I hope that you and your families remain safe and well.
This week has been one of hope, optimism and clarity, as we returned from a half-term break that was quieter and more peaceful than most.
As I mentioned in my last blog we were expecting further news on the 22nd February. We got that news as promised and I am pleased to say that we are now much clearer about the intentions of the government and their plans for the reopening of schools. As I am sure you will be aware by now, all students are due to return to school during the week commencing 8th March. The official government guidance on this can be accessed via this link below:
We very much look forward to welcoming our students back to school as safely as we can and I intend to share with you our plans for doing this as well as some additional relevant information. Consequently, this communication will be slightly longer than usual.
Prior to their return to the classroom all students will be offered a rapid-result lateral flow device (LFD) test to check for asymptomatic cases of coronavirus. Whilst this test is not mandatory, it is strongly recommended by the government. We thank those families that have already provided consent for this testing and urge those of you that are yet to, to access our website and complete the relevant consent form. I attach the link below for you.
Please could we ask that you complete this form by 12.00pm Monday 1st March at the latest. Students who are unable to take the test for whatever reason will not be expected to attend for the first testing dates but will return to school as normal with their year groups, once face-to-face education resumes. Any student who is following NHS advice and is remaining at home due to shielding or self-isolation is asked to notify the school office on email@example.com with clear reasons for their absence.
In line with the guidance we intend to operate a staggered return to school during the week of 8th March. Prior to this, we plan on testing students in Years 7, 10, 11, 12 & 13 during the 4th & 5th March so that we can get them safely into the building on the 8th March. We then plan on students in Years 8 & 9 being tested on the 8th March. returning to face-to-face education on Tuesday 9th March. The dates and timings for testing and the return to school are shared with you below. Critical worker and vulnerable pupils who have a confirmed place will continue to attend their provision, until the rest of their year group return for normal face-to-face education. All students who we hold consent for will be supervised while they are tested. The tests are self-administered by the students under the guidance and supervision of a trained operative. The highest standards of hygiene and PPE are observed and the testing bays are within a highly sterile area. Results from the tests are available after 30 minutes. Should the LFD test yield a positive result parents will be informed as soon as possible by telephone; in the event we are unable to speak to you we will leave a message where possible or contact other family members on our system. At this point the student, and any identified close contacts will need to self-isolate for a period of 10 days, commencing the day after the test result. The student will be able to return to face-to-face education on the date outlined for their year group if their test is negative.
During this first testing period from the 4th-8th March, students will still be expected to use Google Classroom and Show My Homework to access remote learning activities, which will feature less live lessons and more independent tasks. These tasks will review work from previous weeks in order to consolidate the students’ learning. If a student is unable to access content because they are being tested, then they will not be disadvantaged if they miss the lesson and should be able to catch up in their own time.
Once the initial test has been completed students will take two more tests on site between 3-5 days apart. After the third test students will then be issued home testing kits so that they can be tested twice weekly at home. This will be the same testing method used at school, which the students will have been trained how to use. Positive results from these tests will need to be reported by parents to NHS Test and Trace either online or by telephone and should also be shared with us using the Google form that will be on our website. We will also need a clear indication on this form of any close contacts of the student, up to 48 hours prior to the test. A close contact is defined as someone within 1 metre for more than 1 minute or within 2 metres for more than 15 minutes. If a positive result is received on the home testing kit, then the student should immediately start a 10-day period of self-isolation.
I do hope that you will understand the effort, time and resources that we have invested in complying with the government testing plan in order to keep our community safe. We also appreciate the complexity of the process for you at home in administering the home testing kits. For this we thank you in advance. I hope that you will support us in ensuring that the school and our wider community is as safe as possible by following the guidance above.
Timetable plan for first test and return to face to face education
Students must arrive for their first test using the entrance on Ebrook Road not the main school entrance. Students will take their tests in the sports hall. They must report promptly at the start of their allocated time slot and they must wear a face covering, observe social distancing and follow the one way systems in place. They must not congregate before or after testing. They must leave the school site swiftly and return home immediately after their test. We anticipate they will be on the school site for between 10-40 minutes.
|Year group||First LFD test date||Tutor group testing times||Return to face-to-face education|
|Year 13||Friday 5th March||
|9.00am Monday 8th
|Year 12||Thursday 4th March||12GB-11.50pm
|8.50am Monday 8th
|Year 11||Thursday 4th March||11T-8.30am
|8.50am Monday 8th
|Year 10||Friday 5th March||10T-10.30am
|8.40am Monday 8th
|Year 9||Monday 8th March||9T-12.25pm
|8.40am Tuesday 9th
|Year 8||Monday 8th March||8T-8.30am
| 8.30am Tuesday 9th
|Year 7||Thursday 4th March||7A-1.50pm
|8.30am Monday 8th
|Year 7||Friday 5th March||7L-2.15pm
|8.30am Monday 8th
RETURNING TO THE CLASSROOM
Previously, the guidance asked secondary students and staff to wear face coverings in indoor communal areas. The new guidance extends this recommendation to all indoor environments including classrooms. Could you please ensure that your child has a face covering to wear at school and also a spare for those occasions when they might misplace one or it becomes soiled or damp. In emergencies we do have a limited supply that we can distribute but we will log these when issued to ensure it is not a persistent occurrence.
Students who are exempt from wearing face coverings must provide written parental consent to confirm this, which should be forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org identifying the child’s name, tutor group and reason for exemption.
As prior to Christmas we have a number of preventative measures in place to limit the transmission of the virus. This includes numerous hand sanitising stations, one-way systems, enhanced signage and staggered break and lunchtimes. Furthermore, we have a staggered arrival and departure time using split entry points, which are manned by leadership staff every day. The table below is presented as a reminder.
Sixth form students will be attending lesson 5 on-site once they return from the 8th March.
|Year group||Arrival time||Departure time||Entry point|
School buses will be running routinely from Monday March 8th.
Attendance is mandatory from the week commencing Monday 8th March, once students have had their first test. The usual rules will apply, sanctions for lateness or non-attendance will be in place.
If your child is following public health advice and is shielding or is self-isolating, please notify school reception. Similarly, if your child is experiencing anxieties or is concerned about the return to school please notify school reception for the attention of your child’s Achievement Coordinator. We will then be able to discuss these anxieties and provide appropriate reassurance.
We would be grateful if you would ensure that your child returns to face-to-face education in full school uniform. We will be expecting the same high standards that we would do normally. As a reminder please access the link below to the school website section on school uniform, including our very clear policy on uniform. We will be challenging every student with inappropriate uniform upon the full school return, so your support and cooperation with this will be most welcome.
There is no expectation for students to wear uniform when they come to school for their first LFD test.
Cancellation of exams
For those of you who have children in exam years you will most likely be aware of the government announcement on Thursday, regarding the plans for the cancellation of exams and the replacement with teacher assessed grades. We will be hosting virtual parents’ evenings for year 11 & 13 soon, which we will be in touch with you about shortly. You will find the link to the official statement from Gavin Williamson below.
Whilst we wait for the finer details from the awarding bodies I would just like to reassure students and their parents with some of our initial thoughts in response to this statement.
We accept that the situation we are presented with is imperfect and somewhat flawed but we are optimistic that our students will not be disadvantaged. Above all we are pleased to be welcoming our students back to complete their courses, prepare for their next steps and to finish their school year. It is a great opportunity to build some lasting memories and to make sure that their last few weeks and months at Plantsbrook are a happy experience, after so much anxiety and uncertainty. Leavers’ photos, assemblies, year books and shirt signings are some of the joys of school leavers, we intend to make that happen. On their return, I can assure you that we do not plan on endless testing and assessments to build evidence to support teacher assessments. When the time is right, there will obviously be a need to measure students’ knowledge, application and skills but we will be very selective in this and constantly mindful of their wellbeing in doing so. They will get clear forewarning and adequate time to prepare for any assessment that is planned. They can rely upon honest and transparent dialogue from their teachers. We won’t be in the position to divulge grades, for obvious reasons. However, from the 8th March every lesson of every day will count for something, it is a chance to learn more and to do more and we know our students will embrace this philosophy. Our students will not be measured on one performance on one day but on what we know they know and what we know they can achieve through the work they have produced. We will provide further information on this in the coming weeks.
Ultimately, all we ask of them is to ‘be the best that they can be’, the rest will take care of itself.
Take care and stay safe,
Mr J Farr