Dear Parents / Carers
Following on from Mr Foster’s communication dated 26th August 2020 I thought I would give you some breathing space before writing to you.
It has been wonderful to have the students back as they are the beating heart and soul of the school. Over the last few days as I have walked around the school it has been so pleasing to hear the normal conversations we would expect between young people as they start a new academic year. I cannot help but smile as Year 10 walk around proudly in their new blazers and conversations take place about blisters on feet as new school shoes have not be broken in and a whole plethora of other normal back-to-school topics.
Year 7 have settled in really well; their positive energy, inquisitive nature and enthusiasm have been a delight to observe.
What I have found immensely touching has been the number of students who have asked staff how they have been during the lockdown period. Despite the prolonged period out of school, the strength of The Priory School community is clear to see. School attendance has been excellent and if your child does need additional support then please contact the relevant Head of Year.
This year starts a new chapter in the appointment of our 6th Form student leadership team at the school. We have moved away from the traditional titles of Head Boy and Head Girl and adopted the new title of Head Student. It is probably fair to say that in the second decade of the 21st century this should have happened sooner. I would like to introduce you to our new Head Student team:
Head student: Chloe Moriarty
Head student: Amy Stewart
Deputy Head student: Tian Morley
Deputy Head student: Molly Root
Summer examination results 2020
In the political fallout of the Ofqual algorithm and the media frenzy that accompanied it, the success of Year 11 and Year 13 students got lost. Our Year 11 and Year 13 students having followed a two-year course should be proud of their success. The school submitted centre assessed grades in line with the Ofqual parameters, which were rigorously moderated and finally signed off by myself. Like normal examination years there were some disappointments, but overwhelmingly the grades awarded to the students were the best the school has seen.
Notable success in Year 11 came from:
James Henley-Waters: 10 Grade 9s
William Box: 8 Grade 9s and 2 Grade 8s
Alice Ramsey: 8 Grade 9s and 2 Grade 8s
Briony Arnold: 7 Grade 9s and 3 Grade 8s
Grace Jolley 6: Grade 9s and 4 Grade 8s
Rowan Vincent-Lake: 6 Grade 9s and 4 Grade 8s
Billy Walker: 5 Grade 9s and 5 Grade 8s
Atul Siburanj: 6 Grade 9s and 1 Grade 8s 1 Grade 7 and 1 Grade 6
Anna Wills: 4 Grade 9s and 5 Grade 8s and 1 Grade 7
Luke Scovell: 3 Grade 9s and 6 Grade 8s 1 Grade 7
Notable success in Year 13 came from:
Isaac Gianfrancesco (Cambridge – Medicine) A* A* A*
Veer Thandi A* A* A*
Zac Cash A* A A
Torin Burrows A A A A
Giorgia Mocan A* A A A
Evie Pyper A* A* A
Jayden Almond A A A
Grace Ramsey (Oxford – Music) A* A A
Ros Stephenson A* A* A
The vast majority of students got their preferred UCAS place and a number of students have achieved top level degree apprenticeships.
We have put in place the recommended DfE guidance to limit the spread of COVID-19 in school. We have a COVID-19 tab on the home page of our website where all relevant information will be posted. We have a comprehensive school risk assessment and this week we have been evaluating and tweaking aspects of it when we feel that certain procedures need addressing. This document will be placed on the school website next week and will be reviewed regularly.
Accompanying this letter is a communication from Hertfordshire Public Health Service in relation to COVID-19 in young people. This letter came out on 8th September and by the 9th the Government had announced the tightening of restrictions on the number of people who could meet together:
To ensure the safety of our families, work colleagues and the wider community we all have a moral responsibility to follow the restrictions imposed by the Government.
Currently we are operating a normal school curriculum, with some minor tweaks to ensure safety. As the term progresses there may well be a number of colleagues off school due to the need to self-isolate. Where a colleague is off school self-isolating but not ‘ill’ they will be working from home delivering their lessons to their classes online. The classes will be supervised by an appropriate adult, but the learning will be delivered by the teacher. The aim is to ensure as much continuity of learning as possible for our students.
There is undoubtedly going to be occasions this term where a student at The Priory School will test positive for COVID-19. We will work with the Local Authority and Public Health England to identify the best course of action, whether it be asking a specific group of students to self-isolate, a tutor group or in the worst case scenario a whole year group. If students are self-isolating then the expectation is that they will follow the school day at home accessing our online provision. Students will need to log on for morning registration at 8.50am and be available for each of their lessons.
Part of my role as Headteacher is to scenario plan and although the Government has indicated what schools need to do when there are local lockdowns (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-thecoronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools), what they have not covered is when a school faces the possibility of too many staff off self-isolating. If I take you back to before the lockdown, I had communicated with parents that we would be operating on a rotation of year groups in school as I could not staff the school safely. If, and I hope we do not reach this scenario, staffing levels become an issue we will revert to rotating year groups with those not in school being taught online.
Parents of students in Year 7 and Year 11 will have received a letter about the ongoing issues regarding our delivery of Chromebooks. COVID-19, compulsory purchase by governments and President Trump’s trade embargo on key electronic components have all played a part in delaying the arrival of the Chromebooks we ordered in March. On Tuesday 8th September, 300 Chromebooks were delivered, with another 100 following in the next week.
Year 11 & Year 13 summer exams 2021
As you will be aware there is an ongoing discussion about what should be happening with regards to the summer 2021 A level and GCSE exams. Ofqual has already published a document proposing specific changes to exams:
This document is being clarified with examination boards. It is unclear as yet if the summer examination series will be pushed back to start in June 2021 and we await further clarification. A letter to Year 11 and Year 13 students will be coming out early next week to reflect in more detail what we know and what we are doing to support both year groups to prepare for their exams.
During lockdown the school shared with parents and students advice about online safety. The role of the school is to educate students to become aware of the dangers of using the internet. However, what students’ access out of school is the responsibility of parents and carers.
The next few weeks may throw up a range of challenges, but I am sure that with the support of parents and carers we can work to overcome whatever crops up.
I wish you a pleasant weekend.