Dear parents and carers,
I hope this letter finds you and your families safe and well, I know many of our school community have been impacted by the COVD 19 pandemic or its knock-on effects. Our thoughts go out to all of you who have felt the harm caused by this terrible situation. If there is anything we can do to support you, or your child, then please get in contact to see if we can help.
Our last day of being open under the current arrangements will be Friday 17th July. After this date school will be closed for the summer to all students including the children of Key Workers. I feel that the September to December term is likely to remain very challenging and want to ensure staff are rested and prepared. This also means no work will be set on Google Classroom over the summer break either.
It is likely that plans will have to change between now and September as the national picture changes, therefore we are currently planning for three different possibilities:
- All students in with safety measures in place
- Students in on a rota but Year 11 in full time
- Local Lockdowns – all schools shut and remote learning for all
We want all our students back in full time and, if there is a way to do it safely, we will get back to as close to normal school operation as possible.
September INSET change and preparation for full reopening
By September it will have been six months since we have been able to have all the staff in at one time. To be fully prepared for the return of all students we will need some additional time together to ensure all staff are trained for the changes made to keep school safe and organised. Therefore, students will return a day later than originally planned.
This means the first week in September will consist of:
- Tuesday 1st September – INSET day (school closed to students). Staff training on child protection/COVID 19 changes
- Wednesday 2nd September – INSET day (school closed to students). Staff preparation time for the adapted, catch-up curriculum
- Thursday 3rd September – School reopens to students. For the first day only the students will arrive at staggered times. From 4th September they should arrive at 8:45am
Thursday 3rd September ONLY arrival times:
Year 7 arrive at 8:30am
Year 8 arrive at 9am
Year 9 arrive at 9:30am
Year 10 arrive at 10am
Year 11 arrive at 10:30am
Both Thursday and Friday will be for induction for all students after such an extended period away from school.
To accommodate the INSET day change, Monday 19 April 2021 will no longer be an INSET day and students will return to school that day after the Easter break. Updated term dates reflecting these changes will be available on our school website.
Changes to school day times
Mondays will now finish at 3pm for students instead of 2pm. You will remember that last year there was a consultation with parents about building more curriculum development time into the week by shortening the school day each Monday. Due to a combination of much of that work being close to completion, and the need to catch up for lost time due to COVID 19, we will be returning to a more traditional finish time of 3pm Monday-Thursday. Arrangements on Friday, including the early finish for students who have not had a correction that week continues.
COVID 19 Related changes
It is difficult to understand how our children may have been affected by the long period of isolation they have faced and we need to consider how to best support them as things slowly return to normal. To do this I want them to be aware of some changes in school and also the support that will be available to them on their return.
- 1-2-1 Return Interviews – all students will have an individual meeting during their first half term back in school, this will give them a chance to discuss anything they have found difficult and we will provide support from there for anyone who needs it
- The first two days for all students in September will be a full re-induction into the school, this will involve some time with Form Tutors, a reminder of standards and expectations as well as an update on what may have changed since they were last in the building. This is essential to ensure a smooth start to the year and to reduce the concerns many children will have about coming back to school.
Marking and Feedback
We have always kept the majority of students’ books in school and used them as the main method of marking and feedback for students. With the current COVID 19 situation, if teachers were to collect in books regularly they would be increasing the risk of spreading infection and affecting a larger number of people. Therefore, from September, books will not be collected, and all students will be expected to take all their books home each day. This means a school bag every day is essential; the students will also have to be more organised with their day to day timetable to avoid having to carry everything all the time. Marking and feedback will mainly be through Google Classroom or, if paper based, will involve a few days’ delay to allow the work to be clear of any potential viruses.
Our children have become far too reliant on their mobile devices through the lockdown period. This was very obvious when Year 10 returned a few weeks ago, lunchtime consisted of thirty children sitting in silence all staring at their phones instead of speaking to each other. This has always been a slight concern but has really been exaggerated by the lockdown situation. For many their phone will have been their only contact with the world, this is not healthy and cannot continue post lockdown.
Due to this, and other potential benefits, students will not be allowed their phones out in school at any time starting in September. If your child needs to carry a phone to and from school that is fine but please be aware that any child who has their phone out in school will have it confiscated for the remainder of the day in the first instance. There will be no warnings, the expectation is that phones are not seen at any time in the school building including break and lunch time. I will share the full process with students on their return.
The main reasons for this decision are:
- We need students to re-engage with each other and not just through mobile devices
- Mobile phones were increasingly causing interruptions to learning prior to lockdown, having lost six months of learning we simply cannot allow this to continue
- The majority of arguments between students in school start on social media/phones
- Schools that completely ban phones see an increase in engagement and outcomes for children. On average the increase in exam results is 6.4%, with students who were underperforming showing on average a 14% improvement
These are benefits we cannot ignore, we have tried a variety of ways to allow children to use their phones in school and all have continued to interrupt learning. I hope you understand our decision and will support us with its enforcement.
It is likely that things will change between now and September in relation to COVID-19 and the advice issued to schools for reopening. We will write to you again during the summer holiday with any updates.
Finally, I want to wish you all well for the summer and hope you all get some form of break from the current routine of lockdown. We will do everything we can to continue to support you and your child through these difficult times. I look forward to seeing you all again and can’t wait to have a busy full school again.
Mark Harrison, Headteacher
To find out how we/and external agencies can support you and your child during our school closure please visit: School Closure Support