22 March 2020

Dear Parent/Carer

As you may be aware, the Department of Education has requested that schools make supervisory provision for children, up to Year 10, of key workers to ensure essential services can continue to operate in the community. As a Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 school, the College does not have any students within this category.

However, we are committed to meeting the needs, where required and feasible, of our vulnerable students. Further to my correspondence of 20 March, the Department of Education has updated its guidance in respect of ‘vulnerable’ children who should have access, if required, to an educational setting from Monday 23 March 2020.

The Department of Education defines ‘vulnerable’ children as follows:

The term vulnerable encompasses those children who are in need of protection, or in need, as defined by the Children (NI) Order 1995. Children and young people in need may include those:
• Receiving support from Health & Social Services including family support, child protection and looked after children services
• On the Child Protection Register
• With statements of special education needs
• Accessing EOTAS
• Accessing Education Nurture Units
• With emerging and diagnosed mental health needs
• Who are homeless
• Who are young carers
• Subject to paramilitary threat
• Whose parents have mental health problems
• Whose parents have alcohol and drug addictions
• Affected by domestic violence

If your son/daughter is in need of protection, or in need, as defined by the Children (NI) Order 1995, the College will do all in its power, albeit with a reduced staffing level, to facilitate non-taught supervision until further notice.

It is therefore essential that we are made aware of any Portadown College student, in the categories above, requiring this provision as soon as possible in order to ensure appropriate supervision is in place. I would request that you inform the College if your son/daughter requires this provision by 8:30 am on Monday 23 March. Please do so via email (info@pc.portadown.ni.sch.uk) or by telephoning the Main Office (028 38332439) and speaking to a member of staff or leaving a message on the answer phone.

We would ask you to be aware that the College is already operating with reduced staffing and it is anticipated that staffing levels will be reduced significantly in the forthcoming days. Please note also that it is possible the supervision of vulnerable young people may not necessarily take place in Portadown College. This provision is contingent upon numbers of students attending and staff available to supervise in individual schools.

Please note the following points in relation to students attending College from Monday 23 March:

– From Monday 23 March until further notice, normal school transport will not be running.
– The College’s normal opening and closing times will apply (i.e. 8:50 am – 3.35 pm) for students availing of the provision outlined above.
– Students are not required to wear school uniform.
– Students will be issued with information outlining protocols, routines and expectations whilst attending College under this supervisory provision.
– The Permanent Secretary of the Department of Education has recommended that any student attending school on Monday 23 March bring a packed lunch to school.

I will update you as more information becomes available.

Sincere gratitude for your invaluable support and understanding as, together, our College community rises to the challenges presented by these unprecedented circumstances.

Yours sincerely

Gillian R Gibb
Principal