TPS Update 18/12/2020

Dear Parents / Carers

Many of you will have seen the announcements from the Department for Education (DfE) about next term regarding mass testing and a staggered start to the first week back.

Much has been made in the press about mass testing in schools, but the devil is in the detail. Testing is not mandatory, but we will take advantage of this support. We have robust COVID-19 risk-management strategies in school and the ability to test will be an additional tool to deploy. As it currently stands, the DfE has not issued any detailed guidance to schools. This is due to be released next week. It is like having an early Christmas present, which requires detailed instructions that have not been provided!

The current school position is that testing will only take place once the following has been actioned:

1. Confirmation from the DfE about the supply of test kits and PPE to ensure we have capacity to test consistently and safely;

2. The identification of a testing site and the implication this has on the running of the school;

3. The identification of employees to be trained to carry out the multiple roles required to accurately carry out the testing;

4. Small group testing to review and develop our testing programme.

The aim would be to roll out a larger testing programme if required towards the end of January. Although there has been much said about recruiting volunteers, the issue of DBS checks, induction and safeguarding training makes such an approach logistically burdensome.

Although we will not be mass testing from 4th January, the DfE has made it clear that all schools should have a staggered start to the beginning of the term. This is because we all know that there will be a spike in infections after the Christmas holidays. We saw a similar occurrence after October half term when we had an increase in
COVID cases.

To give you some advanced warning, these are the key points I want to make you aware of regarding the start of term on Monday 4th January. I will write to you again on Wednesday 30th December to update you about any additional information or changes to what I have said below.

1. Years 10, 11, 12 and 13 will be expected in school for normal lessons.
2. Whether Post-16 consortium lessons will take place ‘face-to-face’ is yet to be confirmed.
3. Years 7, 8 and 9 will have remote online learning that will follow their timetable. Lessons will be live and all students will be expected to be in attendance. We will be tracking and contacting those students who have not participated.
4. The school will provide Chromebooks and Wi-Fi connection to those who we already know require
this support.
5. The school will provide a FSM voucher for those students in Key Stage 3 who are not in.
6. The school will have provision for students in Key Stage 3 who have been identified as vulnerable or who are children of critical workers. The logistics regarding this will be communicated in my next letter.

Please stay safe and take care.

Geraint Edwards