Second Half of Autumn Term

Dear Parents, Carers and Guardians

I wanted to welcome you back to the second half-term of Autumn and say thank you for all your support since September. There is no doubt that the first half term was successful and we were really pleased with how well students settled back into school despite the difficult circumstances.

I think it is important that we all acknowledge that this is a really challenging time and we know that this can lead to anxiety and uncertainty for everyone, students, parents and staff. The news of the national Lockdown has obviously focussed everyone's minds and we are in no doubt that this is a serious situation and we must do everything we can to get it right for everyone.

I want to reassure you that we continue to make the safety of students and staff our priority. To this end:

  • From Monday we will be implementing the national guidance which states that all students and staff must wear face coverings in all communal areas. As you know, we have been asking staff and students to wear face coverings in corridors/during movement time since September but we had not gone as far as making this compulsory in the social bubble areas. From Monday, students and staff will be expected to wear masks in all communal areas, with the exception of when they are eating and drinking. This does not include students with medical exemptions.
  • The new guidance does not make face masks in classrooms compulsory. This is adifficult area and I know that opinions are divided in this area.  We continue to review this in the light of guidance but at this point, we will not make wearing masks in classrooms mandatory for all. However, we do fully respect the individual right to wear a mask and therefore any child or adult who wants to wear a mask or visor in a classroom will be allowed to do so without question or challenge and we fully appreciate that this is an additional layer of safety that many may wish to take

  • We will be using some curriculum time next week to hold virtual assemblies with all year groups to reiterate our expectations and the measures that we have put in place to support safety. We do feel that we have made some sensible and effective changes to the way the school operates but we are not complacent and we know that we need to constantly review and refresh these and make our expectations clear.

It is worth saying that we have been so impressed with our students since returning in September. There is an understanding that we are in a serious situation and students have risen to this with maturity and compliance for our rules and expectations. We need to continue to build on this and ensure that we maintain high standards.  To this end, it remains really helpful when you are able to continue to support our key messages with your children. These remain:

  • The importance of hand washing. This includes regular use of hand sanitiser around school (sanitiser stations are in all key areas) but also effective washing with soap and water
  • The importance of good respiratory hygiene. Using "Catch it, Bin it. Kill it" remains a priority
  • Maintaining social distancing where this is possible. We understand that the nature ofschool buildings is such that we cannot always maintain 2m or even lm distances.However, students must continue to distance themselves as much as possible from others and avoid touch contact and sharing of resources/materials. It is important that this extends to the beginning and end of the school day so that students are not congregating in large groups or mixing unnecessarily with other students or year groups. This is particularly important with regard to social distancing from other year group "bubbles"
  • It remains important to stagger the arrival of students at the start of the school day. If students can keep as closely as possible to their allocated times this would be helpful. Some students are arriving very early which means they spending unnecessarily long periods of time in their social "bubble" areas. This is an additional risk that we need to avoid if possible please.

  • Ensuring that face masks are worn routinely in all communal areas. To this end, weknow that it is easy for the face masks to break or to be lost during the school day. We do have a stock in school but it would be really helpful if student had at least one spare mask in their bag at all times

Whilst Covid security and safety is our number one priority, we remain committed to providing students with the best possible educational experience during this time. We are currently inputting data for "Tracking 1" which will be available to parents and carers in around 2 weeks. This will allow you to see the progress and attitudes of your child in lessons. We have also been working really hard on our "blended learning offer". This is the work that is available to students who cannot come into school because they are self-isolating. Mr Chapman will share further details of this in the next few days, but we are really pleased that we are able to offer resources and learning experiences which replicate the experiences that students would have in the classroom.

Please do continue to communicate with us and share what you feel is going well and what you feel could be improved. We are reflective and our risk assessments and practices are evolving and changing all the time in the light of experience and the feedback that we are receiving.

Take Care,

Liz