1. School context
Reach Academy Feltham (RAF) is in West London. It has 900 pupils from ages 2 to 18. It is a Free School, meaning it is funded directly by the Department for Education and is independent of local government. The school serves a community with high levels of disadvantage, where many families find it difficult to access professional support services. RAF’s mission is to help all its pupils lead lives of choice and opportunity. It works closely with pupils and their families to overcome any barriers to doing well, at home and in the community. To support this, in 2017 RAF created Reach Children’s Hub, an organisation dedicated to extending RAF’s work with families, the local community, and other professional services in the area. The Hub works both with pupils and families from RAF and who attend other local schools. Ofsted, the English schools inspectorate, has graded RAF as an outstanding school.
2. Responding to COVID-19
A week and a half before the UK went into lockdown, RAF’s leadership team (the principals and senior staff) began planning their response to the crisis. Their priorities were to:
• provide high-quality, engaging learning for all pupils
• look after families’ well-being
• support the wider community
• look after the well-being of RAF staff.
RAF’s work to develop Reach Children’s Hub meant it already had some good links with other services and community groups locally. As a Free School, it was also used to working quickly and flexibly to respond to pupils’ and families’ needs. These factors meant RAF was able to act much more quickly in response to COVID-19 than was possible for local government organisations. RAF has stepped forward to take the lead on co-ordinating a multi-agency response to the crisis across the community. By taking this role, it has been able to secure a renewed commitment for services, community groups and schools to work together to meet people’s increasing needs.