Download letter here: Letter to parents 15th July
As we reach the end of a challenging term I am writing to thank you for your support over recent months and update you with regards to the wider re-opening of the school to all students in September. The school will close on Friday 17th to all students including Key Worker and Vulnerable student provision. In addition the Year 10 mentoring programme will pause.
Safeguarding Support During the Summer Holidays
During lockdown, we have been conducting regular welfare checks with students and their families from a safeguarding and pastoral perspective. We have offered various kinds of additional support if required. The Local Authority’s extended services allow for the fact that schools are closed during the summer and are ready to offer additional support for families when required; in the majority of cases the main point of contact would be the One Point service. In more extreme circumstances, First Contact would be used if there is a concern about the welfare of a child, and in an emergency, because a child is in immediate danger, you should always contact the Police. The school will maintain a reduced safeguarding response during the holidays which can be accessed via email, but this should only be used if other avenues have been exhausted. Hopefully there will be no requirement to use the services outlined below but if the need does arise, please find the relevant contact details below:
|School email firstname.lastname@example.org|
September Wider opening
The Government are asking schools to prepare to welcome all children back this autumn.
- Needless to say the most important priority and consideration is the safety of all students, staff and visitors. Therefore, our preparations will closely reflect Government and Local Authority guidance. If parents would like to read Government guidance to schools please click on the following link- https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools
We have followed Government guidance closely and in response;
- All students will return to school during the first week of September.
- All students and staff will be kept as safe as possible, and measures will be adopted to prevent the spread of Covid-19
- Students in all year groups will follow the bulk of their curriculum with some amendments where we feel it is appropriate or required
- Contingency plans will be drawn up in the event of local lockdowns, a second spike, or student absence due to infection/isolation
- There will be no change to our Uniform policy and therefore all students should return to school in September in full uniform as recommended by the Government.
Keeping Students and Staff Safe
We have followed the Government guidance which says that bubbles in secondary school are likely to be the size of a year group. Our aim therefore is to ensure that, as far as possible, year groups are isolated from each other whilst in school. Government guidance asks us to minimize movement around the school and in order to do this we are allocating each Year Group to a specific zone of the school. Students will largely be taught in the same room for much of the day. Therefore, staff will move around the building to teach students. This will mean that some students will not be able to access some specialist rooms such as Technology or Science Laboratories. We still intend to deliver these subjects but schemes of work will be amended to reflect the changing situation.
In Year’s 7, 8 and 9 students will be taught in Tutor Groups. In Year’s 10 and 11 students will be taught as much as possible in Pathways to enable them to access their option subjects in preparation for GCSE exams. This means current Year 8 who picked some options to begin during Year 9 will have this process delayed. Whilst we appreciate this may be disappointing to students, we have made this decision in light of curriculum time at KS3 lost due to Covid 19 and believe it is in the best interests of students.
We have followed Government guidance and introduced staggered start and end times, which for some student’s changes timings and reduces their curriculum time slightly. We will keep this under review and when appropriate will return to the normal hours of the school day. We usually have a staggered return to school in September, however this is more important than usual to allow us to explain new procedures with students. This will also allow Kitchen staff to assess how Social distancing works in the kitchen prior to having a full cohort in school. Therefore, we are going to give each Year Group a day to be re-integrated allowing students to familiarise themselves with our new systems with smaller numbers back in school. Year’s 10 and 11 will attend school on Wednesday 2nd but then work from home on Thursday 3rd. Year’s 7,8 and 9 will work from home on Wednesday 2nd but then attend school on Thursday 3rd. All Year Groups are anticipated to return as normal on Friday 4th September at the times shown below.
|Year Group||School Re-integration Day- Date and Times||Normal Hours of the day during current Covid 19 situation|
|Year 7||Thursday September 3rd at 8:35am and remain on site until 2:45pm.||8:35am- 2:45pm|
|Year 8||Thursday September 3rd at 9:00am and remain on site until 2:50pm.||8:45am- 2:50pm|
|Year 9||Thursday September 3rd 9:30am and remain on site until 3:00pm||8:55am- 3:00pm|
|Year 10||Wednesday September 2nd at 9:00 am and remain on site until 2:55pm.||8:45am- 2:55pm|
|Year 11||Wednesday September 2nd at 8:35am and remain on site until 3:00pm.||8:35am- 3:00pm|
Arrival and departure from site
Government guidance recommends Year Groups should enter the building through different gates and entrances where possible. As this will mean students moving and waiting around the front of the school, I am closing the Vehicle gates for student safety. Parents will be unable to drop off and pick students up on the school site. Parents of students who require access will be contacted directly. We have two entrance gates and would encourage students to enter by their allocated gates and entrances as much as possible. We would also ask parents to remind students of their responsibility to socially distance on the way to and from school.
|Year Group||Designated Entry/Exit Gate||Designated Entrance/Exit|
|Year 7||Side gate off the Mill Inn Bank||West Wing entrance and wait inside the school’s green perimeter fence|
|Year 8||Main gate off Station Road||Main Hall and wait in the paved area outside the Hall.|
|Year 9||Main gate off Station Road||Main Hall and wait in the paved area outside the Hall.|
|Year 10||Side gate off the Mill Inn Bank||West Wing entrance and wait inside the school’s green perimeter fence|
|Year 11||Main gate off Station Road||Community entrance and wait inside the school’s green perimeter fence|
Government advice is that schools do not need to routinely take the temperature of students when arriving at school, whilst we have been doing this over the lockdown period we will no longer continue to do so. If we are concerned that a student is displaying symptoms then we will check their temperature.
Transport to and from school
If your child travels to school using public transport, please remember that they will be required to wear a face mask or covering. Please note too that the school does not operate the bus service, so any policies they operate (face- masks, numbers on the buses etc) are outside our control. We will be notifying them of the change to the timing of our school day and we will be suggesting that year groups, as far as possible, are seated separately.
Handwashing and Hygiene
We will expect students to wash their hands thoroughly throughout the day, especially before eating but have also located hand sanitizer at entrances to the building and site. Every classroom will have either a hand sanitizer dispenser or handwashing facilities and for everyone’s safety students and staff are required to use it on entering a classroom and on leaving a classroom. All desks are being re-arranged to face forward in line with guidance and students are likely to remain in their allocated seating plans for much of the day. Every classroom will have a lidded bin, wipes and tissues. We strongly encourage all students and staff to follow the “Catch it, bin it, kill it” advice. Similarly, we would advise students and staff to follow guidance and cough or sneeze into their elbow rather than their hands.
Currently Government advice is that Facemasks are not recommended in school settings. I personally have no objection to students or staff wearing them if they wish. I am hoping there may be further clarification over the summer and I will issue that as appropriate.
Brunch and Lunch times
We intend to maintain a similar school format with a 20 minute break and 30 minute lunch-time as students need that time to socialise and eat. We want students to begin to return to normal within their Year Group Bubble and have time outside and eat in the Dining Hall where possible. Therefore, to reduce risk of transmission we are zoning the Dining areas and working with caterers to offer a simplified menu, which will allow us to keep Year Groups apart. I know that this may disappoint students who tend to value our service highly but this is in part due to social distancing requirements in the Kitchen. I am hoping that caterers will be able to offer a simplified service at Brunch time too but your child may wish to bring a Break time snack as I cannot confirm this. We currently are NOT able to offer a Breakfast service.
To facilitate cleaning before use by other students Year Groups will only be able to sit at certain tables and locations. We are purchasing additional furniture to convert the Hall into Dining space for Year 7. We have already appointed an extra member of Site staff, changed cleaning hours to enable 3 day-time cleaners to be on site and are looking to appoint 3 Lunch time supervisors to assist.
We would expect students to remain in their designated areas at Break and lunch but would encourage students to go outside as much as possible to their designated areas and part of the field as transmission rates are lower outside.
We are fortunate with our Building that for the most part zoning is feasible. We intend to allocate designated toilets for specific Year groups and the way that our school day is already scheduled allows for additional cleaning between Brunch and lunch breaks. All water fountains have been disconnected so students need to bring water bottles or purchase bottled water from the caterers.
It is essential that parents ensure they set up parent pay accounts as we will not be accepting or handling any cash from students. The re-valuer machines will be switched off as they require finger prints for access. Students will be required to use their finger print at the cash register, however staff will be able to wipe these prior to individual use. If students prefer they can give their name and accounts can be accessed in that way. If you need help setting up a parent pay account please contact the school via the email@example.com email address.
Although we relaxed our uniform expectations during the lockdown period, our expectations are that all students will return to school in full uniform and that includes a bag. One of our priorities is to get students back into routine as quickly as possible so could you remind children of our expectations particularly with regard to nails, use of make-up and piercings please. No child should return to school wearing a piercing that cannot be removed on request. Outdoor coats must be removed inside the Building and Hoodies are NOT allowed. The use of Mobile phones in school is banned and should students bring phones they must be switched off and in their bags. Failure to comply with this will result in the phone being confiscated.
Students MUST bring their own basic equipment such as pen, pencil, ruler, rubber, sharpener, calculator etc as we are not in the position to be able to lend equipment as we have done before. We have put plans in place to ensure that practical PE lessons continue to take place next year. Some of the activities we do and the equipment we are able to use will change. I will provide further details about changing facilities at a later date.
Deliveries, Visitors and Parental appointments
We will follow Government and LA advice to minimise visitors to site. Visitors (including staff from outside agencies) will be by appointment only to allow socially distanced meeting rooms to be arranged. Parental communication should be by phone, email or virtually by Google meets or Zoom. No routine parental appointments will be permitted during this period for the protection of students and staff. All visitors to site will be asked to wait in the Draft Lobby area or outside Main reception until their appointment is confirmed and the member of staff concerned has arrived to accompany the visitor. Visitors should not arrive on site until 5 minutes before their appointment.
Students MUST take responsibility for their own belongings and equipment and BE PREPARED for school. Unfortunately, staff in the school office will not be able to pass items on to students if they have forgotten something. Government and LA guidance is that we should not allow parents onto the school site during the day and if something is forgotten then that is unfortunate but we are not able to pass items to students.
Attendance has always been important but will be even more important now. The DfE has made it very clear that attendance will be compulsory from September, so our normal policy and procedures will return and we would ask for your support in ensuring that your child attends school unless they are too ill or they are displaying symptoms of Covid-19.
Returning to a normal routine will be important for everyone. Please try to ensure that your son or daughter gets into a more normal routine and sleep pattern well before the end of the summer holidays so that they are ready to do their best when they return. There is much more to be done and we are working on a Covid-19 Home School Agreement setting out clearly Government and school expectations regarding attendance, Behaviour, conduct and safety.
Preventing the Spread of Covid-19
Ensuring that year groups have minimal contact with each other while on the school site is only ONE way in which we can stop the spread of Covid-19. The guidance is very clear that more needs to be done. I would ask all parents and carers to read these carefully and talk them through with their child prior to the start of term so that they are clearly understood:
- If anyone in school (student or staff member) becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, or has a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia), they must not come into school. If they do, they will be sent home and advised to follow the “stay at home” guidance which states that they must self-isolate for at least 7 days and should arrange to have a test to see if they have coronavirus (COVID-19). Other members of their household (including any siblings) should self-isolate for 14 days from when the symptomatic person first had symptoms.
- If a child with symptoms is awaiting collection, they will be moved, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door, depending on the age and needs of the child, with appropriate adult supervision if required. In our case this will be the Exclusion Unit as it is separate from the main school and has its own toilet facilities.
- It is very important that students clean their hands regularly; when they arrive in school, at the start of every lesson, before and after eating, and after using the toilet. Our hand-washing facilities are limited so we will have hand sanitiser in every classroom and teachers will require students to use this regularly. Parents/Carers could help us and their child by purchasing a small bottle of hand sanitiser for their child to bring to school and use each day.
- We will ensure good respiratory hygiene by promoting the “catch it, bin it, kill it” approach. We have purchased lidded bins for each classroom. Again, I would encourage parents to ensure that their child carries a pack of paper-tissues to school.
- If your child is wearing a face-mask because they are using public transport, they should be taught how best to put it on and remove it (so that they don’t touch the front of the mask and wash/sanitise their hands afterwards)
- We will engage with the NHS Test and Trace process and would ask all parents/carers to do the same. This means that parents, carers, AND staff members must be ready and willing to:
- Book a test if they or their child are displaying symptoms. Tests can be booked online
- Not come into school if they are displaying symptoms
- Provide details of anyone they have been in close contact with if asked to by NHS Test and Trace
- Self-isolate if they have been in close contact with someone who develops symptoms or tests positive
- Inform the school immediately if they or their child tests positive or negative We are keeping year groups apart to ensure that should someone test positive, disruption to others in school is minimised as much as possible. By September, the Government has promised that school will be provided with a small number of home-testing kits. We recognise that while we can maintain year group separation in school, we can’t control what happens outside school. Students will of course, mix with siblings from different year groups, but parents can help to protect their children by minimising other unnecessary contact with students from other year groups and schools, and thinking carefully about their child’s arrangements for coming to and from school each day.
Home/School Contact Details
It is always important for us to hold the correct contact details for you and your child, but never more so than now. I would also ask parents/carers to ensure they are easily contactable during the day. We have a (very) small number of parents who refuse to pick up their phone or return a call when we ring. During a health emergency this is not acceptable. It is essential that if we ask you to collect your child from school you are willing and able to do so. Under no circumstances will staff be allowed to transport students in staff vehicles.
Maintaining your distance
Whilst the Government has reduced the requirement to Socially distance within Year Group Bubbles- it is important that students try to remain a safe and sensible distance from each other. As difficult as it is physical contact should be avoided if possible. The Government is recommending that where possible staff try to maintain 2m distance from students, which might be disconcerting for some students. I would be grateful if you could speak with your child to explain why this is necessary.
I would like to finish by thanking all of you. It has been an exceptionally challenging time. We can now look forward to returning to some form of normality even if it is “the new normal”. We have tried to do our best to keep you up to-date, informed, and “Connected” to provide work and contact with your children. Thank you for all the help and support you have given your children with their work. I know from personal experience that is not easy, especially when trying to work from home too. My own experience with Year 8 Heggarty Maths will live long in my memory and has made me appreciate the difficulties of teachers of subjects that aren’t my specialism. The Autumn term will be about repairing and rebuilding routines, supporting students reintegrate and re-establishing relationships. I have no doubt that we will encounter some challenges and frustrations along the way but by working together in the interests of the safety of all students and staff we will overcome them. Please remember at the moment education remains secondary and health and safety is the paramount consideration.
I am very proud of our staff and students. I am very grateful to all those parents who have done so much to support their children continue with their learning. Have a restful break if you are able and we look forward to welcoming the children back in September. Once again a huge thank you for your continued support and I shall be in touch over the summer with further information as required.
Mr G.W. Lumsdon