Early Years – September 2020 Return to School

Aug 18, 2020COVID-19, Latest News

Friday 10 July 2020

Dear Parents and Carers

September 2020 Return to School – For Early Years (Reception & Nursery)

Firstly, and most importantly I hope you and your families are all well and keeping safe.

Please accept my apologies for the length of this letter and the amount of information but it is vital that I provide you with as much information as I can prior to the end of the school term on Friday 17 July, when school will close.

The last six months have been incredibly difficult for everyone and we cannot wait to welcome your children back.  We have missed them so much.  As you know, school has remained open throughout this whole period of time for children of key workers and those children, who are deemed vulnerable. We have then welcomed back as many children as we were safely able to across several year groups from June 15.  It has been a huge learning curve for us all throughout this time. However, this has given us the opportunity to implement, then review and evaluate any necessary modifications as necessary, always with the safety of children and staff as our highest priority.  It is therefore essential for me to share with you what modifications MUST be implemented and adhered to, for the safety of everyone in school, so we can fully open our doors once again to our whole school community in September.

Following the government’s latest guidance, I am delighted to inform you that Dunston Hill Community Primary School will re-open to all children week commencing Monday 7 September.  For our Nursery and Reception children, you will be invited to join us for a Welcome Visit sometime that week; time and date to follow next week. 

Our school will open on a phased-return basis as follows:

Phased Return Y1-6

Date Return Date
Monday September 7 Y2, Y5 and Y6 only
Tuesday September 8 Y1, Y3 and Y4 (as well as Y2, Y5 and Y6)
Wednesday September 9 All children in school (except Reception and Nursery)
Monday September 14 Nursery January starters return

Reception children start in small groups am or pm

Thursday September 17 Nursery Easter starters return


Monday September 21 Nursery September 2020 starters return in small groups throughout the week

Reception children attend opposite session am or pm

Monday September 28 All Reception in full time

All Nursery children in am or pm

Nursery and Reception parents and carers will receive a letter stating all start dates and visit times next week.

Access into school:

From September 2020 and until further notice, access to Dunston Hill will be via a one-way only site.  Parents and children will enter via the main school gates on Market Lane and follow the arrows ensuring social distancing at all times.  We ask that only one parent accompanies their child onto the school site.

After dropping your child / children at their respective classrooms, parents / carers will then leave by the Park Terrace gate at the back of our school.  Can I ask all parents and carers to be please respectful of our neighbours and not block access points or driveways and also not park their cars in a manner which could be dangerous for pedestrians, causing them to need to walk on the road?

To ensure the safety of children, parents and all staff, our Entry and Exit system has been designed to make the flow of children and parents on and off our site as free-flowing as possible and to avoid bottle-necks around the site.  This is also why we have elected to go for a phased-return on our first week back – to avoid having over 400 plus children with parents arriving at the same time on the same day.  Most of these children will not have been to our school other than to say “goodbye” to their teacher, since March.  My main priority is everyone’s safety and to ensure that we have the time to welcome everyone, including those children who will be anxious and worried after so long away.  This is in line with our whole-school provision of nurture and support.

The School Day – Entry (Start Times) and Exit (Home Times)

                          Start Times                         Home Times

Nursery am         08.30-09.00am                   11.30am

Nursery pm        12.30pm                              2.55-3.30pm (“soft finish” i.e. you can collect your child at any point between those times)


NB This would commence from week 2 (w/c 14 September) for Nursery.  Nursery parents have the option to exit via Market Lane if they are only dropping off or collecting a nursery child otherwise, if dropping off siblings, once on-site they must exit Park Terrace.

                               Start Times                                    Home Times

 Right Side of school

Reception            08.30-08.45am                                  2.45-3.00pm

Year 3                   08.30-08.45am                                2.45-3.00pm

Year 5                   08.30-08.45am                                2.45-3.00pm


Left Side of school


Year 1                   08.45-09.00am                               3.00-3.15pm

Year 2                   08.45-09.00am                                                                                   3.00-3.15pm

Year 4                   08.45-09.00am                                                                                   3.00-3.15pm

Year 6                   08.45-09.00am                                                                                   3.00-3.15pm

The School Day – Exit (Pick Up)

Parents will access the school site to collect their child/children again only from the Market Lane gates and follow the one-way system to collect their child from the Right Hand Side of the school first.  They are then able to walk around to collect any other children from the Left Hand Side of the school and will leave via the Park Terrace exit.  (If you are collecting from Nursery only you may leave via Market Lane following the one-way system but on the opposite side of the road).  In this way, we will avoid parents coming back on themselves from one side of the school to the other, meeting parents coming the other way, and will also avoid potential bottlenecks.  Again, I would stress that these measures are put in place purely for the safety of children and parents on the site and I thank you all for your patience and understanding in this respect.

Beehive Wraparound: This service will be available to all parents as usual commencing at the start of autumn term if they need additional support before and after school due to work and personal commitments.  Beehive staff will bring down children from their setting to ours at the start of the day and collect at the end of the day, ensuring adherence to social distancing measures at all times.  Please contact Jan Quinn if you require wraparound provision for your child.

Bubbles: All children will be placed in class bubbles of 30 in Reception and as one bubble for am and pm Nursery for the first half term.  This will be reviewed to possibly extend to year groups when appropriate to do so. 

So, for example, both our Reception classes will be separate bubbles of children and at the start of the term they will not be allowed to mix with other children or bubbles.  Therefore, breaks and lunches and all taught sessions will be within those bubbles.  Please note that staff are able to mix between bubbles and where this happens, we will again be adhering to all required safety measures.

Lunch Time: Each ‘bubble’ will have their own allocated outdoor space and therefore playtimes and lunchtimes will be staggered. Reception children will eat their lunches in the hall and a new menu is currently being planned for September. All children in Reception are eligible for a Free School Meal (either means tested or Universal) and we encourage all children to take advantage of this, especially during the first term.


Cleaning: There will be robust programme of cleaning in place throughout the day, including personal hygiene and hand washing. Bubbles will be allocated their own toilets and toilets will be cleaned regularly throughout the day. Sanitising units will be distributed around school and children will be encouraged to use them. Visitors into school will be restricted to those with appointments only including visiting professionals.


Health: It is essential to follow the government’s guidelines if your child is unwell or displaying any symptoms. The main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are: a high temperature, a new, continuous cough and/ or a loss/change to your sense of smell or taste.  PLEASE INFORM US IMMEDIATELY IF YOUR CHILD DISPLAYS ANY OF THESE SYMPTOMS.


Uniform: Children MUST return to school in September in full school uniform.  Please refer to our website for specific details on these requirements or contact the school office if in any doubt.


NB However, we will be putting two measures in place on certain days to assist you as parents and us as staff with getting the children ready for their activities.  Firstly, on a day where your child is having PE, they should come to school in their PE Kit, not their uniform.  This will also be the case for the day that they are accessing our Forest School.  This will mean children do not need to bring extra bags or get changed in school which will minimise any risk still further.  You will receive more information about this in September, before school reopens.


Footwear: Black shoes or PLAIN black trainers only.   (Please do not buy trainers with white soles or coloured motifs – They must be ‘ALL’ black).


Jewellery: As is currently the case, jewellery is not permitted in school under any circumstances.  This includes ear-rings and studs.  This is particularly important because of current restrictions due to Covid-19.  The only exception is that children in Key Stage 2 are allowed to wear a simple watch if they wish.  However, this must not be a “smart” or Apple watch.


Outdoor Learning: Following on from our lock-down bubbles, there will continue to be a huge focus on outdoor learning and raising emotional well-being; outside learning is proving to be the safest way to educate your child for mental well-being so your child will be outside as much as possible.  It is therefore essential, they are dressed appropriately with a warm outdoor coat and suitable school shoes or plain black trainers.


Before and After School Clubs: Unfortunately, there will be no after school clubs until at least January 2021.  We will review this as soon as we can.


Curriculum:  We intend to introduce a ‘Recovery Curriculum’ across school, which we have been working on over the last few weeks.  It will address the fact that children have missed a significant amount of their education.  Children’s experiences of lock-down will be very different and it is important that we focus our curriculum on emotional well-being first. I am sure this will not surprise you as nurture, support and inclusion is at the heart of everything we do here at Dunston Hill.  As a result of this, we have identified that improving mental health and wellbeing will be our priority.


It is vital that the children are provided with quality first teaching that addresses any gaps in learning.  We will be doing this by assessing any untaught or significant objectives from the missed summer term and blending them, where possible, with their new year group objectives.  We will also adapt our autumn curriculum to allow for time within each day to explore mental health and wellbeing.

This is to ensure that we:

  • Re-build firm foundations: personal, social and emotional development.
  • Establish routines as children will need to become familiar once again with working in larger groups.
  • Develop resilience and strength.
  • Promoting a sense of safety and stability, with focus upon active and community centred activities
  • Avoid cognitive overload and optimise the use of working memory


Communicating with the Class Teacher: During the first week in September you will receive a link to a form where you will have the opportunity to share confidentially any information that you deem relevant for us to be aware of about your child and their experiences over the lockdown and summer holiday period.  Initially in September, staff including the class teacher will not be available at the classroom door to speak to parents or carers.  This is because they need to be in the classroom supporting the children with relevant safety measures.  If you do need to speak to your class teacher please contact the school office in the first instance.


Staff:  As I stated in my recent letter on staffing for September, every class where possible will have a familiar adult from their previous year group to support the transition into their new class.


Equipment: Reading books are permitted to be brought into school.  Children will also need to bring their own water bottles into school, clearly labelled with their names.  As we have been doing since we opened the school up to more pupils in June, we will provide all stationery and therefore children are not permitted to bring pencil cases/stationery from home. NB We would ask that children only bring in a small book bag.


Again, please accept my apologies for the amount of information contained in this letter.


I shall be liaising with senior staff and governors throughout the summer to consider any changes that may take place regarding government guidance on Covid-19.  We will send more information to you at the end of the summer break including clarifying again expectations for the first week back.  There is such a lot of information to take in, please don’t worry at this point.  The week before we come back into school I will email a bespoke letter to each Year Group telling you exactly what you need to do when you return.  This will include our Reception and Nursery children.  If you have any immediate questions however, please do not hesitate to contact us.


In these unprecedented times, I cannot thank you enough for engaging with and supporting our efforts to do the very best we can for your children.  As a working parent myself I completely understand some of the challenges you will have faced and those which you continue to deal with.  Our staff have worked extremely hard to provide teaching and learning opportunities for your children but also, and just as importantly in my eyes, themed weeks, fun activities, videos and laughter which I hope you have found supportive.  This wouldn’t have worked, however, without your engagement and that of your children.  I thank you so much for this.


This has been a massive learning curve for us all and teaching staff are no different to anyone else in our community in that respect.  However, the enthusiasm and speed at which we went from having a school full of pupils on Friday 20 March to teaching and learning opportunities on-line with a physical pack for every child by Monday 23 March I think demonstrates the care and dedication they have for your children.  I cannot speak any more highly of them than I am extremely proud to lead this whole staff team.


I wish you the very best of summers with your family and friends and we all can’t wait to see you all again in September with smiles and the warmest of welcomes.


With very best wishes


CR Sutherland


Mr C Sutherland