COVID-19 Update 25-06-2020
Re-opening schools, supporting learning, laptops for disadvantaged students, arrangements for results days in August
I hope that my weekly letter finds you well and enjoying the current swathes of sunshine.
As the weather has been so kind this week, we have seen much opportunity to tackle issues around the academy site ready for ‘Phase 2’ of our reopening strategy, which begins on Monday. At the time of writing, we are looking forward to welcoming a little over 70% of Year 10 students back next week on their allotted days and a similar percentage in Year 12. In comparison with some other schools, this is a really healthy and positive figure. With this in mind, we have made some changes to the flow of students for when they return. A new one way system has been marked out on all corridors in use which makes clear what we are trying to achieve and new arrangements for cleaning and catering have been implemented. For more details, I refer you to the FAQs document and our risk assessment on the website under the Parent tab.
With Years 10 and 12 in mind, we will be in touch by the end of the week with finalised groups for Year 10. This has been delayed by some late requests for places that have caused us to re-plan and amend some arrangements to accommodate all. Students who attend will receive their timetables on the morning in main reception. This will also show their online learning opportunities on the same document up until the end of term.
With behaviour in mind, I have asked Mrs Gilbert to consider our behaviour policy in light of our staggered return. There are some planned changes to this in light of Covid-19. The most important change is the need for all socially distancing expectations to be maintained and respected. Our corridors are all compliant to both 1m and 2m. We expect all students to comply. In addition, we are still running a more skeleton staffing model for obvious reasons. We will not tolerate poor behaviour on site that jeopardises the safety of students or staff at such an important and stressful time. We hope that you agree and will support us in taking action if students do not do their bit to support themselves and the greater good. The policy amendments will be available on our website by 8am on Monday morning prior to the beginning of the working week.
I have also taken the past week to consider the latest government guidance, particularly with regard to the ‘flexibility’ of offering one off meetings to youngsters in Years 7, 8 and 9. Due to the constraints placed upon us by the building and the national guidance, we will not be able to offer this service widely. Whilst possible to offer some face to face appointments, these will be by invitation only to those students who have not engaged readily with the work set or who are more vulnerable. Instead, we will push ahead to offer more appointments online in the same way that we continue to offer online learning in Years 10 and 12. This should allow us to see all students who need or desire an appointment, even if it isn’t in the building.
All curriculum arrangements will remain in place in line with the guidelines published last Monday morning in the most recent curriculum plan on the website. All of our face to face learning is also complimented by this and this will all continue. We will also be offering wider opportunities in Years 7, 8 and 9 for recorded lessons to follow. Please see next week’s curriculum plan for more specific details when it is published.
We are coming to the end of our ‘Celebrating Success’ week for all year groups – this will inform reporting home before the end of this term. With this in mind, for those students without internet access, they should drop their work into the main school office by Friday 26th 4.00 at the latest please.
If there are any other queries regarding the curriculum work, then please contact the assigned member of staff on the curriculum documents.
Laptops for disadvantaged students
After what feels like an eternity, the first of two batches of laptops have arrived this morning! Our IT department have already begun the task of setting up these machines. Once this is complete, we will contact all eligible families who will be invited in to collect their machines from main reception.
Arrangements for results days in August
As you may expect, we do not intend to do things the usual way this year for either post-16 or Year 11 results days. Whilst some schools are choosing to plan to run a normal service with the caveat it may need to change, I prefer to plan one service that does not change and you are made aware of it now.
We will offer some face to face opportunities for some students to collect their grades but this will be for those we need to see and will be by allotted appointment time. We will be offering a remote service in the first instance with blanket emails going out at 9am on each day to every student. The phones and email will be manned from that time for any student in need of support and advice as to next steps, especially if they do need to come in and see us.
I have asked Mrs Gilbert to get in touch with you all regarding specific arrangements in due course.
As usual, I will keep you updated on developments via the Academy website and parent email. I will also ensure that our social media channels are updated accordingly. If you have any further questions with regard to whole school arrangements, please email the Academy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, there has been much talk this last week about the government’s £650 million ‘catch up’ fund. Details of this are not yet fully formed. However, what the public are not being told is that the annual catch up funding we receive to support Year 7 pupils joining us with reading and mathematics scores below national average has been removed as a result. The devil is always in the detail. I look forward to hearing what our allocation actually is and whether it will be bigger than the sum we are due to lose. Secondly, catch up makes the bold assumption that every child needs to catch up. I have seen some remarkable learning completed during this lockdown period as youngsters have grabbed the bull by the horns and developed some new talents and skills. I prefer to see this funding as a more creative pot where we do, of course, focus on academic issues where we need to support catch up but we also need to consider the wellbeing ‘recovery’ that is needed to ensure all of our youngsters can be happy and successful. Henceforth in my academy, this fund will be known as our recovery fund.
I do hope you are finding time to enjoy the recent relaxation of lockdown but that you are staying safe too. I must thank you as parents for the overwhelming number of supportive messages over these past few days and weeks, as well as for supporting our fabulous youngsters with their learning for such a long time. We have already begun our planning for September in expectation of updated government guidance in the next week or so. I hope to be able to share some of this thinking with you very soon. It is only with your support that we will get through this.
Take care and I will stay in touch.
Mr D Hardy