Dear Parents / Carers
We hope that you have had an enjoyable summer and that your children are looking forward to the resumption of school in September. This letter is intended to update you on a variety of aspects of school life and how things will operate as we move forward. It is a lengthy letter and some of the information below is a repeat of details sent in late July. Please read it carefully and share the information with your children – there is a lot to read but we hope it is useful.
Return to School: Dates and Times
School will be open for all students in September. As such, our expectation is that we will see your child as per the dates and times laid out below. Our usual attendance and absence procedures will be in operation, so it is vital that you communicate with us any reasons as to why your child is not in school. Students should arrive in their full school uniform. Please remember we do not permit earrings of any description and your child’s hair should not be dyed any unnatural colour.
Please note the following start dates and timings for the first week back:
- Tuesday 1st September – Staff INSET – no students in school
- Wednesday 2nd September – Year 7, Year 8 and Year 12 in school (not Years 9, 10, 11 or 13)
Arrival Time: Year 7 – 8.50am; Year 8 – 9.30am; Year 12 – from 8.30am (8.50am start for Year 12)
Year 7 should enter school via the Sports Hall (turn left as you approach the top of the drive). Years 8 & 12 will enter via main reception.
- Thursday 3rd September – Years 7, 9, 10, 12 and 13 in school (not Years 8 or 11)
Arrival Time: Year 7 – 8.50am; Years 9 & 10 – 9.30am; Year 12 – 8.50am start; Year 13 – 9.30am start
Year 7 should enter school via the Sports Hall. Years 9, 12 and 13 should enter via reception and Year 10 should enter via the usual green gates.
- Friday 4th September – All Key Stage 3 & Key Stage 4 year groups in school (not 6th form)
Arrival time: from 8.30am onwards.
All students to be on site by 8.50am.
Lessons begin period 2.
See information below for arrival locations for each year group.
- Monday 7th September – All students in school from 8.30am onwards and 8.50am at the latest.
6th form lessons begin.
This will be a Week 2 in the calendar.
Time will be spent on Wednesday 2nd and Thursday 3rd September helping students to reconnect with school, staff and peers. The day will be spent in tutor groups where there will be some structured activities but also an opportunity for the students to catch up with each other, find out more about how school will run and relax in each other’s company again.
Years 8, 9 and 10 will spend an hour on a tutor group walk around Oughtonhead Common on the first Wednesday or Thursday. This is to help them to re-engage with each other as a group away from the confines of a classroom. Similar out-of-classroom activities proved hugely successful when some students returned in the summer term. Relevant guidance to ensure group safety and appropriate behaviour on the walk will be given to students on the day. Your parental consent for this walk will be assumed unless we hear otherwise from you. Arrangements will be made for those students with medical needs who may not be able to participate.
Please note that from Friday 4th September, students will only be permitted on site from 8.30am. We appreciate this will cause logistical issues for some families, but we must be able to implement our safety protocols for your children and to have them on site before this time makes this very difficult. As and when the situation allows, we will lift this restriction.
Safety at School
The safety of staff and students is paramount to us and will direct the way in which the school operates for the foreseeable future. We urge you and your children to be as flexible as possible in these unprecedented times. There will be aspects of school life which are far from ideal but in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are left with little choice but to alter the way we work until the situation improves.
Included within the range of safety measures and changes to protocol we will use are:
- Hand sanitisers have been placed in every classroom, in corridors and other outside areas.
- Year groups will operate within a ‘year group bubble’. We will minimise contact between year groups as much as possible.
- Students will not have their temperature checked on arrival. They will be expected to hand sanitise at appropriate times and may wear a face covering if they wish.
- Break and lunch times will be staggered to minimise cross bubble contact.
- Key Stage 3 classes will largely be restricted to one classroom for their lessons, with teaching staff coming to them rather than the other way round.
- Key Stage 4 classes are being allowed more movement around school to enable the use of specialist classrooms and facilities.
- Cleaning routines and protocols are in place throughout the school and we have deployed more cleaner hours to help with this.
- Staff will be modifying their practice to avoid the sharing of equipment as much as possible. All classrooms have been modified to ensure front-facing desks. Staff may be wearing PPE whilst teaching.
- Visitors to school will be kept to a minimum.
- Students will be encouraged to respect social distancing rules at all times that are practical.
Where Your Child Should Go On Arrival to School
We will not be using a staggered start to the school day. With the arrival of 1000+ students in many different ways, the logistics would be too complicated.
To help keep year group bubbles apart, we will ask different year groups to enter school in different places. This will apply from Friday 4th September. Students who usually enter school through the ‘back gate’ of school may continue to do so but should immediately go to the appropriate zone as per the information below.
|Year Groups||Entry To School Through….|
|8 and 6th form||Reception|
|7 and 9||A block side gates|
|10 and 11||Green gates by Sports Hall|
Year Group Bubble Zones
These are marked with coloured posters. There are corresponding stickers on the café tables for each year group. These zones are where students should gather in the morning before school and for KS3, before each lesson. Staff will collect their classes from these areas.
|Year Group||Year Group Zone|
|7||Under large canopy, outside Science and D block|
|8||KS3 quad area outside English|
|10||KS4 astroturf outside cafe|
|11||Basketball court and memorial garden by tech|
|6th form||6th form centre|
Travelling To and From School
The Intalink bus company have put together information regarding bus travel and the measures they are taking to support efforts with social distancing etc. Their information page should answer any questions you have and is here: www.intalink.org.uk/safeschooltransport.
This page will provide information on the following key messages:
- Public transport safety guidance – on dedicated school services and public transport
- Duplicate bus services – Intalink are running duplicate vehicles on busy routes to assist with social distancing
- Buses will have officers in place at the start of term monitoring pupil movement and congestion and we will act quickly to try and overcome specific problems
- E routes will run as normal but are likely to be split by school to minimise pupil interaction
- Reducing congestion – guidance on forming ‘Walking Bubbles’ to reduce congestion around the school
Other guidance regarding bus travel that should be considered:
- For all public buses there is a requirement to wear face masks at all times whilst on the bus, so please provide these for your child. A mask that is able to be worn several times and washed will be most appropriate.
- For students travelling on local authority-provided transport there is not the requirement to wear masks but you may feel it is appropriate to also provide this protection. Please also ask your child to try and socially distance as much as is possible whilst travelling.
- Upon arrival at school students hand sanitise on leaving the bus and remove their mask.
- All students should then immediately enter the school through the designated access point for their year group and remain in the designated area until the commencement of lessons.
- Staff will be available at all times to support your child when necessary.
For any students that walk to school, it will be their responsibility to honour the social distancing guidance we are all subject to. This includes congregating outside school in places like the BP garage and whilst waiting for buses. Parents will not be able to enter the top car park by reception.
Students arriving on bikes should take them to the bike compound and hand sanitise after the bikes have been locked.
Consortium Students (6th Form)
Once lessons for 6th form begin on 7th September, 6th form students will be initially asked to only attend school when they have a lesson. If your child, for example, has their first lesson of the day at lesson 2, they do not need to attend school for lesson 1. Similarly, if your child’s lessons finish, for example, at lunchtime, they may go home to study for the afternoon. Where students have free periods sandwiched between lessons, study areas will be available for them to use. The consortium buses will be operating, but your child should ensure they are following guidance regarding face coverings etc.
Parents Coming to School
Where you would like a meeting with a member of staff, we will conduct this over the phone or via Google Meet unless it is absolutely necessary for you to come into the building.
- All visitors will need to wear a face covering and will have their temperature taken on arrival.
- Parents please do not turn up at reception without an appointment, as you will be asked to leave the school premises. This is to help minimise mixing of people on site.
Within lessons, the following protocols will be adhered to where possible: classroom doors will be kept open and rooms ventilated; students will remain in the same seat for each class; staff will minimise the equipment being distributed and shared to classes; staff will minimise the use of group work; marking will happen in school where possible to avoid books being taken home; teaching assistants will still be allocated to relevant classes for support; some lessons will finish a few minutes early to facilitate hand sanitation.
Equipment at School
Please help us to minimise the sharing of equipment such as pens, pencils, calculators and glue sticks by ensuring your child brings their own where possible. The reward shop will be stocked with all relevant classroom materials, and students can use their reward points from the last school year to purchase these things. Ideally, each child should have their own pen, pencil, calculator, ruler and eraser as a minimum.
The Café and Lunchtimes
The café will be open for both break service and lunch service, but unfortunately due to the requirements of social segregation during this period of COVID-19 we will not be able to provide the free breakfast. Break times will rotate between 10.30am and 11.30am, with some period 2 lessons being split to accommodate this. Lunchtime remains from 12.30pm to 1.30pm (with the exception of Year 7 who will have an early lunch from 12pm) but with staggered entry times for each year group. Students with the need to eat at specific times with medication will be catered for.
- We will not be serving our free breakfast at the start of term, but this will be reviewed at the end of September.
- During break there will be a choice of up to 8 vegetarian and non-vegetarian hot snacks, such as bacon rolls, sausage rolls, and tomato and cheese nachos, all priced at £1.
- For lunch there will also be the addition of a vegetarian and non-vegetarian hot meal choice at a cost of £2.30.
- The system will still operate on the Smartcard, which can be topped up via ParentMail. The cash top-up machines are still available but we would encourage students not to use them.
- For all new Year 7s, Smartcards will be issued during the first week and during this week food will be provided free of charge.
Students will have designated areas of the café in which to eat. Assuming the weather is good, the school field and MUGA will be open and students will be asked to stick to designated areas in which to play and relax.
The toilets in school will be regularly cleaned, have both hand sanitiser and soap available and, where possible, operate on a rotational basis for year group bubbles.
Water fountains will only be open to fill bottles and not to drink directly from.
The library will be open on a rotational basis at lunchtimes for students who wish to use this space.
Attendance and self-isolation
As mentioned at the top of this letter, the expectation is that all students are in school from the start of term. An exception to this may be that your family has returned from a country for which the Government has imposed a compulsory 14-day quarantine. Please contact us asap if this is the case so that work can be provided. If your child develops symptoms of COVID-19, they should not be sent to school and you should contact us immediately. We will communicate next steps to the relevant people.
We appreciate that there may be ongoing anxieties about the return to school and the impact that COVID-19 has had on some of our families. To that end, where a child’s attendance is not reaching the standards that we would expect, we will seek to understand if these sorts of issues related to coronavirus apply. In such circumstances we will put in place what support we can, but always encourage families to return their children to school. Should we feel an absence is persisting for too long or that there is no other valid reason for prolonged absence, we will revert to the usual warning and fining system.
Please make sure your communication with us regarding any absences is prompt. Our school target for attendance is 96% – this is equivalent to one day off per half term.
If any families have already booked holidays that mean their child is absent between 2nd and 4th September, these absences will be authorised.
The following guidance is from Public Health England regarding steps we need to take in the event of a case of COVID-19. The school will work actively with the NHS Test and Trace programme and the Public Health England health protection team. There are a number of websites, including this one, giving further details: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/nhs-test-and-trace-if-youre-contacted-after-testing-positive-for-coronavirus/
Schools must ensure that all parents/carers, and staff understand that they need to be ready and willing to:
- book a test if they or their child are displaying symptoms. Staff and pupils must not come into the school if they have symptoms, and must be sent home to self-isolate if they develop them in school.
- provide details of anyone they or their child has been in close contact with if they were to test positive for Coronavirus (COVID-19) or if asked by NHS Test and Trace.
- self-isolate if they have been in close contact with someone who tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), or if anyone in their household develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). Anyone who displays symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can and should get a test. Tests can be booked online through the NHS testing and tracing for coronavirus website or ordered by telephone via NHS 119 for those without access to the internet. Parents (and staff) are asked to inform the school immediately of the results of a test.
- if someone tests negative, if they feel well and no longer have symptoms similar to coronavirus (COVID-19), they can stop self-isolating. They could still have another virus, such as a cold or flu – in which case it is still best to avoid contact with other people until they are better. Other members of their household can stop self-isolating.
- if someone tests positive, they should follow the COVID-19 guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection and must continue to self-isolate for at least 10 days from the onset of their symptoms and then return to school only if they do not have symptoms other than cough or loss of sense of smell/taste. This is because a cough or anosmia can last for several weeks once the infection has gone. The 10-day period starts from the day when they first became ill. If they still have a high temperature, they should keep self-isolating until their temperature returns to normal. Other members of their household should continue self-isolating for the full 14 days.
The behaviour for learning and wider school behaviour that our students demonstrate is almost always outstanding. As with all schools however, we experience a small number of incidents that present us with a challenge and we anticipate that after six months of absence from the routines of school life, there may be some students whose frustrations manifest themselves in poor behaviour.
We will again therefore apply compassion and understanding and make reasonable adjustments for those students who are finding it difficult to return to school life and the expectations that we have. However, our students are here to learn and progress and we cannot allow poor behaviour to prevent this. We have the added complexity of not allowing students to mix ‘across bubbles’ in the school, which makes some of our behaviour support mechanisms difficult to deploy.
As such, we will not be using our internal exclusion unit (the EU) in the normal way. Where students’ behaviour is challenging and students will not follow direction to settle back into their learning, it may well be necessary to exclude them from school and for them to go home. We anticipate that this would be the exception rather than the rule and we never seek to exclude children, but in the current climate our options are more limited.
Students who do not respect the requirements to avoid ‘cross-bubble mixing’ will be sanctioned. At the start of term, detentions will be taking place on a specific night for each year group, again to avoid mixing of students.
We will be expecting students to meet our usual high standards with uniform in September. As a reminder, this means appropriately coloured hair, proper school shoes and no jewellery of any description. Some students return from holidays with newly pierced ears – they will be asked to remove their earrings if this is the case. Specific changes to the behaviour policy will be communicated to students and parents at the start of term.
It will remain our policy that all mobile phones should be handed in to school for safe keeping. For all students in Years 7 to 11, phone collection will be done in tutor group time in the morning.
- Key Stage 3 students will have their phones returned at the end of lesson 5.
- Key Stage 4 phones will be returned in the two café areas.
- Please ensure your child looks after their named phone bag and help us ensure it is used. We will provide new bags in the first week of term.
The End of the Day and Clubs
We will operate a staggered end to lesson 5 to help ensure an orderly exit from school.
Year 8 – 3.15pm
Year 10 – 3.20pm
Year 9 – 3.25pm
Years 7, 11 and 6th form – 3.30pm
There will be no extracurricular clubs on offer at the start of term. As soon as we feel these can begin safely, students will be informed.
Wellbeing and First Aid
The return to school may be an event that provides anxiety for some students. Our wellbeing team will be working to support as many students as possible. Please liaise with your child’s form tutor if you feel there is information that would be useful for us to know.
First aid procedures will operate in much the same way as usual but all staff tending to students who are unwell will be wearing PPE. We have created an additional first aid room at the back of the school hall for those students who may be displaying COVID-19 symptoms. Should your child be exhibiting any symptoms associated with COVID-19, they will be isolated and we will call home to ask parents to collect their child as soon as possible. We will then give further guidance as to what self-isolation procedures should be undertaken based on PHE advice mentioned above.
Cancellation and Postponement of Evening Events
Due to the nature of many of our evening events and the high concentrations of people at these, most of our calendared events in the first half term have been postponed or cancelled.
The following events will take place in a ‘virtual format’. More details will follow for each.
- Welcome to the 6th Form – Wednesday 23rd September
- Year 7 Parents Welcome Evening – Thursday 1st October
- Open Evening – Thursday 8th October
The format of the Year 13 Parents Evening on Thursday 5th November, the Year 11 event on 11th November and any subsequent parents’ evenings will be decided nearer the time. It may be possible to invite parents into school by then but we will wait to make a decision.
Staff have been working hard to ready themselves for an exciting new Chromebook initiative due to start in September. All Year 7 and 11 students will have access to a Google Chromebook device to support them with their studies.
Over the course of the lockdown and school closure, we loaned a number of machines to students to support their home learning. If your child was given a device on loan, please ensure this is returned to school asap along with the charging cable. Thank you.
Homework Next Year
For a number of years now we have used the Show My Homework online platform to set homework across all year groups. From September we will be migrating across to Google Classroom to set all homework. Each teacher will have a Classroom set up and this will be the place that students will find all their set homework, any resources needed, as well as due dates. Google Classroom also allows students to submit their work on this platform. Students will be automatically added to teachers’ Classrooms in September and do not need to do anything to prepare for this move from the old platform.
Parents and carers will be able to receive updates regarding the work that has been set as well as which work has been turned in. In September we will provide further details about how this will work.
I hope that you have found this lengthy letter useful and that it provides some answers now and in the coming weeks. We will have a COVID-19 tab on the front page of the website which will be kept up to date with further details. We look forward to welcoming your children back to school next week and for your anticipated support in these challenging times.