after February half-term on Monday February 22nd, please can you let us know by Wednesday 3rd February so we can consider the implications for everyone. We will also need to work with transport and other agencies to facilitate a transition and safely accommodate increased numbers from our 230 pupils currently attending.

Transport is reducing numbers on buses as another preventative measure and they also require advanced communication from us to facilitate any changes. It is also important for us that we have your cooperation so we can plan provision, cleaning routines, timetable spaces, organise class bubbles and ensure pupil and staff safety.

We do plan to make some changes to our current timetable as you have requested that the 4-day offer be Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. We agree with this change and Friday will be allocated for the pupils of critical keyworker’s only and we will also timetable a deep clean on both our sites. Our 2-day school/3-day remote learning offer will continue to be spread over Monday-Thursday. This timetable will be operational from February 22nd until April 1st, 2021.
Let us hope all our pupils can return for the summer term, commencing Monday April 19th.

West Oaks is continuing to use lateral flow tests to identify cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) amongst staff who are possibly asymptomatic. There has only been one positive test in the last few weeks. Following new advice, NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England have temporarily paused the need for a confirmatory PCR test following a positive result with a lateral flow test. Following a positive lateral flow test result taken at school, an individual will need to self-isolate in line with government guidance and contact tracing will need to be undertaken.

Next week, we will survey parents/carers of our secondary aged pupils to see whether you would like your son/daughter, who is able to self-administer the lateral flow test, to be tested in the future.

I had hoped this would be able to be done at home but apparently not, so we are seeking information to help us plan for March-April testing in schools. For most of our pupils this will prove difficult to organise and administer. The test is voluntary, and we are only canvassing opinion at this stage to help plan next steps for our pupils and testing team.

Our remote learning offer has been well received and it is great to see our pupils actively engage in their learning and the effort staff put into both school and remote learning sessions. Staff will only use Google Meet for live video sessions. Access to online live video will only be given by the staff and codes will be sent out to parents.

Staff have the facility to capture the session if permission is granted and staff will only conduct live online activity from school. It is important for safeguarding purposes that no photos or recordings are made of the sessions by parents/carers. We will send out an agreement for you to sign regarding remote learning on Monday.

Finally, a plea to all in our school and college community for increased responsibility, consideration, and sensible behaviours to help us keep everyone safe. I know I say it often and almost weekly, but some people are still prepared to put others at risk. It is un-acceptable.

If you send your child into school when they are poorly, you are increasing risk of others getting ill.

If you send your child into school when others in your household have tested positive for COVID-19 or seeking a test result (which also proves positive) you are putting transport staff, other pupils, their families and my staff at risk and it cannot continue to happen. Please adhere to all Government self-isolation directives.

The national situation is difficult to navigate at the moment and we must all play our part to keep everyone safe.

Have a great weekend everyone and thanks for your support.

Take care all.
Best wishes,
Andrew

Update Friday 22nd January 2021 

Dear Parents and Carers

Thanks for your support again this week as we navigated our first full week of Lockdown 3 with our 2,4,5 day offer.  Last week we were hindered by the snow but this week we have managed to safely educate 226 pupils on our sites and 75 pupils remotely.

I want to particularly thank the parents and carers who are working with us remotely because without your support our entire system would be vulnerable.

It was great to catch up with parents/carers this week regarding our blended approach and we have taken your comments on board.  All the home learning is now on the website for next week and we will post our packs to everyone who wants them, so please let us know.

We will also add more pre-recorded Google meets sessions so our pupils can watch them more than once and at a time convenient to you. Other resources you have requested such as sensory resources, PECs symbols etc we will get to you next week too.

It is important for us to review our offer weekly and communicate with you to meet all our pupils’ needs in this difficult period.  Please continue to tell us what is working well and what else you need from us.

Like most special school colleagues, we are delivering a school offer on the back of DfE guidance of “Schools should continue to encourage attendance of those vulnerable children and children of critical workers who need to be in school”. Daily DfE briefing 21.1.2021.

We have done this at West Oaks since March and 226 pupils are currently accessing our provision.  Daily, approximately 189 pupils attend West Oaks School, 62% of our pupil number which compares favourably with the UK picture of 14% mainstream attendance and 30% in UK Special Schools.

Hopefully, you have received the FSM vouchers this week and if there is an issue, please let us know and we will help sort things out.  Thank-you also to the parents/carers who donated back the vouchers to other families who would also benefit from the vouchers. This has been really appreciated again, so thank-you.

Despite media coverage regarding schools re-opening, we are very much open and safely and that is down to everyone playing their part.  Thank-you for following Government guidance and for not sending your child into school if they are unwell. This has helped us enormously.

It would appear our current system of working at West Oaks will continue for some time yet so let us stay positive, stay safe and keep the communication open.

More from me next week, sorry about that!

To all the staff at West Oaks, our pupils, parents/carers, and families…… You are awesome and it is a real privilege to work with everyone.  Have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes

Andrew

Update – Wednesday 20th January 2021  

Dear Parents and Carers

In an ever-changing COVID-19 landscape, we are all dealing with situations that we never thought we would.  It is a credit to you and your families on the way you are tackling Lockdown 3.

As you can imagine, we are working our way through documentation, guidance, legislation and numerous other activities, such as lateral flow testing for staff, whilst still maintaining an education offer for all our pupils.

Vicky Ford MP made it clear to me again this week that children and young people who have an EHCP are classed as vulnerable and should their parents want them to attend school they should be allowed to.

She also stated that pupils should receive remote learning and support.  I know my colleagues have contacted our home learners today to ensure that our home school offer is working for the pupils whilst they are at learning from home.

Specifically, we want to know if you have access to our website and can you get to the right things you need at the right levels?  If you need any paper copies sent out, please let us know and we will arrange.

We will use our best endeavours to meet the needs of all our pupils during this period and with 230 of our pupils attending school weekly, which is considerably higher than all other Special Schools in Leeds, we are achieving this at the moment.

We have co-produced provision with you to ensure the needs of your children are being met safely. Whilst we have started to receive several requests to increase pupil days and whilst we try to accommodate the requests, we will not be able to do so if it becomes a large-scale effort to increase pupil numbers.

The national situation is still dire and with rapid rising numbers of cases of COVID-19 across the country and intense pressure on the NHS, it is essential that we all reduce opportunities for mixing and transmission.

We have control measures in school, which have served us well as only 5 pupils have tested positive for COVID-19 since last March.  Should we be requested by the DfE to reduce access over the coming weeks, we may have to reduce the days offered from 4 to 2 for all pupils to keep class bubbles small and our curriculum safe and manageable.  This would be a last resort for West Oaks but a consideration given the current national and local circumstances.

I hope this makes sense to you.

Basically, we will continue to do what we are asked to do if it continues to be safe, pupil class numbers can be kept low, and I have a staff workforce who are still fit and well to continue delivering quality education for everyone.

For those of you who access free school meals the vouchers have been ordered and if you provided your email address you will have hopefully already received them.

They are from Edenred again and should show up as this in your inbox.

If you have requested paper vouchers, they will be sent out to you today either in the post or with your child if they are in school. Please keep an eye out for them.

  • If your child is continuing to learn from home, you will receive a voucher fortnightly.
  • If your child is on a two day offer you will have received a voucher to cover 3 weeks and you will get a further voucher to cover the rest of the term.
  • If your child is on a four day offer you will have received a voucher to cover the half term.

If you have any questions regarding FSM, please get in touch with our Safeguarding and Pupil welfare Manager Anna Stevens via [email protected]

Thanks for sharing your wonderful Wednesday learning stories with us and to further share photos and West Oaks success stories via social media or through displays, we will be sending out an updated photo consent form for you to sign via class dojo this week.

I will update you again on Friday and thank-you all for working with us to keep everyone safe.

Take care.

Best wishes

Andrew.

Update – 14th January 2021

Unfortunately both sites – our Boston Spa Learning site and our Woodhouse Learning site will be closed to all pupils and staff tomorrow, Friday 15th January.

We have taken the early decision to close to keep everyone safe and after discussions with LCC Transport and looking at current/predicted weather forecast.

Many Apologies.
Best wishes
Andrew

14th January 2021

Due to heavy snowfall in the last 30 minutes, weather warnings issued and current conditions across Leeds and treacherous roads, we are having to take the decision to close school today. This is not a decision we take lightly, but feel it is in the interest of the safety of all. We will ensure all that are already at school have transport home and will liaise with you throughout.

Updated COVID 19 Risk Assessment – January 2021

COVID RA Jan 2021

12th January 2021

Dear Parents and Carers

Thank-you once again for the positive feedback regarding our home/school communication via class dojo and your support to work with us to co-produce the education offer for your children. I will continue to update you as regularly as possible and try and keep the information relevant to everyone.

I have attached a letter from the LA that I received yesterday stating pupils’ attendance is not mandatory, yet the Prime Minister, is clearly stipulating Special Schools are open.

Last week we were able to organise our learning offer for 229 pupils in school and 74 pupils through a home/school offer.  The home offer will be coordinated by class leads and work packs can be found on our website and we will also send them home if required.  We will also try and signpost to relevant websites for online and other activities.

Our pupils who are eligible for free school meals will receive vouchers for the days/weeks they are not in school and we will be getting the vouchers out to you as soon as we have access to them.  Any issues regarding this, please can you link directly with Anna Stevens at [email protected]

It is an extremely challenging time for everyone, particularly with the new highly contagious COVID-19 variant and we cannot rule out collapsing more class bubbles in the coming days and weeks ahead.

Should you now opt to keep your child at home at any time for the next few weeks to keep them and your family safe, could you please let us know by Wednesday 9am on the week prior to any planned change.  This will help us coordinate the transport for the following week.  This also applies to any Parent/Carer wanting their child to return to West Oaks as we have now planned the next four weeks of provision.  We would need any requests for a change of provision to reach us by Wednesday 9am so we can plan for a possible Monday start the following week for your child.

The guidance we receive from multiple sources is not always entirely helpful and it is often down to the school to decide within its risk assessment protocols and control measures what action to take.  I will not compromise our provision and currently our maximum numbers appear right in school and our 5, 4 and 2 day offer is manageable within the current curriculum/staffing model.  We have worked with you to produce a sensible model of working for West Oaks and will continue to monitor and review weekly.

A trial testing of staff will commence this week, with full roll out next week.  Whilst testing is voluntary, we are hoping this control measure will give us another safety measure within school.

Voluntary testing is also available to secondary age pupils and this roll out of testing pupils requires further exploration as I had hoped we would be able to send home the test to enlist the support of parents/carers to help carry out the testing.  Unfortunately, this is not available currently and we are working out how best to manage pupil testing.  Once I have more information regarding the testing of pupils, I will be in touch.  Many of you have indicated you do not want testing of your child to happen as it will cause unnecessary anxiety and we understand your concern.

As always, we will work with you as we have the interests of pupils, their families and my staff at the core of everything we do.

If you have any concerns or comments please let us know via class dojo or through [email protected]

Please take care everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

Leeds Letter to Parents 11 Jan 2021

Friday 8th January 2021

Dear Parents and Carers

Happy New Year! I cannot believe that we are only a week into 2021. What an eventful week!

Firstly, thank-you for your cooperation this week. This is really appreciated by everyone in the organisation. With you proactively working with us, we have managed to navigate a tricky week with over 190 of our pupils in school daily.

After the announcement by the Prime Minister on Monday night, we quickly moved to consult with you regarding provision for your child. The Government made it very clear, Special Schools were open, and should continue to welcome and encourage pupils to attend full time, where parents want them to and vulnerable children i.e. children with an EHCP should attend school.

We have put together a sensible 5-week plan that will enable 76% of our pupils (229 pupils) to access provision in small class groups through a 5, 4 or 2-day offer. I am grateful for the approach you are all taking to keeping everyone safe.

67 pupils will be educated at home and we will be in touch next week to ensure you have resources, home school packs, as we adopt a collegiate West Oaks response to get through the next term.

Unfortunately, we had to collapse a class group this week as a member of the class tested positive for COVID-19. Given the national pandemic situation, this was inevitable, given the Christmas break and the highly contagious COVID-19 variant and no doubt will happen again in the coming weeks, despite our best efforts to maintain a safe learning environment.

As our daily pupil numbers have been reduced, we have enhanced our cleaning regime. As we only have critical key worker children in on a Wednesday, we will deep clean at the mid-week point as well as the end of the week. We have also introduced 7 more mobile Hand sanitizer units around our sites and there will be no visitors/meetings on site.

Whilst hygiene and cleaning routines, use of PPE and face shields in our school have been increased this week, the best deterrent is to stay at home and stay safe.

As a Special School directed to stay open from the Government, we are reliant on our staff, our pupils, and their families to support us so please stay at home if unwell. If any individual has COVID-19 symptoms, they should self-isolate and seek a test and please keep everyone safe by not coming into school.

We are also aware that people can be asymptomatic and will be looking to reduce this risk by potential testing in school in the coming weeks. We will discuss this in the next few weeks, but our priority is to stay open for our pupils, keep everyone safe and work towards vaccine rollout, when our pupils will be a priority.

Also, our statutory consultation ends today regarding our Headingley expansion and thanks for all your support regarding this exciting initiative. Keeley and I were also able to meet with NPS Architects regarding key design principles for Headingley Learning.

We were also able to observe the progress being made on our Woodhouse Learning extension which is also on schedule for completion for September 2021.

An on-line meeting was also held with SENSAP Lead for Leeds to discuss the demand for places for our provision both for 2021 and 2022.

Very much business as usual at West Oaks and I want to say a special mention and thank-you to the West Oaks team who have worked so hard to make the start of 2021 fun and normal for most of our pupils. Yes, they are only doing their job, but given the national situation, they are doing a terrific job and I am extremely proud of them.

Apologies that this has been my 4th update in the last eight days, but communication is key during these critical periods.

I will be in touch again next week. Have a peaceful weekend.

Best wishes

Andrew

 

Wednesday 6th January 2021

Dear Parents and Carers

Just a quick update and some information regarding our school offer during this current Lockdown period which is really challenging everyone.
I did say we would communicate our pupil offer to you today but we are still waiting on approximately 30 responses regarding preference days for our pupils.  We will contact those who have not returned the Google form tomorrow and let you know in the afternoon what the plan/offer is for your child.
However, just to alleviate any concerns regarding pupil days allocation. We will be able to meet all current requests and we are confident the remainder of our school cohort can be allocated a programme that best suits their individual and family needs.
By helping us to reduce capacity in class bubbles you are helping to keep everyone safe in really challenging times. On Wednesdays we have timetabled a further reduction in groups so we can deep clean the school midweek.
I cannot thank-you enough for your prompt responses and it was also pleasing to see 180 of our pupils accessing school based provision today across our two sites.
It is important that we move to a blended School/Home learning model so we integrate everyone, particularly those at home this week, through a consistent approach so everyone can stay connected over the next 5 weeks.
An early sign off for me tonight and hopefully you are re-assured regarding our offer and as we are all in this together, we will continue to work together.
Thanks for all your support.
Best wishes
Andrew

Tuesday 5th January 2021

Dear Parents and Carers

Firstly, thank-you for all your messages of support and kind comments regarding our COVID-19 response; we all really appreciate it.

As you will appreciate, it has been quite a busy day and hopefully this correspondence will provide further assurances of what the West Oaks offer will look like from Monday 11th January to Friday February 12th 2021.

Sorry this communication is coming out late at night again, but we will quickly establish a routine, as we did in the initial lockdown in March. It is imperative we do, as the situation is more serious at the moment and we must all play our part to keep everyone safe.

We have had a lot of contact from parents and carers today and thank-you for your patience and understanding as we navigate a way through our current situation. We will continue to make contact with those parents/carers we have not heard from, tomorrow.

Just to confirm, West Oaks is open to all our pupils this week and we are now in the process of creating a programme for all our home learners, our children of key workers, our vulnerable groups (children who will struggle with no face to face schooling) for the next 5 weeks.

Given the UK Government placing the country into lockdown again we have to make some changes to our curriculum model to keep our pupils, their families and my staff safe.

To ensure we adapt our school offer during this critical time we will create different pathway models to meet pupil needs, establish even smaller group bubbles, re-introduce Google Meets and increase our cleaning routines mid-week. There will be a 5 day offer for children of Double key worker/Single parent key worker, a 4 day offer for single keyworker and a 4 day offer for vulnerable groups and a 2 day school/3 day home learning offer. All will have a blended learning element and we will aim to keep our school community connected as children learning from home will benefit from the same curriculum as those pupils attending school.

As you can appreciate, this is quite a challenge to coordinate but we will be operational by Monday 11th January when we implement our initial 5-week programme for our 301 learners. Please can you follow the link sent via dojo to  request a place on one of the programmes and as soon as I have all the responses I will let you know the programme your child will be following for the next 5 weeks.

Even if you have emailed previously or sent a message via dojo or phone, can you please fill in the form as it will help me keep all the responses in one format as we map the provision for the whole school.

My main priority along with my staff is to keep everyone safe and with your support we can do this.

Please contact the school via [email protected] should you have any further comments/concerns and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Best wishes

Andrew  

Saturday 2nd January 2021

Dear Parent/Carer

Happy New Year and I am sure, like me, you are really looking forward to school opening on Monday January 4th and the start of a positive 2021 for everyone.

2021 is going to be a very special year for West Oaks as we continue to develop our provision for all our pupils and we are excited by the planned completion of our Woodhouse extension and our new development, Headingley Learning taking shape.

However, our priority will always be on our existing pupils and educating them safely.

I have been contacted by a number of parents, who are keeping their children off school for the next few weeks and I understand and respect their decisions.

I would like to state that West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College is open to all pupils on Monday and unlike many mainstream schools, I would envisage we will remain open, unless directed by the Government to close.

Currently, there is much media, union and other speculation regarding COVID-19 but we can only deal with the facts and also play our part by complying with all Tier 3 restrictions to keep safe. I am working closely with our Chair of Governors, LCC, PHE and DfE and will take all necessary action to keep the school open and running safely.

West Oaks, as we know, is well placed to deliver high quality education programmes but as there is a lack of understanding regarding the new strain of COVID-19, we must guard against any complacency when we all return on Monday.  Our pupils who are fit to attend school should be in school but please do not send your child into school if they are ill though, and please seek a test if they have COVID-19 symptoms and seek medical advice if they have any other seasonal illnesses.

I take the wellbeing of my pupils and staff very seriously and there will be a number of changes to our January routines to reflect this.

There is likely to be quite a bit of disruption when mass testing begins in 2021 and should a class lead have to self-isolate, the likelihood is the class bubble will collapse as we are limiting our use of Agency workers to further reduce the risk in school and assisting staffing consistency within class bubbles.  I will not rule out a return to a shift pattern for pupils and home-based learning, should staffing and safety be an issue at West Oaks, but this would only be a last resort and even then, we will still be open for the most vulnerable pupils and children of key workers.

As I mentioned, early in the term, mass testing of staff will commence, when we have had further guidance and clarity regarding this from PHE and DfE.  Also, we will be seeking clarity on the DfE expectations regarding the testing of our pupils.  We will be engaging with you to ensure that any COVID-19 testing of our pupils is carried out at home.

Face shields (not face masks as our pupils rely on our facial interactions) will continue to be worn in communal areas and during pupil transport pick up/drop off.  During January, more staff members will wear a face shield in class bases as another precaution after the Christmas break.  PPE and face masks will continue to be used for intimate care and during lunch/snack times for pupils.

Pupils will continue to receive their education in their class bubbles, with consistent staffing, there will be an increase in hand sanitising, cleaning and we will also spend more time outdoors in 2021.

I will update you again next week regarding any other developments but wanted to let you know our current position and take this opportunity to wish you all a positive and happy new year.

We will work together to keep everyone safe and I know as a school leader I can rely on your support again in 2021. Thank-you!

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any concerns or comments.

Best wishes

Andrew
Principal
West Oaks

December 18th 2020 Update

Dear Parents and Carers

This will be my last update of 2020 as we break for the Christmas holiday.

West Oaks School will return on January 4th to all pupils and there will be no staggered return. We will also return to our normal finish time on a Friday and should lateral COVID-19 testing be introduced in our special school we will link with you in the new year regarding this. We do not envisage being involved early on as the Government appear to be targeting mainstream secondary schools.

We have all appreciated all the support, kind comments and positive correspondence we have received from you this year and it is certainly a genuine West Oaks community effort, so thank-you.

It has been difficult at times, particularly when we have had to collapse class Bubbles, and some multiple times. This has been disappointing for us but something we have all had to deal with as a school. Please can I ask you all to remain as vigilant in the new year and keep your child off school if he/she is unwell. We constantly reiterate this message to our Agency and permanent staff colleagues too. We will also re-visit all our cleaning and control systems in January to ensure we continue to work hard to keep everyone safe.

Our statutory consultation to expand our provision onto Headingley Learning campus is going well and could I ask you please to support this stage of the process by emailing the Sufficiency and Participation Team on [email protected] with a message of support.

Have a wonderful, safe, and relaxing holiday. Merry Christmas everyone.

See you in 2021!

Best wishes

Andrew

December 11th 2020 Update

Following the consultation on our proposed expansion, governors agreed to proceed to the next stage, the publication of a statutory notice.  This has been published today. Details of the notice can be found below.

Thank you for all your positive comments. If you wish to respond at this stage, please do so by 4pm on 8th January 2021 to PO Box 837, Sufficiency and Participation Team, Children and Families, Leeds, LS1 9PZ or email [email protected]

Statutory proposals for a prescribed alteration

 School and Local Authority details:

School: West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College, Crowther Place, Leeds, LS6 2ST.

Local Authority:     Leeds City Council, The Director of Children and Families, PO Box 837, Sufficiency and Participation Team, Children and Families, Leeds, LS1 9PZ

Description of alteration:

The Governing Body of West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College, working in partnership with Leeds City Council is proposing to permanently expand their provision from 350 to 500 specialist places for learners aged 2-19 utilising an additional site on Buckingham Road, Headingley (previously known as Rose Court).

The proposed opening date for the additional places is September 2021 and it is anticipated that once established, the number of additional places would grow gradually over time rather than all being allocated on opening. The Governing Body would also seek to ensure that the spread of places is equitable across West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College’s two current and the proposed third site.

All pupils at the Buckingham Road site would be on the roll of West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College and pupils would be admitted to the specialist provision through their Education, Health and Care Plans.

Evidence of demand:

The number of children and young people living in Leeds has increased over the past decade, which has resulted in rising demand for both mainstream and specialist provision places across the city. The need for specialist school places continues to grow with particular increases in the areas of complex learning difficulties and complex communication difficulties which are being identified as a consequence of a substantial increase in Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) assessments. The need for places in specialist schools is forecast to increase beyond the number of places currently available in Leeds and the proposed expansion of West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College has been brought forward along with other proposals to address this demand.

 

Effect on other schools:

The demand for specialist provision is greater than the current capacity in Leeds and the proposed additional site linked to West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College would provide additional specialist school places in future academic years. Due to the level of projected demand, the expansion is not expected to have a detrimental impact on existing specialist provision or partnership and resourced provision within mainstream schools.
 Objectives:

The council has a duty under the Education and Inspections Act 2006 to ensure that there are sufficient specialist school places. Expanding West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College onto the Buckingham Road site would provide more choice for families and address the demand for additional places. The proposed expansion would be in line with parental preference as parents/carers told us as part of the recent strategic SEND review that they wanted more generic special school places in Leeds.

West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College was rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted at its most recent inspection and is popular with families. The school benefits from strong leadership and management and a dedicated and skilled staff team who are very positive about the potential permanent expansion. The Principal and Governing Body are confident that if West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College were to expand, existing high standards of learning would be maintained, resulting in improved outcomes for a greater number of children and young people with SEND. The Principal and Governing Body have prior experience of successfully managing other expansions and a clear vision of what they want to achieve through this proposal.

This proposal contributes to the aspiration for Leeds City Council to be the best council and for Leeds to be the best city in which to grow up in, and a child friendly city. The delivery of pupil places through the Learning Places Programme is one of the baseline entitlements of a child friendly city. By creating good quality local learning places and environments we can support the priority aims of ensuring children and young people do well in learning and close achievement gaps for those vulnerable to poor learning outcomes. We want all children and young people in the city to have access to a wide range of opportunities, develop key life skills, and be supported on ambitious pathways to enable them to thrive supporting the council’s ambition to produce a strong economy and a compassionate city. A good quality learning place also contributes towards delivery of targets within the Children and Young People’s Plan such as the 3A’s strategy to improve achievement, attainment and attendance at school.

All proposals which involve changing or creating new SEND provision must meet the requirements of the SEN Improvement Test. This involves demonstrating how any proposed changes would improve the range and quality of SEND provision, including access to wider support services and specialist teaching and that these are in line with the local authority’s wider strategic plan for SEND provision and also the drive to enable mainstream inclusion.

Implementation and any proposed stages for implementation:

The proposal is to permanently increase the capacity of West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College utilising the former Rose Court site on Buckingham Road, Headingley with effect from September 2021. It is anticipated that once established, the additional places would grow gradually over time rather than all being allocated on opening.

  Project costs:

Feasibility is currently underway to identify the scope of works required to make the buildings suitable for use as a special school, this is unusually complex due to the challenges present by the Grade II listing, namely; the need to balance the restoration of historic features, adhere to the demands of the conservation area, conform to Planning, resolving condition issues etc. whilst creating a suitable SEN environment. Once feasibility and detailed design works are completed, costs for the proposed scheme will be determined ahead of a request for Authority to Spend.  The costs of the scheme will be funded as part of the Learning Places Programme primarily via the use of Basic Need Grant in addition to a combination of other funding streams that may include: School Condition allocation, SEND grant, council borrowing; Community Infrastructure Levy. However, the precise funding package will be confirmed at the design freeze stage, and detailed in a subsequent Design and Cost report (DCR) which will be presented to Leeds City Council’s Executive Board.

Support, objections and comments:

Within four weeks of the date of publication of this proposal, i.e. by 4pm on 8th January 2021 any person may submit comments or objections on the proposal to PO Box 837, Sufficiency and Participation Team, Children and Families, Leeds, LS1 9PZ or email [email protected].

 

 

December 9th 2020 Update

Dear Parents and Carers,

Thank-you very much for all your support and I am sure 2021 will be a very positive year for everyone in our school community. As we approach the Christmas break, I really wanted to re-visit and reiterate some of our protocols particularly as we plan for 2021. Apologies for the length of this update but it is necessary.

This year has presented us with some challenges that we have overcome safely but we must remain vigilant as we plan for the next few months and remainder of the academic year.

I was disappointed to have to write to parents of pupils at Boston Spa Learning that a member of our school community has tested positive for COVID-19 this week as this has been the first case in the last month that has resulted in a collapsed class bubble.

The staff and children who have been in direct prolonged contact with the confirmed case have received an individual letter and will be isolating at home for 14 days. The school remains open and your child should continue to attend if they remain well.

We all find this concerning, particularly as we have not had any recent cases and our routines have served us well. Despite the roll out of the vaccine this week, we know our school situation will change in the coming weeks as we enter the holiday period and people mix in other circles and groups as restrictions possibly relax.

There is a lot of guidance and documentation that we must respond to and we have recently updated our risk assessment based on latest DfE advice received this week and directives from LCC Health and Safety team. There will be an updated copy on our website.

I am also grateful for the support I have received from Vice-Principal Keeley Murray and the Governing Body during this period, particularly as there is much guidance and legislation to navigate.

I was recently reminded that in the Lancet and WHO (World Health Organization) papers which point out that limiting close contact between infected people and others, is central to breaking chains of transmission of the virus causing COVID-19. The prevention of transmission is best achieved by identifying suspect cases as quickly as possible, testing, and isolating infectious cases. Please do not send your children into school if they are unwell or if a member of your household is self-isolating as they are awaiting a test or have received a positive test.

They also acknowledge that, it is critical to identify all close contacts of infected people so that they can be quarantined to limit onward spread and break chains of transmission, potentially for 14 days. Given that infected people without symptoms can transmit the virus, it is also prudent to encourage the use of fabric face masks in public places where other prevention measures, such as physical distancing, are not possible. Fabric masks must be used as part of a comprehensive package of preventive measures, which includes frequent hand hygiene, physical distancing when possible, respiratory etiquette, environmental cleaning, and disinfection.

The DfE have now advised that schools that were to break-up on Friday 18 December can now use an inset day to finish on Thursday 17 December. We feel this is very short notice to make a change to the school term. Our school has been disrupted enough this year so West Oaks will be finishing on Friday 18th December as planned.

As we approach the Christmas break, I thought it would be helpful to advise you of the procedures we will follow over the Christmas period in relation to suspected/confirmed COVID cases. If your child develops symptoms over the weekend of 19th and 20th December and you need to seek a test for your child, please keep us informed so that if the result is positive, we can take the action required to contact those who have been in proximity with the positive case. Please inform me at [email protected], I will monitor this during the first week of the holidays and inform people if they need to self-isolate.

If your child develops symptoms from Monday 21st December, you do not need to contact school during the holiday period. In such cases you should follow the normal track and trace system.

West Oaks will return to school on Monday January 4th, 2021 and from January we will return to our normal time on Fridays. We will continue to encourage pupils to wear face masks on transport and in communal areas if appropriate. We will continue with our cleaning regime, encouraging regular handwashing and will also spend more time outside in the fresh air (please ensure your child has the appropriate clothing, coat etc.) in our modified play and open spaces.

At our special school, social distancing is difficult, so we sustain the same groupings and timetabling to keep everyone safe. PPE is still used for intimate care, feeding and where a IPRA dictates. The DfE also acknowledges exemptions, because some people who cannot put on, wear, or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability, or someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate. We have followed this advice as it is not practical for many of our children to wear a face covering, and these are our current systems of control.

We have assessed the risk, worked through our system of controls. These are set out below. These measures are designed to address the risk identified in the COVID risk assessment, we believe they meet the needs of our setting and allow us to deliver a broad, balanced, and safe curriculum for our pupils, including full educational and care support for our pupils who have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

We have followed the following DfE and PHE guidance to reduce risks in our school:

1) Minimise contact with individuals who are unwell by ensuring that those who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend school.

2) Where recommended, use of face coverings in school (transport, intimate care, feeding, IPRA).

3) Clean hands thoroughly more often than usual.

4) Ensure good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach.

5) Introduce enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, using standard products such as detergents.

6) Minimise contact between individuals and maintain social distancing wherever possible. We have also limited on-site visits; meetings are virtual and there are no off-site visits.

7) Where necessary, wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). Again, not universal use in our school, but used during intimate care, feeding or as per Individual Pupil Risk Assessment. Pupils who are older and wish to wear face coverings in school can do so.

8) Always keeping occupied spaces well ventilated. We also spend a lot of time outdoors which also helps.

We constantly review our practices and will do so again in the new year, in line with national guidance and we will keep you informed weekly of any changes.

In January, we will continue to adhere to our existing arrangements and there will be no off-site visits and visitors will be limited onto our sites. We will review this at the start of February.

Thanks to the many parents and carers who responded to our public consultation regarding our planned expansion onto Headingley Learning (Rose Court). There were over 90+ responses and 94% supported our plans (91% strongly supported). We really appreciate this.

It will not be high on your priority list but our deadline for our “Best day of my Life” Sing and Sign challenge is tomorrow. Your contributions to our 2020 challenges have been amazing so hopefully we can create one last music masterpiece to share with you next week.

I will be in touch again before we break up.

Take care everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

 

November 27th 2020 Update

Dear Parents and Carers

As expected, at the end of lockdown we will move into tier 3 and although infections in Leeds are reducing, they remain high. We are trying hard to prevent transmission of the virus at West Oaks and I cannot thank you enough for all your support.

The news this week of the vaccines that are being developed in the UK and the world are very encouraging and hopefully we can all return to some normality in 2021.

Vigilance continues to be the watch word and we will remain vigilant at West Oaks. As I have stated previously, the management of COVID-19 related cases in our school and college community have stabilised recently and we currently have just two transport bubbles collapsed. This is a reminder that we still need to adhere to safe protocols.

If you or anyone in your family/household shows the following symptoms of COVID -19:

  • a high temperature – this means they feel hot to touch on their chest or back, and/or
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours, and/or
  • a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste of smell (anosmia).A test for COVID-19 should be taken ideally within the first five days of having symptoms.
  • Please see the NHS.UK website for more information on testing: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-for-coronavirus/ask-for-a-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus/.
  • The person with symptoms should seek a test. You should all self-isolate until the results of the test are known. If positive, the person who has tested positive must self-isolate for at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms, and everyone else in the household should self-isolate for 14 days. If negative, everyone can resume their normal activities.

If you are concerned about your health, please refer to the NHS 111 website or telephone NHS 111 or your GP.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/check-if-you-have-coronavirus-symptoms/.

Please see the link to the PHE ‘Stay at Home’ Guidance:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection.

I have tried to update you regularly and hopefully you have been re-assured by our actions to change routines, increase cleaning regimes, group distribution and use of new spaces, our school class bubble model approach, more regular hand-washing and changes to Fridays to allow for a deep clean.

We intend to continue with the early finish on Fridays for pupils for the last two weeks of term so we can continue with the deep cleaning regime we currently have in place. We will revert to the normal working week in the new year and Friday finish will be at the usual time. If these arrangements cause you any difficulty please contact the school directly on [email protected] to discuss.

I attended a virtual Leeds Inclusive Growth Strategy conference this week and there is a positivity around our city and it was encouraging to hear the plans of how Leeds is going to reset and renew its position in the years to come.

At West Oaks we have quickly reset our provision, sustained 94% pupil attendance, and will further renew our offer with our Woodhouse expansion completed in September 2021.

The opportunity to re-align our provision across three sites with the development of Headingley Learning (at the current Rose Court site), potentially for September 2021 is another opportunity to strengthen our infrastructure and offer more family, outreach, care, health and therapeutic support systems which is really exciting. There will also be an opportunity to strengthen and develop new partnerships and alliances in 2021.

Thanks for all your positive feedback regarding Rose Court and your emails confirming your support for our expansion. If you have not contributed to the public consultation, please can you take 5 minutes to submit your thoughts as our whole school community will benefit from our Headingley Learning expansion.

As we enter December, we have several events planned, notably 7th December Staff training day, 11th December Christmas Jumper day and our Virtual Christmas Festival at 10am. We break for Christmas for pupils at 1pm on Friday 18th December.

Inspiration for our best Day of my Life Sing and Sign challenge is “ no matter what’s going around you in the world, whether it’s work or family or school or just the craziness that’s going on in everyday life, it’s about escaping and creating your own dream world to create your own best day.”

The Band, American Authors are clearly out to catch great moments and there have been so many fantastic days and moments this term and all our pupils have been amazing, whether learning from home or in school. Please can we have any family/home/individual footage in by Thursday 10th December to [email protected] (landscape not portrait please!).

Apologies for all the information but there is a lot going on at West Oaks as always!

Have a fab weekend, take care, and stay safe everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

 

November 18th Update

Please see below the public consultation document regarding our proposed expansion at Rose Court which is an extremely exciting development for the West Oaks community”

Public Consultation on a proposal to Permanently expand West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College

What is being proposed?

The Governing Board of West Oaks SEN Specialist School  and  College working in partnership with Leeds City Council, is consulting on a proposal to permanently increase its current Published Admission  Number from 350 to 500 SEND places for learners aged 2-19 by  utilising an additional site at Rose Court, Buckingham Road,  Headingley. If the proposal goes ahead, the Governing Body would seek to ensure that the spread of places is equitable across it’s two  current and the proposed third site.

The proposed opening date for the additional places is September 2021 and it is anticipated that once established, the number of additional  places would grow gradually over time rather than all being allocated on opening.

Why is this being proposed?

The number of children and young people living in Leeds has increased over the past decade, which has resulted in rising demand for both  mainstream and specialist provision places across the city.

The need for specialist school places continues to grow with particular increases in the areas of complex learning difficulties and complex  communication difficulties which are being identified as a consequence of a substantial increase in Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP)  assessments.  Specialist school places are very popular with families and the need for places in these schools is forecast to increase beyond the number of places currently available in Leeds. The Governing Body of West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College working in  partnership with Leeds City Council, is therefore consulting on a  proposal to create additional places to address the anticipated increase in demand.

West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College is an Ofsted rated  outstanding school.
Find out more and share you views about the  proposal This public consultation is an opportunity for you to have your say about the proposal.   There are a number of ways to find out more, ask questions and share your views;

Find out more and share you views about the  proposal

This public consultation is an opportunity for you to have your say about the proposal.   There are a number of ways to find out more, ask questions and share your views;

Online consultation sessions Due to the current circumstances it is not possible to hold face to face community consultation drop-in sessions, so instead there will be online community consultation sessions that you can access via  computer or by phone.

To register your interest in attending one of the online consultation sessions please email:  [email protected]  no later than the day before the session.  You will then be sent details of how to access the session. Please note that questions can be  submitted by email in advance of the online session.

Consultation closes on 2nd December

West Oaks Consultation booklet

November 16th 2020 Update

Dear Parents and Carers

I mentioned on Friday that we would be sharing exciting news with you today and I am pleased to announce that West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College is to consult on expanding our pupil numbers and develop the site of Rose Court School, Headingley (old GSAL site) from September 2021.

After discussions with the Local Authority, our Governors have agreed to go out to public consultation on Wednesday 18th November. We are excited by the development of this new partnership and still are committed to providing excellence for everyone who attends West Oaks School.

Rose Court Learning would add more quality SEN capacity in the Leeds system, it would provide more outdoor areas and specialist facilities for 16+ and our Reaching High pupils as it is only 1 mile from our current Woodhouse campus.

The flexibility of having three sites will also benefit all our students, staff and our school community.  We will also use the Grade II listed building to support 2-19 learning and our humanities and outdoor learning curriculum, research and development faculty and our family support team.  We will add our own in-house Therapeutic Support Team.

Our current learning offer will not be compromised as we will continue to teach our pupils through our Pod Learning approach.  We will add two more Teaching and Learning Pods at Rose Court over the next two years.

Further details will be published on Wednesday.  If you have any questions or clarity, please do not hesitate to contact me at school.

Best wishes

Andrew

 

November 13th 2020 Update

Dear Parents and Carers

Thanks everyone for the support this week and for ensuring our early finish today was successful.  This has really made a positive difference to our operations and enabled cleaning and other elements of safer West Oaks working practices to be carried out.  Hopefully, this arrangement is only for four weeks and we can resume our normal working week for all.

I will update you on Monday regarding our current school position in relation to our COVID-19 control measures as things appear to be stabilising this week and our last collapsed class bubble returns on Monday and our attendance remains at 93%.

The School also delivered a workshop day via Zoom to 25 SEN Schools nationally yesterday to launch Day 1 of the SSAT “Leading Outstanding Special Schools Programme” and Keeley, Abby, Jess, Elisha, Sarah, Janine, Sue, Rebecca, Lauren, Bryony and Anna showcased the school superbly well and the day was a huge success thanks to them.

We also have new proposals to share with you on Monday which will further enhance our current school offer and is another exciting project for West Oaks to be involved in.

Have a lovely weekend, take care and be safe everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

 

November 6th 2020 Update

Dear Parents and Carers

I hope you do not mind the frequent communications you receive from the school.   I will try and keep communication brief and to the point.

We are doing everything to ensure everyone is safe at west Oaks and we are confident that we can sustain quality provision for our pupils.

I am full of admiration for my staff. Whilst simply doing their job, they have done so with great professionalism and have kept things as normal as possible for our pupils.

The government continues to prioritise the wellbeing and long-term futures of our children and young people and have stressed they will not be closing schools.

We agree with this, but it does also present its challenges with transport and maintaining our learning offer for 300 pupils. Since September, we have had to collapse 10 class bubbles over our two sites and whilst this has disrupted the education of our pupils, their safety has and always will be our priority.

With the new National Lockdown in place as of yesterday and other control measures being implemented, we are confident we can manage the risks effectively.

However, Leeds has a rising rate of positive COVID-19 cases and inevitably more class bubbles will be collapsed in the coming months and some for possibly a second time. We may have to collapse classes due to staff shortages too but will endeavour to cover staff absence from within existing school resources.

We continue operating in small class bubbles, we continue with our cleaning regime and hand-sanitising systems.

Current catering arrangements will remain the same with some slight changes to how meals are served.

Outdoor activity and exercise have been prioritised where possible, and we use large indoor spaces if outdoor space cannot be used, maximising distancing between consistent student groups.

The guidance is clear that primary school children do not need to wear face coverings, and older children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities may be exempt from wearing them, depending on their need. No one should be excluded from education for not having a face covering.

We have limited visitors onto our sites and will recommend that visitors wear face coverings in communal spaces where social distancing cannot be maintained, but as this is not a requirement, we will use our discretion regarding this. We will continue to support our young people who wish to wear face coverings on transport and in other communal areas where necessary.

Hygiene is a priority, and we use maximum fresh air ventilation through either opening doors and windows or ventilation systems wherever possible.

However, we do propose to make a minor change to our provision as we are going to close the school to all pupils on Friday afternoon from November 13th, 2020. All pupils will leave school at 1pm and we will review this arrangement for the w/c 7th December.

We have taken this decision to enable a deeper weekly clean on the Friday and will also allow for a 48-hour period of non-use of our facilities. Apologies, if this was reported to you via escorts/drivers this morning. We had only consulted on the possibility of implementing this change recently and a decision was only made this afternoon to go ahead with the change for the next few weeks.

On the Friday afternoon we will introduce a West Oaks community activity so our home-based learners, shielding pupils, pupils on the clinically extremely vulnerable list have extra weekly contact with our school community.

We have not taken this decision lightly as the other options were to move to a four-day week or a rota system where pupils were in school every other week to reduce the overall number of pupils in our school. The weekly rota system would be a last resort and not something we want to readily implement.

I hope we can continue to have your support as we make these minor adjustments to keep everyone safe. Please do not hesitate to contact me or Keeley should you wish to discuss further.

Take care everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

West Oaks Consultation booklet

October 14th 2020 Update

Dear Parents/Carers

The latest data shows the city’s current seven-day infection rate now stands at 415.5 cases per 100,000 people. Unfortunately, cases have also been showing a consistent, upward trend over the past weeks leading to concerns over the potential for increased hospital admissions and the impact on local NHS services.

Everyone in Leeds is again being urged to help protect the city, each other, and the NHS by observing the updated restrictions, as well as observing the crucial messages about handwashing, face masks, social distancing and self-isolating when needed.

We are mindful of our role in keeping the West Oaks community safe whilst focussing on teaching and learning for all our pupils. It is important that if your child or family member has COVID-19 symptoms, you should self-isolate and seek a test. Please do not send your child into school if they are unwell as you are compromising everyone’s health and safety.

Attendance at West Oaks continues to be high at 92% and since September we have only had to collapse one Bubble (class) per site as a precaution due to a staff member testing positive for COVID-19. Currently no pupils have returned a positive test.

It is inevitable that despite our best efforts, we will have to collapse classes in the coming weeks and months as the Leeds and national situation changes, and more people are affected by the COVID-19 situation. We will do this promptly and sensitively, in line with Public Health England advice, and will inform you if your child has been affected by a positive case in school. Hopefully, this will not happen often, but we must prepare for different scenarios.

From Thursday this week, my staff will contact you via Dojo/home school diary/phone to ask if you would like a Google Meets or phone call parent/teacher consultation and arrange an appointment for this over the course of next week.

Half-term is approaching, and we break for the holiday on Friday 23rd October and return on Monday 2nd November. Thanks for all your support this term and we look forward to catching up with you via Google meets or telephone next week.

Best wishes

Andrew

October 5th 2020 Update

Dear Parent/Carer

Apologies, for yet another update, but the COVID-19 situation is a very fluid situation. We must all react pro-actively to keep everyone safe.

I was contacted by the Director of Leeds Children’s Services, Sal Tariq and our Chair of Governors, Elaine Hampson last week and both were proud of our efforts to ensure as many children as possible were able to attend school at this time.

In Leeds, no school is completely closed, and 191 schools are fully open. Several schools have had to collapse “bubbles” within their settings for a short period. If a child or staff member at West Oaks tests positive for COVID-19 we will take swift action to collapse the class bubble to keep everyone safe.

I am extremely grateful for the parents/carers who have continued to take precautionary measures to keep their child off school if they are ill or have COVID-19 related symptoms. Thank-you so much for your patience and understanding.

Attendance at West Oaks continues to be good and is in line with our normal attendance for this time of year at 92%, which is above the national average.

For those of you who follow us on Twitter, you will know that school is operating normally, and our pupils are actively engaged in their learning and having fun doing so. We are still operating small class sized bubbles and all activities are currently being held on site. We will review this at the end of the Autumn term and hopefully, the New Year will see new routines established.

Our practice continues to be recognised nationally and we were pleased when the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SSAT) network asked us to lead the first day of their virtual “Outstanding Schools Programme.” Also, the leading-edge organisation awarded us a grant to complete research into using the “environment as the third teacher.” I am pleased that the West Oaks team effort and focus on excellence for everyone is being acknowledged by national educational organisations.

This Friday, October 9th, we are closed to our pupils as planned as all staff undertake training in talk4writing, safeguarding and hold curriculum reviews in class groups as we consolidate and challenge our practices.

The final inset day of this academic year will be on Monday December 7th and a reminder that we finish the academic year on Friday 23rd July 2021.

Take care and keep safe everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

 

 

September 28th 2020 Update 

Dear Parents/Carers

Apologies for contacting you again but this is a short note to say thank-you to everyone who has supported us during the start of term. Everyone is taking a very sensible and cautious approach and we recognise that. It is pleasing to see that you have kept your child at home when they have become poorly and this action not only supports them, their class friends, our staff and all in our school community as we all work hard to keep each other safe.

West Oaks has had no positive COVID-19 pupil cases since March 2020 which is really pleasing. Some pupils who have stayed at home during the start of the year, with cold and flu like symptoms, have now returned to school as they have become well again. Everyone appreciates the anxieties of being in proximity of an individual with a high temperature and coughing presents, so it was important that they stayed at home to get well.

Some of our pupils are self-isolating as a precaution because a family member or friend they have been in contact with has tested positive. This may become more common as the term progresses if there are more cases in Leeds. We will monitor the situation closely. If any pupil is in this situation, they should isolate for 14 days at home before they return to school. We will work closely with you and provide home study work for your child.

These are unprecedented times and it is vitally important we keep everyone safe and pupils should only be tested if they go on to exhibit COVID-19 symptoms which are –

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back, and/or
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours, and/or
  • a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste of smell (anosmia)

Once again, thank-you for your patience, understanding and support during this period. Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me or Keeley.

Best wishes

Andrew

September 23rd 2020 Update

Dear Parent/Carer

Staff in our school are doing a terrific job concentrating on teaching and learning and are ensuring a strong start to the term despite being under pressure from general anxieties regarding COVID-19, winter illnesses and now the weather! Our pupils on their return have been amazing and it is great seeing a sense of normality returning for them.

After a strong start to term with 284 pupils returning and all staff returning, we have seen a slight drop in numbers this week for several reasons.  Most absence appears to be linked to winter illnesses such as colds as there have been no reported positive cases of COVID-19 at West Oaks.

We are not medical professionals, so we are relying heavily on parents/carers to make the right decisions if their child is ill. Please keep your child at home should they become poorly. We are grateful to the parents/carers who have done this because it is extremely difficult, for all parties, when a child must be collected from school due to illness and especially during this current climate.

If your child has any of the main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), please get a test as soon as possible and keep them at home until you get the result.

The main symptoms of coronavirus, defined by the NHS, are:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you have noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal
  • Most people with coronavirus have at least 1 of these symptoms. If you or your child have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus, please:
  1. Get a test to check if you have coronavirus as soon as possible.
  2. Stay at home and do not have visitors until you get your test result – only leave your home to have a test.

I would like to thank-you once again, for your very patient and supportive approach to the start of term. Whilst these times are unprecedented and the local and national landscape changes quickly, what will not change is our commitment to keep our pupils and staff safe at West Oaks.

Take care everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

September 21st 2020 Update 

Dear Parent/Carer

As we begin another school week, I wanted to thank-you for your continued support.

I fully appreciate the anxieties that people have as we all adjust to manging the risks associated with the current COVID-19 situation.  I am grateful for the parents/carers who have taken action this week to protect their own children and all children and young people attending West Oaks by keeping poorly children at home until they are well enough to return to school.

If your child is exhibiting a high temperature, a new continuous cough or loss or change of their sense of taste or smell they may need to be tested for Covid-19. There is no need for whole households to be tested unless they are symptomatic. Whilst there have been no positive tests for COVID-19 at school we still need to remain vigilant, particularly as administering the test to our pupils is difficult and distressing.

I want to briefly highlight the safety measures we are implementing at West Oaks which are in line with national guidance, designed to keep everyone in our school and college community safe.

Our main approach, which strictly follows Government guidance is to ensure:

There is a reduction in the number of contacts between children and staff to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. As a special school we have a lower number of pupils attending each of our sites compared to a mainstream school. This in itself, will limit the number of contacts for any individual pupil. Other measures include:

  • Robust hand and respiratory hygiene. Hand sanitising takes place regularly and there is hands-free sanitizer in the reception area of both sites.
  • We adopt the “catch it, bin it, kill it” approach and we have sufficient tissues and bins in school. Pupils are encouraged and supported to maintain good hand and respiratory hygiene.
  • An enhanced schedule of deep cleaning continues, and our cleaning staff ensure surfaces are cleaned frequently throughout the day.
  • Reduced contact across large groups and teaching is in consistent groups (Bubbles) ensuring no school bubbles are more than 20 pupils. Most class sizes are approximately 10 pupils or less.
  • Class bubbles are timetabled to ensure staggered breaks and lunch routines that prevent large groups from forming.
  • Class spaces are free from excessive furniture to maximise space in the classrooms and social distancing is encouraged. Our outside spaces are timetabled to ensure groups learn safely.
  • Movement around our school sites is kept to a minimum so social distancing can be maintained.
  • A one-way system is operational, particularly on the staircases at Woodhouse Learning.
  • No off-site visits are planned this term and after-school club is suspended until further notice.
  • PPE is worn for intimate care and where an individual pupil risk assessment (IPRA) dictates.
  • Meetings are conducted remotely to ensure the number of adults on site is kept to a minimum.

The government does not recommend the universal use of face coverings in school settings and we have the discretion to make the decision to insist on face coverings or not. We believe the use of face coverings would have a negative impact on teaching at West Oaks and do not insist on the wearing of face coverings.

Risk Assessments are updated regularly and reflect current control measures. Our COVID-19 risk assessment is on our website. As with all our control measures, we constantly review and change our practices, in line with government guidance to keep everyone safe.

If you have any concerns, please contact the school, so we can all work together to prevent further disruption to your child’s education. Please take care everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew Hodkinson

 

September 16th 2020 Update

Dear Parent/Carer

Welcome!

Most of our pupils have now returned to school full-time or have joined us for the first time if they are new starters, and that is thanks to the wonderful job you have done over the summer preparing them for the September return. Thank-you!

Since the start of term, 286 pupils out of our 300 cohort have started at West Oaks with adapted routines, spaces, and provision. It is brilliant to see how our pupils, parents and staff have responded to the challenge.

Our focus for our pupils over the next few weeks will be on creating strong links with their class and school. Feeling safe and ensuring they are having fun, are healthy and settling into life at West Oaks is key to everyone’s wellbeing. Our pupils are always our priority so please support us to keep everyone safe and school open. If your child has any of the Covid-19 symptoms, please self-isolate and get tested. If children are unwell with colds, flu, and other seasonal illnesses, please do not send them into school. There is a nervousness around illnesses in our school and local community, so please err on the side of caution.

We are only on day 7 of our 195-day academic year and already there is much to consider and plan for outside of our core and daily business of teaching and learning. The guidance from NHS, DfE, PHE, HSE, LA, Trade Unions can be overwhelming at times, but we read and act upon the guidance and law and disseminate the key pieces of information to you.

I hope you find the regular and weekly updates helpful. Please also follow us on West Oaks School Twitter as we try and share positive learning experiences daily. Class dojo is also an important communication tool for contact with the class lead and the updates will also be on our website.

Please do not hesitate to contact West Oaks should you need to discuss any aspect of your child’s education at the start of this exciting term and you can also contact us via [email protected] should you wish to email. Our September 2020 Covid-19 risk Assessment is on our website for guidance and information.

NHS have issued us with the following information, which they have asked me to share with you.

“To ensure we identify those with coronavirus while avoiding a huge increase in demand for tests from people without coronavirus symptoms, we ask that you recommend to your pupils, students and staff who feel unwell, that they get tested if:

  • they develop one or more of the main coronavirus symptoms:
    • a high temperature (37.8 degrees)
    • a new, continuous cough
    • the loss or change of their sense of taste or smell, or
  • they are recommended to get tested by a healthcare provider (e.g. GP or nurse)

I cannot re-iterate this enough and it is extremely important that if a pupil, student, or staff member develops one or more of the main coronavirus symptoms described above, only they should be tested. NHS adds “There is no need for their households to have a test unless they are also symptomatic. As schools across England return, pupils and students may feel unwell for example with a sore throat, stomach upset or a headache. These pupils and students don’t need to book a test but may need to stay off school or college and seek medical advice through their GP or pharmacist as usual.”

Increased hand washing, cleaning and hygiene protocols will be sustained, and we will adhere to social distancing protocols wherever we can as most classes are taught in discrete class groups “bubbles” with consistent staffing.

The first option for Covid 19 testing is the national system which is bookable online  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/get-a-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus/ or by calling 119.

We knew the re-opening of all Leeds schools would be challenging and it appears to be the case. We are aware that some schools have now had a first positive case, but currently, West Oaks is not in that position and we aim to remain vigilant and we are also reliant on your support.

It is great to be back after the long summer break and we are certainly looking forward to the term and providing much needed structure and quality learning opportunities for our young people.

Please take care everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

September 10th 2020

Please see below our updated COVID-19 risk assessment

West Oaks – Covid 19 Risk Assessment Sept 2020

September 8th 2020 Update 

Please see below the link to our COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ COVID-19 September 2020 Guidance document

September 2nd 2020 Update 

Dear Parent/Carer

Thanks for your continued support. I will try and keep this brief as we will issue a further “Guidance sheet” on Monday 7th September prior to the start of term.

We have been through lots of guidance and as all UK schools are currently deemed to be at what the government is calling ‘tier one’ (open to all pupils) we are expecting West Oaks pupils to return on Tuesday 8th September. If there have been staggered or delayed return agreed with school, those arrangements will be honoured.

Our key priority is the safe return of our pupils and staff. Communication will be key throughout the first week and as the term progresses, so please keep talking and sharing with us any concerns you may have so we can solve things together.

Early identification and quickly managing outbreaks of COVID-19 in schools is essential as part of a local response to COVID-19. It is vitally important that pupils and staff do not attend our school with symptoms, and should seek prompt testing, follow appropriate isolation advice, and communicate with us immediately so we can take appropriate action to safeguard others.

During the first half-term we will be limiting the movement of our pupils around the sites and there will be no off-site visits. We will review this at October half-term.

Pupils will remain in their class groups or Bubble for much of the time but given some of the constraints around play spaces we will be creating some extended bubbles (amalgamation of two groups) of between 20-25 pupils.

All children who were previously identified as needing to shield are being reviewed by a clinician. Decisions will be made about whether the young person needs to remain on the shielded cohort and they would be subject to a risk assessment and a decision made with the GP or paediatrician and the parent about whether the child should return to the school environment. There will be no fines applied to children who are shielding if they do not return to school.

If you have any concerns regarding the return to school please contact our Safeguarding and Pupil Welfare Manager, Anna Stevens and she will support you with this [email protected]

Transport arrangements regarding drop off/pick up points on the school site are the same, and please be patient with us at the start of term as things may take a little longer as more pupils return to West Oaks.

For 16+ pupils traveling independently, you are reminded to plan your journey carefully – new school transport timetables and safety guidance are available at www.wymetro.com/schools

Face coverings are mandatory on public transport and dedicated school buses for 11s and over and students are encouraged to pay in advance.

The wearing of face coverings in school is not mandatory and given the impact it would have on our pupils communication and interaction needs, we will not be wearing face coverings unless an individual pupil risk assessment (IPRA) dictates.

There will no swimming sessions during the first term and After-School club will not take place in the first half-term to allow for extra cleaning, but we will review this at October half-term.

Our focus will be on keeping everyone safe and there will be repeated washing of hands, hand sanitising, maintaining social distancing where appropriate and we will teach our pupils in their class bubble or their extended bubble to maintain pupil safety. Lunch will be taken in designated areas and in some class bases to reduce pupil numbers in key communal areas.

Throughout the summer term and the early pandemic, we were open, and two thirds of our school benefitted from being at West Oaks. As more of our pupils return and for the full week, we will work with you to ensure school is welcoming, safe and a fun place of learning for your child.

Please do not hesitate to contact school on [email protected] if you have any concerns or comments.

Best wishes

Andrew

 

Friday 17th July 2020 Update  

Dear Parent/Carer

Annual reports have been sent out and you will soon, or have already, received your son/daughter’s Annual Report for 2019-2020.

It is a great pleasure to share with you this summary of the successes your child has experienced during this academic year. We hope you enjoy reading them.

On the end of year school report, we have added the levels that your son or daughter is working at.  As you may well be aware, the government has removed P-Scales and so we have moved to a different method of assessing what has been learned. We are now using an assessment tool called ‘Connecting Steps’. This framework splits up into Engagement Steps for those young people working at what used to be the lower P-scales and Progression Steps for all other pupils.

There is a table and more of an explanation on the reverse of the report so you can see what the levels equate to.

Thank you to everyone who was able to attend a Google Meets or telephone parent/carer meeting, it was great to discuss your child’s progress and share their learning journey in school and at home.

Our home learning programme will continue to be available over the summer, this will be in the form of a summer holiday project for each curriculum pathway and will be available on the school website from Monday 20th July. The home learning project is optional and designed to be dipped into as and when you feel useful and relevant. Please continue to share your home learning activities with us via Class Dojo.

As always, we continue to adapt and improve our teaching and learning environments:

At Boston Spa Learning we will be adding 40% more area in 7 playgrounds via increased fencing/space to include more outdoor spaces for play and learning, adapted our polytunnel and we will be adding a new quad space, a daily mile track, six-a-side MUGA and 16+ outdoor Gym to improve timetabled access to outdoor spaces within class bubbles.

At Woodhouse Learning, the early works are fully underway for our 2021 expansion. The main building works will commence as soon as we break for summer and will continue for the full academic year. This will mean there are some changes to the way we access the existing building from September. More details will follow over the summer. These changes will be in place for the entire year. We will hold several information sessions regarding the expansion over the course of the year, ensuring we keep you informed and up to date with all developments.

If you have any questions over the summer, please contact Andrew Hodkinson or Keeley Murray via email.

[email protected] or [email protected]

Also, if it is non-urgent you can email [email protected] and we will respond as we will monitor the emails over the summer. Should you want a home visit from either Keeley or I over the summer we are more than happy to pop in and say hello to our pupil’s w/c Aug 3rd. Just email and let us know.

West Oaks is in a strong position as we enter a “new normal” in September as we plan for all our pupils to return. Currently 196/293 (67%) of our pupils have been regularly accessing our provision (nationally the figure is nearer 17%) with the majority of staff working 3 or 5 days every week whilst running a home learning offer. We are very confident of a smooth transition for 30% of our returning pupils in September.

As stated in last week’s update, please be reassured that West Oaks will be open to all pupils from Tuesday 8th September and we have planned well for this. Our pupils will be taught in class-based groups (bubbles) with consistent staffing and areas to work, play and learn in as we have been developing teaching and learning spaces, both indoors and outdoors for our new academic year.

There will be no staggered starts or early finishes at West Oaks in September, and it will be business as usual in class (bubbles).  We will deep clean around the normal school timings and keep our current cleaning protocols that have served us so well during the last months.

We will adapt our practices safely.

We are not planning any off-site activities or after school activities in the first term but will review in October.

We are also running a 70-place summer playscheme during August 3rd-7th at both Boston Spa and Woodhouse sites. Existing routines around increased staff/workroom spaces will continue as will lunches being taken in multiple spaces and in their bubbles for the foreseeable future.

We are pleased to welcome new teachers and learning guides from September; they are all very excited to be adding to our highly skilled staff team. We have also introduced a communication coach role, this will further enhance our Communication and Interaction offer, ensuring C&I continues to be a priority across the school.

We are extremely proud of our pupils, their families, and our staff. Your support and positivity have been amazing. Wishing you all a peaceful summer. Hope you enjoy our “Proud of West Oaks” film.

Thank you all for your continued support and we look forward to working with you in the next academic year.

Best wishes

Andrew Hodkinson, Principal, West Oaks

Keeley Murray, Vice-Principal, West Oaks

Friday 10th July 2020 Update   

Dear Parents/Carers

As we plan for the final week of school and home-based learning for all our pupils at West Oaks, it is with immense pride that I reflect on how we have all approached the Covid-19 situation.

There has been a tremendous safe effort by all concerned to offer some normality in the madness of the UK pandemic situation. This experience has taught me, again, how much responsibility we have to our 293 pupils and their families and the responsibility I also have for my 150 staff.

We have entered a new world of Google Meets, home visits, telephone 1:1’s, family outreach support, home learning, on-line learning, complemented by our school-based approaches for over 190 pupils weekly. We will use this experience to enrich our learning offer as my staff continue to plan for all pupils returning in September.

Your support has been phenomenal, and we do appreciate how difficult it is to home-educate our pupils, but the priority is and still will be, keeping everyone safe during the transition to a new normal.

We are very fortunate at West Oaks that things are never normal as we constantly look for ways to challenge ourselves, improve the experience for our pupils and their families and strive for excellence for everyone in our group.

As I write this update, I am waiting on the LA’s latest version of their school-based risk assessment template following on from the Government guidance released last week.

Please, be re-assured that West Oaks will be open to all our pupils from September 8th and we have planned well for this. Our pupils will be taught in class-based groups (bubbles) with consistent staffing and areas to work, play and learn in. We have been developing teaching and learning spaces, both indoors and outdoors for our new academic year and will share with you those developments next week.

I know staff have been gathering information from you regarding your child’s return to school during the virtual/online parents’ evenings this week so thanks for this.

Pupil reports will be sent out next week with a newsletter and whilst this year has been dis-jointed, there have been so many achievements to celebrate.

We are very proud of the effort everyone has made to stay safe and continue to engage in their learning. On that note, please keep sending your versions of “Proud” into [email protected] and we will get the third and final version of our sing/sign challenge out to you at the end of next week.

If I can be of any support or you want any further clarity regarding our provision, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Have a lovely weekend.

Best wishes

Andrew

Friday 3rd July 2020 Update 

 Dear Parents/Carers

 The latest round of weekly/daily guidance includes confirmation from the DfE that there no expectation that schools should open for vulnerable children and children of critical workers over the summer holiday.

At West Oaks we are having significant works taking place on both sites, but we do intend to run a one-week play scheme on both sites from 3rd to 7th August and those offered a place have now been contacted.

The DfE further added: “We can confirm that providers offering paid childcare will be able to operate over the summer holidays, in line with protective measures guidance. Additional funded activities may be available in local areas, such as the Holiday Activities and Food scheme.”

We will make sure that any FSM voucher scheme, promised by the Government over the summer is implemented, and we will be in touch with you regarding this.

 Whilst planning to open to all our pupils in September, we are reading through the advice and guidance from the DfE this week regarding full school opening and we are considering the implications for us.

We will work with you to ensure a safe return for all our pupils. I am also aware that some parents/carers have expressed concern regarding the Tuesday 8th September return for their children and we will work with you regarding this. We will be contacting you next week, to ask whether a Tuesday 8th September or a Monday 14th September return would be preferable, just for initial planning purposes, and we will let Transport know. We will, of course, keep this under constant review.

After a summer deep clean of our provision, our bubbles/class groups will increase. As our usual groups are small anyway, pupils will be taught in their September class groups (bubbles) by a consistent class lead with consistent staffing in areas that are allocated to them.

After School Club will not take place for the first term and all activities will be site specific. Given the increase in our numbers from the 190 pupils that accessed our provision this week, we will link with SEN Transport and LCC Catering to ensure appropriate systems are in place to meet all our pupils needs.

I have attached a letter that Sal Tariq, Director of Leeds Children’s Services, has asked me to send out to you.

Finally, thanks for the “This is Me” contributors. We have one final 10 day challenge that we will share with you on Monday as we begin the last two weeks of a very difficult year. Thanks for your support and have a great weekend.

Best wishes

Andrew

Updated Leeds Position letter for Parents July 2020

Friday 26th June 2020 Update 

Dear Parents/Carers

It has been another busy week and whilst the shift in the UK seems to be on a relaxing of the lockdown and trying to get to a “new normal” by moving the economy and country forward, hopefully safely, we are still adopting a cautious approach at West Oaks.

I cannot thank the work of our parents/carers enough, because, without your understanding regarding our 2,4,5 day offer we could not have moved safely to providing provision for 167 children weekly.

Nationally, Special School pupil attendance has now reached 15%. This week our daily attendance was 40% and over 56% of our pupils accessed school provision. Next week, 22 more pupils join us for the last three weeks of term and attendance will continue to rise.

However, we were reminded this week of the reality of Covid-19 in Leeds, as reports of staff and pupils testing positive for Covid-19 across the city. There have been three isolated cases in 3 different primary schools. In all three cases, head teachers took prompt action; they collapsed the affected bubble and informed the LA, Public Health England, and supported the pupils and parents.

Reports of positive cases do cause real concern, but it is important to remember that there are 274 schools in Leeds with nearly 15,000 pupils now attending on a regular basis.

Where children or members of staff are showing symptoms of Covid it is important to follow the guidance and contact us so we can support you and our school community.

As we enter the last three weeks of a strange term, we will remain vigilant and will continue to work with you and will keep you informed regarding our plans.

This week, two Leeds Health and Safety Advisors visited the school and reported positively on our practices and protocols. They stated, “It was pleasure to see first-hand the excellent practice to minimise the transmission of COVID and to hear about the measures to maintain staff and pupil wellbeing.”

With safety and wellbeing at the forefront of everything we are trying to achieve for our children and young people, we do not propose making any further changes to our groups (“bubbles”) in the next three weeks, unless there is an urgent need.

We have worked hard to keep our groups constant, with the same staffing and pupils in the group and will maintain the same systems for the remainder of term. Group and transport changes are difficult to implement, whilst trying to keep everyone safe so thank-you for your understanding, particularly the parents who have had their 4 day offer reduced to two days to ensure more pupils can attend West Oaks safely.

We will continue to visit our home learners and I know both pupils and staff really enjoyed the visits this week and thank-you for your hospitality. Parent/Carer evening is also coming up and we will be in touch next week to arrange either a telephone or goggle meet session.

If you have a concern regarding your child’s wellbeing, please contact me, Keeley Murray or Katie Hurley (Family Support Manager) to discuss how we can best support.

Next week we will share with you our “This is Me” collaboration and we will continue to plan for September, where we hope to welcome all our pupils back as per the government announcement this week. This will not be without its challenges, particularly as Leeds stance is still 2m social distancing which equates to 50% pupil occupancy and SEN transport may also be an issue.

At West Oaks we can only control the controllables and we try to plan for every scenario and will keep you informed weekly. I can take great comfort in the strength of community that is West Oaks and how you have all responded. Thank-you, take care everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

 

Thursday 18th June 2020 Update

Dear Parents/Carers

In a week when education and the teaching profession has faced significant challenge, I am pleased that we have retained our focus on our core business of safely educating our pupils both in school and at home.

Many schools have now re-opened, albeit to very small numbers and for a limited time. West Oaks has remained open throughout this crisis and we have tried to be equitable to all children and families who have requested a school return this week.

This week we welcomed back 74 additional pupils, taking the total number of our pupils accessing a 2,4 or 5 day offer up to 152. At West Oaks 51% of our pupils are now attending and whilst in the UK, 90% of special schools are open, only 13% of their pupils are attending. The figure of pupils attending mainstream primary and secondary schools is even lower.

Our driving force behind our school offer has been the health, safety, and wellbeing of all of our pupils and staff and I am very grateful for the support of our parent and carer community to achieve this.   The level of understanding regarding the reduction of days for pupils to accommodate the children who have not been accessing school for 11 weeks has been brilliant.

Thank-you for your patience and understanding as this approach sits perfectly with our “excellence for everyone” ethos and we will also continue to work with our 126 pupils who are part of our home learning cohort.

As we plan for September 2020, with realistic social distancing in place and all the protective measures we have in our “protective bubbles” of no more than 50% in class at any one time we need to be open and honest with you around workable solutions moving forward.

Should, the UK move slowly to a September return for all pupils and social distancing has not been relaxed sufficiently or there is a second spike in the COVID virus, we will modify our current school offer to safely meet need.

If schools are still operating safely within 50% occupancy, we will have to adopt a shift rota system as a last resort. We would educate 150 pupils in school and 150 pupils will be educated and supported via home learning. Unfortunately, should we revert to this system children will be in school every other week and they will be allocated a week 1 or week 2 slot in the first instance.

For new starters and pupils who would have been out of school for 6 months we will certainly try to increase their offer if it is safe to do so. This would only be as a last resort and not something I want to work towards but should the need arise we will adopt this system from September so 90%+ of our pupils can access 5-day provision over the fortnight.

Please do not contact school to discuss this now, because it is only a suggestion should the national situation change. I wanted to give you advance warning of what we would do should the UK pandemic situation and response not alter in the coming months.

Leadership is vital in these situations and we have a strong team driving us forward. I am grateful for their support, guidance, and decision-making in these tough and challenging times.  From September 1st I am pleased to inform you that Keeley Murray has been appointed Vice-Principal of West Oaks. The decision to promote this exceptional leader was taken by the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Governing Body in consultation with me recently.

Keeley will continue to be Head of Woodhouse Learning and I will continue in my Head of Boston Spa role as well as the Principal role at West Oaks.

We have also appointed Sarah Wicks and Elisha Pighills to permanent Teaching and Learning Co-ordinators (TLCo) at Woodhouse and Melissa Rushton as maternity TLCo cover at Boston Spa.

This week we have also commissioned Pennine playgrounds to build a daily mile track, MUGA facility, 16+ Outdoor gym, Quad improvements for Dove play space at Boston Spa Learning.

The improvements at Boston Spa are a direct result of the £10 million extension that started at Woodhouse last week.  Both environments are important for high quality teaching and learning to take place and when all our pupils return in September, we wanted our offer enhanced.

Finally, now is not the time to be complacent with our protocols and systems and we will ensure that we remain vigilant as we provide a safe and welcoming environment for our pupils and staff whilst also maintaining a key link with all our home learners.

Please take care everyone and be safe.

Best wishes

Andrew

COVID-19  Risk assessment

Coronavirus risk assessment – updated June 2020

Thursday 12th June 2020 Update 

Today we communicated our offer for a phased return for more pupils and as you can appreciate it was extremely difficult to allocate, however, our current offers will stand as we have no capacity to safely increase pupil numbers further. We are guided by many factors, including Government policy, who advise a cautious approach and I will not compromise the safety of my pupils or my staff.  If things do change, we will, of course, review our current offer. Thanks for your understanding.

Best wishes Andrew

Wednesday 10th June 2020 Update

Dear Parent/Carer

I will try to keep this update short, but after Health Secretary Matt Hancock conceded that secondary schools in England may not fully reopen until September “at the earliest” and Education Secretary Gavin Williamson also stated schools needed time and more cautious steps to bring pupils back over the coming months, we have had to review our offer.
After consulting with our Governing body last night, we have taken the decision as a school to revert to a rota system to enable more children to attend West Oaks before the end of term. We will constantly review our position and should you have any concerns, please email [email protected] in the first instance.

West Oaks, like many schools in Leeds is already at full safe current capacity, with 97 of our 293 pupils in school and the remainder learning at home. Parental expectation to increase our number further has been extremely challenging for us and after yesterday’s Government announcement made even harder.
We will continue to educate pupils in small classes which has always been under-pinned by a safety-first approach. There is now a clear move to give schools “flexibility” over whether to admit more pupils and whilst we aim to bring back more pupils, it can only be on a shift/cohort basis.

Schools, and special schools, have remained open throughout the lockdown for children of key workers and vulnerable children with EHCP’s so we will have to think innovatively about how best to meet demand over the next few weeks and months.

We had planned to take in a new group of pupils on June 15th and July 1st but must now concede defeat as it is impossible for us to meet the growing demand for West Oaks places whilst keeping pupils and staff safe. Today, we have had to revise our plans to ensure more pupils can return safely to West Oaks over the next 5 weeks whilst also planning for a safe September return for everyone.

We will be in contact tomorrow to discuss our provision offer and confirm our final numbers for the next 5 weeks of term. Our phased approach will continue with 50% occupancy in class groups (Bubbles).

The provision model we are adopting will see children of key workers receive a 5-day offer (Cohort 1). Please confirm via [email protected] whether or not you are requesting a place for your child on the basis of one keyworker in the family as soon as possible.

Wednesday will be for key worker children only and will allow for deeper cleaning across both sites to prevent any spread of infection and prepare for a different shift on the Thursday/Friday.
Cohort 2 will be allocated a place on Monday/Tuesday
Cohort 3 will be allocated a place on Thursday/Friday
Cohort 4 are our Home and remote learners and we will enhance our offer to those remaining at home until September (more Goggle meets/visits/check-ins).
Cohort 5 are our new entrants and a Transition programme will be put in place to meet their needs so we can successfully welcome them to our provision in September.

We have now had 66 requests for our August 3rd summer playscheme, and unfortunately, we are unable to take any more requests. All 66 requests will be allocated a place at either our Boston Spa or Woodhouse campus. I am very grateful for my team who have volunteered to staff the playscheme, because, without them it would not be able to go ahead.

Finally, thank-you for your understanding. This was not an easy decision to take and was based purely on safety and equity for all our pupils who wish to return to school before September.

We appreciate all that you have done to support your child/young person during this crisis.

Take care everyone.
Best wishes
Andrew
Principal
West Oaks

 

Friday 5th June 2020 Update  

Dear Parent/Carer

I hope everyone is OK and thank-you for all that you are doing to support your child during these challenging times.

I am sure you are like me, when craving structure, routine and striving to get to a new normal as quickly and as safely as we all can.

West Oaks continues to work to meet the needs of our pupils, 95 on-site and 198 at home and we are trying to find a way to enable more of our pupils to return to school in the safest way possible.

The Department for Education (DfE) guidance has suggested schools welcome children back gradually, reducing the number of children and young people in classrooms compared to usual, and put protective measures in place to reduce risks, including keeping children in small consistent groups.

We have been focusing on the measures we can put in place to help limit risk of the virus spreading within our setting and we have created 30 groups with 50% occupancy as per Government guidance.

Social distancing is difficult in our setting and pupils are not taught in their normal class groups as many of their peers are at home. The best way appears to be to implement a “bubble” approach, where pupils are taught in the same group, by consistent staffing with access to outdoor provision. Again, deep cleaning and washing of hands is taking place on a regular basis.

Nationally, schools are being phased back with more pupils returning in the next few weeks to their schools. We are no different, as we are managing more requests for a return to school daily but managing our provision safely will be a challenge from 1st July.

Assuming we continue to relax Government imposed restrictions our next entry point of 15th June will see 32 more pupils return to school, taking our number to approximately 128. We will move to a five day offer for our current cohort from 15th June.

Thank-you for those who have indicated that you want a September return as this has helped our planning significantly. If anyone else is planning for this, please let us know.

Our school safe capacity within our current framework, based on local and national guidance is a total of 150 pupils across both sites. I am not proposing a shift system as this may prove more problematic to manage.

We have an indication that 60+ pupils wish to return to school on 1st July which could take our numbers above our safe capacity. With this in mind, we will prioritise pupils of keyworkers, pupils who have been at home during lockdown to return on 1st July and for some of our pupils who would have been attending provision since 22nd March may not be allocated a place on 1st July.

We will carry out individual pupil risk assessments and discuss with you, but I must give you advance warning regarding our plans. Because it may not be possible to bring back all children and young people for whom a return would be appropriate straight away, for example, due to staff absences, SEN transport, safety concerns.

Our parent meetings at the end of June and beginning of July will take place via Google Meets and we will share with you information regarding September groups on Monday 8th June. We had intended to move to September groups on 15th June but given the latest advice regarding consistency of groups and staffing we will continue with the existing groups and review for the last 3 weeks of term on 1st July.

Reports and IEP information will be posted out in July and information regarding our August 3rd play scheme will be shared with you next week.

Thanks for you support, take care and be safe everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

 

 

 

May 20th 2020 Update

Dear Parents and Carers

With all the updates, both locally and nationally, you probably could do without another but hopefully this update will give you some clarity regarding information and our approach to a phased return of more of our pupils.

160 Parents/Carers have already indicated they would like their children to return to West Oaks by the end of June with another 60 pupils wanting to return during July.

Currently, 62 parents/carers have indicated that their children are likely to return on September 8th, 2020. We still have some 50 unknown responses and we will continue to link with families over the next few weeks to plan safely for our pupils to return.

Thank-you for your patience and understanding regarding placements at West Oaks; it is a difficult time for everyone and throughout this process, the safety of pupils and staff has been at the heart of all our decision making and all our decisions are kept under constant review.

Yesterday, Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Executive Member for Learning, Skills & Employment and Sal Tariq, Director of Children and Families Leeds, informed me that they would be:

“writing a letter outlining our approach to the re-opening of schools which you can send to your parents. We will make it clear that schools will need to adopt different policies based on the individual circumstances of that school and we will ask parents to be respectful of the decisions made by school leaders.”

Please find below a copy of this letter.

They LA also reminded me that:

“It is possible that with the sheer amount of guidance that came out last week the following point did not receive sufficient emphasis. Vulnerable children and young people – regardless of year group – that have not been attending in the recent period are expected to return to school where this would now be appropriate for them to do so. If you haven’t already done so, please factor this into your plans.”

We are acutely aware of our obligation to our vulnerable learners and everyone associated with West Oaks has worked hard to educate 61 children daily in school and reach 232 pupils through our home learning offer, via google meets, home visits, check-ins etc over the last two months.

You are a truly remarkable group of parents/carers and I am appreciative of the way you have responded and worked with us to keep everyone safe. It is your collective attitude and actions that have enabled us to plan the next phase of our provision for a wider group of pupils.

Cllr Pryor and Sal Tariq also reminded me:

“In deciding what is feasible, schools are being asked to carry out an initial comprehensive risk assessment so that leaders can evaluate potential solutions on how they could safely and effectively accommodate eligible pupils. We would ask schools, in the first instance, to take a phased approach to how many pupils they take back and from when schools are ready”.

We have carried out a comprehensive risk assessment and have decided, in the first instance, that 100 pupils will return to West Oaks on June 1st. Parents/Carers of children returning in this next phase and during June will be contacted soon and pupils will be educated in small groups with consistent staffing.

We have agreed to an increase of 18 pupils at Boston Spa (n=40) and 21 at Woodhouse (n=60) as part of our phased approach. There are several clarifications and actions that are still needed from the Government before numbers returning to school can substantially increase, and we will wait for further guidance.

I am also waiting on clarification around the appropriate levels of social distancing that will need to be implemented, as it is difficult to implement in our special school setting. However, increased control measures will be implemented, see below. It is important that our standards, expectations, and safety measures are always adhered to.

Moving forward, basic West Oaks principles will be, safety first for all pupils and adults. These include:

  • class sizes that are at 50% capacity
  • groups will have a designated area and staffing (“their Bubble”)
  • dining arrangements will be extended to other designated spaces
  • further staff room space will be introduced
  • additional protocols for hand washing and cleaning will be adopted
  • reduced usage of shared areas and more learning taking place outdoors
  • use of PPE for intimate care only as per DfE guidelines.

When we return to school on June 1st, we will operate a fortnightly programme for our groups of children who will continue to be in for four days. Friday will remain in the keyworker timetable from June 1st until 15th June, when, pending a safety review, we will move to a 5-day timetable for all our school groups.

On June 1st we had planned to move to September groups but to ensure consistency, safety and to prevent un-necessary mixing of our groups, we will now review this option on July 1st. Depending on the national situation and government guidance more pupils may be phased back from June 15th, but we will review this.

Our August 3rd playscheme now has over 60 requests and we will provide you with more information regarding the scheme w/c June 1st and whilst there is a £100 charge for the week (£20 per day). Any concern around payment, please discuss with our Family Support Team and we will ensure pupils can access the scheme.

Thanks for your ongoing support.

Please be safe and take care everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

 

LEEDS LETTER TO PARENTS 20 May 2020

 

 

May 13th 2020 Update 

Dear parents/Carers

Firstly, I want to say how proud I am of everyone over the last few months who have tried to make learning accessible for all our pupils, whether at West Oaks or through home learning. My staff, you the parents, carers and especially our pupils have been amazing. I know it is difficult, so thank-you!

You will have all seen recent guidance and media announcements regarding the phased re-opening of schools. West Oaks has met as a Leadership team and held discussions with the LA, our Chair of Governors to decide our next steps.

Having considered DfE next steps guidance that “ vulnerable children of all year groups continue to be expected and encouraged to attend educational provision where it is appropriate for them to do so” and phased back from June 1st, we have decided our phased approach will continue to be 4-day week offer, prioritising Nursery/Year 1 and Reception pupils, Year 14 leavers and any pupil that needs a West Oaks place (including current attendees and pupils of key workers).

We recognise and understand that not all our children are ready to return just yet and are still shielding or have concerns about returning to school due to the pandemic so we do not expect everyone back before September 8th and totally respect those decisions.

West Oaks has had no known Covid-19 cases amongst our 293 pupils and to date, only one staff member contracted symptoms whilst in self-isolation in March. Thankfully, the member of staff now has a clean bill of health, has tested negative and only this week returned to work.

I have always stressed the safety and wellbeing of my pupils, staff, and school community so if anybody exhibits any symptoms of Covid-19 they should self-isolate. We will constantly review our position and only move to the next phase if it is practical, manageable, and safe to do so.

Our phased approach will involve a four-day week for pupils, with Friday being only for Keyworker children. We will also use Friday to plan for the following week pupil admissions, assess next steps considering Government/local guidance and ensure LCC carry out a weekly deep clean.

Staff and pupils will ensure regular hand washing continues to be a priority.

Our plans for the remainder of the year include a two-week Transition/Reintegration programme starting from June 1st and from 15th June we will move to a five-week Transition/Induction programme for pupils attending school and we will move to our September 2020 groups. We will also maintain the link with our home learners during this period.

You will be contacted on Monday by class leads to establish whether you are requesting a phased return for your son/daughter on June 1st, June 15th, July 1st, or September 8th. Once we have this information it will help us plan, safely, the final 7 weeks of a difficult year and consider learning, catering, transport, groupings etc.

Despite having a new roof put on our Boston Spa building and a building work starting on our £10 million Annexe at our Woodhouse campus we intend to offer parents/carers an August 3rd 1-week summer playscheme to try to bridge the gap over the holidays. If you would like a place please contact [email protected] and register your interest. More details will follow when we know the demand for the playscheme.

Thank-you for everything you have done since the pandemic started: for your patience and resilience and if you have any issues or concerns, please discuss them with the class leads or contact me or Keeley.

Take care.

Best wishes

Andrew

 

May 1st 2020 Update

Happy May Day everyone!

West Oaks School and College has been closed for a considerable time now due to the Covid-19 lockdown for the majority of our 293 pupils.  However, 53 pupils of Keyworkers have continued to attend, and we are looking forward to the next announcement by the Government regarding a phased re-opening of schools.

The Education Secretary’s statement this week said that he does “expect schools to be opened in a phased manner” and that he intends to give “schools as much notice as possible,” is welcomed.

Realistically, I cannot see any changes being implemented before June so we will plan for May being very similar to the previous weeks.

On a Thursday at 8pm when we clap for the NHS, key workers, emergency staff and carers; I am clapping for my pupils, staff, parents and carers who are also working hard to get through this.  It is not easy, and I am full of admiration for you all.  The work that is going on both in school and at home to support structure and learning is amazing. Thanks for sharing your stories, experiences and successes whilst also dealing with other demands on your time.

Alongside the home learning work we are sending home, you may wish to try using the other resources referenced in our packs or if you find resources you value, please share so we can signpost other parents/carers to them.  We are all in this together and we will see it through together.

The change of routine and staying at home may make this a difficult time for some children and Public Health England has published advice on their website on how to support your child’s wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak.

It was fantastic to re-connect with many of our pupils through Google Meets this week.  It was a great success and it was important for pupils to see their peers again, albeit through video link.  Next week we will add a further session and broaden the scope of the sessions and we will be in contact with you to arrange them.

We also realise for some of our pupils, it is hard to get the right level of engagement and interaction, but we will continue to strive to get it right. We will be adding 1:1 sessions and additional content for pupils who would benefit from an alternative input in the coming weeks.

Nationally, schools continue to be closed as it is safer for children to stay at home.  Only 1% of the UK pupil population are attending school right now.  At West Oaks this is nearer 16% as 53 pupils access provision on our two sites.

Several of you indicated you would not be sending your son/daughter back to school until September and that is why we asked the question in our weekly welfare telephone call. Thanks for your honesty and for the information provided regarding shielded children.

We are not proposing any changes now as we are waiting for Government guidance, but we are thinking and planning the next phase.  It will take some organising to get to the “new normal” and social distancing will really challenge SEN Transport and our provision when we fully re-open.

What is clear to me; with your support, we have managed Phase 1 of the lockdown safely at West Oaks, so when we enter the next phase and the final phase we must do so with the same determination and with everyone’s safety paramount.

Please keep sending us information regarding life and learning during lockdown as the content is extremely impressive. The positive messages via email, photographs, class dojo, twitter or telephone help capture the positivity that surrounds our school and college community during these unprecedented times. Keep going everyone!

Final note, please keep the “count on me” full videos or snippets coming in as they are fantastic. We will move to the editing phase w/c 11th May, so you still have time to send in your work. Given the quality of the submissions so far, we will also celebrate the top three submissions in their entirety as it would be wrong to edit.

Have a great weekend, be safe, take care and be happy.

Best wishes

Andrew

April 24th 2020 Update

Dear Parents/Carers

This has been another strange week at West Oaks, and I want to personally thank you for all the work you are doing with your children at home during these exceptional times. Also, thank you for the very supportive messages that have come through via class dojo, email or via our weekly telephone check-ins. I know my staff value this feedback and it is very uplifting.

At the weekend, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said no date was set for pupils returning to school, quashing speculation about an imminent return for many children in the UK.

He also mentioned that when five thresholds in the fight against coronavirus were reached, a date could be set for schools to reopen:

  • the NHS’s ability to cope is fully protected
  • the daily death rate is dropping
  • infection rates are falling to manageable levels
  • there are sufficient supplies of testing and protective equipment
  • there is no risk of a “second peak” of infections

It is a safety-first approach, and we are being asked to back the reliance on medical advice, which of course we would always do. West Oaks would also expect a further “lead in” time, to prepare for a complicated, staged return that enables our pupils to return safely.

It is frustrating for us as it is for you, but I am grateful for the way you have implemented learning in the home and within your family settings. Absolutely brilliant activities going on and clear structures in place, thanks for sharing.

Clearly the home learning packs on our website have also helped as you have worked through those and we will of course deliver a pack if you are struggling to download the resources. This week we delivered 65 packs out to our pupils.

This week we also launched the West Oaks Choir; a collaboration between our 293 pupils, 149 staff and 600+ parent/carers. A fantastic collective either singing, signing, or generally having fun and should be a great piece of work.

How you interpret the Bruno Mars ‘Count on Me’ song is entirely up to you and both singing and signing versions are on our Twitter feed but can also be found here (paste link) –

https://youtu.be/Yc6T9iY9SOU  Singing version

https://youtu.be/uF9mvzhg0-c  Signing version

 

We have set a deadline of two weeks for initial submissions, so please send in full/part pieces to [email protected] and a further 31st May (or before) deadline to get a finished song/production completed. The results will be amazing, and I look forward to sharing them with you all.

One recurring theme that has been mentioned this week during our weekly telephone check-in, is that our pupils are missing their friends and whilst some can and do contact their friends outside of school, others find it difficult.

To help re-connect with our pupils and through their home learning, we will be contacting you next week via Google Meets through individual pupil school Gmail accounts.

Their class teacher will contact them/you next week and will let you know via class dojo the email password (if you do not have one) to access a class virtual meet and discussion.

All our pupils have a log in, it is the first letter of their name followed by surname @westoaksschool.co.uk and all in lower case. They will be sent a password which you should then change to one that is personal to you.

Example log in [email protected]

As the weeks progress we will add more video content including storytelling, bucket sessions and challenges for pupils to access on our website and introduce more Google Meets and virtual therapy sessions, whilst still providing weekly home learning packs for all our pupils in each curriculum pathway.

As we work together to get through this national crisis safely you can and should ‘Count on Me’ to always strive for excellence for everyone in our school and college community.

If you need anything from me or my team please contact us through [email protected] or via class dojo or telephone –

Andrew Hodkinson 01937 844 772

Keeley Murray 0113 323 5871

If you think your son/daughter would benefit from a telephone call from either Keeley or myself, let us know and we will call them at home next week at a time convenient to you.

Take care, be happy and stay safe everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

April 15th 2020 Update

Dear Parents and Carers

Thanks for sharing your Easter projects and activities with us.  Please keep sending the photos on class dojo or via email as they help our school community to stay connected.

Just to update you briefly and to help you plan for next week.  Currently, the Government advice has not changed regarding Covid-19 so we will continue to be closed to most of our pupils.

The overriding principle reinforced by the Government is that schools remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend. Most children will be made safer if they remain at home.

West Oaks will now only be open to pupils where both parents are critical workers and to pupils where they would not be safe at home. Please can parents submit a request email for a place and for keyworker children an email stating your critical worker roles to [email protected].   Please do not use class dojo to communicate the need for a place.

The information is vital as we continue to plan our provision and we will review our position fortnightly, or in light of any new Government guidance as we adhere to the “stay home stay safe” advice and play our part in social distancing and self-isolating to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The government FSM (Free School Meal) voucher scheme appears over-loaded and we are working hard to get the vouchers to you, whether electronically or we can also deliver to your home address if email is an issue.

The FSM vouchers are for eligible pupils who are currently not in school and please link directly with Anna Stevens regarding access to the scheme on [email protected]

On Monday we will be uploading our Home Learning resources onto our website for each curriculum area.  We hope you are finding these useful and should you have difficulty gaining access or printing the resources off, please let us know via class dojo and we will deliver packs to your home.

We will re-start our weekly 1:1 “check ins” next week and it will be great to catch up again and we hope to get back to some normality soon as our school community is not the same and we miss our pupils.

As I have stated previously, it has been a real team effort over the last few weeks, and it will be in the coming weeks.  Thanks to every one of you.

Please keep safe, be happy and take care.

Best wishes

Andrew

Principal

West Oaks

Update 3rd April 2020

Dear Parents and Carers

A massive thank you to you all.  The way you have supported the home learning experiences for your son/daughter has been inspiring and reminds me that I am in a very privileged position in leading West Oaks.

Just to update you briefly and to help you plan for after Easter.  The Government advice has not changed regarding Covid-19 so we will continue to be closed to most of our pupils.

After consultation with Keeley Murray, Head of Woodhouse Learning,  we have decided to shut West Oaks for the vast majority of Easter, as it important for us, that we play our part in social distancing and self-isolating to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.  A prolonged break will enable us all to rest and re-charge.

The communication has been brilliant between home and school and we have valued the 1:1 “check ins” this week and it has been great to chat to some of the pupils too. We will ensure this continues after the holiday as we wait for Government guidance on next steps nationally and for our school community.

As previously stated, class dojo communication will be co-ordinated by Bryony Bolland-Wai at Boston Spa and Abby Armstrong at Woodhouse.  Whilst we are shut over Easter, please use dojo to message or email on [email protected] and we will get back to you. We are working on the 14th, 15th, 16th April for keyworker children, we can also be contacted on 0113 323 5871 on those days.

Thanks for the feedback regarding our resource packs and should you need the pack delivering after Easter, please contact us.  The Easter home learning project pack will be on the school website later. Again, these are optional activities and will help provide some structure over the next two weeks if you need them.

It has been a real team effort over the last few weeks, and it will be in the coming weeks.  Thanks to every one of you.

Please keep safe, be happy and take care.

Best wishes

Andrew

Principal

West Oaks

Update 30th March 2020

Dear Parents and Carers

We are looking at provision for children during the Easter holidays, we will be open on 14th, 15th and 16th April, to pupils where both parents are critical workers and to vulnerable pupils where they would not be safe at home. The Easter provision will be based at Woodhouse Learning for pupils from both sites.
Please could you let us know if you need provision over the Easter holidays and which days you would need at [email protected].
Please remember that schools should only be available for vulnerable children and children of key workers who are unable to make alternative childcare arrangements.
We don’t know the current situation with transport but will keep you updated with the information we have.
Thanks for your patience during this difficult transitional time.

Update 27th March 2020

Dear Parents and Carers

It has been a difficult week for everyone.  I would like to thank you for your support this week. Most of our pupils have been kept safely at home, as per Government Guidance and this has really helped us to organise our provision so thank you!

West Oaks have responded as I knew we would, without fuss, created a plan and then we just got on with it.  I would like to acknowledge the support I have received from Keeley and her team at Woodhouse who have been fantastic and of course Bryony, Liz, Anna and Ian who have equally been awesome at Boston Spa.

Can’t thank the staff enough and a special shout out to Katie and Jemima for all their work supporting our families.  They will be in touch again next week as will other members of staff to check in with you.

We are currently educating 38 pupils on our two sites and have now moved to a rota system for staff.

Key action taken by West Oaks this week

  1. Keyworker group identified and offered places to 60 pupils. Currently 38 attending a 4-day programme (normal hours).
  2. 255 pupils being kept safely at home by parent/carers. We will contact you next week to check in with our pupils.
  3. Families communicated with and updated via our website and Class Dojo. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require advice/support.
  4. Home Learning packs of activities based on each curriculum area on our website and other packs distributed directly to pupils.
  5. FSM system established so children will get their weekly food voucher (17 others are in receipt of a hot meal in school) and we will carry out a welfare visit to deliver the voucher/home packs if necessary.
  6. Audio and Virtual Library work established and launched via Twitter today. This work will enable our pupils to become re-connected to our school and this work will gather momentum in the coming weeks.
  7. Radio West Oaks will be re-launched next week with regular podcasts for our pupils.

Take care and keep safe everyone.

Best wishes

Andrew

Update 23rd March 2020

Dear Parents/Carers

Firstly, I want to thank you for all your support and understanding during this difficult time. As the local and national guidance changes so rapidly regarding Covid-19, we must respond safely and sensibly.
Many parents and carers have contacted the school and have let us know that you will be keeping your children at home and self-isolating for the foreseeable future as this is the safest option. We agree with this approach as it will safeguard our pupils, parents, carers, staff and wider community.
The overriding principle reinforced by the Government is that schools remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend. Most children will be made safer if they remain at home.
Please can you let us know if your child is staying at home as soon as possible via [email protected] or Class Dojo as this still seems to be the safest option for everyone.
West Oaks will now only be open to pupils where both parents are critical workers and to pupils where they would not be safe at home. Please can parents submit an email stating your critical worker roles to [email protected] The list of critical workers can be found below. We will need both parent’s names and information of the critical role you do.

Thanks for your support. I will be in touch regarding our distance learning and on-line support package in the coming days.
Best wishes
Andrew

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:

Critical workers

Health and social care
This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

Education and childcare
This includes childcare, support and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.

Key public services
This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.

Local and national government
This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response, or delivering essential public services, such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.

Food and other necessary goods
This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).

Public safety and national security
This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.

Transport
This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.

Utilities, communication and financial services
This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.
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.

Visuals supports

Please download the Powerpoint below to use at home with your children. It includes a social story and instructions on how to use it.

Visuals and Social Stories – school closure

 

Letters to Staff/Parents/Carers re Coronavirus (COVID-19) 

To all our Parents and Carers 20th March 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

In a week that has been challenging I am writing to thank-you for your ongoing support and share with you the latest advice and guidance we have received regarding COVID-19 and the actions we are taking in school.

Whilst we had 189 pupils in across both our sites today, many of you have indicated that from next week your children will be staying at home for the foreseeable future. This is important information for our planning and is in line with the government’s stance as they have now stated it is not a ‘requirement’ that all children and young people with Education, Health and Care plans attend school during the period of closure.

Section 1.10 of the information for families is clear that decisions should be made locally based on risk assessments of health and safeguarding. The guidance is now clear that some children will be safer at school (or in their usual educational setting) whilst others will be safer at home. Schools, LAs and colleges are advised to make this decision on a case-by-case basis and in consultation with parents and carers.

West Oaks will re-open on Wednesday March 25th for those children who really need to attend by virtue of their vulnerability or because they are the children of keyworkers and those workers cannot look after the children at home. We aim to check in with you over the course of Monday and Tuesday and to ask whether your child intends to be in school from Wednesday 25th March. It is vital that we have this information so we can map a school programme for our pupils who intend to be in school, plan a home/distance learning programme for our pupils who are not in school and also link with transport over pupil travel numbers.

We will also be establishing if you are keyworkers and whether “reduced provision” is required for your sons/daughters over the Easter period and to try and establish what our role could be in helping to provide support.

We note that the Government have indicated that families where one parent is a key worker should be eligible for the provision. I have shared with you the new definition of key workers as set out in the government guidance.

The Government guidance, issued late last night, stated that we should follow the following key principles:

  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.

Whilst Government advice suggests that parents should keep their children at home, wherever possible, they have also asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend. We will be open for our pupils, we just need to know the numbers of pupils we need to plan for. We will review our planning on a regular basis and are aiming to plan up to and beyond Easter in this first phase. We will of course keep you informed.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch and thank-you for your continued support.

Yours sincerely,

 

Andrew Hodkinson

Principal

West Oaks

 

Key links:

Closure of educational settings – information for parents and carers

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers

Maintaining educational provision

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision

 

Guidance (including list of key workers):

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision

Information for families:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers

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:

Key workers

Health and social care

This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.

Education and childcare

This includes childcare, support and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.

Key public services

This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.

Local and national government

This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response, or delivering essential public services, such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.

Food and other necessary goods

This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery, as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).

Public safety and national security

This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.

Transport

This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.

Utilities, communication and financial services

This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19th March 2020

Dear Parent/Carer

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update  

Dear Parents/Carers

As a Special School we have been instructed by the Government to stay open to pupils with EHCPs.

We had intended and planned to continue to support our pupils through this crisis and we are now implementing that plan. Many other UK providers are closing (except for keyworker children/ children with EHCPs) and we will link with the relevant agencies as we move forward.

We have 293 EHCPs in our school and about 35 children who have keyworkers as parent/carers.

Just to give you the context we have been working in during the last three days.

We have remained open and provided a safe and manageable curriculum to our pupils and this is a credit to our staff group. The pupils have been superb and a real credit.

The situation has been difficult as our staffing/pupil numbers decreased daily but currently our provision is still manageable. We will, however, constantly review the situation.

West Oaks Overview

Tuesday 17th March – 36 staff off, 43 children off.

Wednesday 18th March – 37 staff off, 73 children off.

Thursday 19th March – 36 staff off, 98 children off.

As a school community you have been amazing, so thank-you! Many of our vulnerable pupils have remained off school in these exceptional circumstances and this is a very wise precaution.

I hope you will understand, but after tomorrow we will close to pupils for two days and we will re-open on Wednesday 25th March if it is operationally safe to do so. West Oaks will be closed on Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th March to pupils only, so we can deep clean the school, on both sites after the high number of pupil/staff isolations.

Our key priority is to keep our pupils and staff safe and the two days next week will also enable us to clean the school, review our overall strategy moving forward, plan home school resource packs and respond to any operational changes. I know this is a distressing time for our pupils and I will send home a social story created by Talking House to help explain the current situation.

I know the situation is unprecedented and we will always play our part in educating our vulnerable group, but we need the support of all agencies across Leeds to do so. I have written to the Director of Children’s Services for further assurances and will keep you all updated via our website, twitter and class dojo.

Have a great weekend when it arrives and thanks for your ongoing support and please stay safe.

We look forward to welcoming our pupils back to school on Wednesday March 25th.     Please do not hesitate to contact us at school.

Best wishes

 

Keeley Murray

Head of School

Woodhouse Learning

West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College

 

Andrew Hodkinson

Principal

West Oaks SEN Specialist School and College

 

17th March 2020

To all: Staff/ Parents/Carers

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update

I am writing further to my letter dated 13th March to provide you with an update regarding the actions we are taking in school in response to the latest government guidance relating to COVID-19.

There have so far been no cases of coronavirus infection of any staff or pupils in school but there are pupils and staff self-isolating as a result of their vulnerability and underlying health issues. This is a precaution and we are supportive of this action and we will continue to follow the latest guidelines, monitor the situation and update you regularly.

The guidance is now that:

  • if you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started
  • if you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill
  • it is likely that people living within a household will infect each other or be infected already. Staying at home for 14 days will greatly reduce the overall amount of infection the household could pass on to others in the community
  • for anyone in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14-day isolation period
  • if you can, move any vulnerable individuals (such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions) out of your home, to stay with friends or family for the duration of the home isolation period
  • if you cannot move vulnerable people out of your home, stay away from them as much as possible
  • if you have coronavirus symptoms:
    • do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital
    • you do not need to contact 111 to tell them you’re staying at home
    • testing for coronavirus is not needed if you’re staying at home
  • plan ahead and ask others for help to ensure that you can successfully stay at home and consider what can be done for vulnerable people in the household
  • ask your employer, friends and family to help you to get the things you need to stay at home
  • wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds, each time using soap and water, or use hand sanitiser
  • if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, or your condition gets worse, or your symptoms do not get better after 7 days, then use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service. If you do not have internet access, call NHS 111. For a medical emergency dial 999

As you are aware, additional measures have already been put in place, that all non-essential meetings have been postponed and all off-site trips and visits and swimming have been cancelled until Easter 2020. New daily routines have also been introduced ensuring touch surfaces and ICT equipment are subject to additional cleaning procedures. To ensure that both sites remain open, I have taken the decision with effect from tomorrow, Wednesday 18th March that:

  • where key staff are absent, classes may be merged and activities be modified to ensure children can remain safely in school
  • there will be no After School Club (we will review this decision after Easter 2020)
  • stay and play session on 28th March is cancelled
  • those with underlying medical conditions are advised to take advice from NHS 111
  • staff who are pregnant have been advised to work from home whilst we await further guidance

I will continue to keep you updated. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch and thank-you for your continued support and understanding.

Yours sincerely,

 

Andrew Hodkinson

Principal

West Oaks