Update from Mr Yates - 03.02.2021
Please see below latest update from Mr Yates along with information regarding ClassCharts from Mrs Gelsthorpe
Despite the weather's best efforts causing multiple problems with local road routes, by using a delayed start we've been able to remain open this week for our mini school students, many of whom have been able to travel safely in to school. For the majority of students who are currently working at home, our well-rehearsed remote learning routines should have meant that there has been little or no disruption to their usual experience. You can see where remote learning will continue to provide a more consistent education experience for our students beyond COVID-19 when we will still need to contend with the challenges of Buxton weather.
I am writing with a number of updates on different issues and there should be something for all of our families in this letter, so please find a few minutes to read it through and talk with your children about its contents.
You may remember that before Christmas we wrote to you about an additional INSET day on the 18th December. In addition, the government provided secondary schools with another INSET day on the 4th of January. These changes have affected the distribution of INSET days for the remainder of the school year.
I would like to confirm that the 12th February is no longer an INSET day as it was transferred to the 18th of December. This means it will be a normal teaching day, or at least as normal as it can be at the moment, and teachers will be setting work for all students as usual.
The next scheduled INSET day for school is the 12th March. There are currently no plans for this to be changed and school (real and virtual) will be closed to all students on this date.
February Half Term.
The government has confirmed that schools will close to all students, including those who attend mini school, for the February half term holiday. We break up for February half term on the 12th February. Although the options for different activities are currently very limited, I hope you and your families find the time and opportunity to rest and recover from the challenges that the last few months have presented.
If you are in receipt of free school meals, the government has confirmed that financial support will be provided through the Winter Grant Scheme that Derbyshire local authority have been facilitating. The school will continue to provide free school meal vouchers to those families who are eligible during term time.
The government has also asked that the school continues to carry out tracing of confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the half term break. I will write to you with more information next week, but at the moment we expect it to be in a similar format to the Christmas break when there was a dedicated phone number and allocated times for people to report if their children become unwell with a confirmed case of COVID 19.
We are receiving really positive and supportive feedback from many of our families about remote learning. I understand fully how difficult it can be for students and families to find the time, the motivation, and the desire to continue to work remotely. Our staff are working tirelessly to continually improve the quality and levels of engagement of the work they are sharing for students.
Mrs Gelsthorpe has attached a letter to this one with an update about how we can keep you better informed of your child’s efforts involving remote learning. We continue to refine the monitoring systems that we have in place that allow us to see when students have signed into the system and submitted work; this allows us to provide feedback and generally lets us see how well students are learning remotely. We are introducing additional notifications for parents that will flag for you where we feel there are persistent issues with students not engaging with work. We already let you know when they have not signed in for extended periods and we have introduced a new system to nudge students to remind them what they need to do more quickly and easily than ever. The monitoring system is showing us that almost without exception our students are engaging regularly, and consistently well with the remote learning that has been set for them. They are producing some really outstanding work and I’m very proud of their efforts.
Mr Gort has written to you earlier this week with a comprehensive update around live lessons. We provide a broad and varied diet for students with lots of different kinds of work accessible to all students. Live lessons can play an important part in our provision. We have provided live lessons for our post 16 students for a little while now; this has provided a wealth of experience for our staff around the style of delivery and allowed us to refine technical systems to make sure they are fully fit for purpose. We are currently rolling out live lessons across the school to the other year groups and your child may well have already received an invitation and experienced a live lesson with their class teacher. If you wish your child to be able to participate in live lessons, it is really important that you have provided parental consent for this. You have been able to do this electronically through a link in a previous letter from Mrs Jones. The vast majority of parents have already returned consent. Your child will not be able to access live lessons without you providing consent. Once you have provided consent your child will be sent an email invitation for the specific lessons as they come on stream. Please remind them that they gain access using the school email address and password. They will not be allowed to access lessons using a personal email address. I also want to emphasise that there is a clear code of conduct for students who are accessing live lessons that must be followed. Students have been massively respectful and appreciative of the live lessons on offer and I expect it continue in the same way.
Summer 2021 examinations
The consultation from Ofqual on the summer 2021 examinations closed last Friday. I know many of us from our school community have responded to the consultation with our views on the proposals for the summer examinations. It was heartening to see just how many responses have been received by Ofqual with around 90,000 people taking the time to let them know their thoughts on what has been suggested. I understand fully how difficult it is for year 13 and year 11 students as they wait to find out how their grades will be allocated for A level and GCSE qualifications. I'm hopeful that final details will be released as soon as possible, and we will be able to quickly share this information with you. In the background, we are preparing for a number of scenarios and, whatever happens, we will do our very best to make sure that year 13 and year 11 students receive grades that fairly reflect their effortsduring their time at Buxton Community School.
Lateral Flow Testing
When the current period of school closure began, the government adjusted its plans for schools around lateral flow testing, and the intention for students to be tested daily as an alternative to isolation has been paused. If your child presents with COVID-19 symptoms or has tested positive , as always they should remain at home in isolation. It is currently still the case that if your child can be considered as having had close contact with the confirmed case of COVID-19 that they should continue to self isolate at home for the recommended period of time.
However, we have been able to set up all the requisite systems to carry out lateral flow testing within school. I'm very grateful to the team of staff and community volunteers who stepped forward to undergo the training to support our testing facility. They have undertaken training and certification with the NHS to allow them to carry out their roles and they take their responsibilities extremely seriously. Under the current regulations we are able to carry out twice weekly testing of all staff and it is currently recommended that we test students when they return to school. Our testing centre is now well practised and has carried out a significant number of tests with staff and we are now moving into the student phase of testing for those children who are with us as part of the mini school. Testing will play a key role in identifying asymptomatic individuals who may be affected by COVID-19, but are unaware, as they feel fit and well. We are waiting for updated information around how testing will be used when schools reopen, and I will write to you with more details as soon as I can.
The government has put forward a number of dates but they intend to review the current situation of students currently working at home with March 8th being highlighted as a potential date for restarting schools. The pandemic has presented numerous and often unexpected changes in direction over the last year, and I think we have all learned to wait and see what happens. We will be ready to support students in returning to school as soon as we possibly can when restrictions are lifted. I hope very much that this will be sooner rather than later but, of course, we will wait until we are told that it is safe to do so.
Finally, I think we were all acutely aware of the impact of the current situation on the wellbeing of everybody. Mrs Garner has pulled together a number of resources that you might find helpful. Please use the link below to access our website where you can find support and guidance for students, parents, carers and wider families, along with links that signpost you to other useful resources.
Craig Yates - Headteacher
I hope you are all keeping safe and well and managing to juggle the demands that life is throwing at us at this moment in time.
This letter is to give you some information about how we will be enabling additional features on ClassCharts to increase the level of information being shared with you on your child’s engagement with remote learning. Please can I encourage you to actively engage with ClassCharts, building viewing of it with your child as a daily routine.
As of Monday 8th February parent and pupil accounts will show the live behaviour activity feed of incidents. At this moment in time, we will just share the behaviours ‘R point awarded’ (green) and ‘Remote Learning work not submitted for Feedback’ (red). Unfortunately, we are unable to change the red and green default settings, but please rest assured that while any green R point awarded will count towards the end of year reward system, the red ‘work not submitted for feedback’ will not. This gives you a quick snapshot of how your child is keeping on top of and being rewarded for, the work requested from their teacher that feedback will be provided on. If your child has submitted the work, you will see this as usual on the main app screen. All alerts will be sent 48 hours after the submission date, including work submitted late after this time.
If your child fails to submit five pieces of work you will receive a notification within ClassCharts, informing you of what the 5 pieces of work were and from which teachers. At this point the school will contact you. This will most likely be from a member of the pastoral team and will focus on what additional support can be put into place to ensure improved engagement with your child’s remote learning.
You may remember from the last school letter that the Announcement feature has already been enabled. We are now able to send you an email informing you when an announcement has been made that affects your child on ClassCharts.
As a body of staff we are very excited to keep you electronically informed in more detail of your child’s engagement and I hope the information in this letter is clear and well received.
Caroline Gelsthorpe - Assistant Headteacher