Letter from Mark Talbot to Parents & Carers

4 January 2021

Dear parents/carers

On behalf of all at the Trust may I wish you a Happy New Year albeit it a strange and anxious time for many. Thank you for your ongoing support for the school at these challenging times.

DCAT has schools that are in multiple areas and we are working hard behind the scenes to support our schools and Headteachers managing what is, I’m sure you appreciate, an ever-changing situation. Being a group of 11 schools does mean that we have the capacity to support each other, share ideas and approaches and be on hand to provide practical guidance for our Headteachers.

The reality that faces us is increased infection rates with the new variants of Covid-19. This was very apparent in our Hastings and surrounding schools before Christmas. Due to government rules, education in our schools in Hastings and Rother has moved to remote learning with on-site provision for children of keyworker and vulnerable children. Our secondary school in Eastbourne is preparing for the mass Covid-19 testing of the students and staff. We are told, and this may change, that testing will also be rolled out to primary schools in the second half of January. My view, as CEO, is that the vaccination of school staff should now be prioritised and I have written to our respective MPs to push this point.

DCAT schools will continue to follow the guidance provided by the Department for Education, taking advice from Public Health England, and liaising with the local authorities and trade unions. Guided by the school’s individual and regularly reviewed risk assessment and control measures, the school, working with the Trust, will regularly consider the operational viability of keeping the school site fully open. This will include:

• The risk management controls in place

• The infection rates in the local area over time

• The staffing levels in place

Where the school’s risk assessment indicates that it is not practically safe to fully open the site to all pupils, the school will inform parents/carers as soon as possible that we will move to remote education for all, or some, of the year groups. On-site provision will be made for the children of keyworkers and vulnerable children.

The latest government guidance can be read following the link below.

Finally, thank you again for supporting the continuation of education of your child/children at this challenging time.

Yours faithfully,

Mark Talbot

Chief Executive Officer

Government guidance: www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools