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Message from Executive Director, Jane Parfrement 21 August 2020

21 August 2020

For many of us at this time of year, our thoughts will be turning to children returning to school.

There will be the usual stress-inducing list of things to organise like uniform, haircuts, PE kits, classroom equipment, new shoes and working out how children are going to get to school and back.

And then there will be the added pressures of explaining to children how things will be different at school because of coronavirus and dealing with any anxieties they may have. Not to mention the matter of organising facemasks for over 11s using school transport – and then calculating how many face coverings are likely to be lost each week!

This year that back-to-school feeling may be intensified because most children won’t have been in school full-time for several months.

If you’re like me you’ll have mixed emotions – you’ll miss this special time you’ve spent at home with the family whilst also looking forward to a bit more normality. And you’ll probably be delighted at not having to home-school whilst juggling work and other commitments. Helping with homework will be a doddle after all that – even trigonometry.

Others of us may be preparing to send our teenagers off to further education or university – an exciting and emotional stage at the best of times but even more intense in these strange times we are still living in.

The past few months have been a huge community effort to look after our youngsters. Parents and carers are of course top of the list but grandparents, aunts and uncles and friends have all stepped in to help with childcare and home-schooling both in person where allowed and remotely.

It’s clear that, despite our perfectly normal worries, the vast majority of parents believe it is right their children should go back to school. They know how important school is not just for their children’s education but also for their emotional wellbeing and social skills.

For children who are vulnerable, schools also play a vital role in providing a safety net by spotting and reporting any warning signs of abuse or neglect.

Our schools are doing a marvellous job of preparing for social distancing and hygiene measures and keeping parents informed – and that’s on top of all the usual hard work schools need to do to get ready for a new academic year.

Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be running a campaign to help parents to prepare for sending their children back to school safely.  Please help us by sharing our social media posts and spreading the word.