Preparing for Brexit Guidance
We are all aware how Brexit has dominated public discourse since the 2016 referendum. Whatever our individual views, it is incumbent on us to do all we can to think through and prepare for consequences of Government policy being delivered; i.e., to have left the European Union by 31st October. This duty has nothing to do with any personal stance we may have; rather it is a professional duty given our responsibility for children and staff.
Our first concern: the welfare of children
Many of our children are dependent on ready access to medication, some of which we administer with parent/carer permission on site. Whilst we cannot guarantee the supply of medication, we can, based on information available to us about specific children, take steps to work with parents/carers to ensure, as far as reasonably possible, that necessary supplies are at home and on your academy site as appropriate.
Action 1: Please review the circumstances of those children for whom medical plans are relevant, identifying any additional steps that can be reasonably taken.
The welfare of staff
Some of our colleagues will similarly be dependent on medications and will have chosen to share this personal detail with you. Where this is the case, in confidence, talk with those staff so that they are aware of your concern for their welfare, and any support (e.g., flexible working arrangements) that may be possible for them to stay well and fit for work. Individual circumstances will of course vary considerably.
Action 2: Let staff know their welfare is a priority and that those wishing to talk concerns through can choose to do so in complete confidence.
Getting to and from academy sites
Considerable speculation has been made regarding the extent of ‘gridlock’ that could ensnare Kent, with that becoming increasingly intense the further east we go. Kent County Council’s ‘Kent Resilience Forum’, with national government, has made considerable preparations. For example, for the M20, ‘Operation Brock’ supersedes ‘Operation Stack’ and includes the Manston Airport Relief Plan designed to minimise queues of rolling stock. However, in certain parts of the county (e.g., the A258 in Dover), 90-minute delays to pick up/drop off journeys have been mooted.
Action 3: Review travel options with staff and pupils; e.g., is walking/cycling possible for greater numbers? Could ‘car sharing’ help get more staff/pupils on site with fewer cars on the road? Would alterations to arrival/leaving times help avoid peak travel times? Could technology allow for greater off-site learning by pupils of a certain age, reducing journeys in and out?
Fortunately, having one strategic partner for all meals, Chartwells, should mean less variability and greater continuity of supply. Chartwells has already undertaken considerable preparation to enable continuity of service, including a bulk buy/supply plan, though at a national level any impact for fresh food is more difficult to quantify.
Action 4: Talk with your Chartwells manager to understand arrangements that have been made, how these might be enhanced by what staff and pupils can do. Prioritise thinking through arrangements for pupils eligible for Pupil Premium.
By definition, emergencies are unpredictable, and it is therefore more difficult to consider all eventualities. Ambulances may be delayed in getting to an academy site, or a journey to a hospital may be equally held up if traffic builds up. Whilst a necessary emergency call should never be delayed, we should consider how well we are able to look after children or staff pending the arrival of appropriate medical professionals.
Action 5: Review your staff First Aid training. Is it up to date? Are there others who would like to be trained? Is it timely to offer additional updates or briefings to pupils and staff that will help minimise accidents on site?
Anger, irritation and upset
Should major delays arise, pupils, parents/carers and staff may well arrive on site very unhappy and/or upset. It will be for all of us to respond as sensitively and supportively as possible, being as prepared to offer time and spaces to settle down, or the option of refreshment before getting down to work or having to head off again.
Action 6: Consider what changes, if any, are possible to your ‘welcoming’ arrangements or foyer procedures. How ready, for example, are ‘phone systems to receive multiple messages, and do extra checks need to be made so that messages left are picked up and conveyed as necessary
If difficulties being predicted materialise, levels of pupil attendance will be affected adversely.
Action 7: Please review the DfE guidelines on this and note how absence can be recorded (‘Code Y’) so that your academy’s attendance record is not regarded unfairly.
Some journeys made are less essential than others. Certain discretionary trips can fall into this category. We should consider carefully the relative importance of such trips, whether they are needed or whether they can take place much later in the year when, should there be adverse impacts, these have lessened.
Action 8: Review travel taking place as part of the educational life of the academy. How essential is it? How essential is it that it takes place at this time? Is it necessary at all?
Many parents and carers – not only those of children eligible for Pupil Premium – may incur additional or heightened costs directly or indirectly as a result of circumstances following Brexit. If, for example, journeys to and from work arise, extra childcare hours may arise that have to be paid for. Should food shortages emerge, costs may rise. Similarly, fuel. The cumulative impact may mean some families are under increased financial pressure.
Action 9: Discuss your parent/carer community. Are there characteristics of which you are aware and which you think can be considered sensitively and supportively? There are few panaceas to hardship, though even small, manageable gestures can be greatly appreciated.
Ongoing review and updates
Subject to how things transpire, there will be plans made that prove unnecessary and there may well be ‘unknowns’ that arise and demand a response.
Action 10: Consider producing a set of simple guidance (which must be politically neutral) comprising what your parents/carers, pupils and staff may find most helpful, taking account of those things characteristic or unique to your setting