Full Opening on 8th March

Dear Parents and Carers,

Following my email last week, I thought that I would email you again to reiterate my previous points as well as giving a bit more detail where appropriate. 


School safety

Over the past 12 months, we have worked very hard to ensure that infection rates are kept to an absolute minimum. In fact, during that time we have only had one occasion where we have had to close a bubble due to a confirmed case of COVID-19. Although we must not be complacent, we have a good set of protocols that help to keep everyone as safe as possible. In addition, over 85% of our staff have now received their first dose of vaccine. This is a further layer of protection for our school community.

We will, of course, continue with the hygiene and cleaning protocols that we have used throughout the pandemic.



You may have seen in the press a lot of talk about secondary-age pupils getting tested at school. Just to reassure you, we will not be carrying out on-site testing for our pupils. We will also not be asking parents to test pupils at home. I believe that the safety measures we have in place already, with the addition of the vaccination for staff, are adequate for full re-opening. I feel that asking for pupils to be tested will add another level of stress, which would create more anxiety in many cases. As such, we will not be requesting that pupils are tested at school or at home. However, if you do wish for testing kits to be sent home, please email me at jhewitt@castle.w-berks.sch.uk, although I must stress that this will not be a requirement and any testing is purely voluntary. If you would like to chat any of this through please don't hesitate to call me.

From next week, staff will be testing themselves twice a week using the lateral flow device (LFD) tests provided by the government. This is a further layer of protection and will enable us to identify asymptomatic cases early.


Getting the school ready 

As I am sure you will understand, during this recent national lockdown the school has been adapted to support those pupils who have been on site. To return the school to normal class operations requires some work that staff teams will need time for. We also need to offer training to staff on self-administrating the home LFD tests. As I said last week, the school will be closed to all pupils next Friday (5th March) in order for us to be fully ready for the Monday.


Remote learning

It has been fantastic to hear of the wonderful learning opportunities that have taken place during the most recent lockdown. However, as we move towards a full return of all pupils, remote learning will cease. As such, the last remote learning sessions will take place this Thursday.



As the remote learning comes to an end, we would ask that any loaned laptops are returned to school in the week beginning 8th March. Please bring them in to the office to be dropped off. If there are any difficulties with this please contact Atul Attra on 01635 42976.



Just like prior to Christmas, we would encourage our pupils who are secondary age and above to wear masks in school corridors and communal areas where possible. We understand that this will not be appropriate for some of our pupils and as such this is discretionary. We will not expect masks to be worn in classrooms as this would impede communication and learning for our pupils, as well increase anxiety.



I have updated the parent/pupil protocols and attach them for you to read.


Moving forward with learning

For some, it will have been a significant period of time out of school. Despite the best efforts of parents and remote learning from staff, inevitably learning will have been affected. As such, it is important that we move towards getting our pupils back on track. However, it is crucial that we ensure all pupils can settle back into school and feel safe. This means that, to start, learning may look a little different. Some classes may use some of the recovery curriculum; some may focus on relationships and friendships; some may want to focus on support; others may want to get back to a normal curriculum more quickly. It will vary from class to class and from pupil to pupil. Please bear with us as we assess the needs of pupils and make sure we get it right and return to normal. Rest assured that we will always have your child's best interests at heart.


Thank you again for your patience and support over recent time. It is very much appreciated.

We will look forward to seeing all our wonderful pupils on Monday morning.


Best wishes,


Jon Hewitt


The Castle School