Headteacher’s Weekly Newsletter (11 February 2021)

Dear Parents

The manner in which the students have engaged, as I say every week, has been very impressive throughout this half term. They have been producing very good work, and the various ongoing assessments are showing students have a good level of understanding of what they are covering.

It was no surprise, therefore, that the most gratifying aspect of this week has been seeing the vast number of letters we are sending out to congratulate the students on how positively they have approached their remote learning this half term. I have said it repeatedly; the students are a credit to themselves and to the support they receive at home. We know from how they are completing their work that the vast majority of students are currently on track to return to school without any significant gaps in their learning; we continue to work through our targeted hub provision and the pastoral teams with students where this is not the case.

The students have certainly lived up to our values of Responsibility, with the manner in which the majority have applied themselves to their learning, Respect, for the manner in which they have observed current regulations, and sheer Resilience, for the various levels of disruption and uncertainty they have faced.

We know that a decision will be made during the week beginning Monday, 22 February regarding the return to onsite learning, which I hope will be from Monday, 8 March for as many students as possible, but we will of course have to wait and see. I expect in that week after half-term we will get clarity for everyone on timelines for returning to school, phasing, if it is to happen, and any testing requirements. The other big question, of course, that dominates many of our discussions in school is around the actual form of assessment that will replace the formal exam series, as well as what mitigations will be put in place for both Year 10 and Year 12. We expect the week commencing Monday, 22 February to be a busy one indeed with a flurry of announcements; hopefully they will bring some clarity to allow for planning and, more importantly, certainty for students and parents alike.

There are some things to update you on for after half-term, which we hope will help refresh remote learning and keep the high levels of engagement going amongst the students for the hopefully short period of time before they return to on-site learning.

Remote Learning

We will be making a few changes to the provision for students after half-term. These include some live core subject lessons across Years 7 to 11. We recognise that for some families live lessons are not practical, and would reassure everyone that these lessons will be recorded and uploaded to the VLE after they have finished, for students not able to access them live due to issues such as poor connectivity, multiple users in a household etc.

Live Lessons after Half-Term

Students will be invited to any live lessons scheduled for them via TEAMS/email invites. These invites will start appearing this week for the live lessons in their core subjects as staff schedule them.

Maths and English – All students will have a live lesson each week, with their other 2 or 3 lessons (depending on year group) set as normal on the VLE.

Science – For years 7, 8 and 9, one Science lesson will be delivered live per week – this will be on a weekly rota (Biology-Chemistry-Physics). The two other lessons will be tasks set on the VLE in the normal fashion. For Years 10 and 11, students will have either 2 or 3 live lessons (depending on which course students are studying). All other lessons will be tasks set on the VLE in the normal fashion.

KS3 Transition – Students in the Year 7 class will have an English and Maths lesson with Mrs Gilmour, while in Years 8 and 9 these will be with Mrs Dixon. Their Science lesson each week will be delivered by the Science staff.

Tutor Meetings

Alongside these lessons we will also be introducing some live tutor time for all forms, which will give the students an opportunity to meet and chat. Every student will be invited to a meeting each Wednesday and Friday with their tutors at 9.45am, the normal pastoral time in the school day. These are intended to be relaxed meetings, where students can discuss things with their tutors and say hello to their peers. With an anticipated return to school on or around 8 March, these will be a very good forum for students to find out information and ask any questions they may have about anything to do with school.

Don’t forget the Live Support that is always there every single period …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, which I would encourage them to use whenever they are unsure about any work.

Lots to do in half-term

If students find themselves at a loose end during half-term I would encourage them to look at the various challenges they can access through their homepage on the VLE. The subject challenges, House challenges and the CET Photography Calendar competition are all things that are designed to be enjoyable. There is so much that the students can get involved in if they wish to do so.

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. Replies might be a bit slower during half-term as we are asking all staff to try and switch off, but emails will be picked up if sent to the main school email or senior staff.

I sincerely hope that everyone has a restful and relaxing half-term break. I am sure the first newsletter after the break will be a much larger affair, as announcements aplenty are scheduled from Monday, 22 February.

Yours sincerely
Chris McAree

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