February 2021 – Whole school blog

Friday 26th February 20212

Hi there

It’s been a busy week in school, welcoming the students back to class, and in the news and we have lots of information in this week’s update covering: COVID-19, vaccinations, World Book Day and National Careers Week. 

The staff are doing a fabulous job looking after the students and embedding the recovery curriculum where we are focusing on children’s wellbeing. On the vaccines front, we now have 123 staff who have had their first vaccination.

COVID-19 school update 

NCS – one staff member tested positive during half term, close contacts identified and notified.  One staff agency member of staff identified through the testing centre, before accessing school, so no close contacts.

COVID-19 government update 

On Monday, the Prime Minister announced the government’s plans for moving out of COVID-19 restrictions in the coming months. 

The first stage of the plan is for schools to open to all pupils from Monday 8th March.  After the announcement, the Department for Education published detailed guidance for schools this week.  Here is what we know: 

  • From Monday 8 March, attendance is mandatory for all pupils except those who are confirmed as critically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19, who should continue to shield at home until further notice. 
  • If your child has been confirmed as critically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 please provide a copy of the letter to school so that we can make arrangements to provide support with remote learning. Please note that we have worked with some students’ families to get them back to school as this is in their best interest.

Protective measures we’ll be using in school 

We know some parents will be feeling anxious about their children returning to school.  We’ll be doing everything we can to make sure that school is as safe as possible.  We will be continuing to implement the protective measures that we already have in place to protect pupils and staff and prevent the spread of COVID-19.  These include: 

  • Minimising contact by operating specified separate groups (or bubbles).  Consistent groups reduce the risk of transmission by limiting the number of pupils and staff in contact with each other to only those within the group. 
  • Social distancing wherever this is possible (it is not possible at all times for our staff and pupils) 
  • Ensuring that everyone cleans their hands thoroughly more often than usual, including when they arrive, when they return from breaks, when they change rooms and before and after eating 
  • Promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach, to ensure good respiratory hygiene 
  • Enhanced cleaning and ventilation, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces more often 
  • Asking staff and children not to attend if they have developed one or more symptoms or tested positive,  
  • Asking staff and children to self-isolate from the day of contact with an individual who tested positive and the next 10 full days if they have been in close, face-to-face contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus 
  • Managing confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) in school in line with current public health guidance 
  • Asymptomatic testing (through LFD or rapid tests) twice weekly for school staff 

In addition, we’ll also work through risk assessments for each pupil to identify which pupils may be able to follow the additional measures the government are advising for students in year 7 and above: 

  • Twice weekly asymptomatic testing – at home following 3 school tests
  • Wearing masks in classrooms  

These measures are not mandatory (and would certainly not be appropriate for many of our young people). We’ll share more information about this next week. 

If you have any concerns about your child attending, please get in touch so that we can discuss these with you and work out how to support your child back to school. 

COVID-19 vaccinations for carers – message from South Tyneside CCG 

As you may be aware, informal and family carers have been added onto the JCVI as one of the priority groups for covid vaccination.

It is therefore of utmost importance that individuals are appropriately coded on their GP’s system as being a carer

If you wish to access the vaccination programme then you should to contact your GP to ensure that you are appropriately recorded on systems.

Further information about how to ensure your child is on the GP’s learning disability register from Mencap can be found at:

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Vaccine

The LD register is important, not only to access the covid vaccine, but it gives automatic access to the community LD teams, hospital LD teams and annual reviews.  GP appointments will be allocated more time and consideration will be given to providing communication support.  Reasonable adjustments will be planned for clinical interventions such as blood tests.

World book day 

WBD is Thursday 4th March – we are inviting students and staff to dress up as their favourite book character. We will having covid friendly activities across the school to celebrate the day.

National Careers Week

Next week all classes are doing something linked to careers and the world of work appropriate to their students’ levels  of ability. Across the Foundation there are workshops running with different employers and teachers have signed up for those they think are appropriate. Our classes are joining workshops run by The Co-op, Tyne and Wear Fire Service, Northumbria Police Cadets, Atomhawk (computer games), Cyber Choices, Music Sparks and a cookery workshop.

Older deaf students are accessing a workshop by Ryan Gregson who is deaf and will describe how volunteering has led to paid employment.

Work related learning is a key aspect of our curriculum. Do any parents have any employment skills that we could utilise in the future?? Please do get in touch, we’d love to involve you in our kids’ learning.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend – the sun is shining and springtime is on its way.


Jo Allen


Friday 12th February 

Good afternoon everyone

So we’ve made it through the first half term of 2021. I want to take a moment to say an enormous thank you to all the staff who have been supporting the students through the most challenging of times and to you their families and carers who are being parent, carer, friend, teacher and therapist (and more besides) to your children. Please take a moment to reflect on everything we have achieved together over the past few months. Please also tell your children how proud I am of them – they astound me with their joy, resilience and determination every day.

Monday 22nd February is a staff training day so we are expecting students back in from Tuesday 23rd February. I will be sending out emails over the weekend with school attendance arrangements for next half term.

COVID-19 update 

Thankfully a fairly light week this week – we have had one positive covid case in Josh / Janice’s class so that class has been closed this week. 

The LFD testing site continues to work well and over 125 staff have now received their first vaccine.

If your child develops symptoms or tests positive over the holidays, please let me know by emailing closure.ncs@percyhedley.org.uk as I will need to trace any close contacts in school. It would be really helpful if you could include a contact number in that email.

Part two of our Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) podcast series 

Here is part two of our PBS podcasts which looks at the PBS process.  You can either: 

Listen to the Podcast: 

Or watch this video: 

Join the Percy Hedley virtual mountain climbing challenge 

Are you taking a daily walk during lockdown to keep physically and mentally fit?  Are you only too glad to get the children out of the house to burn of some of that pent up energy?  Do you take your four legged friend out daily anyway?  Why not make every step count and raise money for Percy Hedley at the same time? 

Climb a virtual mountain and make your lockdown walk count. 

  • 22,197 steps would take you up Ben Nevis 
  • 88,000 steps would take you up Mount Everest 
  • 128,263 steps would take you up Mount Kilimanjaro 

Due to COVID-19 many of the ways we used to fundraise are no longer possible so we’re having to look at different ways to raise much needed funds.  This Sunday (14th February) we’re launching our first virtual challenge and we’d love you to get involved or encourage your friends and family to take part. 

Our challenge will run from Valentine’s Day on 14 February until Mother’s Day on 14 March and registration is free.  All we ask is that you raise a minimum of £30 for the fabulous charity we work for. 

You can register here https://register.enthuse.com/ps/event/ClimbAVirtualMountain and set up your fundraising page at the same time!  


Thank you for your support! 

There’ll be no update next week as it is half term. 

Have a lovely week – stay safe


Friday 5th February

Just a few updates for you this evening:

Advice from the National Autistic Society re covid restrictions 

Many of our autistic students have been required to self-isolate through the pandemic. I found this page the other day when having a bit of a google. It gives some practical advice and interpretation of current government advice for England.


Responses to COVID-19 parent communication survey

Thanks to everyone who responded to the survey, it provided a really helpful insight into how parents prefer to receive information.  We’ve worked with the parent governors, James Turner for Northern Counties School and Sarah Voysey for Percy Hedley School to look at the survey responses and here is a summary:

  • Almost all respondents told us that they have very good access to mobile phone, emails and the internet
  • Parents are most likely to read messages sent directly by text or email (rather than parents checking on the web / Facebook themselves)
  • Getting updates directly as texts or emails is parents’ preferred way of receiving Covid-19 updates
  • The majority of parents/carers felt that the speed, clarity and relevance of Covid-19 communication is good
  • There were many positive comments about what schools are doing to support families in this difficult time and do well
  • Parents felt that weekly updates and more frequent school blog updates were the two most useful ideas for improving Covid-19 communications
  • There were some useful suggestions for improvement which we will take on board, such as making sure we make it clear if communication is whole school or class specific, where you need to take action rather than just read the information and making sure information is as clear as possible so you understand what is happening in school.

Full return to schools in England

You will have read or seen in the news that the Government is aiming for schools to tart returning to normal soon. I can assure you that schools get no more information that you do regarding lockdowns and the wider school opening programme for England. Monday March 8th March is the date that the Government is starting to talk about.

So this means we need to start thinking about getting all of our young people back into school soon. More students are now returning to school, and others we have had to hold back due to the ongoing impact of Covid  on our staffing availability. 

I’ll be updating you with our plans for NCS soon and sending out the weekly emails confirming days in / out of school in the meantime. As you know, we have been able to access Covid-19 vaccination for our staff and currently over 80 staff members have received their first shot with more staff booked in for this weekend.

An introduction to Positive Behaviour Support

As part of Children’s Mental Health Week, we’ve launched a series of 3 short podcasts about Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) by Barry Reed, Deputy Headteacher at Percy Hedley School.  PBS is about improving the quality of life of a person and those around them.  At Percy Hedley, we’re sharing these with staff as part of training, but we also wanted to share this to help parents learn about PBS how you can use PBS to support your child. In this episode you can find out about what PBS is.  We’ll share the second podcast next week.

To learn more about PBS you can either,

Click here to listen to the podcast: https://soundcloud.com/barry-reed9885/positive-behaviour-support-part-1

Or watch or video: https://youtu.be/eB86P64jrx8

Help us spread some love, decorate a heart!

Thanks to everyone who has shared their fabulous hearts so far.  We’re going to be sharing these throughout February so please keep sending your decorated hearts to  communications@percyhedley.org.uk


If you haven’t printed a heart yet, click the link below to get your heart colouring sheet.

Have a great weekend – stay safe


Wednesday 3rd February

Self-isolation updates:

We have students and staff self-isolating from Jess G, Illiana, Jess P, Megan L and Annmarie’s classes. All families and carers of close contacts have been identified. Sadly taxis have been implicated in the potential transmission of coronavirus. If your child isn’t well, please do not send them to school. Likewise is the taxi driver or escort doesn’t look well I would be inclined to let your LA transport department know and bring your child into school via a different method.

I will be contacting all transport departments today to remind them of their duty of care in following appropriate covid security measures.

Take care Jo

Tuesday 2nd February

Updated school Covid-19 risk assessment

Rebuilding NCS Risk Assessment 010221

Monday 1st February

Good morning everyone

Staff adverse reactions to the Covid – 19 vaccination

Lots of staff had had their first vaccine and for some staff, including myself, the side-effects have been a sore arm and a good night’s sleep, however a large number of staff had had an adverse reaction to the vaccination that has meant they are unable to attend school today.

This has meant asking a large number of families and carers to keep their child/ren at home today – thank you so much for all your support in this. I’m hoping that a little short term pain will lead to a long term gain for our school community.If your child is at home today, please could you also keep them home tomorrow. If this is going to be a problem, please let us know ASAP using closure.ncs@percyehdley.org.uk

As ever, your support is highly appreciated


Jo Allen

Head Teacher