Update from Mr Yates
Please see below parent information from Mr Yates
Dear Parent / Carer
It has been a little while since I have written to you as, although the wider COVID world has seen some substantial changes with lockdowns and new tiers, things have essentially remained unchanged for schools. We have remained open to all students since September despite some challenging situations. Your care and attention in only sending your child to school if they are “well”, along with our COVID prevention systems, mean that we have experienced relatively low numbers of confirmed cases in comparison to many other schools. Up to now, we have also been able to prevent in school transmission between students and/or staff. Our systems have become more and more refined and we have been able to remove small numbers of confirmed close contacts rather than whole year groups of students. Attendance across the school is impressive. Although it is lower than it may normally be at this time and is currently around 91%, it is still significantly above the national average for secondary schools of around 80%.
Through all of this, we have been working through extended periods of significant staff absence. At times, we have been missing over 30% of our frontline teaching and support staff. This has largely been because of precautionary absence triggered by confirmed cases outside of school, closure of child care settings for staff who are parents, preventing them from attending as normal, and other similar reasons. At all times, your children have been taught by a suitably qualified professional with staff based at home planning and delivering good quality education. We continue to investigate and trial remote learning systems and have taken significant steps in our work in this area. I want to publicly recognise all our staff who have gone above and beyond in so many ways throughout this time and I cannot thank them enough. We have stayed open to all and it is our ambition to make sure we do all we can to make sure this remains the case. I am acutely aware of the time our students have missed and I want to offer them every opportunity to make good any gaps in their education that we possibly can. As part of this, we will be teaching all students right the way through to the end of term on the 18th December. Please make sure your child attends if they are fit and well to do so. We will close to students at 2.20pm on the 18th to make sure that we can clean down and close the site properly before the break. If it is not possible for your child to make their way home safely and they need to remain on site until 3.20pm to wait for a bus or lift, we can accommodate this; however, you must notify firstname.lastname@example.org as it is very important that we can plan accordingly and keep the integrity of the year group bubbles.
On the same lines, over the next few weeks, please take even greater care than ever in deciding if your child may have COVID related symptoms before sending them in to school. In effect, a confirmed case in school from 11th December onwards would probably result in a significant number of students (and if they become unwell, their families) or staff needing to self-isolate over Christmas day and beyond. I feel like the whole school community has given up so much over the last few months and it would be amazing if everyone could be in a position to enjoy Christmas as much as the regulations allow. After the break, again please be extra cautious and if in any doubt, keep your child at home and call us to discuss your concerns.
I am so proud of how everyone has responded. Unfortunately, with the current risk assessments in place and other mitigating factors, it has been hard to find meaningful ways to recognise how well everyone is doing. For example, we have lost our presentation event for students and parents where we can publicly acknowledge the amazing achievements students have reached during the last school year. However, we won’t let them be forgotten and the pastoral teams have worked really hard coming up with alternative ways of recognising individual achievements. As I have said, I am really proud of how well every student has responded and supported the school and we would like to recognise this in a different way. This year, we would like to make a real event out of Christmas dinner. We will re-organise slightly how we do things to allow every student and member of staff to have a free Christmas lunch on Wednesday 16th December. We will also make this our Christmas jumper day. Again, there will be no “fee”. We can’t do everything we want to but we are doing everything we can…
Our Y13 and Y11 students are still waiting for clarification from the government around how their summer 2021 examinations will be handled. We are also waiting for the same information. Hopefully, this will be released later this week; however, please be reassured that, whatever happens, we have planned for pretty much every conceivable outcome. The Y11 mock exams will soon take place in small class settings to reduce any risks. They will be meaningful, they will support students and teachers in their learning and teaching and they will provide supplementary evidence for each student should it be needed. We will keep in touch with any updates as they are released but as always, it is likely that the detailed information we need to share with you will be sent to schools a little while later. The students are doing a brilliant job. At the time of writing, the government position is unchanged and students will be sitting their examinations next summer. We will make sure they are as well prepared as they can possibly be for whatever form they take.
It is also Y11 parents and carers virtual parents’ evening tomorrow (Thursday 3rd). I understand how important communication is at the moment and you will probably have questions you want to ask about exams etc. We have asked our teachers to focus on progress in the classroom and subject specific areas for improvement. Mrs Jones, other key staff and I will share with you wider information about the best way to secure the best outcomes for your child, as soon as we have worked our way through the government guidance we expect to receive soon.
Thank you again for your patience and support, take care and stay positive.
Craig Yates - Headteacher