Back to school update - 28.08.2020
Please see below details for students' return to school next week.
Dear Parent / Carer
NB. This letter has been sent to parents of all current Y11 students to cover all those possibly returning to Sixth Form in September.
I promised to write again with more detailed updates and with any changes. It includes an update on transport and you will also have noted the very recent government change in guidance on face masks. Our decision and advice on this is included below. Thank you again for your trust and patience and the many messages of support from our families have been really valuable, especially this summer. As you can imagine, readying a large 11-18 school for re-opening and supporting our Y11 & Y13 students through this summer has kept us extremely busy. We have made use of every minute of every day to make sure you can be confident that your child is as safe as possible when they return to school.
It would really help us if you could please sit down and talk through the relevant sections with your child before they return to school. It will really help them feel more comfortable and confident having discussed it with you. As you know, we will spend the first days and weeks working closely with all students making sure that they can operate safely within school and know how they can help with this, helping them feel positively about returning to school and supporting them in tackling getting back to work in a classroom environment.
Much of the information below repeats what was sent in July, we planned robustly for re-opening and we have spent the summer putting those plans in to place. You will also find the following attachments below - please scroll all the way to the bottom of this article.
- Year group Bubble information. Each year group has a different set of timings and routines throughout the day. Please discuss this information with your child to help them with returning to school. You are being sent details for all the year groups, although the core systems for safety are similar, you will be able to see how we are maintaining separation between our year group bubbles.
- Updates from Derbyshire County Council about transport to and from school.
Update - Face Coverings
As you know, the government changed its position on face coverings earlier this week. We have carefully considered our decision on how we implement this guidance.
We have decided that within communal areas (not including classrooms) such as corridors or similar areas, students and staff can choose to wear a face mask if they wish. This is in line with the following government guidance.
- “where on top of hygiene measures and the system of controls recommended in the full opening guidance to schools and FE colleges and providers, permitting the use of face coverings for staff, pupils or other visitors would provide additional confidence to parents to support a full return of children to school or college”
The reasons for this decision are that currently, our school is not within a “local lockdown” zone subject to additional measures such as requiring the wearing of coverings in communal areas within schools. We have also been able to put in place core measure that will support students in working safely around the school and the systems are robust and well planned. I do understand that some people will find the extra reassurance of being able to wear a face covering in some areas of the school helpful and it will support them in feeling confident around the building. I will closely monitor the situation and contact you if this changes.
If you are intending for your child to wear a face covering in communal areas, you will need to send them in to school with a supply of disposable or washable facemasks for them to wear. The school will not be able to provide them unless it is for emergencies as we are being provided with a very small contingency supply for this purpose.
To help with this, please make sure your child knows how to use a face covering safely and hygienically. There are links below to the official government guidance on face coverings and how to use them below. Please remind your child, this does not include classrooms and they will be expected to remove their face covering on entering a classroom. I do not want a supportive measure to become a potential point of conflict between staff and students.
Link to national guidance
Updates repeated from the last letter
We are looking forward to bringing all our students back to school in September alongside our new year 7s. I feel we have found a safe and effective way through the guidance that allows us to provide full time education to all students in the autumn across the broad and balanced curriculum you would expect us to deliver. We are confident we will operate within a really safe and secure environment, provide significant care and support for young people who have not been in school for an extended period and adapt our teaching and learning to identify and accommodate the needs of students who have not had a conventional education for a good while. I have outlined below how we intend to do this. At the moment, we have been asked by the government to plan for the next two terms using the arrangements outlined here, and plan for a return to normal by Easter 2021. However, should we be able to return to normal before that, we have developed plans that allow us to switch back very quickly to a more conventional way of working. I have tried throughout this time to write to you with clear information and definite plans, to help you and your children know exactly what we are doing and what you can do to help.
As I am sure you would expect, there are going to be some quite significant changes to the way we operate to support a safe return to school and I will offer plenty of detail in this letter. In the meantime, I hope that the information below helps you and your children feel more comfortable and confident about a return to school. The senior leadership team have also written about the specific areas they are focused on for September to help you have a wider understanding of how we are going to tackle some of the key issues you may be thinking about. The full risk assessment and supporting documentation will be published on our website to help you understand the full measures we are utilising to keep the students and staff as safe as possible. We have followed closely the guidance offered by the both national and local government. It is important to say that I will be closely monitoring the situation and we will continue to make any changes and improvements to the systems in response to any changes. We are also prioritising our remote learning offer; I am sure we all hope that there will be no return to school closures in the autumn, but if it should happen, we have learned a lot from recent months and we will be in a position to provide high quality remote learning to all year groups right from the start of term.
School Initial Re-opening
Staff only Wednesday 2nd & Thursday 3rd September. School will re-open to staff on Wednesday 2nd September. We are utilising two of our INSET days to ensure staff are fully trained in the new safety protocols and allow them the opportunity to prepare thoroughly for the students’ return to school.
Students Friday 4th September. Students will return to school on a phased basis for a re-orientation session to support them in feeling comfortable about returning to school on Friday 4th September. The times below are for Friday 4th September only.
To avoid unnecessary washing of uniform, we will allow students to wear their own clothes for the Friday sessions only.
Full uniform should be worn from Monday 7th September. Year 7 students will be given their new ties on the Friday ready for the start of term.
We will make sure that your children feel welcome and comfortable about returning to school and will focus on sharing how they can support us in staying safe in school and understanding what the experience of remote learning has been like for them.
September Full Re-opening
Monday 7th September
School will re-open fully to all students on Monday 7th September. I have outlined the broad procedures we will be using below and don’t forget: more detailed information will follow in the summer, but all students will be back to school and in lessons for period 1. It will be good to get back into a routine as soon as possible!
There will be slightly late starts or early finishes for different year groups, but these will differ from no more than 5 min to help us manage entry and exit to school whilst allowing students to access public transport routes to and from school. Start and end times are in the year group protocol documents that will follow.
Our plan utilises year group bubbles. These are clusters of classrooms that allow students to operate within their year group throughout the day. Our plan allows our teachers to deliver the full range of subjects with full time allocations and with specialist staff delivering lessons. We feel this is the best possible option for supporting students in their learning. The downside is that it will mean limited access to specialist rooms for subjects such as technology, drama, music, art etc. The specialist spaces have been prioritised for Y11 / Y13 to support them in preparing for next summer and they will have as much time as they would in any other year in specialist classrooms. It will support their chances of success in their 2021 examinations.
Potentially, there are some real benefits from a return to a smaller setting for students after such an extended absence. They will be based in a smaller cluster of classrooms and not faced with dealing with large numbers of students from different year groups. We can also embed care and support staff within each location. I expect that students will find the experience much easier to deal with than a return to conventional school.
Once students access the site, they will not be allowed to leave until the end of the day. Y12 & Y13 students can arrive before their first lessons of the day and leave after their last lesson but may not leave and re-enter between lessons. The school will have a fully operational security fence in September.
No student will be allowed to leave site without good reason and permission from a member of the leadership team (e.g. medical appointment); students will not be allowed to leave site at break or lunch for any reason. The hard work we are putting in place to secure a safe site would be quickly undermined by groups of students leaving site and mixing socially. Please do not ask for an exemption to this rule as it will be refused unless there is written evidence from a medical professional such as a GP or consultant, that it is necessary for them to take lunch off site. I understand that this may not be popular with a small number of students, but I am sure you understand why it is necessary.
Specialist Teaching and a broad and in-depth curriculum
Staff are working hard to adapt their teaching so that they can provide meaningful and enjoyable lessons wherever they are teaching. Where it is not possible for students to access specialist classrooms when they usually would, teachers are reorganising to plan for theory and classroom-based work with practical skills developed later in the learning sequence. I would also like to reassure you again that your child will not be greeted with a barrage of tests or conversations about how much they have missed. We understand how challenging the last few months have been, and we are focused on the positives of a return to school for everyone.
Each year group bubble will have its own entry and exit point to school, its own cluster of classrooms, a dedicated social space and a dining space that only they will use at any one time. Teachers and other staff will be able to move between bubbles in line with government guidance, but students will operate within a mini school for their year group only. There will be the usual high-quality pastoral support based in each area and access to specialist services such as first aid and counselling for all.
Uniform & Equipment
We are asking all families to send their children into school in their normal uniform (with the exception of 4th September). The national guidance asks that you keep uniform it clean and wash all items on a regular basis. Please make sure your child has a proper winter coat as they will be spending a little more time outside at breaks and lunch than they may be used to. We will not be able to allow free access to the school as we usually do, and social times will be based outside. Facilities such as the LRC will also be closed for the moment.
PE presents a particular challenge as we would prefer not to use the changing rooms under the current circumstances. There are also limitations on the activities children can currently do.
For the time being we are asking that if your child has PE on their timetable, they come into school in sports gear for the whole day to avoid needing to get changed. Please wear the school PE kit where possible, but they will need additional clothing such as joggers or a sweatshirt to stay warm and comfortable for the rest of the day. These do not need to be from the school PE kit if this is not possible, but they must be appropriate to wear to school. They should also have appropriate footwear for PE days too.
We will also not be able to provide access to lockers for the time being; it is not possible to locate sufficient numbers in the necessary locations, but with reduced need to carry kit or practical equipment, I am sure it will be manageable for students.
It will also be really important that your child has their own basic equipment for in the classroom so avoid sharing kit. This should include as a minimum; a pen, a pencil a ruler and a small set of coloured pencils. They will also need their own calculator. Please make sure they have this with them for the start of term.
Face coverings – Please see the updated information at the start of this letter
Lunches will be provided across 3 canteen spaces in school on a staggered basis to allow a deep clean between sittings. A hot menu will be available, but it will be more limited than usual as we will be operating multiple kitchens. Your child is welcome to bring a packed lunch if you prefer and will be able to eat in the same dining space as the rest of their year group.
I need to make you aware that it will not be possible to provide a food service at break for operational reasons, so it is more important than ever that your child eats breakfast before they leave for school. You are welcome to send them into school with a healthy snack and please send them in with a bottle of water as the vending machines and public fountains must be closed for the time being. Essentially, your child will need to bring with them everything they may need for the day.
We will be operating a cashless system in school so please make sure your child can find their dinner card, you are signed up to parent pay and that there is enough credit on their account in September. If you have any problems with this system, please contact Mrs J McMillan for support.
Transport – PLEASE READ the attachment from D.C.C. about public transport
The government has asked that, wherever possible, people avoid using public transport. If you have a reasonable alternative, please do take it as the pressures on the public transport system will be significant. It will also support us by avoiding mixing groups on buses etc.
I am also asking that you stress to your child how important it is that they respect the social distancing rules in public (whatever they may be in September) and that they avoid mixing in large groups on the way to and from school.
Updates from the Senior Leadership Team
Mrs Jones – Deputy Headteacher
Our assessment recording and reporting schedule will need to reflect the current situation we find ourselves in as the school year progresses and, therefore, we hope you understand that our ‘normal’ schedule will need to remain fluid in its approach.
Currently, all parents’ evenings will need to take on a different format, as we feel that inviting 200 families at a time through our doors would pose unnecessary risks. We will keep this aspect of our reporting schedule under continual review and will share with you how we plan to address this issue ahead of each scheduled parents’ evening.
From September 2020 we hope to be able to share tracking and written reports in a similar way to that of previous years. Before lockdown, we were reviewing our assessment model at Key Stage 3 and we hope to be able to share a new approach with you during the next academic year. Tracking data at Key stage 4 and 5 will continue to take the form of a predicted grade for the end of each course. We may have to amend the format slightly depending on how the year unfolds in terms of infection rates and potential local and national lockdown scenarios. We also plan to provide you with an annual written report; the time frames for this report will vary according to the year group your child is in.
In the meantime, if you have any queries regarding our assessment, recording and reporting schedule, please feel free to contact me via email: Samantha.email@example.com
Mrs Garner – Assistant Headteacher (Special Educational Needs and Safeguarding)
At Buxton Community School, we are very proud of the role we play in supporting young people and families. Lockdown has created additional hurdles to overcome but our fantastic support staff and teaching staff have worked tirelessly to maintain contact with our students and their families.
In September, students with Education, Health and Care Plans/GRIP funding will continue to be supported by their lead worker to ensure the transition back into school is as smooth as possible. In class support will continue and interventions outside of the classroom will continue. Where outside agency support is involved, we will continue to coordinate with those professionals so that the same support is available in a safe and well supported environment. Parents/Carers of children with an EHCP/GRIP will be contacted by their child’s lead worker in September so you are aware of this key contact in school. We have missed our students and cannot wait to see them again!
Transition for our new Year 7 students has looked different this year. A fantastic Padlet has been put together by our Transition Team as an essential guide to the school and the ways in which we support our students. Student Support Plans are being written so that teaching staff have high quality information and strategies to use to help support any students with additional needs. We know a great deal about our new Year 7 students, and we cannot wait to get to know them even better!
The safeguarding of students and Early Help for families has been a vital part of our ongoing commitment to the welfare of our students and their families. We have become rather skilled at remote meetings across a multitude of platforms and the wrap around care and support has been maintained throughout lockdown. With students spending more time online, the importance of safe internet usage and parental monitoring of social media and mobile devices is more vital than ever. I would urge all parents/carers to refer to the E-Safety section on the school website to find out how to protect your child when they are online.
Buxton Community School has a big heart and we know that some students have not found lockdown easy. We are absolutely committed to ensuring every child feels safe, happy and supported when they return to school and I have great confidence in reassuring families that our staff will do all they can to support your child.
If you are concerned about the wellbeing of a child over the summer, please contact Derbyshire Starting Point on 01629 533190.
Mr Gort – Assistant Headteacher (Teaching & Learning)
The experience of the last five months has necessitated dramatic changes in both the way we teach and how students have been expected to learn. We are incredibly proud of our teachers and teaching assistants at Buxton Community School; the speed at which they have adapted their practice to successfully navigate the uncharted waters of distance learning has been tremendous. Overall, staff have done a fantastic job in using a wide range of online platforms and technologies to ensure a rewarding learning experience whilst your child has been studying at home. Many staff are now adept at using pre-recorded ‘Loom’ videos to enhance the teaching of subject content remotely and we are also pleased that several students have been able to take advantage of a number of live, interactive lessons delivered through Microsoft Teams as part of a recent trial. We are well-equipped to deliver a comprehensive, high-quality programme of remote education should future events warrant this.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank those parents who have provided valuable feedback on our approach to remote teaching and learning over this immensely challenging period. We have welcomed your thoughts and insights, and I can assure you that these have made a significant contribution to our ongoing development planning for remote teaching and learning. We also understand how difficult it has been for many of you to balance your work and family commitments with support for home-schooling. Whatever you have been able to offer in this respect is greatly appreciated and will have made a positive impact on the academic progress of your child in the absence of regular face-to-face teaching.
We now look forward with genuine optimism and excitement to the return of all students to full-time classroom teaching from September. Although, in common with all schools nationally, there will be some modifications to lessons in response to government guidance, please be reassured that the essential elements of high-quality teaching will not be compromised. Our curriculum offer will not change or be diluted from September. We will continue to teach in the way we know best motivates students and develops their thinking; which is what they truly deserve after such a long break from education. However, we recognise that after a considerable amount of time away from school, children will need support and understanding as they readjust to school life and new protocols. It is for this reason, therefore, that we have made the decision to suspend homework on an interim basis for Years 7 - 9 pending review at the end of the first half-term as we believe this is in the best interests of our students at this present time. Some students will naturally feel anxious about their progress during lockdown and we want them to focus on re-establishing those vital routines and habits of learning when in school. Our heads of department have also planned a targeted recovery curriculum for each subject to address and close any gaps in learning.
We are resolute in our goal that no student at Buxton Community School will be left behind, whatever the circumstances of recent months, and we look forward to working with parents and all members of our school community to ensure the best possible outcomes for your child during the next academic year.
Mrs Ashworth – Assistant Headteacher (Personal Development)
In September one of the main priorities on our return to school is to ensure the wellbeing of our students. We will be helping them to adjust to the school routines, to re-establish their friendships, and to negotiate the new challenges that lay ahead. The school’s programme of personal development opportunities may have to look a little different for a while, but we remain committed to ensuring that students have access to as wide a range as possible of activities.
Our PHSE programme will continue during registration, and we are in the process of creating a series of sessions that will support the students on their transition from home to school. These will sit alongside the established programme of lessons and events, which we aim to continue, although some adaptations will have to be made in light of the government guidance. We will be providing opportunities for students to reflect on their experiences of the last few months, and to identify the skills and qualities that each and every one of them will have developed.
One of the areas that may be affected most will be the programme of extra-curricular activities. Any clubs or activities will have to run on a year only basis, as students will be operating in year group bubbles. For some clubs, they will be able to operate as normal. For others, where they have operated across year groups, they may have to run differently; we are already thinking about how best to do this and we will communicate with students and parents in September and on an ongoing basis. Unfortunately, some groups may have to be postponed (such as choir), as they cannot continue under the government guidance. As soon as we are able to, we will be looking to reintroduce these. Please look out for more information in September as we put together our programme.
Finally, we will continue our Futures Programme, which aims to develop students’ employability skills, provide them with information about careers and further education and training, and support them in their choices and applications. We have a well-established network of employers and education providers who work with us, and we are already exploring and developing ways of using remote working practices to continue activities such as employer talks / Q and A, virtual open days and careers fairs, practice interviews, support with applications and interview practice. Mrs Barnwell, our careers advisor, will be able to provide 1:1 advice and guidance in school as normal.
Each and every student will have had a unique experience during the past few months; our core values of respect, tolerance and acceptance will be at the forefront of everything we do on a daily basis, and our school community will remain strong in the months to come. I look forward to welcoming everyone back on site.
Mrs Pope – Assistant Headteacher (Alternative Provision)
It was a lovely feeling to see the Year 10 and Year 12 students return to school on June 15th, even if for the short sessions we were able to provide. We are very grateful for the mature and positive way all the Year 10 and Year 12 students adapted to all the new routines in place. Their approach has enabled us to think carefully about how we can develop and extend this provision and welcome all our students back in September.
A team of people will work very hard over the summer to facilitate all the changes needed in school to ensure our community stays safe and learning can continue in the way that we all recognise in schools. This will mean classrooms will look different with tables facing forward, teachers will be advised be maintain distance from each other and from students and students will need to minimise contact at social times and stay within their Year Group ‘bubbles’. We will have to adopt new habits and routines and find creative ways to teach some of the more practical based subjects that many of our students enjoy and excel at.
Although school for many of our students will look and feel very different, the most important people within it will still be there, our community of staff, students and their families. We will still have the same aspirations for all our young people and will continue to work with them to strive to ‘be the best they can be’ and enable all our students to continue to prepare for opportunities, responsibilities and experiences in later life.
For the group of students who access alternative pathways in school we are planning to enable these students to access a more bespoke timetable where the students can work within ‘bubbles’ in the Alternative Provision centre, attend many of their mainstream lessons, while also engaging in activities that will break down some of the barriers to learning for our young people.
School will be very different for staff as well. While we will have two training days to put our final preparations in place for the students return, we will be unable to get together in large groups and will meet in much smaller groups or remotely, as has been the practice since school closed in February. Please be assured that opportunities for staff to continue to collaborate to share best teaching and learning practise and develop their subject pedagogy will still be a priority, but will be a challenge, while we find and establish new ways of working in and out of school.
September will bring on new challenges for all of us, but I am sure many of our students have developed different skills during their time at home and will bring these to school in September.
Mrs Gelsthorpe – Assistant Headteacher (Standards & Expectations)
As a team of staff, we are delighted to be welcoming students back into school and our care. Schools are a place for children, and I know myself how strange and unsettling the building has been without the hundreds of students around, as well as the noise they generate!
Learning remotely has been a time when some students have expressed themselves in different ways, without the constraints of school standards. We ask that over the summer hair that is dyed a vivid colour is returned to a natural look, and that excessive and brightly coloured nail extensions are removed. In addition, please remember that jewellery is limited to a watch and one small stud in each ear. In accordance with Health and Safety regulations no other piercings are allowed, including lip, nose, septum and eyebrow. Please ensure these are removed prior to entering the school site.
Coming to school ready to learn is the most important thing that every child does each day. Being ready to learn means that the correct books and equipment should be in bags and homework completed in readiness for the lessons that day. We ask that uniform is clean, smart and correctly worn so that there are no distractions to the learning process. Shoes should be all black and leather or leather look with any tags, including metal logos that thread through the laces, removed. As always, staff will be checking all equipment and uniform from the first day back in September and we thank you for your support with this. From September we will also be providing all students with a coloured button badge. This should be worn on the blazer lapel, its purpose to allow staff to identify the year group of a student immediately and ensure they are in the correct area within school for their bubble.
I am delighted to say that our reward system, which recognises effort above and beyond our standard expectations, has continued to operate throughout the partial closure and it has been a real privilege to write to so many of you telling you how amazing your children are. Our reward system will continue to operate from September as normal and hopefully we will get to give the vouchers out to the students in person. RAP reward weeks really are a highlight of my year. It is a real privilege to see the joy students get for the recognition and acknowledgement of their efforts. The same as this year, there will be two RAP reward weeks scheduled within the school calendar.
We also must acknowledge that sometimes students get things wrong and don’t make the right choices. Alongside our reward point system continues to sit our consequence system. Students are always given the chance to put things right and pastoral staff and form tutors will monitor carefully the number a student receives. We will contact you if your child continues to disrupt the learning of others within their teaching groups. Sanctions will remain the same: reports, phone calls and emails as well detentions at break and after school. For the most severe sanctions INTEX will remain. Our aim is to support restorative conversations and help students to identify why they behaved the way they did. Our pastoral staff have a wealth of experience and have the understanding and insight to know which form of monitoring and sanction works best for them as an individual.
The government has made it clear that all students are expected back full time as of September. I’m sure many of you are ready to pass the teaching baton back to us too, I certainly am! Please rest assured that we will work with all parties to ensure that this happens. We appreciate that there may be some students needing additional help and support to help them feel safe and secure on their return to school. Our pastoral model remains the same, allowing for this level of support to be in place. The contact we have maintained throughout the partial closure has been exceptional and helps us to have a real understanding of how our students are prepared for a return to school fulltime.
Can I take this opportunity to wish you and your family a restful time over the coming weeks and an enjoyable summer.
Mrs McMillan – Head of School Business and Resources
What a busy few months it has been during lockdown for all staff across the school and the support staff equally have played a big part in their efforts to help keep the school running smoothly and effectively.
You will see that our site looks very different internally with ‘one -way systems’, hand sanitiser stations, social distancing markers and COVID-19 posters. We have worked closely with Derbyshire County Council teams using local and national guidance to ensure that measures have been put in place to mitigate the risk for all our staff, students and wider school community.
In September we will not be accepting any cash in the school and encouraging all parents to sign up for ParentPay which can be downloaded as an ‘app' onto phones. School dinner money can be paid through here as well as other items for school. Letters will be sent to all parents over the summer holidays who have not yet set up a ParentPay account with a reminder of the activation codes to do so.
We have a busy summer break ahead continuing to prepare the school ready for the full reopening in September. Building work is taking place on our roof in A Block on Green Lane and we are really pleased that the new perimeter fence around the school is now starting to go up ready for the new term. Can I please remind that the school site is out of bounds in all areas including the AstroTurf, 3G pitches and the Pavilion area on the playing fields during the summer holidays. Your support in ensuring that your child stays away from the school would be appreciated.
If you have any questions regarding free school meals, ParentPay or bursaries please contact me via email to firstname.lastname@example.org