Sugar Hill Primary School

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Sheraton Road, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, DL5 5NU


Sugar Hill Primary School

'Learning and Growing Together'

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  3. 24th June Update

24th June Update

24 June 2020 (by Vicky)

Update for Parents/Carers

Dear Parents/Carers                                                                                               Wednesday 24th June


I feel that I really need to write this letter in response to a couple of points raised yesterday. Others may share these concerns so hopefully I can answer these too.

I always start with a huge thank you for all of the support we have received through letters, emails, phone calls and in person. It has meant such a lot to all of the staff and to me.

This has been an unprecedented time. A time of unknowns, of being scared and of dealing with situations never encountered before. I have tried to be very open and honest since the pandemic began and at times my personal opinion has crept in. I make no apologies for that. I am a Head Teacher but I am also a human being, an ordinary person, a mum and a grandma. It has been a very emotional time for everyone and I am no exception to that rule. I have worried for my own children, especially my daughter who has lost friends to this virus. Apologies if sometimes emotions have run high.


A point was made that other businesses are now open, school has never been closed. I have been here since March 20th along with other staff who have kept school going for Key Workers and vulnerable children. When other people could stay indoors safely, myself and Mrs Legge along with staff came into school. We have only had 7 days away since February half term.

During that time staff have produced a very comprehensive website updated weekly with grids of activities and online learning. Staff have been working, and available if needed.

Schools have all done their very best to deal with a situation never met before and will always be compared to each other, someone else is always doing something better somewhere else. I have been in contact with many Head Teachers over this time and believe me we are all doing this differently.

Some schools may have phoned children, these may often be smaller schools with all staff in good health. This is not the case in our school. I will not go into detail about staff but the circumstances have meant that all staff were unable to be in school or make phone calls to children. If we had started that system and it had not been sustainable we would have been in the wrong. Staff have monitored the website carefully and all parents requesting contact in any shape or form have had it. We have been here and I have made it quite clear in every letter that we are here to answer any questions, through calls, emails or in some cases in person. Many parents have been in contact.

Lessons held online are great for those children with the means to access them but not all can. This is the reason that grids of activities that don’t require IT have been added every week. If parents have requested paper packs these have been made available. Staff have even made visits, at a distance where this has been needed. 

E lessons only work if all children have that access. We all know that IT is temperamental. You then have some children getting slightly more than others and the gap widens further. These are very much Secondary tools for children taking exams.


The online sites we have signposted have been very well received but I know above all else face to face learning is the only way and no matter how good an online lesson might be there is no substitute for that. I want nothing more than all children back here. The school is just not the same in any way and I for one have everything crossed that we are all back in September ready to start the new year. This will be done in as safe a way as possible. Myself and my Senior Team are spending every day planning this so that we can take all 464 children back into a safe environment.


Should we not be able to welcome everyone back in September full time then all children will have access to some time in school in a safe way. Those plans are well underway.


Everything we have done has been for safety of all of our children, staff and parents. We completely understand that this time has been hard for so many parents, worried about education and mental health. As are we. Once the children are back in our care we will do everything in our power to ensure they are given the very best care as well as education. However, this is undoubtedly a shared responsibility with parents. You know your children better than anyone and you know the best way to deal with their anxieties and worries. We do our very best at all times with that, not just in this unprecedented situation. Every child has access to counselling if needed or requested by parents. A text was sent to all parents/carers to inform parents that Mrs AJ is in the building each day to support parents and children if needed.

Please remember that children are resilient. The children back with us now in specified year groups and in Key worker groups have come back in and settled well. That gives me lots of hope and encouragement for September.


Unfortunately, at times the Government has made attention grabbing headlines about what is happening in schools. Giving schools money for catch up is one. Summer schools is another.

This money has not yet come into school and will probably not come into my budget for some time. Despite that my staff and I are making plans, as stated yesterday, to ensure the children get exactly what they need to make progress as we always do. I understand that parents are worried about their child’s education, but please be assured we will do everything we can to ensure the children first of all come back safely, happy and ready to learn and they will. By sending your children to Sugar Hill we take that as a trust in us to do that. I have many plans for that money but I can not spend what I don’t have.


It is very difficult to tell parents all plans because there are so many for so many scenarios. Believe me we have spent many hours planning for situations that did not arise or changed very quickly. You would have had letters every other day! It is hard to share reasons behind what we are doing and why because often that is personal to staff.

Whatever we face in September be assured we are doing the best we can. Hopefully you have all seen the measure already in place around the school.

I will update you on the plans for transition and collecting your child’s annual report before the Summer, as soon as they are finalised. We hope that we can see you all at least for that.

Year 6 parents will also receive information on the Year 6 celebration planned for September.


I agree that we all have to get back to as near normal as we can, I want nothing more.


I hope that if anyone has any concerns at all about anything they contact us through email or by phone.

The reason I have said email is that the office has only one member of staff, again because of personal circumstances, and the phone can not always be answered. The email is checked daily, including junk by three members of staff.

I have been here and always will be if anyone requires me to contact them to discuss anything I will. There are reasons and circumstances behind all decisions made and if you want to know why, contact me.


Please take care and continue to stay safe.

Thank you for your continued support

Mrs Paula O’Rourke