Dear Parent / Carer
The last six weeks have been a bit of a blur at times, with days morphing into each other. However, there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel. When the physicist Amory Lovins was asked whether he was an optimist or a pessimist he replied:
‘I am neither — because they are just two different forms of fatalism. The optimist says things have to get to better, and the pessimist says things have to get worse. I believe in applied hope. Things can get better, but you have to make them so.’
We as a community can play our part in making the situation we are in better by supporting each other in our family units, in our school and in the wider community.
The week beginning Monday 22nd February is going to see some key decisions made by the Government and Ofqual about whether schools open more widely on Monday 8th March and the way forward for Year 11 and Year 13 examinations. There is much media noise, ‘expert opinion’ and political gamesmanship about the wider reopening of schools. My advice is to ignore this and instead give some thought to the following three potential scenarios in order to prepare yourself for what may happen:
1. Secondary schools remain closed until after the Easter holidays.
2. From 8th March there will be year group rotations or a staggered wider reopening, with Year 11 and Year 13 being prioritised.
3. Secondary schools will be fully open from 8th March.
Monday 22nd February
It was with great sadness that the school received the news that a much-loved ex-colleague of The Priory School had sadly passed away after losing her fight with cancer. Cheryl Kellett was one of those colleagues who brought light in to the school. Her passion for working with young people was clear for all to see and she had a positive impact on the life chances of many. Due to COVID restrictions colleagues will not be able to attend her funeral. However, the service is being streamed live and is due to start at midday and the funeral cortege will be passing the school at around 11.40am. To allow colleagues who wish to pay their respects to do so, period 3 (11.30am-12.30pm) will be a non-live teaching lesson for them. I have asked colleagues who will be attending the online service to notify their period 3 classes.
Non-live teaching days
The following dates will be the non-live teaching days (work will still be set) next half term. I have included dates for the full half term in case schools do not re-open fully or only open to certain year groups.
Wednesday 24th February (week 2)
Thursday 4th March (week 1)
Tuesday 9th March (week 2)
Wednesday 17th March (week 1)
Thursday 25th March (week 2)
Post 14 pathways (Year 9)
Information about the Pathways process can now be viewed via the homepage of our school website. Applications are via the SIMS Parent App. If you have any problems using the app, please send an email to Janine.Cane@priory.herts.sch.uk. Requests need to be submitted by 15th March. If you have any questions about Learning Pathways, please contact Mrs Nearney at Faye.Nearney@priory.herts.sch.uk.
Student engagement survey
The second of our student engagement surveys is ready to go and we would like all students and their parents/carers to complete it:
These surveys enable us to gauge how students are managing with their online learning. They form an important part of our ongoing strategy and enable us to improve the experience of virtual learning for your child and also allow us to identify any further support we need to offer to individuals or groups.
The school continues to run its in-house testing programme for all staff and students of key workers. In the event that there is a requirement for schools to offer testing to all students when schools open more widely, we will send home detailed information about the consent, registration and testing process.
Year 11 and Year 13 students
Following on from the letters that were sent on 1st February and 5th February, this is a reminder for Year 11 and Year 13 students (those taught at The Priory School) that the first two weeks after half term will be open-book assessments.
Students will receive feedback based on their answers, but will not receive grades. Their teachers will inform them about the date of the assessment and which topics will be covered. Students will need to be organised, make sure they have all the appropriate equipment and follow instructions regarding how they should submit their answers.
Priory School students who are taught at Hitchin Boys’ School and Hitchin Girls’ School will be informed by their teachers at those schools when they will have any assessments. These assessments may take place at a different time to those at The Priory School.
JustTalk young people’s COVID-19 webinar – 17th February 2021
Hertfordshire County Council has arranged for a webinar for young people to be held on 17th February. This was promoted through the year group newsletters last week and would be a good opportunity for TPS students to voice their opinions.
Young people can submit questions ahead of time by sending an email to JustTalk@hertfordshire.gov.uk.
To register and join the webinar visit www.justtalkherts.org/coronaviruswebinar
Staying safe over half term
Being in lockdown is frustrating, but we should take a step back and reflect on why we are doing this.
“It’s encouraging to see that the sacrifices we are all making are working, however we must continue with our efforts. The good direction could reverse quickly, and the rate of cases and hospitalisations remains worryingly high. Hundreds of thousands of people are being vaccinated every day which is fantastic, when you are offered please do take it. For now, please continue to play your part by staying at home and reducing your contacts to a minimum. This is the simplest way to bring down the number of infections and save lives.”
Yvonne Doyle – Medical Director for Public Health England
Following is a link to information about the continued expectations during lockdown:
Thank you for your continued support. We all miss not having our students in school. I have said it before, but without the interaction and daily contact with young people the soul of the school is hidden away.
Please take care and stay safe.