Dear Parents/ Carers

Dear Parents/ Carers,
I wanted to update you on a few items that have developed since my last communication.  Following the national lockdown, you will of course know that schools will be closed to most students until at least February half-term.
Additionally, you will be aware that the Education Secretary announced this year’s exams will be replaced by teacher assessed grades.  At the moment the exact nature of this process is yet to be determined but we will endeavour to keep you updated as we discover more detail.  You may also be aware of the confusion surrounding the vocational exams that were scheduled for January and February.  On Tuesday evening we were forced to make the challenging decision to cancel BTEC exams in order to ensure the safety of our students and staff but also in the interests of fairness and parity.  This means there will be no BTEC exams in the foreseeable future for our Year 10, 11, 12 & 13 BTEC students.  We expect to hear more information about how we will assess our students but have been reassured by the news that no student will be disadvantaged by our decision.  If your child is due to sit GCSE, A-level or BTEC exams this year please be assured that we will contact you with further information at a later stage.
I am very pleased to have received an increasing number of messages from parents applauding our efforts in providing a remote learning package.  We have been busily preparing resources and planning for online lessons to enable this.  I have been overwhelmed by the sheer industry and dedication our teaching staff and support staff have shown in facilitating this.  I know that students are accessing their lessons on a range of devices, including their X-box and PS4 games consoles, which I am sure is a novelty for parents to see them being put to such purposeful use!  Our staff have worked tirelessly to put resources in place and I can assure you that it has not been an easy task to accomplish.  I have passed on every message of support received from parents to our staff, who are delighted that their efforts have been acknowledged.  I am so privileged to have such an amazing team to work with.
As well as providing remote learning we have also established onsite provision for an increasing number of Key Worker and Vulnerable children (KWV).  We thank parents for supporting us by keeping the numbers relatively low, which does allow us to keep everyone safe.  These children are working in bubbles accessing the same remote learning package as those students who are working from home.  They are supervised by teachers, who may also be delivering remote learning to other students at the same time.  This has started very well and we are pleased to see our students readily observing normal school routines and expectations.  We are currently full for next week’s KWV provision but we can accept limited bookings for the week commencing 18th January, as long as applicants meet the DFE criteria and are booked in by 3pm on Thursday 14th January.
As the situation at the moment is so rapidly changing, there are many uncertainties that we cannot resolve.   Therefore, we have decided that we will need to review our calendar and make some changes to dates that will affect parents’ evenings for Year 11 & 13.  This is so we will be able to update parents and students but, in a climate, where there should hopefully be more clarity about what work still needs to be done, including assessment arrangements for the summer.  Our clear message for Year 11 & 13 at the moment is ‘business as usual’, to attend all online lessons and complete all remote work, as it will likely be used as part of their teachers’ assessment evidence.
Furthermore, we are exploring ways we can get student exercise books, work booklets, exam papers and other physical resources to students at home.  This will probably be by collection, once we have ensured we can do this safely.  We will issue further information on this when we have finalised the plans.
Finally, we are working behind the scenes to get our mass testing arrangements in place.  This will mean that we can offer all students and staff a two-stage test.  This process is well underway and we will shortly need to secure parental consent to be able to complete the tests once we can welcome all students back into the building.  We are planning on doing this with our KWV students first, once we have secured parental consent and ensured all training and safety measures in place.  The consent form will go live on our website from next Monday and I would urge you to complete it once it does.  The testing programme will mean we can keep everyone safer and help us to reduce virus transmission.
May I finish by thanking you for your ongoing support during what has been an interesting start to Headship.  We will continue to do everything to ensure that our plans are communicated clearly, openly and in good time to you.
Kindest regards,
Mr J Farr