Mr Mirams' Letter - 30th October 2020
30th October 2020
As we approach the start of a new term and the lead up to the festive season I am writing to clarify and outline our next steps as a school in what continue to be ever changing times. I would once again like to thank all of our community for their support during the first part of the year and reiterate the positive start that all have made given the return from lockdown at the end of August. I am sure all of us hoped that there would be a return to more normality by this stage but unfortunately this is clearly not the case and we find ourselves with increasing infection rates across the country and now our local community. It is thus important that we all prepare ourselves for what will be very difficult times over the coming weeks.
I have spoken many times about the difficulties of ensuring the needs and demands of all being met during the pandemic and the likelihood that not everything we do will be met with overwhelming support. This definitely proved to be the case in Term 1, but what also became clear was the vast majority of you who took time to offer huge support for our school through kind words, messages and actions over those first difficult weeks. My message to all in Term 1 was summed up by the words “patience” and “survival” which I think we all took on board and we navigated our way through the complexities of the new normal.
This term I believe will require even more resilience from all of us and the following words will outline the approach that is needed because we will have to manage “disruption” to our daily lives, to provide “innovation” in the way we do things and be “adaptable” in all that we do. Let these be the key words for all of us this Term and hopefully this letter will provide clarity as we start the Term.
SCHOOL STARTS and ROUTINES:
There have been only minor changes across both schools at present but please note the new entry times for some year groups.
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
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
SCHOOL END and PICK UP:
At Secondary the end times remain the same and pupils will depart in a staggered way from 2.15pm. At Primary we will be changing the way we do pick up and I would like to reiterate the arrangements. We are also listening to requests from parents and will now be putting in place a joint collection time for children with siblings in different year groups:
- Key Stage one and Reception children with no siblings in KS2 will now be available for collection at 2.50pm.
- The children will line up on the area to the right of the school where they currently line up in the morning.
- One parent will then be invited onto the school premises following a one way system and observing social distancing guidelines.
- They will collect their child/children and then leave the site via a different gate.
- Children in Key Stage one who have a sibling in Key Stage two will be kept behind in the school hall and released at the same time as their sibling in Key Stage 2 at 3.00pm. This is to help support all our parents who have to wait around at the end of the day.
- Any parent coming onto the school premises will be expected to wear a face covering which is non negotiable.
- At 3.00pm Key Stage two children will then line up in the same area and the same system will then be followed.
- If parents are late to collect their child it will be necessary for them to wait until the end of the dismissal of both Key Stages.
We hope that this new one way collection system will lead to a more efficient and effective way of collecting your children, and will help support us all in observing the Government guidelines on social distancing. Please refrain from talking to staff at this time as they will be ensuring a rapid and efficient departure of children.
SCHOOL VISITORS and COMMUNICATION:
We will now be even more stringent over visits to the school sites and parents are only able to come on the school site by invitation only from a senior member of staff. Please ensure that your child has all they need for the day at both schools as we will no longer be handling deliveries that children have left behind and parents wish to bring in. This continues to be a very frustrating time for all of us and I would reiterate that we will not tolerate any abuse of our staff in any way and I will not refrain from taking action against those that do not abide by this. We are all working hard for everyone in our community and we all miss our normal interaction with you. Please use our dedicated lines of enquiry if the need arises.
INFECTION RATES and PROTOCOLS:
The second week of half term has seen our first positive infections amongst our pupils at the Secondary school and I have spent some time this week talking with the Department for Education (DFE) and Public Health England (PHE). They have advised that in these cases the school doesn`t need to take any action because of our two week half term and that “Track and Trace” and other bodies will follow up on these. Obviously those concerned are following isolation and advised protocols.
I would like to reiterate that the school must be informed of any infections, cases of self isolation and testing so that we can take steps accordingly. You may be aware that increasing numbers of local schools are now having to take steps following infections and unfortunately I believe that it is a matter of time before us as a school have to do the same. Please be reminded that PHE and DFE will direct us on our action and decisions are not made solely by the school. Please use our admin emails at both schools or telephone to inform us of any issues.
Secondary – email@example.com Tel No: 01843 861696
Primary – firstname.lastname@example.org Tel No: 01843 861696, Option 6
Although the children in general do not seem to suffer major repercussions of the virus age does play a large part and I would like to remind all that we have 180 staff of varying ages and they are putting themselves at risk daily. We still have a small number across both schools who are still not fully recovered from the first wave and we all have an obligation to looking after each other. So, please follow all the rules and inform us immediately. We must be prepared for disruption and work together as best we can. I now have a daily briefing with key senior staff at the end of each day as we are now managing the situation on an hourly basis!
LEARNING IN THE EVENT ISOLATION:
We may have to deal with a wide range of eventualities over the winter involving groups of pupils having to isolate, loss of staff and varying levels of disruption. At Secondary all pupils should now be able to log into Microsoft Teams on phones or other devices and at Primary all pupils should have access to Purple Mash. As I said we will be attempting to be innovative and this will be new to all of us. We will be bringing the classroom into your homes at times.
YEAR 11 PARENT CONSULTATION EVENING:
Bookings for this will be going live in the next couple of days ready for Monday 9th November. This will take place on Teams and it is imperative that your child is with you as we will be using their school email log in to access you. All should have this already on their phones and is a first for all of us. There will be issues, problems and without doubt we will all be learning as we go along but we are taking that huge step into the unknown. At least you can be sat at home rather than coming out to us on a wet evening!
You will be aware that all staff at both schools and Sixth formers are wearing face coverings outside of the lesson environment and this will remain in place. We are now strongly advising that all secondary pupils do the same to protect themselves and our staff. If infection rates increase as they appear to be and our school infections rise this will become compulsory across the Secondary. I do not wish to debate this issue with any of our community as my obligation is to safety of all our pupils and staff and we must look after each other. Please ensure that your child is prepared for the likelihood of a compulsory face covering rule over the coming weeks. Only those with evidence of medical exemption will be outside of this rule if we need to apply it.
Once again I will conclude by outlining that we will continue to keep things as normal as we can throughout a very busy term of virtual Primary and Sixth Form Open Events, Parent Consultation Evenings, Mock Exams and the obvious onset of the festive season in just over a month! I would like to ensure all of you that some things have not changed during the last 7 months that we have been through, we still care deeply for your children and the families in our care, some of us may be greyer but our determination and commitment to all in our community remain absolute and please rest assured that we will as a school meet every challenge in our path. Your kind comments and support have kept many of us going over the last few weeks and we are all truly grateful for this. We are aware that we don`t always get it right but upmost in our minds are how we can help all our community navigate through these testing times. I hope that our communication at least gives you some direction, but as I said at the start please reflect on the need to accept certain things…………..We will be disrupted at some point, we will all have to innovate and work differently and all of us will have to adapt. If your tired and ageing Headteacher can do it then so can all of you.
Once again we are in this together and by working together let us see if we can bring some real cheer and positivity to the most difficult of circumstances. I pray and give thanks for the realisation that our community have got us this far and together we can make a huge difference to all of those around us in the coming weeks. Personally I couldn`t have got here without you all and for this I feel extremely blessed.
God Bless All this Term.