Covid 19 - update - 3rd April

Friday 3rd April 2020
Coronavirus (Covid-19) - Update for Parents/Carers

Dear Parents/Carers,

I hope, wherever you are, that this finds you, your families and friends, well and safe.  We have reached, believe it or not, the end of term.  It has arguably been one of the most challenging and unpredictable terms that we have experienced in recent times.  I hope to give you an update on the steps we have taken so far and our current plans going forwards.

Year 11 & Year 13 students
Today, Ofqual have published their guidance to schools on the grading of A levels and GCSEs this summer.  They have written a letter directly to students to explain the process and that can be found here.  It is important to note two points that come out of the guidance:
  • We will be assessing the students on the work they undertook up to March 20th to create the grade we believe they would have achieved in the exam.  We will take into account all of the work that we have seen and our wider knowledge of them.  No work undertaken after 20th March will be considered.
  • Schools are instructed not to inform students or parents/carers of the internal grades we will be generating.  Students will receive their results from the exam boards in the summer.
We will now be working over the next few weeks to compile the necessary information for the exam boards.  As I have said before, the best reassurance that I can give the students is that we know them very well and will do everything that we can to ensure that they receive the right grade for them.

Government advice
I managed to meet up yesterday with two of our local police officers.  They were positive that the public in our area, including our students, are generally following the government advice and staying at home.  We know this is a challenge and so I thank you for all that you are doing to follow the need for these lockdown measures.

A parent asked me yesterday whether we knew more or different information about what might come next.  The answer is that we are following the national picture in the same way that everyone else is.  No statements have been given to schools about the longevity of the closures.  From my discussions with other schools and the local authority, we are all assuming that it is highly unlikely that we will be back in school before May half term and it may be longer than that.  As you will have seen from the news, the government's scientific advisors are tracking the impact of the actions that have been taken and waiting to see those results before deciding what to do next.

It is worth repeating the message I sent out last week from Sharon Baker, Chief Inspector & Local Police Area Commander for South Somerset & Mendip, who also happens to be one of your governors:

Whilst your local Neighbourhood team are still out in your local towns and villages, parents can help us by directing all non-urgent enquiries through our website, Facebook and Twitter accounts rather than 101.

We are adapting to new ways of working ourselves and have started holding online beat surgeries via our local Facebook profiles:

PC Darren Pearson for Wells
PCSO Mel Rowlands for Glastonbury
PCSO Amanda Ware for Shepton

Policing has needed to adapt, and whilst we will be dealing with more over the phone, I want to reassure everyone that if you need us in an emergency please do call 999, we will be there.

Easter holidays
We are endeavouring to keep to some form of normal rhythm and so the school will be closed for the Easter holidays from the end of today, except for the small number of students who need to be looked after because of the critical work their parents are doing.  We will not be setting work online during those two weeks, as much to give everyone the space to look after themselves and their families as anything else.  We will, however, be maintaining an enrichment challenge over this time that we hope will engage the students.

I do not intend writing to you in the next two weeks unless further announcements from the government make that necessary.  Should you need to contact us, for example if your work circumstances change, then please email Mrs Stitch:  Our phones will be staffed intermittently, but the email will be checked daily.  The Sharp system for reporting safeguarding concerns will remain in operation on the front page of our website.

We say goodbye at the end of this term to Miss Vowles and Mr Butler and thank them for their contributions to our school life.  We wish them well in their new ventures.  We will welcome Mrs Gibson (PE) and Miss Allen (maths) to the school at the start of the summer term.

Home learning: summer term
Our Guide to Home Learning has been updated and is available on the school website here.  We have planned to continue our home learning via google classroom after the Easter holidays with some amended expectations based on the experience so far.  Those expectations will be set out in the Guide.

As I have said before, we appreciate that organising home learning in your households is not an easy task.  That is particularly so when you are likely to be balancing your own work and care commitments.  Our task is not to pretend that we can deliver the normal school curriculum at this time; that would be an unreasonable expectation.  Keeping our students engaged in learning is far more important.  That is why other activities you will be organising, such as cooking for the family and helping in the house and garden, are just as important.

Protective equipment
I am pleased to report that we have donated our supply of goggles and disposable gloves from our school stock to Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group who will distribute it to those who are in real need of it at this time.

School site
A reminder that our school site is closed to everyone except the very small number of individuals for whom it is essential that they come to school.   This includes our playing fields that are not open to members of the public.

This term
There is a danger now that history will remember this term and this year for one thing only.  That would be a shame given all that was achieved in the first 9 or 10 weeks of term before the close down began.  For those that were part of or saw the Hairspray production, I am sure that it is still bringing a smile to your faces.  Thousands of pounds were raised for Sport Relief; students and staff visited the battlefields of France, alongside department trips to the likes of London and Bristol; we hosted the first Somerset schools' eco conference; our Duke of Edinburgh and Ten Tors students carried on their training; numerous companies came into school to help our students plan their careers.

I mention these events, but they also sat alongside the vast swathe of 'normal' life that made up the school day.  I suspect that there is now an appreciation of what it meant to us all and how we gained pleasure from the more simple aspects of our lives.  I have been in school this week and I can assure you that the buildings are still there, the grounds look glorious in the spring sunshine and the daffodils are in bloom.  They are all waiting there for the time when, together, we are allowed to return.

Take care of yourselves, your families and your friends.

Yours faithfully

Mark Woodlock