Sent on behalf of Simon James, Service Director Education and Gareth Drawmer, Head of Service Achievement & Learning
I am sure that you will all now be aware of the government announcement on Tuesday for schools to consider closing on the 18th December. The guidance that has been issued is clear, that schools may consider voluntarily closing on the 18th December to ensure that, given the time it takes for Covid to present in individuals, any tracing activity that needs to be completed by a school will be closed by the 23rd December. It is clear in the guidance that this is a voluntary choice presented to schools and there is no obligation for you to do this. Clearly the consequence of choosing not to do this may mean that school leaders could be contacted on Christmas Eve to facilitate track and trace.
If you do choose to move an INSET day we are aware of the significant consequences of this action. You will have planned your staff training for the year and may have commissioned external trainers to deliver the sessions. Many of you will have front loaded your days this year due to the challenging nature of the autumn term and you may not have the option to move a day. You may also not be in a position to deliver training to staff on the 18th due to the short timeframe of the announcement.
We would therefore suggest the following options for you to consider when making your decision:
If taking the 18th as a training day
- Consider disaggregating the time from the day and spreading it across the remainder of the academic year as twilight training sessions to cover the hours from the day.
- Where possible take out a training day from this academic year to compensate for the December date.
- Remember that moving an already published INSET day may have consequences for families who have planned holidays around that day and to reassure them that they will not be penalised for following through with their plans.
- If you have no available INSET days that you can flexibly move – consider a variation to a term date to compensate for the additional day. The most natural point for this would be to extend the summer term for a day, closing on Thursday 22nd July
If not taking the 18th as a training day
- Consider the impact on staff with regard for childcare on that day if their child’s school is closing
- Ensure that you have robust plans in place for track and trace support if needed on Christmas Eve
- Consider taking the day as a remote learning day for the school with appropriate levels of activity for pupils for the day.
As always we are happy to discuss any issues that you may have and to support you in your decision making. We are aware of the time pressure for decisions to be made and we hope that our position as set out above is helpful to you and your leadership teams.
Simon & Gareth