Coronavirus Letter to Parents

20th March 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

I’m sure you are all aware of the announcement made by the government on Wednesday evening that all schools will close to most pupils from Friday 20th March. Over the last 24 hours school leaders across the country have been waiting for clarity from the Department for Education on a number of issues. I believe I am now in a position to give clarity.

Firstly the main advice from the government is that where possible you should keep you child at home. The fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.

It is the intention of our three schools within Prosper Learning Trust

  • Mary Astell Academy
  • Newcastle Bridges School
  • Thomas Bewick School

To remain open to the following group of pupils:

  • Those who have a parent/carer considered to be a Key Worker – those professions considered as a key worker have now been published and can be found in the link below.

If you believe you fall into the Key Worker category please inform the school if you have not already done so


  • Vulnerable pupils – Those pupils who have a social worker

Pupils with Education Health and Care Plans (EHCP)

The announcement also stated that schools would remain open for those pupils with an EHCP. This has been quite a confusing statement for special schools such as Thomas Bewick where all our children and young people have EHCPs.

To be clear Thomas Bewick School will NOT be open to all pupils only those that fall into the two categories above ie. those pupils who have parents who are Key Workers or are deemed vulnerable

What can parents expect if their child has a place in one of our schools from Monday?

It is essential that you understand that the remit of schools has now changed. Education is no longer our key priority. We are now providing child care.

From Monday we will no longer be providing the normal curriculum. A structured activity programme will be offered by school staff who will be working with your children on a rota system.

Please note our schools will only remain open if we have enough staff on any given day to ensure pupils and staff remain safe

 What can parents expect if their child does not have a place in one of our schools from Monday?

During term time schools continue to have a safeguarding responsibility for your child. You can therefore expect to have regular contact from either the school or the Local Authority so we can ensure your child is safe and well. This could be in the form of a phone call or a visit from a member of school or local authority staff.

Each school within the Trust is planning work/materials for your child to help parents keep their children engaged and involved in activities. Online facilities are also being offered. If possible we hope to continue providing materials throughout the crisis but this will be dependent on staffing.

Free School Meals

The local authority are currently putting in place measures to ensure that all children and young people who are entitled to receive free school meals do so, even when not in school. We will share information about this with you as soon as it becomes available.

In the short term we will be providing alternatives. This will be communicated individually by your child’s school.

If at any point in the coming weeks you are finding yourself unable to provide food for your child you MUST contact the school. We will help you.

Further Communication

This is a very difficult and confusing time for us all. It is really important to us as an organisation that we keep in contact with pupils and families. From Monday the main form of communication to parents will be

  • The school website
  • The school Facebook page – all schools now have their own Facebook page

If any parents are not able to access the school website or Facebook please notify the school. We will ensure we find an alternative way to communicate with you.

Finally I must stress the importance of self-isolation if it is needed but also the importance of keeping your child at home if they are not able to access school. We all need to work together to ensure that the spread of the coronavirus is minimised. Please stay safe.

Yours faithfully

Mark Jones

CEO Prosper Learning Trust

Harry Watts Academy
Thomas Bewick School
Newcastle Bridges School
Mary Astell Academy