The Ruth Gorse Academy in Hunslet will remain open “for an indefinite period of time” as a hub providing support to parents and carers, despite the closure of all schools in England amid the spread of the coronavirus.
Ruth Gorse will provide support for parents and carers of children at the Ruth Gorse, Richmond Hill, Boston Spa and Hillcrest academies – irrespective of their ‘key worker’ status or if they are the parents of vulnerable children – through a support desk every working day from 8.30am to 3.30pm, excluding weekends and Bank Holidays.
Free lunches will be provided to children who continue to attend from Monday 23 March and support will be provided to all parents and carers of pupils who can no longer attend.
In a letter to parents and carers on Thursday 19 March, the CEO of the GORSE Academies Trust, Sir John Townsley, said:
“It is our intention to keep open for an indefinite period of time three of our academies which will support children and families right across our trust”.
“If you as a family are in any way struggling to purchase food or basic supplies then we would always ask you to come to us for help,” he wrote.
The Morley and Farnley academies will be the trust’s other two hubs.
The services offered at the support desks will include:
- The opportunity to register a need for additional or altered material for home learning.
- The opportunity to register for educational provision across the trust’s three hubs (Ruth Gorse, Morley and Farnley).
- Guidance for parents and carers towards external providers and agencies.
- Free lunches for children who continue to attend.
The hubs will be overseen by a senior member of staff linked to one of its academies. Each hub will have a “Designated Safeguarding Lead”, first aid provision and “withdrawal and seclusion areas” for those showing coronavirus symptoms.
“Given that the situation that we are working in is fast moving I cannot at this stage set out exactly what the education provision will consist of in each of the hubs”, said Mr Townsley in the letter.
He promised to “ensure that the time is used purposefully, that the day is fun and that there are opportunities for the pupils to take exercise”.
Mr Townsley added: “What we would wish to emphasise is that we believe it to be in most children’s interests to remain at home in the care of their family during this period of time.”
Whilst all schools have been told to close from Monday, they are to remain open for the children of key workers (e.g. NHS staff, police, others in frontline services) and children with certain needs. They will also be providing food to children who receive free school meals. Parents and Carers should check with their child’s school about the specific arrangements.