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Headteacher’s letter 31 December 2020

Dear Parents and Carers

A Phased Start to the Spring Term

Please forgive me for writing to you on New Year’s Eve.

Following yesterday’s announcement by the Department for Education, I am now in a position to set out how the spring term will commence.

Monday 4 January & Tuesday 5 January

  • Both remain as planned INSET days
  • All staff will be in school but all students are to remain at home for the final two days of their holiday.

Wednesday 6 January to Friday 8 January

  • All year groups will participate in remote learning.
  • With the exception of vulnerable students and the children of key workers – see below for more details.

Monday 11 January

  • Years 11 and Year 13 will return to school and participate in face-to-face 11 lessons. Normal uniform rules will apply.
  • All other year groups continue with remote learning.

Tuesday 12 January to Friday 15 January

  • Years 11 and 13 continue to have normal lessons with their teachers in school.
  • All other year groups continue with remote learning.

Monday 18 January

  • All year groups return to school as normal, with face-to-face lessons in classrooms.

In my next letter to you, on Monday, I will set out in greater depth how remote learning will function at CNS from Wednesday 6 January. We have learned a great deal over the past nine months about remote learning and aim to put that learning to greater use in the days ahead.

In order for our plans to work we ask that you make it very clear to your children that they do not have an extended Christmas holiday and that their education will very much be resuming at 8:40am on Wednesday morning, for all students. Like me, you may wish to begin the arduous process of establishing more normal bedtime routines… good luck!

Exceptions: Vulnerable Students and Children of Key Workers

The phased return across the country does not apply to all students:

  • On Monday 4 January, we shall be in contact with the parents and carers of those students who are our most vulnerable at this time. These students will be expected to attend school as normal and will be safely taught in their year group zones between 8:40am and 3:15pm. Students who have struggled to engage in remote learning in the past will be part of this group so that they do not fall further behind in their studies. Students who do not engage in the remote learning that will commence on Wednesday 6 January, will then be required to attend school before the full return on Monday 18 January. We cannot allow any student to fall behind.
  • As soon as families receive this letter they are welcome to let us know if they are key workers and when they wish their children to attend school as normal from Wednesday 6 January till Friday 15 January. Children of key workers must attend school for the entire duration of the day (i.e. 8:40am till 3:15pm), but parents and carers may decide how many of those eight days (i.e. Wednesday 6 to Friday 15 January) they wish their son or daughter to attend school (depending on their own shift patterns). Please use this Google Form to identify need.

Normal school transport will be running from Wednesday 6 January. School lunches will also be available. Normal school uniform rules will apply.

Mass Testing Programme

Families will no doubt be aware of the guidance published by the Department for Education as we broke up for the Christmas holidays. The guidance sets out initial information on how schools are now invited to become centres for mass testing programmes of students and staff.

We are very positive about the potential for the mass testing of students and staff in schools, as a way of reducing the spread of the virus and enabling fewer pupils and staff to have to self-isolate. You can read more about how the government expects this programme to work here.

Setting up this programme in schools is an incredibly complex operation. We have been sent some information about how it should work already, but more detailed guidance is expected to be produced by the government over the coming days. We shall continue to absorb that information as and when it arrives, but admit that at this stage there are a significant number of questions that all schools are asking.

We are blessed to have those two INSET days on Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 January. We hope to use that time to fully understand what will be expected of us and how the mass testing programme can be safely administered on our site. In the coming week we will review what the expectations are, what support is available from the government or other agencies, and what we can realistically deliver whilst ensuring that a first class education resumes in all classrooms.

We anticipate that there will be a considerable degree of administration that will involve the need to collect signed or authenticated consent forms for any lateral flow testing of students that will take place on our site. We are currently devising an online facility for parents and carers to provide their consent. I hope to be in a position to explain this and all other aspects of the testing programme in my letter to you on Monday afternoon.

I feel it is wise to share with you my understanding that this schools based testing programme is here to stay for many months, if not throughout 2021. This means that whatever we do, we shall do so with a desire to establish something that is very sustainable and runs smoothly. I am quite sure that what currently seems slightly odd and perhaps even bizarre will become routine and familiar within a few short weeks. This appears to be the greatest lesson of 2020 – our collective and individual capacity to adapt.

Surprises aside, I anticipate that I shall write to you again on Monday 4 January with an update. I sincerely hope that Aston Villa are in the top four by that point and that I don’t have to watch yet another episode of The Mandalorian and unsuccessfully pretend I know what’s going on. What is the fuss about Boba Fett?

In the meantime, please use the Google Form if you are a key worker and let me release you back to your festive fun and preparations to see in 2021.

Yours faithfully

Mr Doherty


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