I hope this letter finds you and your families well, at the time of writing half term is just moments away and it has been both a challenging and rewarding first semester. Other than considerable fatigue we have arrived at this half term point in good spirits. Students, staff and parents have responded incredibly, the collective effort has ensured our young people have arrived at half term safe and have picked up their academic studies seamlessly.
Outside the academy gates local transmission rates have risen considerably in the areas of Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone. There have also been a number of local secondary schools and students affected by positive cases. It is for this reason as we approach the statistical equivalent of 1 case per 1000 people that from Monday 2nd November we will be asking all students to be wearing face masks when in transit, inside academy buildings. This means that masks will be required inside academy buildings when students are not eating/drinking or in lessons. Our sixth form and staff have responded admirably to this task and given transition times and movement across the site is limited by our bubble strategy, it is not expected to be too onerous of a task for our students.
Half-Term Sessions – Year 11 & 13
This half term in excess of thirty additional sessions will be running for our Year 11 and year 13 students and signals our staff’s commitment to ensuring the best possible educational outcomes for our young people.
After half term our challenges change with the weather. We have been considerably let down by the provision of marquees to site and in response we have made a significant further investment in dining furnishings to create an additional eating space for our students over half term. This means that in inclement weather all students will have a large, supervised internal space to have breaks and lunches within their bubbles rather than outside. We will always encourage students to be outside even in the winter for fresh air if it is dry, so please ensure your son/daughter always has a coat, even if they don’t want to! If your son/daughter has PE, please consider base layers and a coat, any hoodies or tops must be the Mascalls kit and not other branded wear with exactly the same expectation as our traditional academy uniform.
Reporting suspected COVID cases
If you or your son/daughter experience COVID symptoms over the half term period, please continue to inform the academy via email@example.com. We are keeping our own internal track and trace record and as such monitor isolation periods, these may overlap our term start so please support us with that communication. Increasingly the Department for Education are not reporting or escalating school outbreaks to local health teams or Public Health England, preferring that we manage suspected cases internally. We have clear monitoring procedures and decision making protocol, but it is only as effective as the communication parents/carers have with the academy, if you are unsure, we are available so please do ask.
What if we enter a circuit breaker lockdown during half term?
In the event that a circuit breaker lockdown is announced and results in the closure of schools all information will be placed on our website and online learning portal, I will also write to you all. We are ready to provide remote learning for every student in that eventuality. If the lockdown overlaps the start of next term, staff will have work ready in Google Classrooms. Students can follow their timetables and access content for the relevant day. Whilst the remaining Chromebooks are yet to arrive we realise, depending on access at home, you may not always be live within our lessons, the same may be true of our teaching staff. Any live, real-time lessons will be announced in Google Classroom so it may be a good idea to check the evening beforehand. All resources from those lessons will be made available if you are unable to attend. We will monitor completion of tasks as evidence of engagement. As I said previously during lockdown we would rather more work is available than too little, if you struggle in any way simply ask your son/daughter to communicate with the teacher via the classroom. We know you will absolutely do your best, but understand individual scenarios can make things more difficult.
At the time of writing I can confirm that there are no confirmed cases of COVID within our academy community. We have continued to request that students self-isolate as a precaution and seek a test where necessary, no student has yet returned a positive result. We will continue to monitor and follow the latest advice and guidance from available authorities. We are constantly reviewing our practices, procedures and decision making protocol to ensure we are efficient and compliant with the latest thinking.
As with every letter, it simply remains for me to thanks you all for your ongoing support. Rest, recharge, recuperate, the next half term is usually one of the most tiring with darker mornings and evenings this year definitely more so, but the strength of our community, in partnership, will continue to ensure our students are protected, happy and not disadvantaged by the events as they unfold.
Mr W Monk