Dear Parents / Carers
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the continued support during these unprecedented times. We face many challenges in the forthcoming weeks whilst dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. First and foremost, the main challenge is to ensure that we as a school community remain safe by following the instructions given by the Government on self-isolation:
There is no defined time frame for when schools will re-open fully. In light of the news this morning, we could be looking at restrictions for up to the next six months. Forever the optimist, I would hope to be looking at June for some form of school opening.
Following on from my letter dated Friday 20th March, please read the following information.
Communication with the school
You are not parenting in isolation with your children; we are here to support you as much as we can. At the school itself we are currently operating a skeleton staff for children of Key Workers and for identified vulnerable young people. We do not have the capacity to take phone calls at the school. However, colleagues can be contacted directly via email. The email addresses for all teachers can be found under the ‘Virtual Learning’ tab on our website. Further information can be found on the ‘Contact’ page of the school website.
- Curriculum enquiries: If you have a subject enquiry please contact the subject teacher or the Head of Department.
- Pastoral & wellbeing enquiries: If you have a pastoral-related issue please use firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Free school meals enquiries: email@example.com.
Tutors are engaging with students each morning, as the first point of contact with their tutees. I would like to encourage you to ensure that your child is actively engaging with their tutor on a daily basis. Last week students received a letter from their Head of Year setting out expectations, and we need your support in implementing these.
A ‘Keeping in Touch’ information sheet was also sent out by Heads of Years. This was sent on Friday and we aim to send this out at the end of each week. Please take time to read this with your child.
Further, the school regularly uses Twitter to share information. If you are not following the main school Twitter account then I would strongly urge you to do so: @TPS_Hitchin. Currently we are posting daily Tweets celebrating the work done by students at home. There is also a Twitter account run by our wellbeing and mental health team: TPS_wellbeing.
Establishing a routine
Under the Virtual Learning tab on our website there is a section about managing the transition to home schooling. It is important that your child has a structured routine to support their wellbeing and learning. I fully acknowledge that this may be more problematic for some, but the sooner a routine is established the easier it will be to maintain.
Expectations regarding work set by teachers
The art of balancing working from home, childcare and the daily domestic chores places added pressure on the household. The vast majority of my colleagues, like many of you, have to balance a range of demands and therefore we need to have realistic expectations in respect of what learning can be provided.
In my letter dated 20th March I said:
“We cannot replicate the learning done in school so we aim to adapt and produce meaningful experiences for our students.”
If you feel that your child can do more learning there is a plethora of additional online learning resources available. For example, learning a new skill such as sign language: https://www.british-sign.co.uk/learn-online-british-sign-language-course/. You will find a list of online resources by key stage within the ‘Virtual Learning’ section of our website.
Expectations regarding students’ learning
The feedback I have received this week from colleagues indicates that the vast majority of students are engaging positively with both their form tutors and class teachers. This is a credit to the students and yourselves. However, there are some students who have not engaged and this is a concern. The school will be contacting these students to explain the importance of doing the work set and ensuring that the appropriate amount of effort is put in.
If your child is ill and cannot do the work please inform their Head of Year.
Year 9 Pathways process
Mrs Nearney is chasing up the last few Post 14 Pathways application forms before we start to review the requests made. This is a complex process and it will take up to May half term before final allocations are determined. In the meantime, the expectation is that students carry on with all their current subjects. It is important to understand that a good breadth of knowledge helps to create a reference point for future learning. If school does resume after May half term then there will still be another seven weeks where Year 9 students will be studying all their current subjects.
Year 10 and Year 12
Students in Year 10 and Year 12 have exams next year so their motivation has to be to work as hard as they can on the work provided by their teachers. It is unclear at this moment in time what reasonable adjustments will be made for the 2021 summer examination season, but there will be national exams.
Year 11 and Year 13
Predicted grades: In my letter dated 20th March I outlined the importance of continuing to study and what could be done. There is a need to ensure that students’ cognitive and knowledge base does not stagnate; view this as an opportunity to prepare for new courses for September. The DfE and Ofqual have said that this week they will provide schools with clear guidance on submitting predicted grades. Once we have the guidance, we will let you know what the process entails and the timeframe for submitting the data. In the meantime, students should refrain from contacting their teachers to ask what their predicted grades are.
End of school proms and celebrations: The school wants to see both Year 11 and Year 13 complete their respective stage of their educational journey in the accustomed manner. Leavers’ assemblies, celebrations and proms will take place if not on the original dates then as close as possible to these.
Children of Key Workers and vulnerable young people
The school remains open this week as per normal for these identified students. A programme is currently being put together to keep the school open over the Easter break and this information will be circulated later in the week.
This week is the last week of term before the Easter break. Teachers will not be setting any schoolwork over the school holidays, but the Pastoral email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) will be monitored should parents need to contact the school. The start of the Summer term is Monday 20th April. The school will remain closed at that point and we will continue to support learning at home through our online resources.
Please stay safe and take care.