Message from Sarah Bennett (IFtL CEO)

Dear Parents/ Carers,

As the Chief Executive Officer of Inspiring Futures through Learning I have been overwhelmed with the dedication of all the staff in our schools during such unprecedented times. Without exception, we have staff who have gone above and beyond expectation, who have extended their working days, agreed to work through their holidays and are undertaking roles that are not within their job description. We are all in a crisis situation and there is no rule book for any of us – but the common ground is that we want to get through this together, as unscathed as possible, playing our part to keep the country going.

To that end, over the last few weeks I have worked with each head teacher to plan for the eventuality of school closure. We now know that the school gates will close today and will remain so for the foreseeable future. That said, we still have a duty of care to each of our children and families and we will be in regular contact with you all to ensure that our children remain safe and well and receive a very different (but hopefully as exciting) form of education from their homes.

As an aside, the Government has requested that we provide EMERGENCY child care for some of our key workers and our children who are vulnerable. This, we absolutely feel is our duty, and we had planned for this in advance. Unfortunately, following recent guidelines the number of children we were expecting has spiked as some parents have taken the guidelines literally and not in the spirit of the provision. Parents must consider who is at home and available to look after your children; all options must be explored. I must reiterate school buildings MUST be used as a last resort and not misused. Our childcare provision cannot be available to everyone. The Government is closing school establishments so that we do not have mass gatherings. Locally, schools have already closed due to ‘in school’ key workers being ill and self-isolating. I do not want us to fall into this category. We are resilient, we are in it for the long haul and we have the capacity across the Trust to look after each of our schools as necessary. However, it will also rely on us all working together to ensure our part of the system doesn’t break due to illness and corresponding lack of resource.

I would ask that you work with your head teachers and school leaders and support the local solution they are providing for your community. As the employer we have a duty of care to all of our staff and, I think we’re all in agreement that safety is key, with all our decisions based around this. Head teachers will have the power to refuse entry should it be necessary but we absolutely want to avoid this at all cost.

We are all having to be flexible, to compromise and to exist in a world that is far from perfect at the moment but we also know that with true grit and determination we will get through this together.

In the meantime, be safe, keep in touch and, in the words’ of Boris, ‘let’s send this coronavirus packing!’

Sarah Bennett