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Reflecting on the past year

Happy New Year and welcome back to school, although after the past couple of weeks, you are probably wishing it was still Christmas!

At Pharos Response, we’ve been assisting our client schools with their COVID response since February. From drafting parent communications and risk assessment templates, to conducting COVID compliance audits and responding to everyday incidents. We’ve seen first-hand how much you’ve had to adapt at incredible speed while keeping the school operational. It’s been very impressive, so as a professional and a MAT Trustee, well done; as a parent, thank you.

We are used to helping schools through their most challenging times; coach crashes, suicides, data breaches, site safety incidents and serious safeguarding breaches to name just a few. Yet the past year has been eye-opening, even for us. We’ve advised a Headteacher when interviewed by the police after a case of COVID-19 compliance staff whistleblowing. Furthermore, we have assisted with communications and trauma support after the tragic loss of school staff to the virus. Additionally, we have also supported a Headteacher quizzed by The Sun about their approach to COVID-19 controls and helped multiple Heads with communicating whole school closures to parents and the local press. Heads have been hugely grateful to be able to lean on our very experienced team in their darkest hours and share the burden.

Looking forward to the year ahead

Sadly, we’re not out of the woods yet and we predict that we will be living with COVID-19 for a time to come, particularly when it comes to young people, even after our most vulnerable have been vaccinated. Thankfully, although it may not seem possible just now, this year we will be able to resume those activities not currently allowed, such as sport competitions, school visits, school events and perhaps even overseas trips.

All of these activities will however require additional considerations to reduce risk of transmission and to manage any positive cases identified mid-activity. So yes, sadly, this means more risk assessments and ongoing risk management for the foreseeable future.

You can hear more about our thoughts on how you can plan for these future challenges on our free Zoom webinar on 21st January at 11am – simply click here to register

A new partnership

We were delighted to be asked to become a partner of Juniper Education and we had started discussions well before Coronavirus was a term we all used so freely. We were discussing how we could support Juniper’s client schools with our unique 24/7 incident response service, site security audits, lockdown and incident simulation exercises. Like you, we have adapted to the ‘new normal’ and we have added a COVID-19 management response support line to our 24/7 incident support line at no additional cost.  We believe this service will be of essential support in being able to get back to ‘normal’ faster.

As we have gained experience at interpreting (and often pre-empting) the Government’s Coronavirus guidance, we can also provide COVID-19 compliance audits to be a critical friend and highlight areas where schools can improve. As we start to return to more ‘normal’ activities and relying on third parties such as transport operators and activity providers while still juggling with essential Coronavirus controls, our support should really help boost confidence of school staff and parents that everything is being done just as it should be.

The future

We hope to meet some of you on the webinar.  If you aren’t available but would like to find out more about how our highly specialist services might assist you over the coming months and years, just click here for more information.

Free webinar

Critical incident management in a COVID-19 landscape. How to prepare your school for the next big challenge.

Thursday 21st Jan at 11am (UK) – Register for free here

Schools have been through so much change of late it is hard to remember the old normal. This free webinar will focus on the new challenges schools may face after lockdown as restrictions begin to lift and activities currently prohibited return, each presenting additional risks that should be managed to help prevent the escalation of any incidents. Ensure you’re suitably prepared with some simple tips from Juniper’s partner, Pharos Response – the experts in risk and reputation management for schools.

Chris Gallant

Chris Gallant

As a founding Director of Pharos Response with a specialist background in marketing communications, crisis communications and crisis management stretching well over 20 years, Chris has considerable experience in assisting clients across the education, travel, adventure and youth sectors. This support includes how to prevent critical incidents from happening, how to prepare to manage them and how to respond to them when they do. Over the past eight months, Chris and the Pharos team have applied their skills to advise and assist client schools in managing and responding to a range of Coronavirus related issues, quickly becoming specialists in COVID-19 management planning. Chris is a Trustee of a Multi Academy Trust, a school Governor and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Association (FRGS). With a love for the outdoors, when not dealing with critical incidents, Chris can often be found walking with his family and trusty English Pointer, paddling on the Thames or cycling the Surrey hills as an unashamed MAMIL!