Rochelle Nestor, a teacher at St Margaret Clitherow in South Bank, explains why rainbows have been appearing in windows throughout Europe as a defiant symbol of hope during these difficult days…
Starting in Europe, the “Let’s All Be Well” movement is a message of hope to all with the simple symbol of a rainbow. It is, of course, a sign of the sunshine that follows the storm, the hope that all will be well.
For us, as believers, it reminds of God’s presence and promise, not just after the storm, but through it. “I now set my bow in the clouds and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Genesis 9:13). After the flood, there was the rainbow.
At St Margaret Clitherow, teacher Melissa McCarthy saw this rainbow campaign was in motion and suggested that on our last day together we might create rainbows to take home and pin up in our windows to encourage passers-by.
Many schools did the same and children brought home their rainbows of hope – or have made them as part of a home learning activity since – so that now, families are enjoying going “rainbow spotting” during their walks.
Not since World War 2 and the blackout curtains has something become so commonplace in the windows of UK homes.
But that was a necessary action for safety and survival and had undertones of fear. The rainbow is different. It spreads cheer, hope and togetherness.
Moreover, putting it up is a choice and, therefore, it shows we are unified, most of all, in choosing to hope.
And so, to paraphrase St Julian of Norwich, “Let’s all be well, and let all be well, and let all manner of things be well.”
Our picture shows Mrs Rochelle Nestor with Anisia and Nathaniel and their rainbow.
Diocesan director of schools Kevin Duffy has written to all schools to thanking them for the work they are doing to support our community during the coronavirus crisis.
Following on from Bishop Terry’s pastoral petter last week, I just wanted to issue a further note to reaffirm our deep and sincere ongoing gratitude to you and your teams for the work you are doing to sustain Catholic education in these difficult times.
It really is quite humbling to read your social media posts and the beautiful messages you are giving the children and young people you serve.
The reassurance that things will return to normality again is incredibly important for young minds to hear particularly from people they trust and believe.
Our children and young people are at best confused and unclear about what is going on but in some cases quite frightened and uncertain.
A regular word from their school and their teacher provides enormous reassurance and comfort to their young minds and, despite your own personal concerns and worries, from what I am reading online you are doing this in amazing ways every day.
Like you, my daily prayers are always dedicated to those who work in, serve and attend our schools and their extended families as we ask the Lord to stand with us in this time of great need.
You have truly been called to serve the church’s mission as members of our diocesan schools family and we are blessed to have you.
Speak soon and stay safe,
Diocesan Director of Schools
Our lead lay chaplain Angela O’Brien has put together our first weekly prayer sheet to help families pray together while we’re unable to go to Mass.
We hope you’ll be able to use the activities to help both children and adults grow in faith at this time.
As many people’s work circumstances change because of the effects of COVID-19, Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust is aware that some children may be in need of free school meals for the first time.
Families who receive certain any of the following benefits are eligible for free school meals.
- Universal Credit – with an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400.
• Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
• Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
• Income Support
• The guarantee element of Pension Credit
• Child Tax Credit – with an annual gross income of no more than £16,190 (with no Working Tax Credit)
• Working Tax Credit Run-On (paid for the four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit)
• Support under Part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
Registering for free meals could also raise an extra £1,320 for your child’s primary school or £935 for your child’s secondary school to fund valuable support such as extra tuition, additional teaching staff or after school activities. This is known as the Pupil Premium Grant.
This additional money is available from central government for every child whose parent is receiving one of the benefits listed.
To check if your child is eligible, please complete this form.
Once you have filled it in, return it to any member of staff at your school so the school business manager can process your application for you.
Vicky Ford MP
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families
Sanctuary Buildings 20 Great Smith Street Westminster London SW1P 3BT
tel: 0370 000 2288 www.education.gov.uk/help/contactus
24 March 2020
This is an open letter distributed through as many of our partner organisations as possible. I would be grateful if you could circulate it as widely as possible to children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND), their parents/carers and families, and all others who support them.
This is an unprecedented, uncertain and testing time for all of us due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is particularly challenging for children and young people with SEND, their families, and those who work tirelessly to support and care for them.
This is why, over the past week, we have made announcements and issued guidance about how we will meet the needs of children and young people with SEND during this challenging time. As the Minister responsible for SEND, I wanted to write to let you know that we are committed to doing everything possible to support you during this difficult time.
We are working in partnership with many organisations, including the National Network for Parent Carer Forums and the Council for Disabled Children, to make sure we are focusing our efforts in the right places. In all our decisions, the needs of SEND children and young people and their families and carers, and safeguarding these vulnerable groups, are at the forefront of our minds.
The Government published guidance about supporting vulnerable children on 22 March. It includes a number of frequently asked questions and is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-onvulnerable-children-and-young-people. We have also published new guidance that provides household isolation advice for children and young people who live in residential settings, and the staff that support them. This guidance is available at
The guidance on supporting vulnerable children states that local authorities, nurseries, schools, special schools, colleges and other training providers should undertake a risk assessment to establish the individual needs of each child or young person with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. This assessment should incorporate the views of the child or young person and their parents. This will inform the decision about whether they should continue in school or college, or whether their needs can be met at home safely.
If needs are best met at schools or colleges, we will support their school or college to meet their needs, wherever possible. For those on SEN support, schools, colleges and local authorities have discretion to use the same risk judgement to decide whether home or school is the safest setting for these children. It is, however, important that as many children as possible remain at home during this time in order to help reduce transmission rates.
On 19 March, the Government introduced new legislation into Parliament, in the form of the Coronavirus Bill (‘the Bill’), in response to the outbreak (https://services.parliament.uk/bills/2019-21/coronavirus.html).
Our overwhelming aim for SEND, through the Bill and the proposed changes to regulations that are to follow, is to balance the needs of this vulnerable group to receive the support they need with managing the demands on local authorities and health bodies to respond to this outbreak. As a result, we have included in the Bill temporary emergency powers to enable us, where necessary, to modify the legal requirements on local authorities in fulfilling their duties in relation to EHC plans.
In practice, this will mean that where a local authority is, because of the outbreak, unable, for example, to put in place stated provision, they will need to use their reasonable endeavours to do this, but won’t be penalised for failing to meet the existing duty as set out in the Children and Families Act 2014. These emergency powers will only be exercised for the shortest period and where necessary, and will be regularly reviewed. We will also be seeking to amend regulations on the timescales for EHC plan processes where this is appropriate because of COVID19. I want to reiterate that these decisions are not taken lightly but I believe strike the right balance in these difficult times.
I encourage you to keep up to date by regularly checking the gov.uk webpages, and raise awareness of the DfE Coronavirus helpline we have established for local authorities, providers and parents to get information on the latest Government advice. The number is 0800 046 8687, and lines are open 8am-6pm (Monday – Friday), and 10am – 4pm (Saturday and Sunday).
I realise that the impact of these extraordinary circumstances on this group of children and young people can be particularly acute. This is why I have asked the Council for Disabled Children, in partnership with Contact, to ensure that their websites and forums regularly update both families and services on information, which is available to support them. I have also asked them to collate any questions and queries from stakeholders so that we can maintain as many routes of contact as possible into Government to ensure our actions continue to be focused on prioritising where help is most needed.
The challenges we are now facing serve to further highlight the importance of ensuring the system of support for children and young people with SEND is as effective as possible in the future. Rest assured that completing our review of the SEND system remains a priority for me and for the Government. In light of the current situation, we will think carefully about the right way and timescale to do this. Right now my focus, like yours, is on managing the current situation and keeping vulnerable children safe and supported.
I know that by working together, we can ensure that children and young people with SEND receive the support they need during this difficult time.
Vicky Ford MP
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families
Dear Parents and Carers,
I would like to update you as to where we stand as a Trust with regard to Coronavirus. The situation is ever changing by the hour but I would like to issue the following update. Currently our schools remain open and in full operation.
We will continue to keep you informed of any further updates and changes. In the meantime there are several measures which schools have put in place to help minimise risk and spread of infection.
Excursions, assemblies, travel, concerts and other events such as parents days/evenings have already been cancelled to limit exposure in line with government recommendations.
We ask that you are vigilant and responsible and if your child is feeling unwell and displays symptoms (high temperature, prolonged cough) they are to stay at home and self-isolate for fourteen days.
Your school will send children home if they are showing these symptoms.
Public Health England advise that handwashing continues to be extremely important and vital to minimise the spread of the infection. Staff, children, pupils, students and families will be reminded to wash their hands for 20 seconds more frequently than normal.
Staff will also be reminding pupils to avoid hand to mouth contact.
We are also employing a social distancing strategy in order to minimise risk and in the best interest of pupils, staff and our community.
At this time all external examinations are scheduled to run as normal. We will update
you as a matter of urgency if more information comes to light on this matter.
We have ensured all schools have the necessary contingency plans in place for any unexpected closure and supporting learning through online platforms and contact.
PLEASE INFORM YOUR SCHOOLS IF YOU HAVE RECENTLY CHANGED YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS OR MOBILE NUMBERS.
We ask for your support at this time. This is a situation that is ever changing and unprecedented and the safety of our pupils, staff and families is our priority. Our aim is to keep things as normal as possible for our pupils but to also educate, in an age appropriate way, about how to stay safe and healthy, whilst also minimising any fear or panic that may arise.
Thank you once again for your continued support and understanding and please keep the sick and vulnerable within our community in your prayers at this very difficult time.
Hugh Hegarty CEO
NPQH | M.Sc. | PGCCGC | B.Ed. Hons.| CTC
Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust