6th January 2021
Dear Parents and Carers
I had not anticipated writing to you with another change and update quite so soon!
You will have seen the news and heard the latest announcement about school closure and the move to remote learning for all students for term 3. We are so frustrated for our young people that, yet again, they have a huge disruption to their learning and education but it seems that the latest news is unavoidable. Following this announcement about National lockdown and school closures, I wanted to clarify as much as possible. As always, we will pull together to do our utmost to keep students safe and on track.
All year groups will now be remote learning from home – the school will provide remote lessons and learning accessed via Show My Homework in the usual way. Do get in touch if you are experiencing any problems with this, including IT access, or you need any support. Form Tutors will be running remote tutor times at the start of the day, to check in with their groups and check they are set up for the day.
We have some concerns about continuing to use the staggered times throughout the day now that students are working at home. Given the restricted daylight hours, there is much less opportunity for students to get outside or take any exercise at the end of the day and 1/2 hour breaks are not working as well. Some students are feeling rooted to the laptop for extended periods as a result. For wellbeing reasons, to ensure that pupils get adequate breaksand to eliminate the split lessonsfor some students,from Monday we will be moving to our pre-Covid school times, so this will be the same for everyone, as follows:
Tutor time 8:55 — 9:15
P1 9:15 – 10:15
P2 10:15 — 11:15
Break 11:15 — 11:35
P3 11:35 — 12:35
Lunch /exercise 12:35 — 13:20
P4 13:20 — 14:20
P5 14:20 — 15:20
Keyworker and vulnerable children in school will follow the same timings. They are few in number and so we are able to treat them as one bubble timings wise but still spread them all out well in the classroom. Students should arrive at school between 8.45am and 8.55am at their usual entrance point and must take care to socially distance from all other students.
Key Worker and Vulnerable students:
The school will continue to provide supervision for those vulnerable students and children of key workers who need to be in school whilst they access their remote lessons and learning materials as per the timings detailed above. School uniform as usual please. Please can parents/carers of these children continue to keep us informed in advance, of the days they need their child to attend using MyEd to allow us to plan. This group is based in the IT Plaza in the red building as before and should go directly there at their usual arrival time. Students will need to bring headphones to plug in to the computers to listen to their remote lessons individually to avoid disturbing other students in the room who will all be accessing different lessons. Vulnerable students will also have some support from our Teaching Assistant team when capacity allows, to ensure they make progress despite the challenges.
Exams and Exam groups:
- BTEC and Cambridge National exams continue this week and next, as planned for those Y10-13 students involved, along with the revision sessions and warm ups. As a school we want to keep this opportunity in place for students who have been working hard to prepare. We continue to work hard to minimise all risks and we obviously have very few staff and students on site currently. Students will be seated 2m+ apart. However, the Government has also been clear that students who are unable to sit the exam will not be disadvantaged by this. The exam board has issued the following guidance: “We have agreed the following with Ofqual and the DfE to ensure that no learner is disadvantaged. We will certificate any learner who is unable to take their exams and has enough evidence to receive a certificate that they need for progression. Learners unable to take their assessment this January may be able to take their assessment at a later date. If that is not possible, we will put in place arrangements to ensure no learner is disadvantaged.”
- IB exams for Y13 in April /May are also still continuing. Y13 need to continue to prepare for their IB exams, IA completion (as per the deadlines) and BTEC completion; Universities will certainly be needing these results, as will apprenticeships and employers.
- The DfE have cancelled the other summer public exams. Regarding these, the DfE has said: “In these circumstances, we do not think it is possible for exams to go ahead fairly this summer. The Secretary of State for Education will be asking Ofqual to consult rapidly on an approach for alternative arrangements that will allow students to progress fairly.” We do not know any more than this currently but it is likely that any alternative arrangement will include some form of internal assessment and work evidence base and so Y11 students need to continue with their learning and the syllabus with their teachers, both to evidence their progress and cover the learning to prepare them for next steps.
Safeguarding and Wellbeing:
These are difficult times and your child’s wellbeing is also important to us so we have put together a booklet which may help support your child if things are a little difficult. This is attached at the end of this letter. There is also some very useful support and guidelines on the NSPCC website https://www.nspcc.org.uk/
If you or your child feel they need to speak to a professional counsellor then there is a free online service they can access www.kooth.com this has proved to be useful in the past and well worth visiting if they are struggling.
Lateral Flow Testing:
The school continues to have rigorous procedures in place in line with guidance and Public Health advice, in order to minimise risk. Part of the systems to date has involved timely track and trace when a member of our community tests positive for Covid and the subsequent isolation of bubbles and close contacts but these have continued to disrupt learning for many. The new lateral flow testing presents us with logistical challenges but will also make a huge difference in reducing these disruptions. We continue to plan for testing of staff and students on site whose parents have given consent, starting with the vulnerable students and those of key workers who are currently attending school. The extent of the testing we are able to accommodate, as students return in due course, will depend on a number of factors, including staffing and resourcing but to aid with our planning, we will be sending further information and consent letters and ask that you complete and return these as soon as possible so we can plan and be ready. We are hugely grateful to those parents, carers and friends of the school who have volunteered to help us with running this valuable programme, which will help our young people resume their education without the level of disruption that they have been having to endure.
These rapid tests are to detect asymptomatic cases and are not the same as the PCR tests which you need to book if you develop symptoms. It is imperative that anyone feeling unwell continues to stay at home and book a PCR test.
We await further clarification from the DfE about a number of these issues and we will keep parents and carers informed as and when we know any further details. Once again, our brilliant staff team have stepped up to navigate all the changes and we will continue to do all we can to support our young people. Do not hesitate to get in touch if there is anything you wish to discuss.
Sending you and your families all best wishes,
The KES wellness guide can be found and downloaded here from the Information section of the website.