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Covid-19 - Update letter to parents/carers 5th January 2021

Blog Header Image Posted on: 5th Jan 2021

Tuesday 5th January 2021

Coronavirus (Covid-19) - Update for Parents/Carers

Dear Parents/Carers,

I am sure that the last 24 hours have seen a degree of mixed emotions in your households.  I very much appreciate that the sense of changing government plans will have disrupted your thinking.  As I have talked about many times in the last 12 months, my hope is that I can let you know where the certainties exist and help you understand the next steps that may be taken.

Online learning

For all year groups, we have moved to online learning and this will take us through until at least February half-term.  Unlike in the previous period of lockdown, we will be delivering live lessons throughout the day, with students following a very similar timetable to their school-based one.

Please accept that the next few days will involve the resolution of some issues, both IT and staffing, as we settle into this new routine.  Our staff are having to adjust at short notice to the management of their own families as well as the changes to work routines.  We know of some of the imperfections of this system, but I have already been pleased to see the high levels of engagement.

Students will retain a tutor session first thing in the morning.  This is important for us to provide the pastoral care and oversight.  We will be using this to help assess attendance and whether follow up calls are required.

We have taken the decision that additional homework will not be set for students in years 7, 8 and 9, given the amount of work that is already being undertaken at home.  Students in the exam year groups from Year 10 to Year 13 will have a proportional amount of independent learning set.

We are updating the help for parents on our website, but please do feel that you can ask questions as and when they arise.

Examinations

The key issue for most students in Years 11 and 13 will be the way in which they will be assessed in the summer.  It has been confirmed this morning that the summer exams will not take place.  Given previous statements throughout this year, I am sure that this will have come as a surprise.

To the students, we know how hard you have worked and the uncertainty that this new policy creates.  It is also true for your teachers who desperately wish to see you get your just reward.  Please be assured that the school will do everything it can to ensure that you obtain the right result for you.  We understand that, tomorrow, a further statement will be made by the government and we will work through what this means when we have the details.

Despite what I have set out above, examinations in vocational subjects that were timetabled to take place in January will still go ahead as planned.

Critical workers and vulnerable students – in school provision

Students of critical workers and invited students have been attending school this week and that provision will continue throughout the period of lockdown.  They will undertake the same work as other students, using the virtual classrooms.

If your circumstances change and you require access to this provision, please email Jo Stitch (jstitch@educ.somerset.gov.uk), giving us as much notice as possible.

Testing

Our plans for introducing widespread testing of students will be delayed until such time as most students are likely to be back in school.  We hope to have a smaller facility to support those attending school within the next few weeks and will write then to those who may be able to access it.

So, here we go again.  I hope that this is the last time that we go through this exercise of altering provision in this way and changing how we live our lives.  At some point, we should reflect on our profound ability to be flexible and to bend where necessary.  Our community has held strongly together throughout the challenges of the last 12 months and I have no doubt that it will do the same again.  Please look after each other and stay safe.

Best wishes.

Yours faithfully,

Mark Woodlock

Headteacher