Update from Mr Yates - 07.10.2020
Please see below update from Mr Yates which was emailed to parents
I am writing with a few updates on the current situation and information about our plans for learning over the next few months, particularly if we should find ourselves in a position where students are working at home for extended periods.
The safety measures in school are working well in limiting potential contact between groups, keeping hygiene levels high and looking after the safety of students and staff. Currently, we have not received any further information about confirmed cases in our student body or workforce and only a handful of our school community are isolating as a precautionary measure. This is in no small part because you are being responsible as families in deciding if you should or should not send your child to school. Please remember, if you are unsure, you can refer to the guide attached to this letter to check if it is safe to do so. If the scenarios on the attached sheet do not cover your particular situation, please call and discuss it with us before you send your child in to school. I am mindful of the wider national situation and changes in infection rates in neighbouring areas, and at the moment it is very much a case of being safe rather than sorry with the decisions we all make.
It has been a pleasure to walk around the school recently and see how well students have settled back into the rhythms of school life! The vast majority of students are demonstrating an exceptionally positive attitude to learning and are enjoying being back in the classroom again. Teachers have adjusted quickly to our new school plans and are delivering the kind of high quality face-to-face lessons you would expect.
The planned ‘recovery curriculum’ phase, during which teachers focused primarily on revisiting prior learning in order to re-establish vital connections to material that students encountered during the period of national lockdown, is now comfortably in the past. Our subject leaders and teachers are fully focused on supporting students in moving on at an appropriate pace to ensure the required content for GCSE, BTEC and A Level syllabi is covered well in time for next year’s exam season. Our curriculum mapping and whole-school teaching framework is built on regular opportunities for monitoring and reviewing learning through a variety of assessment strategies. By doing so we aim to support all students in closing the gaps in their knowledge and understanding during their journey through the curriculum. Students are being challenged and supported in new learning every day.
We are also at the stage where plans are being finalised on the re-introduction of homework for Years 7 - 9 after half-term. As you may be aware, we were initially keen to ensure students were given the space and guidance to readjust to the new school routines and to rebuild essential habits of learning within the classroom. However, we recognise that the time is right to re-focus on home learning to support students in developing independence and the ability to self-regulate their learning. These are vital skills in themselves but will clearly be even more important in the event of any period of remote learning or isolation from school. Further details on homework will therefore follow shortly.
I would also like to share with you the outline plan for learning should the school experience a further bubble lock down.
Should your child be working from home as a precautionary measure, their learning will continue using the mechanism outlined below:
For the first lesson for any subject – staff have devised a series of activities linked to the curriculum structure which are available through our website. Your child should go to the subject activities they have scheduled for the day and work their way through the relevant resources. These have been carefully selected so they are appropriate for your child to cover whilst working independently. This resource bank also means that should a significant proportion of our staff become unable to set work, there will still be meaningful and relevant learning available for your child. The link to the work your child can follow is on our website www.buxton.derbyshire.sch.uk under Student Life and work for students during school closure. The new links for this half term will go live before the end of this week.
If your child is working at home for other reasons such as precautionary self-isolation, they can access this work too, it is organised to see them through a 14 day isolation and beyond, and for every subject so they will be able to return to school having studied similar topics to those studied by students still in school.
Whilst students are working on the first lesson from the resources that are ready and waiting for them, staff will dedicate the time from lesson 1 to plan, prepare, mark and assess work for subsequent lessons so we should always remain a lesson in front with planning, preparation and delivery of work for your child. The work will cover a range of approaches and strategies in response to the survey findings we have taken from our students about lock down learning and from external research from bodies such as the Education Endowment Fund. Our students told us that a wide mix of tasks suited them best as does the external research. The teachers are constantly planning their in-school lesson delivery with one eye on how they could translate in to out of school learning if it becomes necessary .
The work will come in a range of formats and tasks to keep students engaged and learning. All work will be closely linked to the planned curriculum for each year group and subject to allow students to quickly re-engage once they are able to return to school. For example:
Work delivered through pre-recorded video lessons from teaching staff
Demonstrations and visualiser work to share thinking
Tasks for learning and completion through class charts
Extended learning tasks
Supplementary “Live” master classes
Teachers will mark and assess remote learning as appropriate to each task.
As a parent, I would ask that you play your part in encouraging and supporting your child in completing their work to the best of their ability. The more engaged they are with remote learning, the more quickly and effectively we can move back to teaching the new curriculum when students are able to return. I understand this can be challenging for many reasons but your support is invaluable.
We have been working with our students to help them understand how to work effectively at home and below are links to the materials we have shared with them to help them understand how to work remotely. Y7 have also all experienced a remote lesson in school to help them understand how to make the most if it and they are being trained in how to use class charts to access work.
KS5 - Y13 specific presentation that will also be useful for Y12
KS4 - Below is a link to a short video we have put together to support KS4 (Y10/Y11) students with remote learning, please feel free to watch and discuss with them how they can put it in to practice
KS3 - Here is a link to an assembly we shared with KS3 students to help them with ways of working well at home
Below is also an update from one of our senior leaders, Mrs Ashworth, who leads on the wider student development. It is an area that could easily be overlooked at the moment and she has been looking forward to sharing an update with you.
Finally, we are launching our virtual Open Event for Y6 parents considering applying for a place as part of the September 2021 intake. We are sharing links to the event through our partner primary schools but if you have friends or family who are looking for information please direct them to our website or ask them to give us a call. The virtual event will be open to everyone on our website through to the end October. A similar style event will soon happen for Y11 students who are considering where to go for post 16 education in September 2021. We will write again soon with more information.
Thank you once again for your trust, support and positivity about school at such a difficult time. This is reflected in our whole school attendance which currently stands at around 9% above the national average for all secondary schools.
Craig Yates - Headteacher
It has been a genuine pleasure to welcome our students back into school this month. As we are all becoming more used to our new ways of working, I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you some of ways in which we are looking after the personal development of the students alongside their academic curriculum.
We all acknowledge the unusual circumstances that we have faced over the past few months. On our return to school we have been using the PHSE programme within registration to look back on our experiences and both draw the positives and acknowledge those who have provided us with support. Although large gatherings such as assemblies cannot happen, staff are delivering important messages through remote assemblies, either via Loom or live streaming into tutor rooms. We continue to tailor the themes to the needs of the different year groups, and to reflect local, national and international themes and issues. Although much attention must be paid to the continuing need for safety and social distancing, we are committed to continue our promotion of ongoing values of tolerance, diversity, democracy, integrity etc.
Student leadership and responsibility are an integral part of our daily life at BCS. Unfortunately, due to current circumstances, we are unable to run the Peer Mentor scheme with Year 10, as their work would involve breaking across year bubbles. If we are in a position to change this later in the year, we will be looking to recruit supportive and reliable students to this role. Similarly, the appointment of the Key Stage 3 Ambassadors has had to be put on hold for similar reasons. However, we are delighted to have appointed an excellent prefect team for this year, and would like to congratulate the all the students who passed through a rigorous application process on being appointed to their positions of responsibility.
Mrs O’Brien is already working hard to adapt the leadership roles to suit the current ways of working; instead of appearing in person at our annual Open Evening, our head prefects will be recording a message to be sent to our prospective Y7s and their families. I don’t know whether they will think this an improvement or not!
Our careers, or Futures Programme is also being adapted to suit the current circumstances. In past years, we have been very fortunate to be supported by Buxton Rotary Club, who have offered mock interviews to our older students. Although these cannot happen this year, we are looking at other ways to offer these valuable practice interviews to students who would like the chance to try a formal interview, and we will be sharing information on this in due course. Mrs Barnwell is still able to conduct individual careers advice interviews, and all students will be supported in making their post 16 and post 18 choices and applications throughout the year.
I’m also delighted to announce that Buxton Community School has been chosen to be the lead school for the area’s Careers Hub; this is in recognition of the well-developed careers programme across the whole school, and the work we have done with our Enterprise Adviser, Julie Allen, from Tarmac. We look forward to continuing to strengthen our links with local and regional employers to support our students in developing their employability skills and their understanding of career choices.
Finally, we hope that we will be able to offer some extra-curricular activities very soon. These will have to take place within year bubbles, so opportunities may be more limited according to staff availability. As these opportunities become available we will publicise these to students and via the website.
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
With best wishes,
Mrs Gill Ashworth