Coronavirus Update 22nd May

Thursday 22nd May 2020
Coronavirus (Covid-19) - Update for Parents/Carers

Dear Parents/Carers,

I hope that this letter finds you and your families still safe and well as we approach the end of this half-term.  In this letter, I hope to be able to set out the proposed nature of the school provision after half-term.  I also want to be able to explain the key issues that remain outstanding so that you are aware of how we are undertaking our decision-making process.

Years 7, 8 and 9

Alongside this letter, you will find letters from the heads of Years 7, 8 and 9 addressed to their individual year group.  In those letters, they have set out the detail of the provision online that will take place after half-term.  We have responded to parental feedback to try to ensure that we have a more structured timetable and more interactive lessons.  We do understand that students are craving the social contact that they would normally get from school.  Trialling of live lessons is currently happening with older students and we hope that some of this may be available to key stage 3 students later in the term.

Years 10 and 12

Given the uncertainty that still exists, we are not able to write individual letters to Years 10 and 12 in the same way that we have for the lower years.  I hope to be able to set out the reasons for that here. 

We have created draft plans to establish some in-school provision for students in Years 10 and 12.  For Year 10, this would focus on core subjects once per week and, for Year 12, this would be for lessons in their option subjects.  However, we have reached a point at present that means we cannot confirm when or whether this will start.

It is worth explaining our understanding of the scientific advice in relation to school opening.  We are told that the decision to focus the initial school opening primarily on very young children, rather than older children, is because of the social networks that these children operate in outside school.  Children in reception or year 1 tend to mix with very few other children outside school, especially in the current circumstances.  The same is not true for students as they get older and particularly for many of our teenagers.

You will immediately appreciate how this affects the ability to bring students in Years 10 and 12 into school,  as per the government's ambition.  We have to be very careful that any plans we put in place do not create a new social hub that widens the connections between these individuals.

We were informed that there would be new government guidance at the beginning of this week.  Unfortunately, it has yet to arrive.  This is very important because there is a possibility that this guidance will require us to keep students in close social 'bubbles' of up to 15 students and not mix with any others during their time in school.  If that were the position asked of us, then it would substantially alter what we are able to achieve.

The school's current ambition is therefore to try to put in place this blended mix of in school and online learning, but that will begin no earlier than Monday 8th June and may be put back further if there is no clarification as to the safety requirements.  As I have mentioned before, we will not compromise the safety of students and staff in a rush to bring students in.

In the meantime, from 1st June, we are increasing the amount of individualised and live lessons to improve the effectiveness of the online work and many of you have already signed your consent to this.  Year 12 should follow the individual instructions in their subjects.  For Year 10, work will be set by 8.30am on the morning of any given day according to the new online timetable:

Monday - All Options Subjects.  Students choose three out of their four to work on today.
Tuesday - English, Science, left over Option Subject from yesterday.
Wednesday - All Options Subjects.  Students choose three out of their four to work on today.
Thursday - Science, Maths, left over Option Subject from yesterday.
Friday - English, Maths, Science.

When we have more information, I will write to you again to set out how we may move forwards.

Year 11

The response of students to the sixth form preparation work has been very positive.  We will continue this for the first three weeks after half-term, until 19th June, to broadly coincide with what would have been the exam period.  We hope to do something a little different in the week after that, but more news on that will follow.

Critical worker school

We will remain open, as we have done throughout this crisis, for vulnerable children and those of critical workers.  It is essential that spaces are booked if this provision is required.  

Thank you for all of the support that you have given to the school and your child's education this half-term.  We hope that your children enjoy the break from learning and that this helps to maintain the positive relationships in your household.  Please take care of yourselves, your families and those around you over the next week and we look forward to whatever the final term of this year will bring. 

Yours faithfully

Mark Woodlock