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Headteacher’s letter 15 June 2020

Monday 15 June 2020

Dear Parents and Carers

It is another bumper letter but it is an exciting one because I can finally move our focus to reopening and the gradual return of normality. I shall do my best to set this letter out in a logical order and try to anticipate the majority of your questions by the end.

Who is returning?
The Government have stated that Year 10 and Year 12 students may return to school to ‘supplement’ their home learning. They have also placed restrictions on how many students are permitted on our school site each day. For us, that figure is a total of 55 students per day. This means that all Year 10 and 12 students in England will still experience home learning as the principle form of education this term, but will now be able to enjoy supplementary face-to-face lessons in school with their teachers.

Who is not returning?
Students in all other year groups (i.e. Years 7, 8, 9 and 11) are not permitted to return to secondary schools across England. This means that home learning will continue for students in those year groups for the rest of this academic year. Schools are expecting some announcements on this in the coming days and weeks. We are all looking out for any changes the Government might announce on the two-metre social distancing rules because this will significantly accelerate that return to normality.

And what about September?
We continue to assume that we shall return to normal in September with all year groups. In fact, one of the other jobs we are doing right now is mapping out timetables for students and staff in readiness for the new year and term in September. Nevertheless, we are mindful of the need to develop contingency plans should current or revised social distancing rules remain in place. Later this term I hope to be better placed to set out some renaissance planning for the school from September. This will consider a range of practical, academic, social and emotional questions with the goal of reopening with confidence and excitement.

How will the Year 10s start to return?
Throughout the week beginning 22 June, approximately 50 face-to-face conversations with students and parents / carers will take place on our school site. In most cases, these will be students with special educational needs (SEN), those who requested a meeting or those who have struggled most to keep up with the home learning. Those students and families have already been contacted by us at some point last week. Every family will be provided with clear guidelines on how to stay safe whilst on our site, including one-way systems, social distancing and one meeting per classroom.

Throughout the week beginning 29 June, each Year 10 student will be invited into school for a full day (8:45am until 3:30pm), but with no more than about 30 students in their year group. Their health and safety will be our primary concern and this is why their first day back will begin with a health and safety induction session. For Year 10s, in that first week back, we shall use the Main Hall to provide a full lesson in English, maths, biology, chemistry and physics – culminating in a careers session with Mr Parker.

Then, throughout the weeks beginning 6 July, 13 July and 20 July, Year 10 students will return for an extended session (9:00am-11:30am) in each of their three option subjects. As you would expect, two-metre social distancing measures will be just one of many health and safety features.

In addition, we shall commence trials of live learning with Year 10 (and Year 12) classes later this month. We aspire for every student to participate in three live lessons in each subject before the end of term – as many as 30 live lessons for Year 10s. It is time to search for that comb or brush!

In readiness for this, we have been actively encouraging all students, particularly those in Years 10 and 12, to activate their school Gmail accounts if they have not done so already. Instructions on how to do this have been sent on several occasions to all Show My Homework accounts. This is because all live lessons will be run though ‘Google Meet’ and invitations will only be sent and be accessible via the school Gmail account we provide. This represents just one of many safeguarding features we have been developing; details of which will be shared with Year 10 (and 12) families on Wednesday in a separate letter.

In summary:
 All Year 10 students will be invited into school on four separate occasions this term: one full day and three mornings – dependent on which GCSE or BTEC subjects they are studying.
 In addition, they will also participate in at least one live lesson in each subject each week.
 Detailed information will arrive on Wednesday.

How will the Year 12s start to return?
Throughout the week beginning 22 June, approximately 25 face-to-face conversations with Year 12 students will also take place on our school site. Again, every family will be provided with clear guidelines on how to stay safe whilst on our site, including one-way systems, social distancing and one meeting per classroom.

Starting in the week beginning 29 June, each Year 12 student will then be invited into school for an extended session (12:30pm-3:00pm) in each of their three option subjects.

This will be complimented by the introduction of live learning trials amongst Year 12 (and Year 10) classes. We aspire for every student to participate in three live lessons in each subject before the end of term. Active Gmail accounts will also be essential for this to be successful and safe.

In summary:
 All Year 12 students will be invited into school on three separate afternoons this term – dependent on which A Level course they are studying.
 In addition, they will also participate in at least one live lesson in each subject each week.
 Detailed information will arrive on Wednesday.

What happens next?
Parents and carers of Year 10 and 12 students will receive a separate letter from Mr Trainer, Deputy Headteacher, on Wednesday. This will enable each student to work out their personal timetable and address lots of other anticipated questions that relate to arrivals, departures, public transport, packed lunches, live learning and Gmail accounts. We think we have it all covered but if not, then just email one of us right away.

Assessing Risk – Keeping Everyone Safe
As you would expect, a very careful and meticulous process has taken place to consider all of the risks associated with reopening our school to Year 10 and Year 12 students.
Many of those risks are common to all schools, but there are many that are unique to the layout or profile of each school as well. This means that each school has to design its own risk assessment that identifies the mitigations necessary to reduce, minimise or eradicate risks.

Last week, the Governing Body formally approved the reopening risk assessment. It is a weighty document and is available as a single document for you, on request. However, we also believe that one of the greatest risks is being able to communicate all of the information that parents, carers and students might want to know to stay safe.

For this reason, we have developed our website and created the ‘Reopening FAQ’ page. I invite you to follow this link and explore this new part of our website. It is, we believe, very self-explanatory, and enables families to look at all, most or some of that risk assessment in a manner that is clear.

The website enables families to submit questions and, therefore, allows us to maintain a live risk assessment and, like all good students, learn each day from previous experiences.

Year 6 Transition
Meanwhile, we shall welcome our largest ever number of Year 7 students to our school in September, but we are trying to be as creative as possible in ensuring their transition to us is as good as it might be.

We shall be inviting all Year 6 students, parents and carers to a virtual welcome evening on Thursday 25 June with a ‘live broadcast’ from the school with the traditional faces and topics we would normally cover at that annual event.

We have also put some videos together (on our new Year 7 transition page) that are worth watching. We also hope to be granted approval to run socially distant and carefully planned visits to our site for small Year 6 family groups on Saturdays in July.

As I have written before, moving to secondary school is a big deal and we want to get it right for those students and families as well. We continue to write separately to Year 6 families at this time.
Chromebook Update

Thank you to those families who have submitted an expression of interest via the Google Form. We shall let that run for another week and will then get in touch with those particular families to discuss this in greater depth and answer all of the logistical and technological questions that have been submitted.

And finally…

As indicated earlier, Year 10 and 12 families will receive another letter very shortly from Mr Trainer. Next week, with less comprehensive information to share with all families, Mr Gent and I hope to have an opportunity to reflect on the last 10 weeks of home learning – and begin sharing some thoughts about what next term and year may look like for us all, as we seek to emerge from this global crisis with even greater energy and confidence.

Please look out for Ms Hancock’s message on Thursday that will be part of Mrs Smart’s weekly Family Newsletter. Until then, take care and please do not forget that you can contact me directly at [email protected] if I can be of any help.

 

Yours faithfully
Barry Doherty
Headteacher

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