Dear Parents and Carers,

We are writing to update you on where we are at following on from a variety of announcements this week but would firstly like to say a big thank you and we appreciate all of your efforts in supporting your child or children at home. We have been delighted to hear about how the pupils have been engaging with the range of remote learning including live lessons and our virtual learning environment provision through Firefly. Thank you for all of your lovely comments regarding the provision and we hope to support in any way we can to ensure children are not disadvantaged by the forced closures.

What we know so far about school closures

  • The prime minister announced on Monday 4th January that schools will be closed until February half-term
  • School is open to critical worker children and vulnerable children also and we have approximately 100 pupils accessing this provision
  • Remote learning will take the place of in-school provision and the government have outlined their expectations which we will go through below
  • Testing will continue for those staff and pupils in school and will be key to the reopening of schools
  • We are providing free school meals vouchers for children in receipt of free school meals

Remote learning

We welcome the government’s drive to improve standards across the country for remote learning and the key principles are in line with our own plans and provision.

What to expect for remote learning from school:

  • Pupils should access all of their lessons at their timetabled slot and follow that routine wherever possible. Pupils should expect 5 hours of remote learning.
  • Lessons will be a combination of live lessons, videos, tasks set via our platform Firefly and assessments.
  • Core PE lessons have currently been set in advance and should be an opportunity to get children away from their screens and engaging with physical activity.
  • We will regularly monitor the engagement of pupils with their learning and get in touch should we have any concerns.
  • The normal reward system is in operation including the reward badges which will be sent out to pupils as well as the e-postcard for their online learning.

We appreciate that pupils can sometimes become overwhelmed with their learning and we have built in a catch up day for Monday 25th January where pupils will have the opportunity to complete independent study to ensure that they are up to date. This will also allow staff to complete a full review of pupils’ engagement with their learning and any relevant interventions that may be needed.

Guidance for live lessons

Pupils have signed an acceptable use agreement with the terms of their online lessons. The engagement with these so far has been extremely positive and pupils seem to welcome the structure and normality of this. Please encourage your child to engage with live meets ideally with the camera on so that they are able to interact with the lesson. The relationships between teachers and pupils are a key strength of our school and this is the best way to support this during the forced closures.

Year 10 and 11 exams

For year 10 and 11 pupils, we know that the decision announced by the government on Wednesday that examinations in the summer will be cancelled will be met with a wide range of feelings but we would like to reassure pupils and you that the most important aspect is that pupils continue with their learning and are able to move on to their next stage with the likely qualifications they would have received. We have been informed that there will be a consultation regarding the process and we will of course take part in this. Given that we have a robust process of awarding centre-assessed grades in school we are in a strong position to be able to deliver this and assemblies have been sent to both year groups today to update them on the current situation. You may find it helpful to watch this with your child which has been sent via their school account.

Mock examinations will not take place at home but pupils will access past papers at a similar time than was planned so that pupils can receive feedback and work on their priority areas. We hope to be able to complete mock examinations when pupils return to school and will update regarding this once we know when this will happen. For Year 11 pupils, there will be some paper based past papers which will need to be collected from school and we will write to inform you of the details of this next week. Timed practice papers will take place for Y11 from 18th January and pupils will not have their normal lessons until the papers are completed, they will then need to be returned for marking, again details will follow next week.

In school testing

Over the past week, we have set up weekly testing for staff and for pupils accessing in school provision. We are also ready for mass testing which will be key for the return to school. Thank you for providing your consent which will help make school a safer place for all.

We hope you have a restful weekend.

Kind regards.