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Message from Executive Director, Jane Parfrement

10 June 2020

After weeks of lockdown we’re now starting to see many restrictions easing and new guidance allowing us to start doing some of the things we’ve missed and enjoy.

It’s a really positive sign and one we as a county council very much welcome – but one which also creates new challenges of its own across all our departments and services as we move into our recovery phase.

As part of a team of executive directors responsible for leading the council I have been inspired and impressed by how you’re all doing your best to tackle these issues in a positive way by working differently and being innovative and resilient while also managing your own personal challenges caused by the pandemic.

An example which particularly highlights this amazing team effort for me in my role is the wider opening of schools from June 1.

Schools are often the beating hearts of communities and touch many of us in one way or another either through children, our own role at the council or that of our colleagues and the Government announcement that they could start wider opening naturally created a lot of questions to be answered and a lot of work for us all.

It sounds easy doesn’t it – let’s get children back to school!

But this is definitely not a case where one size fits all.

Take for example the fact that we have 361 primaries where pupil numbers range between seven and 762 learning in classrooms and buildings of all shapes and sizes which makes safety considerations such as social distancing a real logistical challenge.

It’s not easy but Derbyshire schools and other educational settings are doing an amazing job to welcome back more children and young people.

It’s also important to remember that while a small number of schools are re-opening this week the vast majority never actually closed.

More than 300 of our schools remained open throughout lockdown for vulnerable children and those of key workers – including during the Easter holidays, recent half-term break and bank holidays.

I’d like to take this opportunity to praise not only head teachers and staff but also all the vital services we as a county council continued to provide to support them such as school catering, caretaking, property and cleaning.

I have the utmost respect and appreciation for the leadership and hard work school leaders have shown – but also just as crucially that shown by our own staff in the schools and learning team, across Children’s Services and colleagues in all our other departments who play a school-support role whatever that may be.

I feel a great sense of pride and want to thank every one of you for your ‘Derbyshire Spirit’ team effort to help get children learning safely back in the classroom.

We still have challenging times ahead but thank you again for everything you are doing and continue to do to ensure our many vital services continue to support Derbyshire residents when they need it more than ever in these difficult and complex circumstances.