The Priory School 146

TPS Update 20.03.2020

Dear Parent / Carers

From Monday 23rd March, The Priory School will be closed to all students except those from families of Key Workers and the most vulnerable. The letter I sent out yesterday (Thursday 19th March) contained details about how to contact the school if you are a Key Worker and the provision The Priory School will be making next week for those students in school. You may be aware that the Government has since published advice on the definition of Key Workers and associated matters. It can be seen here:

Guidance for schools, colleges and local authorities on maintaining educational provision – GOV.UK

Please note the part of the guidance which states:

“If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.”

The guidance also reminds parents that:

“Parents should also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They should observe the same social distancing principles as adults.”

We have been asked to draw that reminder to your attention as something to observe during the period of school closure.

Online learning

The school has been preparing for a full school closure for the last couple of weeks. We cannot replicate the learning done in school so we aim to adapt and produce meaningful experiences for our students. All of the work will be set via the ShowMyHomework (SMHW) platform. At times, this platform like others will be slower than usual due to the volume of traffic that is expected; this is something we cannot control.

Operating in this way is new ground for all of us and we hope that the work that arrives home is accessible and realistic in terms of timeframes. Staff will continue to be working from home and students are encouraged to email teachers if they have any issues. Email addresses should be available at the end of the instructions for each piece of work set on SMHW.

On the home page of the school website there is a ‘Virtual Learning’ tab and this page has links to all relevant online learning resources for each Key Stage. If your child has mislaid a password for a software package that we use or you do not have your own SMHW login as a parent, please email iforgot@priory.herts.sch.uk.

Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs

MOOCs are free to access short courses delivered online. They have no entry requirements so are open to everyone. They are an engaging and accessible way of distance learning produced by some of the top Universities and Companies around the world. These courses offer alternative learning for students in Key Stage 4 and above. They enable whoever signs up to learn new skills or bridge gaps in their knowledge and offer an excellent opportunity to continue to think and engage with academia. Whilst all the content is free, there are some courses that require a fee to receive a certificate at the end – this is not compulsory.

Following are some links to free MOOCs:
Future Learn: https://www.futurelearn.com/ (the UK’s largest range of MOOCs, partly owned by The Open University)
Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org/
EdX: https://www.edx.org/ (a provider from America, these are some challenging courses from the most reputable American Universities)
Coursera: https://www.coursera.org/

Key Stage 3

Departments have been asked to produce between 2 and 3 hours of work a week for students to complete. If your child is in Key Stage 3 (Year 7, 8 or 9) they will be set work by up to 5 departments each week according to the table below.

Monday 23rd March
Year 7 – English, MFL, Music and PE
Year 8 – Maths, Computing, Art and Geography
Year 9 – Science, History, Drama, P&E and Tech

Monday 30th March
Year 7 – Science, History, Drama, P&E and Tech
Year 8 – English, MFL, Music and PE
Year 9 – Maths, Computing, Art and Geography

Monday 20th April
Year 7 – Maths, Computing, Art and Geography
Year 8 – Science, History, Drama, P&E and Tech
Year 9 – English, MFL, Music and PE

National Exams: GCSE & A Level

On Wednesday 18th March it was announced that all national exams in May and June would be cancelled. The quote below is from Geoff Barton, the President of the Association of Schools and College Leaders (ASCL).

“Once it became clear that the epicentre of the virus was in the middle of the exam season, the prospect of running a full suite of exams became unfeasible. The decision therefore was whether to run a partial season – say, just A Levels and perhaps English and Maths GCSE. However, the problem with this is that we would end up with three groups of students – some who had sat all of their exams; some who had sat some; and some who were too sick to sit any. Trying to regulate fairness across such diverse groups would be impossible for the awarding bodies and regulator. So – unpalatable as it may seem – it’s actually easier to treat all young people the same by having none of them sit exams.”

Key Stage 4

Year 10

Year 10 students will be set tasks from all their subject areas. This is an important year and with a number of lost weeks this and next term in schooling, it is vital that students complete the work presented to them.

At this stage I am not clear what reasonable adjustments will be made for them when they sit their exams in May/June 2021, but it is important that they work hard to ensure they have the knowledge base to succeed well.

Year 11

Year 11 students will be set tasks from all their subject areas.

In light of the announcement that external exams will be cancelled, it is vitally important that students continue to work to enable teachers to update our predictions on what they should have achieved when they sat the exams.

The Government has guaranteed that all students will be awarded their certificates in August. The range of information they will request from schools isn’t clear yet, but predicted grades would be a major source of evidence.

Students need to ensure that they are prepared for their A Level and college courses for September. They need a strong grasp of the subjects that they are going to study to avoid a knowledge and cognitive gap.

Students should not be concerned about moving on to 6th Form or to other providers, as the school will ensure that this is supported.

6th Form

Year 12

Year 12 students will be set tasks from all their subject areas. This is an important year and with a number of lost weeks this and next term in schooling, it is vital that students complete the work presented to them.

At this stage I am not clear what reasonable adjustments will be made for them when they sit their exams in May /June 2021, but it is important that they work hard to ensure they have the knowledge base to succeed well.

Year 13

Year 13 students will be set tasks from all their subject areas.

In light of the announcement that external exams will be cancelled, it is vitally important that students continue to work to enable teachers to update our predications on what they should have achieved when they sat the exams.

The Government has guaranteed that all students will be awarded their certificates in August. The range of information they will request from schools isn’t clear yet, but predicted grades would be a major source of evidence.

Students need to ensure that they are prepared for their courses for September. They need a strong grasp of the subjects that they are going to study to avoid a knowledge and cognitive gap. It should be possible for students to access the reading lists of the degree courses they will be studying; students should use their time to read around their chosen subject.

Wellbeing

The wellbeing of our students is paramount and as such the school will continue to offer a range of support for your child and where needed the wider family.

Tutors will be emailing their form groups once a day in the morning to touch base with them and to support the establishment of daily routines.

The wider Pastoral team will be contacting key students regularly to offer advice and support.

The Wellbeing team will continue to support identified students and where possible counselling / mentoring sessions may continue at school.

If students or parents / carers have areas they wish to discuss then please use the following email address: pastoral@priory.herts.sch.uk.

Please also see these two documents: Helping Your Child Learn At Home and Wellbeing Hints & Tips.

Additional information on student wellbeing can be found on our school website under ‘Information: Student Wellbeing and Personal Development’. The school has a longstanding relationship with PHASE who are also offering support to students. Please use this email address to contact them: support@phase-hitchin.org.

Supporting families

There will be challenges over the next few weeks for all families, some more than others. We aim to support as many families as possible.

A number of voluntary organisations are looking to provide food parcels to families. Food parcels can be picked up from The Priory School on Thursday morning. Please come to the school reception.

We will be able to issue food vouchers to the value of £20 per week to all families whose children are currently entitled to free school meals and unable to attend school. Vouchers can be redeemed at Sainsbury’s in Hitchin. Please contact Tony Foster at the school (tony.foster@priory.herts.sch.uk; 01462 622300 ext. 204).

Future Communications

I will provide you with weekly updates by email and these will also be posted on our website.

 

The Priory School has a highly professional and dedicated workforce. Over the last few weeks staff have and will continue to support your child as best as they can. This is unchartered territory and as such we are all on a giant learning curve. Please follow the Government advice on combating COVID-19 and take care of yourselves and those around you.

Kind regards

Geraint Edwards

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