School Updates from Mrs Jones 14/01/2021
Please read below important updates on various matters.
I would like to share with you some updates following on from the letter you received from Mr Yates last week.
A number of staff have spent most of last week training in preparation for our Covid testing programme. The type of testing available is Lateral Flow Testing and is used to test staff and students who are not displaying any symptoms. The training consisted of 3 webinars delivered by the Department for Education and NHS Test and Trace. All staff involved engaged in these webinars and, in addition, completed online training consisting of 7 modules; all 7 modules required an assessment to be taken and passed by the trainee. Three senior members of staff have engaged in this training and will take on the role of ‘Team Leader’ in the first instance. We are now waiting for Derbyshire County Council to finalise arrangements and we will then be ready to roll out testing for staff and students. Students will receive two tests 3-5 days apart at the start of the roll out and then any student (or staff member) identified as a close contact of someone confirmed to have had a positive Covid test will have the option to be tested every day, for 7 days. If tested in this way, your child will be able to remain in school as opposed to having to isolate. Testing is voluntary and therefore if you do not wish to consent to testing, as described here, your child would then be required to isolate at home for 10 days (if identified as a close contact). If during the 2 initial tests or during the close contact testing, your child tests positive, we will inform you, and your child will need to return home and take a PCR lab-based test (we will provide this test for you to complete at home). At this point your child will be required to isolate at home until you receive their result. If the PCR test is negative your child will be able to return to school. If the PCR test is positive your child and all those in your household will be required to isolate for 10 days.
If you would like your child to be tested in the ways described above, please complete our consent form using the link below. In addition, we are also required to explain how your child’s data will be used and therefore I have attached a privacy notice with this communication. The phone and email address given will be where the result of the lateral flow test will be sent. If you have more than one child at BCS please complete a form for each child. Please note that parental consent is only required for students in Year 7 to Year 11.
If your child is in our Sixth form, they will be able to self-consent using the form at the following link. The Sixth Form students will receive a copy of this form in due course.
We are still required to record positive Covid 19 cases during the partial school closure and, therefore, if your child tests positive for Covid 19 (outside of the above testing programme) you must inform us of this positive test result as soon as possible.
We have an ongoing, robust and thorough risk assessment in place, and I would like to reassure you that if your child follows our safety protocols, they, along with the staff, will be safe when at school. It is important that they adopt the Government’s mantra of “Hands, Face, Space” at all times. We have hand sanitiser in all key locations around the school and students and staff must wear a face mask when outside of the classroom. Please can we ask that students have, on their person, a small plastic bag to store their masks in when in the classroom, reducing the risk of contamination. Social distancing should be followed at all times and a one-way system is in operation around the school. The numbers of students attending school is significantly higher than during the first national lockdown, but we can reassure you that your child remains safe. Students continue to remain in bubbles whilst at school and (as we have already implemented for Years 7 and 9) we will expand the number of classrooms and associated staffing needed in order to keep the number of students within a classroom to a minimum. Good ventilation is a requirement of our risk assessment and therefore, wherever possible, windows will be open; please ensure your child is appropriately dressed for classrooms which may be slightly cooler than we would prefer. Our safety measure will be quicky undone if students do not follow social distancing measure when in the community. Please can we ask that you encourage your child to follow the national lock down measures to keep themselves, the school community and the wider community as safe as possible.
Children of Critical workers:
All parents will receive a booking form weekly via email; if you are a critical worker and need your child to attend school, you will need to complete this form in order to request a place for the following week.
The form will be emailed out on Wednesday each week and will need to be returned by midday each Thursday. On this form you should indicate what days you require a place (for the following week). If you have not heard from us by 3pm on the Friday, you can assume that your request has been accommodated. The Department for Education have updated its guidance on school places for children of critical workers:
“Children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school or college if required, but parents and carers should keep their children at home if they can.”
With this in mind, if you are able to keep your child at home, please do so. For additional guidance on this, please use the following link:
Our senior team spent a significant amount of time earlier this week reviewing our remote learning offer in light of feedback received from our students, parents and teachers. We are proud of the progress we have made in terms of what we now offer in comparison to what we were able to offer during the first national lockdown. The feedback we have received is overwhelmingly positive and many parents have contacted us to thank our teaching staff for the amazing job they are doing. Following our review, we would like to update you on how we plan to move forward with our remote learning offer. First and foremost, we will provide a minimum of 5 hours a day of remote education as per the Government’s directive. However, we would also like to offer additional variety in the form of ‘live lessons’ via Microsoft Teams. This week we have trialled live lessons with a small number of 6th form classes and we are extremely pleased with how these were delivered and received by staff and students respectively. Hence, we now plan to expand this method across our 6th form provision more widely. We expect that the number of live lessons will build over time as staff become more confident and skilled, and therefore anticipate extending this approach further; to those students across Key Stage 3 and 4 from early February. It is important to note that in order to access a live lesson, staff will need to send an invite to the students’ school email address and therefore, it is essential that students check their emails daily. Our intention is that live lessons will not replace pre-recorded lessons, rather they will be used to enhance our current offer. It is important to understand that live lessons are not the only way to deliver remote learning and only this week Ofsted have released a guide on ‘What’s Working Well in Remote Education’ in which they robustly challenge the perception that live lessons are the ‘gold standard’ of remote education. We share the view that a blended approach to learning is best for our students; live lessons will be a part of this but we will retain many aspects what is currently being done well. Our view, along with that of many of our staff and students, is that pre-recorded lessons provide opportunities to watch lessons at a different time (allowing flexible use of shared devices within the home) and to pause, rewind and fast forward as required; features that are not available within a live lesson.
Link to Ofsted Guide:
In order for us to proceed as described above, we require parental consent for your child to attend our live lessons; please complete the consent form using the following link. This can be filled in for children in Year 7 – 13 in readiness for the wider roll out of live lessons as described above. Please note that staff will be unable to invite your child (including students in the 6th form) to live lessons if you have not given your consent. I have also attached a ‘Student Code of Conduct’ guide to this communication for your attention. Please can you complete the consent form by Monday 18th January.
If your child has Special Educational Needs and/or disabilities, please use this link to provide additional consent (or otherwise) for your child to participate in Live Learning Support remote Teams meetings on Microsoft teams. This is a slightly different consent form to the Live Lesson one and so please complete both, again no later than Monday 18th January.
In addition to the above, we will be reminding staff to only upload work each day as per a student’s timetable. We hope that this will prevent students (and parents) becoming overwhelmed by receiving too much work all in one go. Staff have also been asked to provide remote learning in time for each scheduled lesson. For example, if your child has maths period 2, their maths work will be made available for 9.50am. For the purpose of remote education, lunchtime will be 12.20-1.20pm and therefore work for a period 4 lesson should be made available no later than 1.20pm. If your child’s teacher is supporting students in school, we will be asking them (from Monday) to set remote learning (for students at home) if at all possible, but I am sure you will appreciate that this presents its own challenges. As a parent myself, I understand the difficulties that home learning can present and, although we are following the Government’s directive to provide at least 5 hours of learning on a daily basis, if your child has a special educational need, we feel that you (as the parent) are best placed to manage your child’s workload and we are supportive of you in deciding what is an appropriate amount of work for them to complete. Finally, retrieval practice is a key part of learning and is something that is now firmly embedded into our curriculum. Therefore, once your child has completed their work at home (or in school), please encourage them to keep their work safe and in an organised way to allow them to revisit their learning in future weeks.
Free school Meals:
Schools have been asked by the Government to provide food parcels or vouchers to students eligible for free school meals. If your child is eligible, you should have now received (via the post) a £25 voucher to cover the weeks beginning the 4th and 11th of January. Please note that due to the virus postal services can be delayed and you may wait slightly longer to receive your vouchers. If your circumstances change (or have changed) and you think your child may be eligible for free school meals, please visit our website for more details about how to apply.
GCSE and A-Level examinations:
As you will be aware, the Prime Minister announced on the 4th January that this summer’s exams will not go ahead. We have since been told that the examinations will be replaced with teacher assessment but, at the time of writing, we have no further guidance on this. We are led to believe that it will be mid-February before we will be told what teachers will be asked to provide. Therefore, the only thing we can ask students, parents and teachers to do for now, is to continue as if the exams were taking place. Teachers will continue to work hard and deliver high quality lessons and we need our students to engage and work as hard as they would be expected to do in school. As soon as we know any more information, we will be in touch.
Year 11 Mock Exam Results:
We plan to share your child’s mock exam results with you via email on Thursday 21st January. Prior to this communication Mrs O’Brien will be delivering a pre-recorded assembly to replace the assembly that Year 11 students normally attend when in school. The email you receive will also contain a tracking grade for each subject, indicative of what grade we would expect your child achieve if they were to sit exams in the summer. Please note that these grades may change subject to Government directives as explained above.
Year 13 Mocks exams:
Our Year 13 mock examinations are due to take place from 8th February. We plan to go ahead with these, albeit remotely. Miss Cruse will be in touch with the finer details in due course. In addition, we have listened to student feedback regarding preparation time for these assessments and we will be building revision time into our remote learning offer.
Year 8 Parents’ Evening:
Our Year 8 Parents’ Evening is scheduled for 21st January; unfortunately we have made the decision to postpone this event until students return to the classroom. Details regarding a new date will be shared in due course.
Year 9 Parents’ Evening and GCSE Options
Our Year 9 Parents evening is scheduled for 4th February. We will now combine this event with the GCSE options event which is scheduled for the end of February. Details of this event will follow in due course.
I appreciate that this is a particularly lengthy letter. However, I hope you find its contents useful. If you have any questions or queries, please contact the school office in the first instance. Please stay safe and we hope to be able to welcome all students back to school as soon as possible.
Mrs Sam Jones - Deputy Headteacher