I hope that you and your families remain safe and well.
As we draw to the end of the most unprecedented academic year in history we look forward to a new one, which will hopefully be comparable to the years before the pandemic. However, before we do, we have new government guidelines to observe, which come into effect in September. Thankfully, this will see the end of bubbles and self-isolating, which have been the source of much frustration in terms of educational disruption over the last 16 months. The new plan is one in which schools will no longer have to track and trace the close contacts of positive Covid cases and ask them to self-isolate. Contact tracing will be completed by NHS Test and Trace instead, and the children who are contacted will not be asked to self-isolate but advised to take a PCR test. Thus they will be able to remain in school unless they test positive for Covid or develop symptoms themselves. We can only hope that this new model is effective in curbing transmission and does not lead to further disruption for our students and staff.
In line with the latest guidance, prior to their return in September all students will be asked to complete a rapid-result lateral flow device (LFD) test to check for 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 LFD testing from when we first conducted this in March and urge those of you that are yet to, to access our website and complete the relevant consent form. This will be most relevant to our new parents of Year 7 & Year 12 students. I attach the link below for you to complete this form.
Please could we ask that you complete this consent form as soon as possible. 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 school resumes in September. Any student who is following NHS advice and is remaining at home due to self-isolation is asked to notify the school office on firstname.lastname@example.org with clear reasons for their absence. If a student is unable to take a LFD test because they have recently tested positive for coronavirus then please can parents communicate this to the school office.
In line with the guidance we intend to operate a staggered return to school commencing on Monday 6th September. Prior to this, we plan on testing students in Years 7, 8 & 11 during the 2nd & 3rd September so that we can get them safely into the building on the 6th September. We then plan on students in Years 9 & 10 being tested on the 6th September, returning to education on Tuesday 7th September. Students in Year 12 & 13 will be tested on the 7th September to return on the 8th The dates and timings for testing and the return to school are shared with you in more detail below. 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, this may include email communication. At this point the student will need to self-isolate for a period of 10 days, commencing the day after the test result, unless a confirmatory PCR test returns a negative result. If the LFD test result is negative the student will be able to return to school on the date outlined for their year group.
Once the initial test has been completed students will take one more test on site between 3-5 days apart. After the second test students will then be issued home testing kits so that they can continue to test twice weekly at home. This will be the same testing method that is 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 email@example.com.
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 testing in September
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 observe social distancing and follow the one way systems in place. They must not congregate before or after testing and must leave the school site swiftly after their test. We anticipate students will be on the school site for between 10-30 minutes in total.
|Year group||First LFD test date||Tutor group testing times||Return to school date and time|
|Year 13||Tuesday 7th September||13SH-8.30am
|10.00am Wednesday 8th
|Year 12||Tuesday 7th September||12MM-10.30am
|8.40am Wednesday 8th
|Year 11||Friday 3rd September||11T-8.30am
|9.00am Monday 6th
|Year 10||Monday 6th September||10T-8.30am
|8.40am Tuesday 7th
|Year 9||Monday 6th September||9T-12.15pm
|8.40am Tuesday 7th
|Year 8||Friday 3rd September||8T-11.50am
|9.00am Monday 6th
|Year 7||Thursday 2nd September||7A-12.00pm
|8.40am Monday 6th
As part of the guidance for step 4 of the roadmap face coverings are no longer mandatory in school. However, if students wish to wear them they are permitted to do so. If there is a local outbreak of Covid in the future then this guidance may change. Should this occur we will inform parents and students using our usual channels.
We will retain some of the preventative measures implemented during the pandemic, this includes hand sanitising stations, one-way systems, enhanced signage and staggered break and lunchtimes. This will enable us to limit the spread of any future outbreaks.
We would be grateful if you would ensure that your child returns in September 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 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 in September for their first LFD Covid test.
Results days this year are slightly earlier than usual. A-level students will be able to collect their results on Tuesday 10th August and GCSE students on Thursday 12th August. We will be staggering the time slots for collection to avoid unnecessary crowding and our staff will be available throughout the mornings to offer information, advice and guidance. Further details on the timings will be released to parents and students in due course. We would also urge parents of students in Years 11 & 13 to read the information on the CAGs section of our website, particularly in respect of requests for appeals.
We have recently been informed that as a centre we have successfully passed the external quality assurance checks conducted by the awarding bodies and so we are confident that our CAGs are robust and accurate. It is important for students and parents to know that the awarding bodies are suggesting that it is unlikely many appeals will be successful. It is also important to note that any grade that is reviewed could be downgraded as well as being moved upward. The only appeals that will be dealt with over the summer are priority appeals (for students applying to higher education who did not attain their firm choice i.e. the offer they accepted as their first choice, and wish to appeal an A level or other Level 3 qualification result). Requests for these appeals will need to be made in advance of 20th August so we are able to process them in time for the awarding bodies’ deadline. We would also wish to highlight that we have been told universities are unlikely to hold student applications open whilst priority appeals are taking place. We would therefore encourage students to be using the clearing process to secure a place rather than expecting a priority appeal to be successful and to lead to acquiring their firm choice. All requests for non-priority appeals will need to be received by the school by 10th September at the latest.
Finally, I would like to extend my thanks to our whole school community for their combined efforts during the last academic year. The commitment and dedication of our staff, the positive attitude of our students and the generous support and trust of our parents and community has been inspiring and uplifting.
I wish all of you a very restful, relaxing and healthy summer break.
Take care and stay safe,
Mr J Farr
Plantsbrook Learning Trust Registered Company Number: 07655702
Upper Holland Road – Sutton Coldfield – B72 1RB