DoWMAT Statement regarding the re-opening of Trust academies  

May 27th 2020

The Trust Board and Executive Leadership Team of the DoWMAT;

  • acknowledge the concerns and anxieties of staff members, families and unions that have arisen following the Government’s request for schools and academies to plan for re-opening in certain year groups, from the 1st June
  • recognise the imperative of being fully prepared for the re-opening of our academies and giving the utmost regard to the safety of both staff and pupils
  • are committed to ensure that any re-opening is undertaken with the highest degree of care and consideration

To this end, the decision to increase the number of pupils at each academy has been based on a number of key considerations, as follows:

  1. In accordance with government guidance DoWMAT has taken a local risk assessment based approach to the phased re-opening of its academies to children from 1 June 2020. DoWMAT academies have been open to vulnerable children and the children of keyworkers during the ‘lockdown’ period which has been subject to separate risk assessment.
  2. DoWMAT has instructed its school leaders to prepare a risk assessment to underpin and inform plans for the phased re-opening of each academy. DoWMAT believes that local leaders and governors are best placed to produce such risk assessments and plans, but has directed what such risk assessments must include. Each academy has been guided towards the Risk Assessment proforma / considerations recommended by their respective Local Authority; Dudley or Worcestershire. Each local risk assessment and plan is to be approved by the Headteacher (or Acting Headteacher where appropriate) and the Local Academy Board (“LAB”) (the local governing body).
  3. Each academy’s risk assessment and plans are thereafter to be submitted to the DoWMAT CEO for approval under arrangements put in place by the DoWMAT Board. In the event that the content of any academy risk assessment or plan is judged to be inadequate, DoWMAT will issue guidance and require further local risk assessment in accordance with that guidance. DoWMAT will give proper respect to the local assessments and judgements.
  4. No DoWMAT academy will implement its plans for phased re-opening until the DoWMAT CEO has informed the academy that its risk assessment and plan is approved. This may mean that local re-openings may have to be delayed.
  5. Academy risk assessments and plans are expected to be ‘living’ documents. They should be revised locally in order to take account of local experience as the phased re-opening progresses.  Headteachers should consult Chairs of LABs and the DoWMAT CEO over proposed changes.  Revised local risk assessments and plans should then be submitted to DoWMAT for ex post facto ratification under arrangements put in place by the DoWMAT Board.

Guidance provided for our academy leaders has stressed the importance of adopting a precautionary approach following their extensive risk assessment process. The Health and Safety Checklist provided by the unions to inform planning has been shared with all academy leaders in the expectation that it will be taken fully into account in local assessment. All documents and correspondence received from stakeholders are being fully considered within the planning process. Any concerns are being addressed by taking appropriate advice, thus enabling our Headteachers to make informed decisions.

Please be assured that the wellbeing of all within the DoWMAT family is of great importance within our decision making processes and I am confident that our Headteachers will do all they can to make their academies a safe environment for all, regardless of the date we actually return to school.