Weekly Update 18.1.21

Dear Parents and Carers,

I thought I would write to you with further updates and with information that you may find useful. I will endeavour to do this on a weekly basis, or more often if key things arise.

Firstly, can I thank you for being so supportive during this challenging time. We all very much appreciate the commitment everyone is putting in to supporting their child at home, allowing us to remain as safe as we can possibly be. I am hopeful on two fronts today. Firstly, the vaccine roll-out seems to be speeding up across the whole country. One would hope that the more people that get vaccinated, the more we will be able to return to normality. Secondly, although early days, the overall infection rate seems to be reducing and the 7 day rolling average is now showing a downward trend. These are both positive pieces of news and will help speed us towards opening up more fully, where we all want to be.

Remote Learning

It is wonderful to hear about so many of our pupils engaging with our remote learning offer, whether live lessons, phone calls or activities. As you will now know, our remote learning started last week and all Bubbles are carrying out live sessions as well as other creative ways to learn. We hope that this will develop over the term to include a variety of learning experiences for your child. If you have any questions about remote learning, please don't hesitate to contact the SLT leader for your child's Bubble.

Laptop Support

We understand that technology can be a barrier to some of our pupils getting online. As such, we are trying to support those who do struggle with offering to loan laptops. If you feel that you child needs a laptop in order to get online, please email Caroline Whitlock on cwhitlock@castle.w-berks.sch.uk

Online Learning Resources

I have updated our website page of home learning resources. There is lots there to use so please go and visit. We will also try and add a few more videos as we go of staff, including myself, reading stories, singing songs etc. Of course, if you have links you think might be useful to share then please email me. The resources can be found by clicking the link below.


SAP Parents Evening

In a few weeks we would normally have our SAP Parents Evening. Due to the current lockdown and the change in operations at school I have decided to postpone this until after the half term. As soon as we have another date I will let you know.


In terms of any other questions you may want answered please speak to your Senior Leader of your child's Bubble. Below are their names and email addresses, just in case you do not have them:

Red Bubble - Kate Mason - KMason@castle.w-berks.sch.uk

Green Bubble - Caroline Whitlock - cwhitlock@castle.w-berks.sch.uk

Blue Bubble - Shannon Booth - SBooth@castle.w-berks.sch.uk

Orange Bubble - James Whybra - JWhybra@castle.w-berks.sch.uk


As I said in my previous letter, we will need to continue to operate in this reduced way until the evidence is clear that infection rates are at a level that would make it safe to open to all. Schools are indeed vectors for transmission, which means that as well as staff and other pupils being put at risk, pupils transmitting and contracting the virus puts other families in the community at increased risk. As such, the only way to ensure that all pupils and staff are safe is to reduce the amount of people in school at any one time. I have a moral and legal duty of care to ensure that the school environment is safe and without the current measures of reduced staff and pupils, I do not believe this would be possible.

As I have previously said, we all desperately want everyone back at The Castle as soon as possible. However, this needs to be done when it is safe to do so and does not put anyone at greater risk than is needed.

As I said at the start of my letter, infection rates are now showing a small decline. If this continues it will be very welcome news. A continued decline in infection rates and an easing in lockdown will mean we can hopefully start to return to normal school operations. To repeat what I said last week, all my decisions going forward will be guided by professional advice and the science that lies behind it.


I thank you once again for your support and in trusting that what we are doing has the best interests of every member of our community at the heart. 


Best wishes,

Jon Hewitt


The Castle School