Extended Opening Update

15 May 2020

Dear Parents/Carers

Following on from the information in the Trust Lighthouse newsletter from Alan Hardie, our Chief Executive Officer for the Trust, I am writing to share a little more information about the Government’s announcement for schools and what it currently means for children and young people attending Castle School.

The Government hopes that mainstream Primary schools can start to extend opening for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.  The guidance for specialist provisions such as Castle School is to ‘work towards a phased return of more children and young people without a focus on specific year groups’ – no specific timeline has been given for this.

We are expecting further guidance but I wanted to reassure you that we will only extend the opening of the school if it is safe to do so.  In considering whether school is a safe space for children, staff and parents, we will be considering a range of factors including the following;

  • Whether your child is shielding or anyone else in the family is shielding – you should have had a letter from the health service if this is the case
  • Whether your child has any other underlying health conditions that need to be taken into account
  • How we can manage social distancing for children and staff within our environment.
  • How many staff are available to work with pupils, ensuring that we can be confident that we can run the school safely
  • How we can ensure that the environment and levels of hygiene can be maintained as increased numbers of pupils and staff access the building
  • How children can travel to school safely while also ensuring social distancing as far as possible
  • The changes that we will need to make to routines and teaching styles in order to keep everyone safe – school is likely to look and feel very different


We are risk assessing all of the above issues and more as we wait for further guidance, however, to help us with our planning, we would like an idea of which children you would like us to consider possibly returning to school before the summer, and what reassurances you need before that could happen.

You can let us know by;


It would also be very helpful if you could include in your response, your reasons for keeping your child at home or why you would like them to return to school and what will help you with your decision.

From the beginning of next week, we will begin follow up phone calls if we have not already heard from you.

I do appreciate that many of you have said you feel your child is safer at home and the Government have said that parents will not be fined if they feel their child is safer being looked after at home at the current time.

Moving forward, I would anticipate that we will look to increase numbers of pupils very gradually and this is likely to be on a part-time basis in the first instance, but only if we feel it is safe to do so.  I will keep you updated as plans develop.  In the meantime, the school’s current arrangements for the children of Key Workers and those who are particularly vulnerable will remain unchanged.

Thank you for your continued support at this very challenging time – stay in touch and stay safe.

Yours sincerely

Sara Wild

Sara Wild

Principal – Castle School




Filming Fun – We Need Your Help!


We want to make it as easy as possible for you to share your clips so you can share via twitter, or email to castle.youtube@castle.ncea.org.uk or send via our temporary mobile number for this project  07825 881930

We would like to invite you to join in with a campaign which aims to spread hope and positivity during these difficult times.

The Church of England are inviting schools to record their own school version of a lovely song ‘Looking To The Rainbow’ – you can view it here


We would love Castle School to be part of this venture – and may indeed be their very first Special School to do this!

Lucy and Stef, our Local Makaton Tutors and members of our staff team, have put an initial Makaton version together so everyone can enjoy the song and, if appropriate, learn the signs!


We would like to put a video together including our wonderful children, to spread the message of hope and joy, but to do this …. we really need your help!


It would be great if you could send us 2 (or more if you wish) video clips,

1) Short video clips of your child having fun.  These would be played throughout the song (the only criteria is ‘happy’ so this could be absolutely anything that makes your child happy – playing, relaxing, sensory play, doing some work(!), dancing etc)

OR If your child would like to sing/sign a few lines that would be fantastic too!

2) We would love to end with a short video collage of happy faces across the screen (similar to the original version, so it would be great if you could film ‘portrait view’ for this bit)

We already have a few videos of clapping which we will include, so your child could perhaps be clapping, waving, smiling, laughing


We want to make it as easy as possible for you to share your clips so you can share via twitter, or email to castle.youtube@castle.ncea.org.uk or send via our temporary mobile number for this project  07825 881930

Once complete we will post the video on our YouTube channel and share the link with you through Parentmail and Twitter.

Thank you in advance for your support in helping us to share this message of hope and positivity – we can’t wait to see your video clips!

Take care and stay safe