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09/10/2020

Mr Mirams Letter October 9th 2020

A letter from Mr Mirams

October 2020

Dear Parents

I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of you for your patience, your support and in many cases your kindness over the last six weeks since we returned to school under very different circumstances. It has indeed been a very challenging time for all of us and the children of all ages have been a credit to you all as they have adapted and embraced the new ways of working. It is not easy to constantly react to the ever changing situation and to ensure that we are meeting the requirements of numerous guidelines from various sources, but our very high attendance rates to this point are an indication of the faith you show in us as a school and we are all truly grateful.

The onset of the Autumn weather combined with the importance of remaining vigilant will not deter us all from the fact that our main priorities remain the health of all our school community and the need to remain focused on the education of all young people in our care. At times the two do not go hand in hand and the constant uncertainty over many things in education obviously require us to be alert, be ready to make changes quickly, and to prepare all our children for the next stages in their lives.

I hope that this letter will provide more clarity over our next steps as a school and that you can all appreciate the complexities of attempting to meet the needs of all in our community during these ever changing times. It is hard to believe how far we have travelled in just six months and the detour from normal operations and life. I truly believe that it is the combined efforts, understanding and compassion of all of you that have allowed the school to get to this point and it has resulted in us having solid foundations to build again as we enter the most testing period of winter, testing and examinations. It is often a shared responsibility and commitment amongst our community that keeps us all moving forward.

We are under no illusion that even up to this point there are some that may not agree or even support what we are trying to do, but let me assure you all that as a staff we have not stopped trying to find the easiest solutions, most effective methods or most beneficial way forward for the children, even if it creates huge issues for us individually. This will continue and maybe even once we return to a more normal we may have learnt something for the future. I hope that this rather lengthy letter will answer most questions for next term and once again will indicate the care we have for our community.

SCHOOL TIMINGS:

You will be aware that we have become very efficient at the start of the day at both schools and that the children themselves are now well adapted to the changes. Therefore, from Term 2 there are a couple of changes to the start of the day at both schools:

Primary:

• 8.30am – 8.40am – KS2 arrival and straight into school from the main gates

• 8.40am-8.50am – Reception and KS1 arrival and straight into school from the main gates

• Pick up remains the same arrangements

Secondary:

Pupils use the same entrances as Term 1.

• 8.30am - 8.35am – Year 7 and 9

• 8.35am – 8.40am – Year 8 and 11

• 8.40am – 8.45am – Year 10 and Sixth Form

• Staggered end times remain the same

VIRTUAL LEARNING:

In the event of any infections and pupils being asked to remain at home in large numbers we have developed our use of Microsoft Teams to provide education in groups or classes. This will also be our method in regard to revision classes this year and trials have been effective with some Year 11 and Sixth Form. All pupils at Secondary will be prepared using their school emails and will have training by Half Term to allow this to happen. However, the use of such technology, variation in wifi signal and other situations outside our control could mean that there remain some issues so you need to be patient with us if the need arises.

At Primary the vast majority of you are familiar with “Purple Mash” and we will also be looking at the use of Teams with older pupils where we feel it would be beneficial.

We all hope and pray that the use of remote teaching will be kept to a minimum, if at all, over the winter months.

PARENT CONSULTATION EVENINGS:

There will be no face to face events at present which is the opposite of how we like to do things normally. However, we will be using Microsoft Teams, a booking system and video conferencing to meet you in the comfort of your own homes. We will be sending information shortly to you and will obviously be starting this next term. Once again this is a new way of working for all of us, will be tightly constrained to set times and will require patience and understanding from all of us. Hopefully, it will work effectively for all of us and will at the very least mean that you don`t get wet or cold coming into school to visit us.

YEAR 9 OPTIONS:

This process will start in Term 2 and Pupils will be provided with large amounts of information, which will also be accessible through our website so that you can all keep in touch with what is on offer. Once again we will do all we can to make this process as stress free as possible to ensure that all pupils get as much information to make their choices and as always we can talk to you over TEAMS or by phone if there are any questions or issues.

YEAR R and SIXTH FORM OPEN EVENTS:

The information for both these events will be on our website and there will be a range of resources available for everyone to make informed choices. Please remember that if you have a sibling at the school the Year R applications must include the supplementary form for the school and you must tick the sibling box.

ADMISSIONS TO YEAR 7 2021:

Once again an important reminder that for admission to our Year 7 next year you need to still complete our supplementary form alongside the Common Application Form if:

• Your child is at our Primary school in Year 6

• Your child has a sibling at the school

• You are a staff member with a child wishing to come to us

Failure to fill in our supplementary form will result in you not getting a place.

NATIONAL TESTS and EXAMINATIONS:

The latest information is that all tests and exams will take place as usual this year, although no dates have been confirmed by the Government. There are a variety of questions over the implementation, the content and timings but as a school we are preparing the children as if it were a normal year. Following six months off school this is quite a challenge but we are all in the same boat and we have been working extremely hard to ensure that everything is in place to support them.

Now that we have finally received confirmation in regard to content of GCSE`s our staff are busy making the necessary changes to the taught curriculum so that we are prepared for as many eventualities as possible as well as using every opportunity at both schools to catch up any missed learning. Nobody knows what the next few months will bring but we have the best interests of the children at heart.

PRIMARY HOT DINNERS:

From next term we will be introducing a hot dinner on a Friday of each week for universal free school meals (Year R, 1 and 2), FSM pupils and those who may wish to purchase it in Years 3, 4, 5 and 6. All other days will remain a cold lunch while we trial it and see what best works. If your child doesn`t want a hot dinner then we ask that you provide a packed lunch on this day as we currently do not have the capacity to offer the two options on a Friday. We will provide a menu prior to the start of Term 2. If you will be purchasing a meal for your child, please ensure you credit your child’s school meal account on your ParentPay account prior to them taking a meal, to ensure no debts occur. The cost of a school meal is £2.10.

YEAR 7 BASELINE ASSESSMENT:

We have made the decision that during term 2 our year 7 pupils will carry out baseline assessments in order to establish any learning gaps, as well as provide us with the information needed to set realistic targets. Pupils will sit a previous KS2 SATs paper in Reading, as well as 3 separate KS2 papers for Maths. By doing this we will be able obtain an accurate picture of what pupils could have achieved if they completed these KS2 SATs papers during year 6. The government use this end of KS2 data to set targets for individuals which represent expected progress by the end of year 11. As a school we use this data to set individual targets, for each subject, for the end of each academic year.

YEAR 7 ACADEMIC OVERVIEW:

The first Academic Overview which is sent home electronically on Tuesday 15th December, will contain the scores achieved in Reading and Maths. We will not be sending home grades in Science as there is not a suitable KS2 assessment, however we will be sending home assessment colours for non-core subjects. More information regarding these assessment colours can be found in the Academic Overview Guide, on the schools website - /340/academic-overview. English, Maths and Science grades that will be available through Academic Overview Two, on Tuesday 30th March, will be GCSE grades based on an average of assessments completed so far this academic year in each subject area.

CAREERS GUIDANCE:

We are continuing to provide significant impartial Careers guidance through outside agencies to support pupils with their next steps and are passionate about ensuring that all pupils choose the right options, careers and pathways from our secondary school.

INFECTION PROTOCOLS and ACTIONS:

Thank you for your continued communication in regards to testing and your understanding with the protocols that are currently in place. We have made a number of changes following suggestions from many of you and will continue to adapt and change things as we move forward. Our aim is to ensure the safety of all at this time and with increasing infection rates nationally we are following ever changing guidance. I would like to remind everyone that decisions over actions from any infections taken by the school are determined by Government Agencies and not ourselves. We continue to hope and pray that all in our community are not impacted in the coming weeks.

VISITORS ON SITE:

We are still limiting the number of visitors we have on the school site, please can I remind parents our Reception areas will not be able to accept any forgotten items, such as PE kits, musical instruments or packed lunches into the school site. Please ensure your child has everything they need with them for the day before they leave for school. If your child does forget their packed lunch at Primary they will be provided with a school meal and the charge will be added to your ParentPay account (please make payment straight away) and at Secondary parents can load money onto their ParentPay account remotely or in an emergency we can lend money but this must be paid back to the Finance Office on the next school day.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

There continue to be a range of views expressed about Covid 19, the impact and the next steps. All I know is that the last six months have been extremely testing for many in our community for all different reasons. I am aware that for some this may be a financial burden, an issue with health or simply the difficulty of dealing with the continued uncertainty. The challenge of trying to meet the needs of so many whether that be children, parents or staff continues to be an almost impossible one but as a school we will continue to try and make a positive difference to as many people as we can each day. The overriding drive for all of us must be to guide our children in a direction that ensures that they benefit most from those special experiences that enhance their education and personal development. Alongside this we must ensure that our environment is safe, that our community remains healthy and that with time we can once again welcome all our community into our buildings with open arms.

In the interim I would like all of us to reflect on the need to continue to work as a collective, to remain patient with each other and to accept that whoever we are in the school community these are less than ideal times. Never has our biblical quotation been more relevant than it is today……………A school is without doubt about a community pulling together and this remains a defining part of what we have all witnessed over the last six months. I for one have benefitted from that feeling of togetherness and the support you have given the staff and myself personally. I believe the world will continue to be a better place for it.

“For the body does not consist of one member but of many.” Corinthians

God Bless You All

Mr Mirams