Headteacher’s Weekly Newsletter (4 February 2021)

Dear Parents

This last week I was struck by just how much lighter it is getting in the morning, and how the evenings are actually now starting to draw out. I know I am lucky in that I get to go to work and leave my house each day, but it really is noticeable that my walk to the car first thing is now just about safe without some form of lighting! Apart from me no longer stumbling down a path, it is the sense that things are getting a little brighter that I want to focus on.

I know it can be difficult to keep some teenagers motivated and the DfE mandated 5 hours a day is a hard ask for some of them working remotely, whether parents are working at home or indeed still attending work. The effort being put in by everyone involved to keep on track as much as possible is to be admired. The overall manner in which the students are keeping up with their remote learning is impressive. We are working tirelessly to make sure that the small minority who are not completing all the work are supported through the pastoral system, subject staff, our on-site support hub based in the library and working with parents. We know it can be challenging, but we are all here to help and support, and the students can be proud of what they are doing.

With a return to school to be outlined later this month, but likely to be around 8 March, we can see the light ahead for getting students back on-site, into classrooms and enjoying the company of each other and their learning. We know from the last period of remote education that the vast majority of our students had no significant gaps, and we really look forward to them returning to lessons relatively seamlessly. It is certainly something we know they will be eager for themselves.

As it is Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, it is appropriate I start with the Wellbeing App we have been helping to develop which was released to our students this week. We sincerely hope it will help students access support, both in and out of school, and will provide a good reliable source of information and strategies for them all in what has been for some a difficult year.

Edukit Wellbeing App

A huge thank you to all of the students who have downloaded the Edukit Wellbeing App and completed the spring survey on wellbeing and home schooling. If students are having any problems downloading or accessing the App, please do encourage them to follow these instructions: How to login to the EduKit app, or email Mrs Mothersdale.

The survey so far shows us that the students are all missing their friends, which we know is really tough, so we would encourage them to make sure they use their social networks to keep in touch with each other. It’s really pleasing to see that the students are still getting plenty of exercise and feel that they have someone they trust at school who they can contact if they are worried about anything. It is also pleasing to see that they are well engaged and positive about their remote learning.
We would remind students that they can also use the app to send messages to a member of school staff if they need more support.

Don’t forget the Live Support that is always there…

The live support timetables are always available for every student in Years 7 to 11. These are on the VLE and, by asking for support, they will be invited to a meeting with a member of staff for 1 to 1 support via Teams. This is really bespoke, personalised support for students who need it, and I would encourage them to use it whenever they are unsure about any work.

Live Maths Lessons

Next week students in Year 7, 8 and 9 will be receiving Teams invites to a live Maths lesson on Monday or Tuesday, rather than the normal recorded version for one of their lessons. The invites will be sent as normal to student email addresses, and students can then join the lesson, if they are able to, at that time. The lessons will be recorded and then uploaded to the VLE for students not able to join them live. We know this is far from ideal for some families, but we are also aware for some students live interaction will be appreciated. These particular lessons for Maths will be aimed at recapping the work covered this half-term, and the department hope they help review learning in a fun way for the students.

It is our current intention to move after half-term to some live lessons across the core subjects for all year groups as we prepare for their return to school, and we will provide more details next week. I would remind students that when joining a live lesson they should have their microphones on mute, until asked to speak, and their cameras should always be on.

Update on OFQUAL Consultation

The OFQUAL consultation closed on Friday of last week and we expect to find out the next steps and outline of the grading process in the week of 22 February. It will be a busy week, as it is also the week we will see the plan set out for the return of students to school. One aspect of the consultation that has caused stress and concern for students is around the proposed external assessments. I would encourage students and parents to read the helpful OFQUAL blog on these which can be reached from the link below. It is a clear outline of what is being proposed. Consultation update and a proposal for externally-set papers

Parents Evenings and Reports next half term

All Year 13 students should have received their Reports at the end of last week. Please let the Sixth Form team know if this was not the case. Next half-term we have quite a few Parents Evenings and Reports that will be going out to parents. For information these are:

  • Sixth Form Open Evening for Year 11: 24 February Video Appointments with materials on website (information has been sent to all Year 11 parents this week and should now have arrived)
  • Year 9 Parents and Options Evening: 3 March Video Appointments with materials on website (information is being sent to all Year 9 parents this week and will arrive over the weekend/Monday)
  • Year 7 Reports: Will be issued week beginning 1 March
  • Year 8 Reports: Will be issued week beginning 29 March
  • Year 11 Parents Evening: 31 March Video Appointments (information will be sent out prior to evening for booking appointments)

As always, if there is anything at all we can help with, or you want to ask about, do not hesitate to get in touch.

Yours sincerely
Chris McAree
Headteacher

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