COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS) UPDATES FROM FAIRFIELD FARM COLLEGE
LAST UPDATED: 30TH MARCH 2020 @ 1:30PM
PLEASE BE AWARE THAT YOUTH CLUB IS CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. THANK YOU FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING
LATEST UPDATE FROM FAIRFIELD FARM COLLEGE
Dear Parents, Carers and Families,
Once again, thank you for your continued support and patience.
Last week we communicated that college will remain open, as instructed by the government and local authority for all of our students. We have just received the attached letter asking us to work with families to identify those that should remain at home, even where they have an EHCP. We have already spoken to many of you and as a result, the majority of students will self-isolate in line with the guidance.
For students that are self-isolating, staff are working incredibly hard to develop the ‘home learning’ area. You will appreciate that this is in its infancy but will continue to develop over the coming weeks.
Please remember to monitor the website and Facebook for any changes.
Dr Tina Pagett
MESSAGE FROM MARTIN COOPER, CHAIR OF TRUSTEES
It is now just over a week since the government made the decision to close most education establishments and only last Monday that the Prime Minister took the unprecedented steps restricting ’normal’ life and work. Barely a few weeks ago we were distant observers of the emerging world crisis that was unfolding. The full realisation, speed, scale and seriousness of the coronavirus has impacted on everyone and everything we do. It is not over exaggerating to say it has, and will change our lives and the way we operate permanently.
On behalf of trustees I would like to thank you all for the way you have responded to ensuring that we keep students, residents and staff safe. We are in a rapidly changing environment and we appreciate that the uncertainty is unsettling, especially for our young people. We recognise the personal and professional commitment, the flexibility and support for each other that everyone is making to keep our young people safe and well.
The trustees are confident that staff have done all they can to minimise the risks to young people whilst continuing to meet our obligations. Our business continuity plan was refreshed and strengthened in response to the exceptional demands of the current emergency and keeping it under constant review, we are reassured that it is robust enough to deal with all the challenges that lie ahead.
I think we all know that this isn’t going to be a quick fix and this emergency is likely to last for many weeks. We appreciate that the past week has been tough for families too as you support your children in this period of uncertainty. As any good organisation we consider it critically important to ensure the wellbeing of all our staff as well as our young people and of course this will remain paramount.
Finally, I would like to thank families for accessing the home learning resources. This didn’t exist just over a week ago and staff are working hard to produce accessible materials to support students working at home. I know tutors will maintain contact with you during this uncertain period and we hope to return to normal as soon as possible.
Chair of Trustees on behalf of the trust board.
LATEST GOVERMENT UPDATES
Vicky Ford open letter to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) establishments - MARCH 24TH 2020
This is an open letter distributed through as many of our partner organisations as possible. I would be grateful if you could circulate it as widely as possible to children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), their parents/carers and families, and all others who support them.
This is an unprecedented, uncertain and testing time for all of us due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is particularly challenging for children and young people with SEND, their families, and those who work tirelessly to support and care for them.
This is why, over the past week, we have made announcements and issued guidance about how we will meet the needs of children and young people with SEND during this challenging time. As the Minister responsible for SEND, I wanted to write to let you know that we are committed to doing everything possible to support you during this difficult time.
We are working in partnership with many organisations, including the National Network for Parent Carer Forums and the Council for Disabled Children, to make sure we are focusing our efforts in the right places. In all our decisions, the needs of SEND children and young people and their families and carers, and safeguarding these vulnerable groups, are at the forefront of our minds.
The Government published guidance about supporting vulnerable children on 22 March. It includes a number of frequently asked questions and is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-vulnerable-children-and-young-people. We have also published new guidance that provides household isolation advice for children and young people who live in residential settings, and the staff that support them. This guidance is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-isolation-for-residential-educational-settings.
The guidance on supporting vulnerable children states that local authorities, nurseries, schools, special schools, colleges and other training providers should undertake a risk assessment to establish the individual needs of each child or young person with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. This assessment should incorporate the views of the child or young person and their parents. This will inform the decision about whether they should continue in school or college, or whether their needs can be met at home safely.
If needs are best met at schools or colleges, we will support their school or college to meet their needs, wherever possible. For those on SEN support, schools, colleges and local authorities have discretion to use the same risk judgement to decide whether home or school is the safest setting for these children. It is, however, important that as many children as possible remain at home during this time in order to help reduce transmission rates.
On 19 March, the Government introduced new legislation into Parliament, in the form of the Coronavirus Bill (‘the Bill’), in response to the outbreak (https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2019-21/coronavirus.html).
Our overwhelming aim for SEND, through the Bill and the proposed changes to regulations that are to follow, is to balance the needs of this vulnerable group to receive the support they need with managing the demands on local authorities and health bodies to respond to this outbreak. As a result, we have included in the Bill temporary emergency powers to enable us, where necessary, to modify the legal requirements on local authorities in fulfilling their duties in relation to EHC plans.
In practice, this will mean that where a local authority is, because of the outbreak, unable, for example, to put in place stated provision, they will need to use their reasonable endeavours to do this, but won’t be penalised for failing to meet the existing duty as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014. These emergency powers will only be exercised for the shortest period and where necessary, and will be regularly reviewed. We will also be seeking to amend regulations on the timescales for EHC plan processes where this is appropriate because of COVID-19. I want to reiterate that these decisions are not taken lightly but I believe strike the right balance in these difficult times.
I encourage you to keep up to date by regularly checking the gov.uk webpages, and raise awareness of the DfE Coronavirus helpline we have established for local authorities, providers and parents to get information on the latest Government advice. The number is 0800 046 8687, and lines are open 8am-6pm (Monday – Friday), and 10am – 4pm (Saturday and Sunday).
I realise that the impact of these extraordinary circumstances on this group of children and young people can be particularly acute. This is why I have asked the Council for Disabled Children, in partnership with Contact, to ensure that their websites and forums regularly update both families and services on information, which is available to support them. I have also asked them to collate any questions and queries from stakeholders so that we can maintain as many routes of contact as possible into Government to ensure our actions continue to be focused on prioritising where help is most needed.
The challenges we are now facing serve to further highlight the importance of ensuring the system of support for children and young people with SEND is as effective as possible in the future. Rest assured that completing our review of the SEND system remains a priority for me and for the Government. In light of the current situation, we will think carefully about the right way and timescale to do this. Right now my focus, like yours, is on managing the current situation and keeping vulnerable children safe and supported.
I know that by working together, we can ensure that children and young people with SEND receive the support they need during this difficult time.
Guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision - Department of Education - MARCH 20TH 2020
As a country, we all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
And the most recent scientific advice on how to further limit the spread of COVID-19 is clear. If children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend.
It is important to underline that schools, colleges and other educational establishments remain safe places for children. But the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.
Schools are, therefore, being asked to continue to provide care for a limited number of children – children who are vulnerable and children whose parents are critical to the Covid-19 response and cannot be safely cared for at home.
Vulnerable children include children who are supported by social care, those with safeguarding and welfare needs, including child in need plans, on child protection plans, ‘looked after’ children, young carers, disabled children and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.
We know that schools will also want to support other children facing social difficulties and we will support head teachers to do so.
Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors outlined below. Many parents working in these sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. And every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.
Please, therefore, follow these key principles:
- If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.
- If a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
- Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions.
- Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.
- Residential special schools, boarding schools and special settings continue to care for children wherever possible.
If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, or you work in one of the critical sectors listed below, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision:
Health and social care
This includes but is not limited to doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, social workers, care workers, and other frontline health and social care staff including volunteers; the support and specialist staff required to maintain the UK’s health and social care sector; those working as part of the health and social care supply chain, including producers and distributers of medicines and medical and personal protective equipment.
Education and childcare
This includes nursery and teaching staff, social workers and those specialist education professionals who must remain active during the COVID-19 response to deliver this approach.
Key public services
This includes those essential to the running of the justice system, religious staff, charities and workers delivering key frontline services, those responsible for the management of the deceased, and journalists and broadcasters who are providing public service broadcasting.
Local and national government
This only includes those administrative occupations essential to the effective delivery of the COVID-19 response or delivering essential public services such as the payment of benefits, including in government agencies and arms length bodies.
Food and other necessary goods
This includes those involved in food production, processing, distribution, sale and delivery as well as those essential to the provision of other key goods (for example hygienic and veterinary medicines).
Public safety and national security
This includes police and support staff, Ministry of Defence civilians, contractor and armed forces personnel (those critical to the delivery of key defence and national security outputs and essential to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic), fire and rescue service employees (including support staff), National Crime Agency staff, those maintaining border security, prison and probation staff and other national security roles, including those overseas.
This includes those who will keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.
Utilities, communication and financial services
This includes staff needed for essential financial services provision (including but not limited to workers in banks, building societies and financial market infrastructure), the oil, gas, electricity and water sectors (including sewerage), information technology and data infrastructure sector and primary industry supplies to continue during the COVID-19 response, as well as key staff working in the civil nuclear, chemicals, telecommunications (including but not limited to network operations, field engineering, call centre staff, IT and data infrastructure, 999 and 111 critical services), postal services and delivery, payments providers and waste disposal sectors.
If workers think they fall within the critical categories above they should confirm with their employer that, based on their business continuity arrangements, their specific role is necessary for the continuation of this essential public service.
If your school is closed then please contact your local authority, who will seek to redirect you to a local school in your area that your child, or children, can attend.
We are grateful for the work of teachers and workers in educational settings for continuing to provide for the children of the other critical workers of our country. It is an essential part of our national effort to combat this disease.
LATEST UPDATE FROM GAVIN WILLIAMSON, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EDUCATION - 19TH MARCH 2020
The government recognises the huge importance of the role you have played in maintaining the education, training and social care of our children and young people during this challenging time. I recognise that you will have the same anxieties as the rest of the country about your health and that of your families. On behalf of the Prime Minister and the entire government, I thank you all for all of your work so far, and your continued support. I am deeply grateful for the civic spirit and dedication of everyone working in education, and I will continue to provide my full support throughout this crisis.
It is clear that education and children’s social care settings are increasingly finding it difficult to continue as normal, as illness and self-isolation impacts on staffing levels and pupil attendance. To provide parents, student and staff with the certainty they need we are announcing that schools, colleges and early years settings will be closed to everyone except children of key workers and vulnerable children from Monday, as part of the country’s ongoing response to coronavirus.
Examples of these workers include NHS staff, police and delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work. Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with Education, Health and Care Plans.
A full list of key worker categories will be published by the Cabinet Office tomorrow.
Children who do not fall into these groups should remain at home with appropriate care.
Where schools are unable to provide this reduced provision, local authorities will work with the Department for Education’s regional teams to ensure an alternative option is available.
We are expecting early years providers and sixth form and further education colleges to do the same. We are working with Her Majesty’s Treasury on the financial support required. We are also asking that independent schools and boarding schools follow the same approach.
Where possible, we would encourage settings to stay open for this purpose throughout the Easter holidays.
Many universities and other higher education institutions are already taking necessary steps to keep their staff and students safe and where possible keep providing education. We are confident vice-chancellors are making the right decisions and the Department for Education continues to support them in doing so.
Temporary suspension of Ofsted inspections
Ofsted is to temporarily suspend routine inspections of schools, colleges, early years settings, children’s social care providers and local authorities to reduce the burden on staff who are providing vital services to the nation in response to coronavirus.
Update on assessments and examinations
We can confirm that we will not go ahead with assessments or exams, and that we will not be publishing performance tables for this academic year.
We will work with the sector and Ofqual to ensure children get the qualifications they need.
My Department is working closely with local authorities, representatives of early years, schools and head teachers, regional school commissioners and bodies such as Ofsted and Ofqual about how to deliver this change as effectively as possible.
And we will do whatever is necessary to support local authorities, settings, schools and teachers through the weeks and months ahead.
Free school meal provision
We will give schools the flexibility to provide meals or vouchers to children eligible for free school meals. Some schools are already doing this, and we will reimburse the costs. As soon as possible, we will put in place a national voucher system.
Thank you once again for everything you are doing at this difficult time.
The Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP
Secretary of State for Education
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LETTER FROM MINISTER VICKY FORD
MARCH 24TH 2020
INFORMATION UPDATE LETTER
MARCH 19TH 2020 (MORNING)
INFORMATION UPDATE LETTER
MARCH 19TH 2020 (AFTERNOON)
INFORMATION UPDATE LETTER
MARCH 13TH 2020
FAIRFIELD FARM COLLEGE POLICIES & PROCEDURES REGARDING COVID-19 (CORONAVIRUS)
CRITICAL INCIDENT POLICY & PROCEDURE (INCLUDING BUSINESS CONTINUITY)
Fairfield Farm College is a Specialist College for students with learning disabilities; it is a registered Charity, with residential, day and weekend courses. We are situated in the village of Dilton Marsh in Wiltshire. Our 26-acre farm site includes well-resourced teaching and vocational learning areas, a student common room, conference room, café and a farm shop.
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