Dear Parents and Carers
I do hope that the Easter break for you and your family has gone as well as can be expected in these difficult times, and that you are all staying safe and healthy. School has remained open for the children of key workers over the Easter holiday, and I am very grateful to the staff who volunteered to give up their time to make this possible.
It is now clear that schools will not be re-opening this week, and the signs are that we have to be prepared for the current situation to continue for some time. I wanted to remind you of key information that you might find helpful.
1. Completion of work for Years 7,8,9,10,12
We were very impressed by the amount of work completed by students in the first week of the lockdown, especially as this was the last week of term when minds might not have been easily focussed. Given the potential length of the closure, it is vital that students treat weekdays as a day of work and quickly realise that they are “at school at home” and not “still on holiday”. We know that all homes do not have the same circumstances or routines; some of you may have access to a number of computers but many have of you share one computer with a sibling or indeed with parents/carers. Therefore, although it is beneficial for our students to establish a clear routine, for example, mirroring the school day (starting at 9.00am and finishing at 3.15pm) we appreciate that this isn’t always going to be possible. We understand that your family needs to work flexibly around your particular situation. Please contact us if you have an issue with access to IT which is making accessing the work impossible. All work will continue to be posted on Epraise. We do not expect students to spend more than an hour on any one lesson.
Teachers are working hard to ensure that the curriculum set for the students is accessible and well thought out for students working from home. It is very important they complete as much of the work as they can on time so that they do not miss this content, and so that they continue to develop their study skills and habits. If you have any concerns or questions or want to discuss any aspect of their work, please contact your child’s teacher by email in the first instance. We are asking teachers to be available to their classes when they are timetabled to teach them, however, please be mindful that many of our staff also have their own families and situations to juggle as well!
For Year 7 and Year 8 we are continuing to follow the ‘Drop and Read’ timetable. For this week it is period 5, and from Wednesday we will ask be asking teachers to not set any additional work for that hour. Instead we would like our students to be taking the time to read. For the week beginning 20th April Drop and Read will be period 1, the week beginning 27th April period 2 and so on and so forth. We are hoping this will make the workload of these students more manageable and we will review in a couple of weeks time.
2. Information for Year 11 and 13 students
I wrote to parents last week to share the information that the government has released on how they will award grades for this year’s GCSE, AS and A level examinations. I have attached the relevant document here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/howgcses- as-a-levels-will-be-awarded-in-summer-2020.
The two main points are: . schools do not need to send any evidence or get students to complete any more work; . schools are not allowed to share estimated grades with parents, carers or students before submitting them to OFQUAL.
I would be grateful if you do not contact your son/daughter’s teacher about this at present.
For Year 11 and 13 students, continuing to engage with study and revise independently will be beneficial for students either wishing to continue with the subject in their next stage of education or for those who think there is the possibility of wishing to resit examinations next year.
A level students: If you are not happy with the grade awarded to you by Ofqual then our current understanding is that there will be an opportunity to ‘sit’ an exam in September. If you feel that you might not obtain the grades needed for university, college or apprenticeships based on the work that you had done up to March 23rd then it is advisable to continue to do work. Contact your teacher who will set this for you.
GCSE students: If you are not awarded a grade 4 in English or maths then our current understanding is that you will be expected to re-sit this next year at whatever institution you attend. Therefore, continuing to study will provide a better foundation for reaching the standard pass grade next academic year. The English and maths teams will continue to set appropriate revision for our Year 11 students to assist them with any work they may wish to continue to do at home. This will be generic (grade 4/5 standard) as it is not possible for the teachers to discuss individual grades with students or their families. Looking at the grades achieved throughout the course of the year will be an indicator of how confident you can be that the standard pass of grade 4 will be awarded. However, I must stress it is possible that even if your child achieved the standard pass in their PPEs this is not a guarantee that this will be the grade awarded by OFQUAL in the summer.
In preparation for the next stage of our Year 11 student’s education, all subjects will be asked to set transition work/projects to help them prepare for A level and other level 3 courses. My advice would be to keep as many options open as possible. A large proportion of students change their minds about what they will do in 6th form between April and September. A separate letter will be sent home shortly with more information about our 6th form provision and bridging work.
3. Contacting school
We are following government guidelines in ensuring as many staff as possible can work from home. The school switchboard is being answered remotely during school hours or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and a message will be sent to the relevant member of staff to get in touch with you. All staff email addresses are available on our website.
4. Support for key workers
The school will continue to be open for the children of key workers and a small number of students who meet the governments criteria for being able to access in-school provision. It is essential that families and carers contact us in advance to make any changes to the attendance arrangements for their child.
5. Free School Meals
Up until this point we have been providing vouchers. Going forward we will be providing families access to the new Government e-voucher scheme, the instructions for which are being texted to the FSM parents. Please contact us on the email address above if you have any problems with these.
All trips and visits that were planned for the summer term have been cancelled. The Finance staff are in the process of refunding all payments that have already been made.
We are all looking forward to the day when we can resume normal schooling, and in the meantime will do all we can to work with you in maintaining routines and learning as best we can. Thank you for your support, and wishing you all the very best,
Suzannah Wharf Headteacher