Dear Parent / Carer
We are rapidly approaching the end of this academic year and although the COVID-19 has challenged and will continue to challenge our daily routines, as a school community we will continue to rise to the challenge. I do not underestimate the difficulties that the lockdown has caused for many families; if we pause and reflect we might want to congratulate ourselves as parents for doing the best we have been able to do.
Placing everything into context, I feel that the vast majority of our students have engaged well with the learning opportunities set. Did we get it right all the time? Definitely not, but where possible we reflected on what was set and changed direction accordingly. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the countless number of parents and students who have sent positive feedback to my staff. Many of these messages of support have been shared with colleagues and it has not been uncommon for a few tears to be shed – after all, teachers are only human!
Since the start of the lockdown we have had a number of key worker children in school and this number has increased over the last few weeks. From 15th June we have had Year 10 in school on a daily rota studying the core subjects and history or geography. We brought in Year 12 from 22nd June and they have also been studying across the consortium.
We have run a Keeping in Touch programme with Key Stage 3 who have come into school on Fridays in split year groups. It was fantastic to see Year 8 students last week and Year 7 today and I look forward to seeing Year 9 on
17th July. With more students in the school it feels like its soul has returned.
From Monday 6th July all teaching and support staff have been back in school to prepare for September. Many of my colleagues had not been in school since the lockdown started and it is important that we re-connect before the end of the school year, celebrate what has been achieved and say goodbye to those who are moving on.
Despite the lockdown, a number of school events have taken place. Mr Foster and the Pastoral team have concluded the Year 6 to Year 7 transition process, the Year 11 induction to Year 12 has taken place, and the virtual Sports Days are currently drawing to a conclusion.
Next week a number of letters will be coming out that address a range of topics:
- A letter to Year 10 students about Chromebooks for them from September;
- A letter to Year 11 students about coming back into school on rotation from Monday 20th July;
- A letter and supporting documentation about the Year 13 and Year 11 results day;
- A letter from the Learning Support department about transition arrangements the first week back;
- A letter to all students about the arrangements for the first week back.
Preparing for September 2020
On 2nd July the DfE published its guidance for re-opening schools from September. We have spent the last week going through the guidance, discussing issues with other local schools and reviewing what ASCL (Association of School & College Leaders) have said. From the autumn term we are being asked to reintroduce as much as possible ‘education as usual’ with additional precautions to make the school as safe as possible. COVID-19 will still be with us when we return in September and what we aim to do is to mitigate the risk of infection as much as we can. Enhanced cleaning, rigorous hygiene measures and guidance will become the norm, but social distancing in the main will not be possible. The aim is to minimise contact between groups of students at particular times of the day.
We are currently working through our plans for September, which may change, but I felt it was important to outline our main strategies, with the granular details released before the start of term.
Start to the new term
- The dates for the beginning of next term have changed to support students in re-connecting with the school.
- Tuesday 1st September will be a staff INSET day.
- Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd September will see the new Year 7 students in school for transition, as well as identified other year groups (tbc).
- Friday 4th September will see all Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 students in all day.
- Monday 7th September will be the start of normal lessons.
- All students will be expected to be in full school uniform.
- The school Attendance Policy in line with DfE guidance will be implemented from the start of term. Where there are attendance issues these will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
- The expectation is that all students will be returning to school unless there is a legitimate medical reason supported by a letter from a doctor.
Medical care plans
- If your child has a medical care plan or you feel they may face additional challenges due to the COVID-19 situation, please contact your child’s Head of Year by Wednesday 15th This will support the school in planning how best we can offer support based on the relevant government guidance.
- The vast majority of our students arrive at school either by walking, car or bike. However, there is a significant minority who travel to school by bus.
- Students either use public service buses or dedicated Local Authority provision. Whichever service that is used, students from all ages will be travelling together.
- The current thinking is that Local authority buses are deemed as a bubble for travelling and therefore there is no need to wear masks or to social distance.
- However, public buses require students over the age of 11 to wear a mask and there will be restrictions on the number of passengers who can travel on these services.
- Where possible it would be advisable to avoid travelling to school by public bus.
- The responsibility for school transport rests with the Local Authority and we are currently waiting for additional guidance.
Start of the school day – 8.50am
- The start of the school day will not be staggered and all students will be expected in school by 8.50am
- Once a student arrives at school they will be directed to a specific year group zone.
- From September there will be no school breakfast offered, but this will be reviewed for October.
Organisation of the school day
- To limit the contact between students we will be operating in year group bubbles.
- We aim to limit the amount of movement on the school site and therefore contact.
- There will be staggered break and lunchtimes with allocated outside zones for each year group.
Key Stage 3
- Key Stage 3 will be taught in form groups (no sets) with teachers moving to the classrooms.
- Year 8 & Year 9 will be able to use computer rooms, and Year 7 will have their Chromebooks.
- Art, music, design technology and drama are adjusting their Key Stage 3 schemes of learning to account for the loss of specialist teaching space. We will review this strategy at the end of September and where possible allow students to use specialist rooms.
- PE lessons will run, but the curriculum offer will be limited based on the relevant DfE guidance.
Key Stage 4
- Year 10 and Year 11 will have normal lessons with movement between classes. Where possible we will look to limit the movement between non-specialist rooms.
- Year 12 and Year 13 will have normal lessons with movement between classes. Where possible we will look to limit the movement between non-specialist rooms.
- 6th Form students will be able to be taught off-site, but there will be clear protocols on how to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19.
- We are currently looking at the best way to support our students who have additional needs whilst in lessons and using the Learning Support base rooms C1 and B3.
- We are seeking additional guidance from the Local Authority and from local Special Schools who have remained open during the lockdown.
- There will be no extra-curricular provision offered by the school for the first half term. This will be reviewed at the end of September to see if adjustments can be made.
- We are currently reviewing how best to offer 121 music lessons.
- The traditional Year 6 Open Evening and Morning Tours will not take place and will be delivered online.
- Until October half term, any planned parents’ evening will be virtual.
We still have much planning to do to be ready for September, but we will keep you informed about the protocols we are developing before the start of term.