Message from Mrs Oakley 22nd October 2020

Dear parents/carers,

Thank you for your continued support in getting all students back into school safely over this past half-term. As you know we are committed to providing the best education possible for your child, while securing the health and safety of our whole school community. Thank you for continuing to follow public health guidelines and encouraging your children to do the same. This has been an interesting start to the academic year but our students and staff have responded superbly.

You are already aware of the steps we have put in place to ensure the safe return of all students to school. We know that you will be keen to understand the impact that we have had over this half-term and what our plans are to ensure all students catch up with any missed learning, and what will happen if a student is asked to stay at home over the coming months.

Remote learning March - July 2020

Over the course of lockdown, the work that students were completing was monitored and as you are aware we sent out lots of electronic/paper postcards from department areas acknowledging this hard work. 


Phone calls were made where it didn't look like students were engaging with work and /or who were struggling with lockdown. 


Pastorally 1700 phone calls were made in addition to the tutor telephone calls over the summer term and these contacts allowed us to put in additional intervention where needed and check in on families and students that may have needed additional support


The engagement figures show on average 85% of students were regularly attempting work in most subjects.


In June /July when we were allowed to welcome 25% of Year 10 back to school per day for their face to face subject sessions the overall take up was 83%.


At the same time we were able to top up our 25% with offering support to our more vulnerable students who had meetings with their key workers and learning support assistants.


Over the lockdown period, the school was always open - term time and holiday periods - for our critical worker families and vulnerable students. There were 109 students who attended this provision and staff, on a fortnightly rota, provided cover.

September-October

We have been able to ensure that all subjects are being taught across all Year groups including practical lessons. Our staggered start and end times are working well in order to keep the Year groups as separate as possible. The zone system is again working well during break times and before school.


What we would say is that students would prefer to not have these systems in place and so we are having to remind them that this is for the benefit and safety of everyone. 


The use of face masks in communal areas, one way systems and the application of hand sanitiser are continuing to be reinforced and embedded in routines.

Attendance

School attendance is at 95% and we are really pleased with the huge effort our families have made to get our young people into school amidst such change. Special mention should go to Year 7 who are doing a great job with their attendance up at nearly 97% overall.


Schools Week reported that nationally secondary school attendance was at 84% in the first 3 weeks of term, at that point we were almost 12% above this figure.


Please continue to send your children to school, prepared with a mask and continue to highlight the actions they need to take to keep everyone safe. Remember to contact the school absence line via email or phone call if your child is ill and be explicit about why they are off school. 

Coverage of the curriculum

All curriculum areas reviewed their Autumn term schemes of work prior to the start of the school year. They have built in opportunities to assess students’ understanding of topics covered between March and July 2020 through quizzes and low stakes assessments. This is part of our usual practice and our curriculum is designed with overlearning opportunities to identify gaps, address these and deepen understanding.


Each year group from Year 8 to 11 has received a post-lockdown review of their progress and an attitude grade relating to their start back at school sent home via INSIGHT


Subject areas have also updated their curriculum plans to now include any topics that were postponed from  March to July 2020 so that these are taught in the classroom.


For Year 11, subjects have adapted their curriculums to reflect the updates to their examination criteria where these have been adjusted by the exam boards for this year only. An update of these adjustments will come out shortly to Year 11 parents once all exam boards have confirmed.

Self-isolating/isolating

Across this half term we have seen students and staff self-isolating/isolating when there has been occasion to believe that they or their household has COVID symptoms. 

Figures up to Monday 12th October:

Staff: 42 staff (teachers and non-teachers)

Students: 226 incl. siblings

Once a student/member of staff calls into school regarding staying home whilst awaiting a test, the school will send out a google form to ask for information about the 48hours previously. This is in case the student/staff member exhibits symptoms within 48 hours of being at school. This enhances our track and trace system we have set up at school and ensures we have all the information we would need when talking to Public Health England/Department for Education.

During this half-term, we have tested our track and trace system using students across the five years to see whether or not it is robust and have then made adjustments where necessary.

As you know, we had our first positive test on 13th October and our systems worked well and worked in tandem with the guidance given by the DFE on the day.

Remote learning in the future

In the event of a student needing to self isolate or a partial closure, work is provided in the classwork section of  Google classroom for students to continue their learning from home. This will cover the same content as at school and be a blended learning approach to ensure a smooth transition for students when they are back in the classroom. This is to minimise gaps in knowledge and understanding due to not being in school. 

We have updated our resources and strategies for remote learning following feedback from the summer and there is a greater emphasis on teacher explanations and collaborative work planned for future remote learning.

A parent fact sheet is available within the COVID section of the website on how to support your child whilst they are learning at home.

Mental health and wellbeing

Students have access to a number of support networks within school and with the agencies we associate with.


Students can talk to their tutors , ADOPA or their DOPA for support if needed, but beyond that they are able to make an appointment with our Student Services team who can meet with them and offer a listening ear, intervention or signpost to where they can get further support.


The school ELSA workers and Counsellor are available for support and the students are welcome to drop in to the hub to see the counsellor if needed on designated days.


We have established our own school wellbeing menu that students can refer to as well as each year group having access to their own wellbeing area on the website that has information and guidance.


We are working closely with our external support partners to offer support as well, these include the school nursing team, KCC mentors and intervention team and of course the TADIC centre in the village.


On returning to school each year group had their own settling in day largely based around their wellbeing and returning to school.


We even have a wellbeing postbox that students can use to post any concerns if they do not want an initial conversation

 

I hope that the above information gives you a flavour of the work we have completed over this half term and what will happen if your child(ren) needs to self-isolate/isolate and or a lockdown of sorts is imposed. 

As you would expect we are continuing to review and evaluate our processes including suggestions from all our stakeholders about further improvements and if these are practical and sustainable we will implement these into our future practices across the school.

Thank you for your support in these challenging times; we cannot do this alone and as the American theologian H.E. Luccock said, No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it." It makes all the difference knowing that together we can continue to make the difference for our students, your child(ren).

I naively hoped/believed In September that by now we would be out of the woods but it would seem from the news that this is not the case at the present time. 

Therefore, please continue to stay safe, take care and enjoy the half-term with your child(ren).

Best wishes

Mrs Oakley