Headteacher Blog - 13 JulyPosted on: 13th Jul
Dear Parents and Carers
We have finally reached the end of quite an incredible year and, although it has been challenging, it has also been truly inspiring to see how we have all pulled together as a school community. So we now turn our attention to September and, as promised, I now want to share my plan to achieve the ambition of ‘education as usual’.
It is clear from the Government guidance that strict hygiene measures and social distancing will be very much part of how schools will operate for the foreseeable future. However, the guidance also acknowledges that no environment can be totally risk free and that schools will have to decide what is possible in their own settings. I can assure you that the safety of our whole school community has remained the top priority in our planning and we have continued to consult with a variety of stakeholders.
What do we want to achieve from all students returning to school?
- We will continue to teach a broad and ambitious curriculum to all our students from the start of the autumn term
- In the short term, the curriculum will be adjusted to help students reintegrate after the lockdown
- Students will be taught by subject specialist teachers in their normal classrooms
- Students will have the usual opportunities to interact with their peers
- We will continue to maintain our high expectations of our students’ behaviour and attitudes to learning, with students being required to wear uniform.
How will we keep staff and students as safe as possible?
- Students will be expected to maintain good hygiene in accordance with the school’s infection control checklist, for example by sanitising their hands as they enter their classrooms and using wipes to clean their desks at the end of lessons
- Each Year Group will have its own ‘island’ within the school
- Each Sixth Form Year Group will have its own Common Room
- Students will be based in their islands during their free time, although will be able to leave to use the toilet, buy food or see members of staff
- Each Year Group will be allocated a specific suite of toilets to use throughout the day
- Students in Years Seven, Eight or Nine will buy food in the Downs Diner; students in Years Ten, Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen will buy food in Café 6
- Students and staff will move around the school following a clearly marked one-way system, maintaining at least a one metre social distance
- At the busiest times of the day, different Year Groups will move around the school at different times, to facilitate social distancing
- PM registration in tutor bases will no longer happen, with attendance being taken from lesson registration instead
- Morning break will be longer to reduce congestion when students buy food
- Assemblies will be done remotely, with the students remaining in their tutor groups
- The Year Group each student belongs to will be clearly identified by the wearing of coloured lanyards, which they will receive on their first day in school in September
- The addendum to the behaviour policy will continue to be in place.
What should you do to keep your child safe?
- Children MUST NOT come to school if they, or a member of your household, has symptoms of coronavirus. Tests will be available via the NHS to staff and children should this happen
- If your child is due to come into school and is unwell, please report it in the normal way
- Please reinforce with your child that they must respect social distancing, including if they use the school bus service
- Ensure your child follows hygiene guidance, such as washing hands before he or she comes to school
- Make sure your child has all his or her books and equipment as it will not be possible to share
- Should you need to drop something off at school for your child that cannot wait until the end of the school day (e.g., medicine), please contact reception first who will advise you on the protocol for this.
What are the expectations for student attendance?
- When the coronavirus outbreak was increasing, the Government made it clear no parent would be penalised or sanctioned for their child’s non-attendance at school. The Government has now stated that ‘the circumstances have changed and it is vital for all children to return to school to minimise as far as possible the longer-term impact of the pandemic on children’s education, wellbeing and wider development.’ The Government’s guidance goes on to emphasise that ‘school attendance will therefore be mandatory again from the beginning of the autumn term.’
- Because of the progress that has been made in reducing incidences of the transmission of COVID-19, and because more is known about the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people, even students who have previously been instructed to shield will be expected by the Government to return to school in September. This is also the case for children who live in the same household as adults who had previously been instructed to shield.
- I am aware that there will be some students receiving specialist medical care who will need to act on the advice of their medical team. If this is the case for your child, can you please contact your child’s Head of Year to update them on the situation.
- I know that some children will feel anxious about the return to school after such a long absence. If you feel this is the case with your child, please emphasise to them the importance of school attendance not only to their education, but also to their mental health and wellbeing, as well as assuring them about the protective measures that will be in place. The school’s pastoral staff will be ready to provide students who are feeling anxious with the support they need to return to school.
- Please avoid booking any holiday that means you will need to quarantine and will be unable to return to school on Thursday 3rd September. If your holiday is already booked, please let us know before the end of the summer term.
I hope that the above information is helpful to you and your family. I know that this new type of schooling is strange for everyone, but I am certain that with your support we can provide a safe environment for our children, staff and families. I will leave you with the results of our recent bake-off challenge. Please click here to see all the scrumptious cakes and the winners.
I wish you all a safe and relaxing summer break, you certainly all deserve it. I look forward to seeing the return of all our students in September.