Coronavirus Update 10th July

Friday 10th July 2020
Coronavirus (Covid-19) - Update for Parents/Carers

Dear Parents/Carers,

I hope that this letter finds you safe and well as we approach the end of the summer term.  

We have reached a point where I am able to set out the way in which we will work from September.  You will appreciate that the government guidance was released last week and we have used those national principles to determine the best ways in which we can both keep our community safe and operate effectively as we reopen the school to all students.

We have created a separate student/parent/carer guide that aims to help with transition to the new school year.  In that guide, we have included the information that we feel is important to understand at this stage.  There is a balance to be achieved between providing enough information to reassure everyone about the measure being taken in September and overwhelming everyone with too much.  We know that it will be necessary to add further layers of explanation in September when we have all students with us.

It would help us if you were able to work through the guide with your child so that you can all picture how the school will function.  You will see, for example, that different year groups will have break and lunch at different times and this will be a significant change for the school.  Additional hand-washing sinks are being installed across the school and we will aim for this to become a habit for students as they arrive in school.  At the same time, it is important to remember that much will stay the same and the students will benefit from seeing and working with teachers and friends that they know.

To achieve the transition, the first week of the new school year will run as follows:

Thursday 3rd September: Years 7 & 12 only will attend
Friday 4th September: All students will attend

Staff will be in school on the preceding days to make sure that we are fully prepared to receive the students.  Should you have questions before school starts, then please feel free to contact the school so that we can provide that necessary reassurance.  Our ambition is to use the 3rd and 4th September to support the transition for students, both in practical terms and pastorally, and allow us to have a positive start in all lessons at the start of the following week.  

I very much appreciate that this guide and the information in it focusses on the functional aspects of the school and gives little hint of the flavour of life in the classroom.  Behind this, we are working with the teaching staff on what learning will look like with these new restrictions and how we can bring the curriculum to life.  We know that, for some, there is a concern about catching up with missed learning and have built time into the teachers' timetables to allow this to happen.

We continue to work on the final elements that will help us run smoothly in the new year.  For example, we hope to be able to use the epraise app for students and parents to order food in advance and reduce the need for queuing at food outlets.  Equally, we know that we will not be able to operate parents' evenings in the usual way, at least for the first term, and we are working on alternatives that we will inform you about in September.

Our pastoral team leaders will be writing letters to each of you before the end of term to explain how tutoring will operate and where students should go on their first day.  We are also writing separately to Year 11 and Year 13 to explain the arrangements for results' days.

We have had some very positive pastoral sessions this week with students in Years 12 and 10.  Even with the additional restrictions, it has been wonderful to see these students in school, listen to their stories and help them to plan ahead.  Before we finish the term next Thursday (16th), we aim to hold virtual pastoral sessions with most of the students in Years 7, 8 and 9.

I need to finish by thanking you for the support you have given the students and the school during these exceptional times.  Some of the challenges have been immense, requiring a speed of response that has tested our capacity.  At times, the personal sacrifices to keep everything moving forwards have been quite high.  We know that is true at home and at school.  If I think back to where we were in March, it would have been difficult to envisage how far we would have come by this point.

The positive position that we have achieved has been because we have worked together.  That is all the more important in the socially distanced world in which we have lived.  We know that the challenges have not ended and I fully expect that next year will test us again.  Like the wonderful trees that grow in our grounds, we know that we can bend in the wind because our roots and foundations are strong.

Please continue to take care of yourselves, your families and those around you during the summer.  We very much look forward to seeing you all in September.

Yours faithfully

Mark Woodlock
Headteacher