COVID-19 Pupil Absence Guidance
12 June 2020 - Headteacher Announcement
We are delighted to announce that Caroline Pluck has been appointed as substantive Headteacher of Dorchester Middle School, with immediate effect.
Her interview showed the knowledge, passion and commitment she has to pupils, staff and parents. These past few months have been a real test for all at DMS and the Governors are confident that Caroline, with all our support, has the skills and vision to lead the school forward and to put DMS at the heart of the Dorchester community.
We hope you join us in congratulating Caroline on her appointment and wish her, and the school, every success in the future.
Updated guidance on what parents and carers need to know about education settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
We have updated our guidance on what parents and carers need to know about schools and other education settings during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak to include information on the curriculum, after school activities, repeating a year for pupils, transport and keeping children safe online. We have also amended information on whether it is compulsory to send pupils to educational settings and education for children at home.
The guidance can be found here:https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers
New Coronavirus helpline for parents and carers
A new helpline has been launched to support parents and carers who are worried about how their child is coping during the Coronavirus pandemic. Dorset Council’s Educational Psychology Service has set-up the helpline to support those who are worried about their child or teenager during the lockdown.
The helpline number is 01305 228300. It is open from Monday to Friday from 9am to 4.45pm. Callers need to ring and make an appointment for a 30-minute phone consultation. Read more here.
Letters sent home June 2020
Letters sent home May 2020
Letters sent home April 2020
We know that coronavirus has put extra pressure on families, so Action for Children are offering online parenting support. From where to go for help to how to keep your children entertained at home - explore our advice and find useful resources here: https://www.parents.actionforchildren.org.uk/covid-19-advice-support.
Have a question about parenting? Action for Children online coaches are available for free, confidential 1-1 live chat. We’re here to listen and support you. Visit https://talk.actionforchildren.org.uk/
PLEASE BE AWARE THAT ALL OUR SERVICES ARE STILL ACCEPTING REFERRALS. SERVICES ARE BEING DELIVERED IN LINE WITH GOVERNEMENT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ESSENTIAL / NON-ESSENTIAL DIRECT CONTACT.
Action for Children, Bournemouth Learning Centre,Bournemouth, BH10 4HG
01305 753657|01202 525643|@actnforchildren|Actionforchildren.org.uk
Dorset services website:
Updated guidance for parents and carers on the closure of educational settings
The guidance for parents and carers on the closure of educational settings has been updated with additional information on the resources and support available to help parents educate their children at home.
The guidance can be found here:
List of key workers from the government
The Department for Education has published a list of “key workers” whose children will be prioritised for schooling during general closures because of coronavirus.
Health and social care
Frontline health and social care staff such as doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, as well as support and specialist staff in the health and social care sector. In addition it includes those working in supply chains including producers and distributors of medicines and personal protective equipment.
Education and childcare
Nursery, teaching staff and social workers.
Key public services
Those required to run the justice system, religious staff, as well as those responsible for managing the deceased, and journalists providing public service broadcasting.
Local and national government
Administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the Covid-19 response or delivering essential public services, including payment of benefits.
Food and other necessary goods
Those involved in the production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery of food.
Public safety and national security
Police, support staff, Ministry of Defence civilian staff and armed forces personnel, fire and rescue staff, and those responsible for border security, prisons and probation.
Those who will keep air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the Covid-19 response.
Utilities, communication and financial services
Staff required to keep oil, gas, electricity, water and sewerage operations running. Staff in the civil nuclear, chemical and telecommunications sectors. Those in postal services and those working to provide essential financial services.
Department for Education Coronavirus helpline
Helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and young people can contact the helpline as follows:
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Opening hours: 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday)
Where to find the latest information
Updates on COVID-19:
Guidance for educational settings:
Travel advice for those travelling and living overseas:
NHS website coronavirus overviewand stay at home advice: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Advice for parents from the British Psychological Society
- Schools have not ‘shut down’ – Although most children will not be able to physically attend school you will still be able to communicate with senior leaders or, in some instances, teachers.
- Don’t try to replicate a full school timetable – It won’t be possible to replicate a full school timetable for a variety of reasons. Giving yourself and your children permission to accept this can be a big weight lifted.
- Expect stress – This is an uncertain and unpredictable situation, stress and anxiety are normal.
- Reassure children – Children can sometimes believe they are responsible for things that are clearly beyond their control. Reassure children that it is the adult’s job to make sure things are OK and to keep them safe.
- Help children stay connected to their friends – Friendships are a key resiliency factor for children and young people. Most children see their friends nearly every day of the week and so not being in contact with them for some time might be upsetting. Is it possible for children to talk to their friends on the phone? Perhaps establish a group Skype or WhatsApp call? Perhaps they could write letters to each other.
- Normalise the experience – Normalising the experience is likely to reduce anxiety for many children. Reassure children that lots of adults and other children are in the same situation.
- Have a routine and structure – Having a plan and a predictable routine for the day can be very reassuring. As adults we like to know what is going to happen, and children like this too.
A consistent routine lets everyone be secure about the plans for the day. It is often useful to involve children in creating this routine, so that they feel part of the plan, rather than the plan being imposed on them. You could display the routine using a timeline, or maybe pictures and visuals. Encourage children to develop independence by referring to their own routine/plan themselves.
- Don’t worry if the routine isn’t perfect – Remember, this isn’t a normal situation. If you find that planning and sticking to the routine is causing more stress, friction or conflict, then it’s OK to be more ‘free-flow’. Perhaps be guided by the activities that children want to do.
- Avoid putting too much pressure on academic work – Most parents and carers aren’t teachers and so it’s OK not to be doing ‘school work’ for six hours a day. It might be more important to be spending time together, building relationships, enjoying shared activities and reassuring children, as opposed to replicating the school timetable.
Try to keep work in one place – If children are doing school work or project work at home, try to keep it all in one place so that it doesn’t spread out over the house. This can help to maintain a work/home boundary. We know that people live in different circumstances that might mean this isn’t always possible, so perhaps there might be other ways to ‘signal’ the end of working
e.g. putting away the work and then enjoying a favourite song or shared dance!
- Reduce access to rolling news – It is important to keep up to date with new developments and announcements, but it can be hard to switch off from the constant stream of news from media outlets and social media. Reduce the time spent hearing, reading or watching news – at the moment it might be overwhelming for adults and children. Try to protect children from distressing media coverage.
- Supervise children with screens – It is likely that children and young people will be using screens more often over the coming weeks e.g. phones, tablets, gaming consoles and the internet. If this is the case make sure they are supervised. Ensure appropriate content filters are active – the UK Safer Internet Centre offers guidance on setting up parental control. Try to ensure all children have a balanced range of activities each day. Involve children and young people in these discussions so that they feel part of the plan.
- Provide reassurance about exams being cancelled – Young people may now be concerned about the announcement that exams later this year will not be going ahead as planned. They may feel like all their hard work has been for nothing. Reassure young people that the Prime Minister has said that all children and young people will get the qualification they worked towards,
but acknowledge that the plan is a bit uncertain right now. Reassure young people that the government and Department for Education are working on a plan.
- Play – Play is fundamental to children’s wellbeing and development – children of all ages! It’s also a great way to reduce stress in adults.