Update from Mr Mirams
As we come to the end of a quite extraordinary week for many of us I am writing to once again try to clarify the current situation at the school given the rapidly changing circumstances that we have found ourselves in. It is now becoming even more obvious that the pandemic is now having a huge impact on many who work and are connected to the school particularly in regard to rising infection rates again locally. I would like to reiterate that the commitment of our staff to the children and our school remains undiminished but we are constantly having to adapt to almost daily announcements, guidance changes and directives from Government. It was always going to be the case that the ever changing pandemic would require some changes of direction but currently the school staff and pupils are facing ever more uncertainty. My message to all in our community is that we will as a school continue to support all pupils through these times and attempt to ensure that all have the opportunities that they deserve to be educated, supported and guided in the coming weeks. I do not have any influence over national announcements or policy but will make decisions that I feel are right and proper for those in our care. As I have stated many times this does not always meet the expectations of all but in such chaotic times we must forge forward and try and provide a clear direction where we can. I have outlined some key points below to hopefully answer many questions:
The Reception telephones at both schools will be covered every week day from 8.00am - 12.30pm if you need to ring us. Most queries should come through our two admin emails that are shown below. Obviously there continue to be questions over examinations and these can be directed to our exams email also.
- Primary - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Secondary - email@example.com
- Exams- firstname.lastname@example.org
We will continue to stay in touch with all children in our school through staff at both schools to ensure that everyone is managing through this particularly difficult time.
As email and text messages are our main form of communication currently, please can we ask that you update us with any changes you have to your contact information via email.
KEY WORKER AND VULNERABLE CHILDREN:
- PRIMARY – Children should continue to arrive and be picked up at normal times and lessons will be taught in Year group PODS as they are now. Breakfast Club and Extended Day will be continuing as usual at present.
- SECONDARY – The start time for all children is now 8.45am and finish time is 2.30pm from Monday. All children will enter the school site via the main pedestrian entrance throughout lockdown. Children will be divided into a Year 7 POD and a combined 8, 9, 10 and 11 POD. These two PODS will be located all day in their own rooms and all pupils will need their own headphones and writing equipment to access their own timetable through Teams. They will be supervised by staff and will be together in class to provide some interaction. They will not have face to face teaching and will follow the same Teams lessons as if they were at home.
The groups are now set for next week at both schools so if you require your children to come in then please let us know through our admin emails by Wednesday at 1.00 pm each week and we will provide a place from the following Monday and not before as we have to change our staffing to meet the needs and keep everyone safe. These arrangements will change weekly if numbers increase or if guidance changes so please be prepared for us having to adapt.
I would like to reiterate that the Government are still saying that the safest place for all remains at home and I would ask that our staff also need protecting from the ever increasing infection rates at the front line daily. We have some ill staff currently and a minority that are still unwell from the first wave of the virus!
At Primary universal free school meals will continue but we would ask that all pupils in Key Stage 2 bring their own packed lunch.
At Secondary all pupils coming into school must bring their own packed lunch.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the normal school services are not currently running, at present Stagecoach are running a holiday timetable. The Loop services are still running.
I would like to thank you for your continued support of our staff and your kind comments about the teaching that is being provided at both schools. As you can imagine this has taken time, much training and a huge effort to keep developing and set up. We are now looking at trying to provide this for Year 2 and will take some co-ordinating but please be prepared for us to attempt this. Obviously our vision is to include Year R and 1 as well in the next phase. Please be patient with us.
I would also like to draw your attention to the Code Of Conduct in regard to using TEAMS. Some pupils at both schools have been spoken to recently and we will be sanctioning children if they cannot behave appropriately while online. Staff are working exceptionally hard and I do not expect pupils of any age to abuse the privilege that they have been provided. In my opinion this shows a lack of respect for what the school staff and other pupils are trying to achieve for the good of all.
We will contact you if your child is not regularly accessing their lessons on line that are being provided.
If a staff member is absent work will be uploaded to TEAMS for pupils to access in their absence as it will be impossible to cover lessons.
Individual emails will be sent each week for all year groups at Primary so that all parents are clear on what is being taught and the resources that are available to support your child`s learning. This will include links to areas for physical exercise as well to keep them learning and help wear them out! Please continue to use Purple Mash as a support tool throughout Year R, 1 and 2. Other years also have this facility.
EXAMINATIONS and TESTS:
I am not sure quite what to say to either pupils, parents or staff in regard to announcements made this week by the Government over National tests and Examinations. Once again there remains very little clarity over the process from now on and we have been left trying to reassure and advise on the current round of BTEC examinations. However I will try and outline what I can about the facts and the school position:
- PRIMARY NATIONAL TESTS – All have been cancelled from Year 1 to Year 6 including teacher assessments at this point. There will be no monitoring or moderation from outside agencies and as a school we will be aiming to continue to educate the children to ensure we can reduce them falling behind in their learning. In essence we will be teaching them as close to normal as possible despite the huge barriers in our way. This is not a time to relax just because assessments have gone as we strongly believe that we now have an opportunity to push on and ensure all children are prepared for the next stage in their learning.
- SECONDARY SUMMER EXAMS – The Government have not yet released to us the process of replacing exams this year and will be consulting over the next two weeks. I would urge all pupils to keep working hard as they did last year to ensure that we have evidence to prove grades if needed to do so. We will not just hand pupils grades if they have not worked hard for them!
BTEC JANUARY ASSESSMENTS:
At present the Government have left it up to schools to decide whether these examinations take place or not and in our view this is not ideal given that we are in a pandemic and in lockdown. We are therefore willing to accommodate those that are desperate to sit them and those that do not wish to come into school and not sit them. I am aware that this is a difficult decision for all of you and one which only you can decide at this time in discussions at home. Whatever you decide to do we will support you and I am extremely frustrated by the apparent lack of leadership at national level over this. We are unclear over the way forward at present but have safety measures in place if you wish to go ahead. It is unusual for me not to make a clear decision but I am aware that at present at least half the pupils are coming in because they wish to sit them and it is not our place as a school to deter you from doing so if pupils have prepared fully. We will continue in this light until we have further clarity and I can only apologise for the Government`s lack of direction! It remains your decision.
ATTITUDE TO LEARNING:
It would be very easy for pupils at both schools to simply stop working, particularly with the changes to exams and National tests. However, everyone needs to realise that we need to base grades and evidence on what is happening now and the assessments when pupils return. Please support us with ensuring that all children are accessing lessons and working hard in all areas of their learning. We will need evidence to back up any grades that we predict for the children in the summer. The vast majority are working really hard and we are very proud of them.
We will be posting daily worships on social media which will include a prayer, thought for the day from staff/local clergy and a song. Please make use of this facility even if it brightens your mood and provides a singalong opportunity. We all deserve five minutes to just sit and reflect so make it a part of your day. I have already heard that some of you are singing along daily!
Staff at both schools are now being tested weekly using the Rapid Flow System and we have a dedicated team set up for this. We will also be testing Secondary key worker children weekly once we have gained permission from parents during the Lockdown period. This is a massive achievement to have even reached this point and I would like to thank those staff who have supported me over Christmas and this week to set it up.
FINAL THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK:
Over the last few months we have probably learnt many things about ourselves, realised that we have resilience that we didn`t know we had, come to terms with the fact that many things are out of our control and realised that by working together we can achieve great things. This week the staff have continued to make their Headteacher an extremely proud person, they have adapted again to change, they have welcomed the inconvenience of a new Covid testing system and they have patiently waited and then trusted me to make some very difficult decisions. I am sure that the new lockdown announcement has created much anxiety amongst parents in regard to teaching at home and supporting the learning of your children. We will continue to support you, provide the best opportunities we can and we will stay connected with you in a variety of ways. Your messages of encouragement continue to provide us with hope, with the desire to do better and most importantly have picked many staff up when they have felt low. There are many staff who themselves are dealing with loss, illness and difficult situations at home but continue to work daily for the best interests of our children. I have seen much pain, strife and worry across our community in the last nine months caused by just one virus, but what will come through in the end is the willingness of our community to care for each other and show compassion for each other.
All I can promise is that our school will continue to provide hope, practice compassion, develop stronger friendships in this virtual world, forgive each other when we make the wrong call and most importantly act with wisdom in ever changing circumstances.
The only option is forward………………………………………………and we will lead in the best way we can.
God Bless You All