September Start!

Good morning to all Thurlbear families,

I hope you have had a wonderful August and are now getting excited to be thinking of September back in school. As the national picture is still somewhat mixed regarding COVID and its potential to disrupt this term ahead, I wanted to share our plan for drop-off and pick-up with you now, so we can all prepare to the best of our abilities for September and beyond. With these plans, we have tried to encompass the move towards some sort of normality back in school, whilst also maintaining some of the successful features of the lockdown experience regarding the traffic, movement and timings that most families found were successful over the last 18 months.

This will be how we start and it will be monitored rigorously throughout September to see how successful it is and if any changes need to be made. As always, your patience, understanding and cooperation is hugely appreciated as we kick start 2021-2022 academic year.

Drop off in the mornings: We are returning to normal school hours for a morning drop-off. Our gates will open from 8:40am on the large playground, as well as a drop-off service in the car park being available from this time, also. Families can choose which one they prefer to use. Official register will be at 9am, so you have 20 minutes to turn up and drop off, so please monitor your timings. Children from Year 1 to 6 will be accustomed to being dropped off and coming in independently, so let’s please maintain that by adults dropping off outside and not coming onto the school site. There will always be a member of staff on the playground and in the car park to greet your child. Please do not queue in the car park before 8:40am, as staff need to access the car park!

1-way system: our route to and from school was, in most part, a success last year and we encourage families to maintain it from now on: as much as possible, approach school from Thurlbear Straight direction and leave school through the village, maintaining a safe and respectful speed at all times. Obviously, for some families in Staple Fitzpaine, Orchard Portman or Stoke village, for example, this is not practical, but the vast majority of families can follow this route and, therefore, cut down on congestion due to poor passing points on our small lanes as well helping to keep a flow around school at crucial times before and after school.

Pick-up: As lots of us know, our biggest issue historically is getting away from school at the end of school time! All classes leaving at the same time leads to a large number of families on the roads simultaneously, as well as families having to walk some distance with small children down tight lanes. Planning an effective end-of-day process is fraught with complexities but, hopefully, the following system will go some way to tackling this.

We are adapting our Collective Worship times in school to allow for a staggered end of the day:

Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 pupils will finish at 3:15. The pupils will be brought to the playground for collection and families will be asked to stand in ‘class zones’ on the playground, so as to aid quick identification. Adults are asked to escort quickly to cars and exit through the village as soon as possible, so as to allow for the arrival of the next fleet of cars. Teachers plan to have the children in the playground at that time, so 3:15 is prompt leaving time.

Year 2: Year 2 will initially be trialling a pick-up service from the car park, therefore families of Year 2 line up in the car park. Again, please do not queue early as After School Club staff need access to the car park.

Key Stage 2 pupils will finish between 3:25 and 3:30. Younger siblings will be waiting for them and families can collect simultaneously. Again, adults will be asked to stay in class zones to help quick identification. Younger siblings will join their older siblings for pick up, as they will already be there with their teachers. If you have siblings who are both in Foundation Stage or Key Stage 1, use the 3:15 pick up time!

Year 6: Year 6 pupils (and siblings) will initially be trialling a pick-up service from the car park, therefore families of Year 6 line up in the car park. If this proves successful through September, we will look to expand this.

Organisational thinking around this system: This system will depend on your complete cooperation, goodwill, discipline and community thinking:

• As mentioned earlier, please do not queue in the car park in the morning, as staff need to park.

• Foundation Stage and Key Stage 1 families will need to leave the premises quickly, allowing for the arrival of Key Stage 2 families to take the parking spaces. Please do not stay and talk out on the road and ensure you leave through the village whenever possible.

• Key Stage 2 families please do not turn up early and park up! You will be taking the spaces needed for FS/KS1 cars. This will lead to the historic lines of cars being parked right up past the farm etc.

• Obviously, the timing of this is crucial and will take some practising, but teachers will also be under pressure to be in the right place at the right time, too.

With plenty of communication and thinking of others, we can make it work and alleviate past issues around school.

This system before and after school will be monitored closely for the first 2 weeks and we’ll look at the success and if anything needs to be adapted.

If any of this is confusing, or you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email me at school.

We look forward to starting our new academic year alongside you!

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