On 4 June, Councillor Danny Thorpe, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, and Councillor Matthew Morrow, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, visited Willow Dene, Royal Greenwich’s special school, to meet and thank some of the staff who have been going the extra mile to make sure young people with special needs, and their families, continue to receive the enhanced the support they need during this pandemic.
We are now in a phased return to school for many children attending nurseries and primary schools in our borough, but many have been open throughout the COVID-19 crisis to support children of critical workers, those who are vulnerable and children with special educational needs.
Councillor Matthew Morrow, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at the Royal Borough of Greenwich, said: “Keeping schools open during this crisis has provided a vital lifeline to around 1,000 children and young people across the borough and I want to thank all the amazing people who have made this possible. Cleaners, caterers, facilities managers, carers, teaching assistants, teachers and headteachers have worked together in difficult circumstances to provide this valuable service to children in our borough.”
Over 40 Royal Greenwich schools welcomed students from nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6 by the end of last week, with year groups being staggered so they do not all attend at the same time. Strong measures are being taken to keep staff, children and young people safe in our schools.
Willow Dene has welcomed around 60 pupils with complex needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning they and their families have continued to benefit from the expert care and education provided by the school. This is expected to increase now the phased return to school is happening. The school also opened its playground at weekends as part of the short breaks offer, which has enabled 68 individual family play sessions to be delivered to around 40 families.
Rachel Harrison, Headteacher of Willow Dene School, said: “We are extremely proud of our school, our whole staff team, our children and what we have been able to achieve for our community in such extraordinary circumstances.”
Some pupils have had to shield at home for medical reasons, so the school has been calling them regularly and making sure they receive any equipment, learning resources, food and support that they need during this tough time. This was done with support from Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT).