18th March 2020

Education Secretary Announcement

You will know that the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, announced this afternoon that schools will close after Friday lessons until further notice but stay open for the children of key workers including NHS staff, police and supermarket delivery drivers who need to be able to go to work to support the country’s fight to tackle coronavirus.

Gavin Williamson also asked independent schools to follow this direction, but the government recognises that many special schools and residential settings will need to continue to look after their pupils.

Mr Williamson has also confirmed that GCSE and A level exams will not go ahead in May or June, but the Prime Minister has also stated that measures will be implemented to ensure that this will not preclude pupils from gaining the qualifications they deserve.

What does that mean for The Yehudi Menuhin School?

1. We will stay open for boarding pupils still in school until the end of term on 12 noon Saturday 28th March, but boarders may arrange to leave earlier.

2. We will stay open for any day pupils whose parents are key workers.

3. We will close for all other day pupils after lessons on Friday 20th March.

4. Many members of staff will be asked to work from home as the Prime Minister has directed.

5. Lessons will continue by email and online next week until the Easter holiday.

6. There will be no public concerts in the Menuhin Hall until further notice.

It is our hope that we will be able to reopen as soon as possible. However, in the event that we are not able to open the campus for all pupils at the beginning of the summer term:

7. Boarding pupils who have been unable to leave the country may return on Monday 20th April, but those who are at home should not plan to return to school until further notice.

8. Any pupils whose parents are key workers (as defined above) should return on Tuesday 21st April.

9. Lessons by email and other online technology will resume for the remainder of pupils on Tuesday 21st April.

10. The school may be subject to further Government directives. We will continue to monitor and adapt accordingly.

We recognise that the impact of these measures, combined with the ongoing threat of Covid-19 means that we are now entering into a period of uncertainty for the school. To this end, we wanted to assure you that the Yehudi Menuhin School is in a good position to come through this difficult period strongly and emerge with a bright future.

We plan to cooperate with the new measures introduced by Government to reduce the impact of the Covid-19 epidemic. Your health, the health of your families and the welfare of the wider community remains our top priority.

We plan to use technology in exciting ways to continue the pupils’ musical and academic education whilst the campus is closed. We have invested in new cameras and we are investigating other technologies to ensure that remote teaching operates smoothly, efficiently and rewardingly during this time. With a clear eye to the future we will continue to engage with you so that when the school reopens, we will be in a position to move forward with confidence.

You will be aware that a new leadership team will be joining the school over the next few weeks. Richard Tanner will be handing over to Ben Gudgeon as Head. Ben has already been consulted on the initial next steps as the school enters this period of uncertainty and has spent time meeting with Richard and the Governors as part of an ongoing handover. Ashley Wass, the incoming Director of Music, has already spent a good amount of time in the school; he has been an active part of the team in preparing for remote learning, and is working with the music staff to put in place contingency plans for the musical activities scheduled for the Summer Term, in anticipation of today’s news.

In these unusual times we must adopt a flexible approach and respond quickly to changing guidance, but please be assured that the Governors and the school will remain in close contact with staff and with parents to advise of the situation moving into the Summer Term and beyond, and that we will continue to keep you updated as the situation unfolds. As we enter the period of closure, we will communicate with all parents and staff on a regular basis, or as and when substantial changes arise.

Thank you to all our friends who have sent such kind messages of support to the school during this unprecedented situation. Our thoughts are with all families and friends of our community who have been disrupted or unsettled by the unfolding of this outbreak.

Stay safe, healthy, and keep smiling!

David Buckley (Chair of Governors)

Richard Tanner (Interim Head)

Oscar Colomina i Bosch (Director of Music)

Ben Gudgeon (Head Designate)

Ashley Wass (Director of Music Designate)

19 Mar 2020