Headteacher's weekly briefing to families
Friday 22nd May 2020
I hope you have had a good week. Many congratulations to our pupils for engaging so well with rollover and of course that also means many thanks to you for all your support with this. Teachers have been hugely impressed by their efforts; we know it can be hard for pupils to work in this way but they will be developing good independent learning skills, and all that they do will help them enormously when we do return to school.
Re-opening of school:
I have been waiting for government guidance for secondary schools before writing this letter but it was due at the beginning of the week and I imagine that there will be increasing anxiety amongst many families about what school re-opening will look like, so I want to give you an outline of our thinking.
The Prime Minister outlined the basic principles around which we have based our planning:
- From (not on) 1st June, secondary schools should prepare to begin some face to face contact with Year 10 and 12 pupils (our Year 11 and Year 13 from rollover) who have key exams next year, in support of their continued remote home learning.
- All other year groups will return in September.
- Schools should continue to be open for the children of key workers and other families who have been contacted about this.
The Local Authority has given schools the following further guidance:
- ‘The Council is committed to ensuring the mental and physical health and safety of children and young people, their parents and school staff. This means that on the 1st of June we are anticipating schools will continue to be open for children of key workers and those that are vulnerable, but we are not expecting schools to start admitting a significant number of pupils beyond these groups straight away.’
You will also be aware that there is much debate in the media about whether it is yet safe to re-open schools. Our intention therefore is:
- At some point during next half-term, to schedule 1:1 interviews for all pupils in Years 11 and 13 with their tutors, and, if possible, with some subject teachers. This will depend on staff availability. In this way, we will be able to ensure strict social distancing and safety guidelines. For example, pupils will be invited in on a timetable, the 2 metre distance will be applied, handwashing facilities will be available etc. The focus for conversations will be on pupil wellbeing and on supporting them with the work they have been set. Many pupils (and families) may feel quite anxious about returning to school for even this short time, however I feel it will be a really important and controlled way of them coming back into school and ‘re-connecting’.
This will not start before the week beginning June 15th but we will confirm arrangements with families closer to the date.
- If it then feels appropriate, we may be able to offer a very limited number of sessions for small groups of pupils for whom additional support is needed but this will depend on ensuring this can be done safely.
- For pupils who are eligible to attend school daily, as numbers increase, we are putting in place clear structures to ensure pupil and staff safety. Pupils will be in groups of no more than 15 throughout the day and we will follow the government guidelines around safety as closely as possible. We cannot guarantee that we can keep children socially distant at all times but we will be reminding pupils of the expectations. We would encourage all pupils who are eligible for this provision to attend daily or for some days each week.
In everything we do, we will be guided by a consideration of the health and wellbeing of pupils and staff and by the guidance that emerges from the government (eventually). Only staff and pupils not exhibiting symptoms may attend school.
Centre Assessed Grades
Teachers have been spending a lot of time in recent weeks on the estimated grades for pupils and students due to take their A Level, BTEC and GCSE exams this summer. It’s been really important to make these as fair and accurate as we possibly can. These ‘centre assessed grades’ will be sent off to the exam boards immediately after half-term. According to the government it’s likely that all schools will see some adjustment to their centre assessment grades, however carefully they have made their judgements. For this reason, and the need to protect the integrity of the process, we are not allowed to share the centre assessed grades with pupils or families. More detail on the process can be found at https://ofqual.blog.gov.uk/2020/05/15/making-grades-as-fair-as-they-can-be-advice-for-schools-and-colleges/ . The final results will be released on the published results days as originally planned. These are 13th August for A level and 20th August for GCSE. We will share further details on arrangements for the results days nearer the time.
Support for Parents
From the week beginning June 1st, we will be offering 20 minute ‘drop in’ sessions for parents with a member of the Senior Leadership Team each afternoon from 2.00pm until 3.00pm. This will be to provide support around how to help your child with their home-learning or for other concerns that parents might have. Parents do not need to book in advance but please be aware that you may need to wait. Social distancing guidelines will be observed.
I hope you have seen that we have now raised over £6000 on our Go Fund Me page to provide additional support for families who might be struggling financially at this time. The support will be in the form of food vouchers. We want this to go to the families who need it most so, if you feel this applies to you, please visit our website and:
- From the menu, select 'Contact'
- Complete the details for all fields, including your email address (it's important that this address is accurately typed in, as this is where the vouchers will be sent)
- In the 'your enquiry' box, state your child's full name and tutor group along with your own name.
A reminder that pupils should be doing approximately 4 – 5 hours of school work a day as they would be in school (more for new Year 13s). Teachers are now starting to try and use more ‘live’ teaching or recording lessons to help engage pupils and explain the work more fully. I will send out a letter at the beginning of next half-term which outlines exactly how this will work.
I wish everyone a happy and safe half-term and Eid Mubarak to all our families who will be celebrating this weekend.