Parental update January 5th 2021
Please read this letter from the Head emailed to families on Tuesday 5th January 2021
Dear Parents and Guardians,
We hope this email finds all is well with families at this very challenging time for us all.
As you are aware, on 4 January, the government announced that all schools in England are required to close from 5 January until at least February half term for all pupils except vulnerable pupils and children of key workers.
The latest guidance can be found here.
Remote Learning For students in Years 11 & 13, online lessons via Google meet and Google classroom have started this morning as previously notified. We also explained that work has been set for Yr 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 online, with their live lessons starting Monday 11th January. Year 7 and 8 Independent Learning Booklets and Projects are being posted home to students at the end of this week. Copies of these have been uploaded onto faculty Google classrooms and are on the website here, along with an overview and instructions to help parents support their children to complete the tasks. As of next week all students will follow their normal timetable for Week 1 and attend all classes remotely, including tutor time that starts promptly at 8:40am. Where teachers are unable to deliver an online lesson due to illness or unforeseen circumstances, work will be set on Google classroom for students to complete independently and a message posted informing students accordingly.
In school testing We have not yet been officially informed about what the partial closure means for the plans for in-school testing, although we anticipate the proposed mass testing of students will be postponed until a reopening date is confirmed. Tests are voluntary and only students with consent would be tested. Please complete this form if you have not yet done so to let us know preferences, so we can keep your request on record for the future. In the meantime we are hoping to have the testing site up and running for staff and vulnerable/key workers' children working in school early next week to provide an additional layer of reassurance to those who wish to test. We are confident that this introduction to testing of smaller numbers of children will mean that if and when we are expected to test the whole school, prior to a return later in the Spring, we will be ready and fully prepared to do so. More information will follow when we receive it. We have recently received confirmation that students and staff do not need to be retested if they have tested positive in the previous 90 days. Although this is not in the schools' guidance anywhere, the general guidance on self-isolation for households states: ‘After your isolation period has ended. If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you will probably have developed some immunity to the disease. However, it cannot be guaranteed that everyone will develop immunity, or how long it will last. It is possible for PCR tests to remain positive for sometime after COVID-19 infection. Anyone who has previously received a positive test result for COVID-19 should only be re-tested within a 90-day period if they develop any new symptoms of COVID-19.’
Please note that if a child in school comes into contact with someone who we know tests positive, that child will still need to either isolate at home for 10 days or take a series of tests over 7 days which need to be negative if he or she is to continue to attend school. If the 7 days carries over a weekend then the student should isolate at home for the weekend continue their serial tests on the following Monday. We would not ask students to test on a Saturday and/or Sunday.
Laptops We have a limited number of laptops that we can loan to students but we do, as I am sure you will appreciate, have a clear priority order for distribution. If you have been contacted by the school as someone who is eligible to borrow a school laptop, then please make sure that you come into reception to collect it by Friday 8th January. We would like to make them available to others if they are no longer required.
Free School Meals and Breakfast Boxes Vouchers will be issued on a weekly basis to those who are entitled to FSMs. If your child is attending school as part of the vulnerable or key worker provision and is in receipt of fsm, please ensure that you have accessed the voucher and provided your child with a packed lunch that they bring with them. We will be in touch as soon as we have any information regarding the breakfast box scheme we ran during the last lockdown.
Pastoral Support Pastoral and wider support for student well-being will be delivered remotely, with tutor, mentor and our counselling provision all continuing online. Tutors have been checking on their students this week with wellbeing checks - please remember that if a member of staff is phoning from their own mobile, they are expected to withhold their number for safeguarding reasons.
Up and coming Parents' Evenings As we have already moved to a virtual style parents' evening, we are pleased to be able to confirm that these will go ahead as planned. Booking details and information about accessing the events can be found here on the website and will also be emailed home in advance of bookings going live.
Yr 11 Parents' Evening Thursday 21st January
Yr 9 Pathways Evening Thursday 11th February
Yr 10 Parents' Evening Thursday 25th February
Yr 8 Parents' Evening Thursday 29th April
Yr 7 Parents' Evening Thursday 20th May
Assessments and Exams
We appreciate that for students in Years 11 & 13, the current situation is particularly uncertain, especially as the Government has announced that there will be modifications to the format of external assessment for Summer 2021. At this time, it is unclear how the GCSE and A Level examinations will be amended or even replaced and with what. It is therefore vital that Year 11 & 13 students continue with their studies as before and fully engage with their remote provision and exam preparations. The planned second set of mock exams that had been scheduled for this half term will still go ahead but will be moved to a later date before the Easter holidays. We will confirm dates in due course. We would ask that parents take the time to discuss this with their child/ren and to remind them that their current performance and the progress they make between Mock 1 to Mock 2 will undoubtedly be crucial evidence when staff will be asked to assess student performance later in the year.
Please rest assured that as soon as we have more information from Ofqual (the examination regulator) on the approach that will be taken this year, we will let you know.
We take this opportunity to thank parents for their patience, consideration and messages of support in what is a challenging time for us all. We will continue to keep you up to date with news and support as we go forward. Please do continue to take care , follow Government guidelines and stay safe.
With kind regards,