Close

News

21/08/2020

Plans for the new academic year 2020/2021 - Letter from Mr Mirams

21st August 2020

Dear Parents

REF:   PLANS FOR THE NEW ACADEMIC YEAR 2020/2021

I am writing to you all at the start of a new academic year which will be unlike any other that any of us have experienced.  We have been contacted by large numbers of you over the last few weeks with all manner of questions about the next steps, what to expect and how it is all going to work.  It is going to be impossible to meet the needs of all and to put in place a system that benefits and is suited to all, however, the main aim is to keep all members of our community as safe as possible and to ensure that education is at the forefront of our minds.  There are many staff who have joined myself throughout the Summer Break to deal with all the challenges that have been thrown at us from the ever changing Government advice, through to changes and improvements in our facilities and then through the complete debacle of examination results at Secondary.  It has been a long journey just to get to this point, and this I believe is when the real challenge begins.

 

Despite the continuing uncertainty, regular changes and the need for all to be flexible I am writing to you all in an attempt to clarify as much as I can prior to the start of the new term.  As a school we are attempting to get two schools of pupils and staff, with age ranges from 4 to over 70, back to school safely and trying to ensure that the anxieties of many are reduced.  None of the current situation is ideal for any of us and there will be many who do not agree with what we are doing.  However, despite the toll that the last few months has had on many of us it remains heartening to see that so many of you are so complimentary of our staff.  This continues to keep many of us going.

The following information I hope will be useful to all of you.

COMMUNICATION:

We will continue to use email as our main communication method from next week onwards and I would like to draw your attention to the following email helplines:

I would like to reiterate that no parents will be allowed on site unless this has been organised by senior staff and all communication will be done by email and telephone from now on.  This is a big change for all of us but we must begin to get used to the new normal which is unlikely to change in the near future.  Most meetings in regard to pupils will be carried out over the phone in a similar way to lockdown.  For many this will be difficult but to ensure safety it must be our priority and we are following the vast majority of other services by using this protocol.  Please can I remind you that all our staff are doing the best they can and many have continued to do so all over the Summer Break. 

ORGANISATION OF THE SCHOOL DAY:

We will be following Government guidance in regard to organising the school into Year PODS across both sites and particularly at Secondary this will be a massive change to our normal working practices.  The huge logistical operation means that for the first term Canteen provision will be limited to cold packed lunches at Primary and a more limited option than normal at Secondary.  All year groups will be segregated within the school to the best of our ability.  We are also implementing staggered starts and finishes at both schools.  We are aware that for some parents this will cause some inconvenience but we have no option and will limit the time gap between year groups as best we can.  We are trying as best we can to link in with public transport but I would like to reiterate that it is the parents’ responsibility to get children to school on time.

As of the start of term the Secondary site will be on an electronic entry system and no one will be able to have access to the site unless they have an entry badge or an appointment.  If you have an appointment then masks should be worn by visitors to both schools in line with other agency and health protocols.

PRIMARY ARRANGEMENTS:

YEAR GROUP

SCHOOL ENTRANCE

START TIME

END TIME

R

Pedestrian gate

9.00

3.15

1

Pedestrian Gate

8.50

3.05

2

Vehicle Gate

8.50

3.05

3

Pedestrian Gate

8.40

2.55

4

Vehicle Gate

8.40

2.55

5

Pedestrian Gate

8.30

2.45

6

Vehicle Gate

8.30

2.45

Many of you have already experienced the start and end of the day during lockdown so are familiar with the routine.  The children will then be lined up in our car park prior to entering and leaving the site.  This will be carefully managed and I would ask that all parents ensure children are on time as we have no room for flexibility.  If you are late then you will have to wait until we have all children in safely.

We are more than aware of the situation in regard to traffic and parking but you need to acknowledge that these are less than ideal times for all of us.  We would ask that you consider all those living in our school community at this very difficult time.  We will have enough to do organising the areas within our school boundary and so it is up to each individual to manage getting the children to and from our front gate.

I would like to reiterate that there will be no special arrangements made for any one in regard to times and drop off or pick up as we have large numbers of children to co-ordinate and all have their own personal needs.

We are aware that siblings may be entering at different times but we are not making special arrangements as we do not have the capacity to do anything different. 

SECONDARY ARRANGEMENTS:

YEAR GROUP

SCHOOL ENTRANCE

ENTRY TIME

BUILDING ENTRANCE/EXIT

TEACHING AREA

END TIME

7

LOWER PUPIL GATE

8.30

PUPIL ENTRANCE

MATHS

2.15

8

LOWER PUPIL GATE

8.40

PUPIL ENTRANCE

ENGLISH

2.25

9

MAIN GATE

8.40

BACK DOORS SCIENCE

SCIENCE

2.25

10

LOWER PUPIL GATE

8.50

PUPIL ENTRANCE

TECH/RE

2.30-2.35

11

MAIN GATE

8.50

MAIN RECEPTION

HUMANITIES

2.30-2.35

VI FORM

MAIN GATE

VARIOUS

PUPIL ENTRANCE

ART/IT ROOMS

VARIOUS

Pupils will not be allowed on the school site until these times and all gates will be patrolled by staff.  The pupils must enter via the prescribed gates and will be lined up with Form tutors before entering the school.  The Lower pupil gate is the one opposite KFC and the old Harvester Pub by the bus stop. 

No Secondary pupils will be allowed to enter across the field and will be sent back to the correct entrance.  Bike sheds will be made available to pupils and they will be directed on their arrival.  Each year group will be lined up each morning prior to entering the school and will be taken in by Year Staff to start the day.

TRANSPORT AND ATTENDANCE:

At present the bus service is returning to normal from 1st September.  If these services are used then face coverings must be worn.  The Government have made it clear that it is the responsibility of the parent to get children to school on time and I would ask you to take note of the start and end times for particular year groups once these are published.

We are aware that there may be siblings in different year groups but we cannot accommodate pupils entering the schools at different times to their year groups.  This will also include collection of children.  This is an example of where special arrangements will not be able to be made.  What we are doing is keeping the timings as close together as we can to limit the wait.

The Government have made it clear that all children should be in school and that we should facilitate full provision.  We have also been directed that normal attendance procedures should be applied for those not coming into school.  I will be interpreting this in a way that builds the confidence of all of you as we return.

BEHAVIOUR EXPECTATIONS:

These remain the same at both schools with the added expectation that any child who does not follow clear procedures will be severely dealt with.  All sanctions and detentions remain the same and I expect these to be supported by parents in their entirety.  I am afraid that we are making it clear that if you come to our school and enter our site then you are governed by the rules we have in place.  With all the changes we will not have time to make any special arrangements for anyone and there are local options if people don’t agree with how we manage things.  One mistake could affect someone’s health and that is the responsibility of all of us.

LANYARDS AT SECONDARY:

All pupils at Secondary will be provided with a coloured lanyard which must be worn at all times around the site and is mandatory to all from Year 7 to Sixth Form.  The mixing of year groups will be kept to a minimum and no pupil is allowed out of their designated zone without permission.  If pupils do not follow these rules then they are placing all members of our community at risk and they will be dealt with severely. We are taking no chances with any of our community.

PUPIL EQUIPMENT:

All Primary pupils will have equipment provided in school within their classes and should not bring their own into school.

However, at Secondary we expect all pupils to have their own equipment as they will be moving within their areas and all must take responsibility for reducing the risk of transmission.  Therefore all secondary pupils must have the following for all lessons:

  • pencil
  • pen
  • ruler
  • sharpener
  • rubber
  • red pen
  • glue stick
  • coloured pencils
  • coloured year group lanyard (will be given to pupils on their first day in school)
  • swipe card

We would also ask that secondary pupils also provide themselves with a scientific calculator as we will be unable to move these continually around the site.  In addition pupils should always have their diary and reading book.

I cannot emphasise enough the importance of ensuring that pupils take responsibility for their own learning.  We will be doing equipment check regularly and it is imperative that you all support us with this.  Remember that we are doing this for the safety and wellbeing of pupils and staff.

SIXTH FORM:

The Sixth Form pupils will start back after the other pupils on Wednesday, 2nd September with Year 12 arriving at the Drama Studio at 9.30 am and Year 13 arriving in the Drama Studio at 1.00 pm.  The Sixth Form will be briefed on their lessons and arrangements for their school day at this point.  It is likely that space will be limited and most Sixth Form pupils will come and go throughout the day and enter the school via the pupil entrance.  We will be expecting Sixth Formers to set the example for the rest of the school in regard to routines, attendance and punctuality.  All Sixth Form pupils MUST wear their lanyards on the school site.

YEAR R:

They will be starting with us on Thursday, 27th August and for the first two days will be in from 9.00 am until 12.00 pm.  From Tuesday, 1st September they will be with us Full Time from the times we have highlighted in the table above.  We are moving to full time quickly to support many of you who need to work and support your families.  We have all had more than enough disruption to this point.  There will be no canteen service on the first two days so please ensure your child has a packed lunch.  Canteen Services will resume from the 1st September.

YEAR 6, 7 and 11:

From Thursday, 27th August we will be welcoming Year 6, 7 and 11 back at school to learn the routines and get back into school quickly.  Their timings are shown in the table above and they need to get into these routines quickly.  There will be no canteen service on the first two days so please ensure your child has a packed lunch.  Canteen Services will resume from the 1st September.

ALL OTHER PUPILS:

All other year groups will return on Tuesday, 1st September at their given times and will be expected to be ready to learn from the start.  There should be no excuses for any uniform issues, wrong hair colours or lack of equipment.  Our expectations in regard to these and behaviour are absolutely clear and the current circumstances mean that there will be no special arrangements or deviation from our procedures.  The school must continue to be a compliant and well organised environment given the current guidance.

FACE COVERINGS:

There are a wide range of opinions on Face Coverings and this is one area that we have been inundated with in regard to questions.  The Government is stating that there is no need for these in schools however, we have made the decision that these are optional to pupils and staff.  Our message is that each individual must take responsibility for their own safety in regard to this and everyone must respect each individual decision.  They must be worn on public transport and we have hand sanitiser all around the school.  We can minimise risk but we can’t completely eradicate it. 

PRIMARY EXTENDED DAY and BREAKFAST CLUB:

The information on Extended Day has already been sent out to you all and you will be aware that the provision is more limited than normal.  You all need to be aware that even this provision has meant that we are stretching our resources significantly and that many schools are not offering any Extended Day provision at all.  I would like to thank those staff who are working extra in order for us to put this in place. 

FREE SCHOOL MEAL VOUCHERS and CANTEEN:

Free School Meal vouchers have all been issued and cover up to Friday 28th August 2020.  The Canteens in both schools will reopen on Tuesday 1st September with a limited service at both schools.  At Primary there will be packed lunch service only and Secondary will be on a reduced service.  This is to enable us to meet the needs of all pupils with the new lunchtime arrangements that will put huge pressures on our staff.

PARENTPAY ONLINE PAYMENT SYSTEM:

We will be going cashless from September for obvious reasons and I would advise all of you to join the ParentPay Online Payment System.  Letters have already been sent out to you, if you had not already signed up to the scheme, the letter includes a personalised activation code for your child and an explanation of how the system works.  This is the way forward over the coming weeks and reduces any transfer of money.  This scheme will pay for everything from dinner money to trips to extended day.  New Year R and Year 7 parents should have received the activation letter already, if you have not please let us know via admin@st-georgescofe-thanet.kent.sch.uk for Primary pupils or finance@st-georgescofe-thanet.kent.sch.uk for Secondary pupils.  Pupils will all need to bring their swipe card each day to pay for school dinners.  New Year 7 pupils will be issued with a swipe card on the first day.  If any current pupils have lost their card, a new one can be purchased on ParentPay and will be issued to them on their first day in school.

SCHOOL EVENTS:

At this point in time we will be reviewing all school events over the coming weeks and will keep you informed what will be happening in Term 1.  There will be very limited face to face events, meetings or after school activities in Term 1 as we try and work our way through the logistical challenge of bringing the Whole School back.  In essence this is not going to be a straight forward situation.

INFECTION PROTOCOLS AND REMOTE LEARNING:

We have very clear protocols in place for any person showing symptoms and we are in constant dialogue with Public Health England.  This has been the case throughout lockdown and we will be in touch if there are any issues.  Please do not react to events or reports on Social Media which are often untrue or misleading.  I hope that you have gathered already that our first priority is health of all members of our school community.  Please inform us immediately if family testing results in a positive result so that we can liaise with the relevant agencies.

If any pupil is showing symptoms, they must not come into school if they need to self-isolate under current guidance, which can be found at www.gov.uk, Coronavirus Guidance and Support.  Anyone self-isolating with symptoms must access testing and engage with the NHS Test and Trace process.  If a symptomatic pupil comes into school, parents will be contacted and the student will be isolated until they can be picked up.

Please discuss recommended hand and respiratory hygiene habits with your son/daughter.  Guidance for pupils includes the following key points:

  • Frequently wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and dry thoroughly (NHS guidelines), or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser to cover all parts of their hands
  • Clean hands on arrival, after breaks, when moving to a new room, before and after eating, and after sneezing or coughing
  • Not to touch their mouth, eyes and nose
  • Use a tissue or elbow to cough or sneeze, and use bins for tissue waste

If a pupil is self-isolating or unwell, parents must contact the school by 8.30am on every day of absence on the attendance line 01843 609030.

It is highly unlikely that the Government will close the schools, however, we are preparing for all eventualities and if this were the case then we will be continuing to teach as normal a timetable as possible via the internet.  This requires all pupils to provide an email address that they can access via a device that they would use if needed.

Please can all pupils provide an email address to their Tutors on their return so that we can ensure this is possible for all.  Many Year 10 pupils have already experienced lessons with staff in this way during lockdown. 

FINAL THOUGHTS:

We are now less than a week away from the start of a new school year and there are many questions that remain from the current situation.  It will not be easy for any of us and all the new systems will take time to settle down and for us all to get used to the new normal.  Your support is absolutely crucial and we must all understand that all of us have had different experiences of the last few months.  For some it has been a time of relaxation and fun, for others boredom and frustration and for some utter despair.  We must accommodate all these experiences, emotions and anxieties amongst our community.  There will be some who believe the threat is over and the new measures are unnecessary but I can assure you that I have seen enough suffering and anguish to know that the effects are very long lasting both mentally and physically.  The next few weeks will be about PATIENCE and COMPASSION for all of us because I cannot remember a time that has had so many challenges laid in front of us.  The next steps will be the hardest that we have taken in living memory but I can assure you that our staff are ready to support our school community to the best of their ability. 

Let us just take one day at a time, accept that there are many things that will be unusual and realise that what we are trying to do will not be to the liking of everyone.  The last few months have taken their toll on many and this is where we restart our journey, to rebuild confidence, embrace the new and ultimately add to the foundation stones that have remained solid throughout.  You are all part of that journey and hopefully together our wisdom may help us navigate our way forward.

God Bless You All

Mr Mirams