I hope this update finds you and your families well. The decision by the Prime Minister to keep schools closed until at least the 8th March is somewhat bittersweet in that we would much prefer to welcome our students back to the familiarity of face to face learning but also appreciate that a date, albeit unconfirmed, allows for some clarity particularly amongst the clamour within the national press. In our current position we have our curriculum and content entirely mapped out for an opening or a continued closure, underpinned by our focus on knowledge acquisition through our knowledge organisers. This leaves us in a position to respond, whatever details emerge surrounding the eventual return of our students. It is most likely that the return, in secondary schools at least, will be staggered or on a rotation over a short period with priority year groups (those facing public examinations or on GCSE/A Level courses) returning first. Our students will not be disadvantaged by the lockdown process; we have planned meticulously to ensure that progress continues through our blended learning approach.
In lockdown 1.0 we invested in MyON for Years 7 to 11. Evidence suggests that reading for pleasure is vital for academic success, mental health and even social and emotional development.
MyON has a range of books that students can access for free; it also has a classical literature section that older students use independently. There is an audio option, so they can listen while reading, they can also use the dictionary facility to help them define new words and broaden vocabulary. Students can also create their own reading journal to record their experiences. Myon’s news articles are good too – they change daily and are very topical plus there is a short quiz at the end of each one too. You can also access a back catalogue of news reports too.
We are delighted to be using ‘IRIS Connect’, an innovation in teacher professional development, which uses a secure video system to enable teachers to reflect and share their many examples of excellence with our team of teaching staff across the school. Our aim is for all teachers to be as good as the best, and through sharing our outstanding practice, teachers can reflect, amend and trial new and creative teaching, learning and assessment techniques to ensure the very best outcomes for all pupils.
The lessons captured by IRIS Connect are only accessible by the teacher that recorded them, or within their network for specific professional development. The recordings take place in a normal lesson and will not require any additional participation. All we ask is that your children continue to work as hard as they always have done.
We hope that you will be happy for your child to be included and if you need any more information or if you have any questions regarding this project then please do get in touch via reception.
National Online Safety
As part of our continued commitment to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all of our students in the new age of digitally dominated education we will be working towards a nationally recognised accreditation. This award will validate existing systems against the highest possible standards of internet safety. As part of that process we would like to ensure that all members of our community have access to the latest information and would like to encourage as many parents and carers as possible to complete the parent courses. More information on how to access those courses will be sent in due course, needless to say that our accreditation is reliant on the number of parents and carers who engage, so please do take the time to if you possibly can.
Thanks to the spectacular effort of our amazing students our engagement in online learning has seen a significant improvement since the last lockdown which is absolutely remarkable. We are incredibly proud and are grateful for the efforts of our entire community working together to make sure that this is possible. We certainly appreciate how difficult the balancing of work, family and online learning can be, particularly as many staff members are also parents. It is a demanding time for everybody and it is perfectly natural that some days will be absolutely fine and others a little more challenging. We know that you are doing your absolute best, so please do not worry or feel guilty if at times it feels much harder. As the lockdown continues ‘lockdown fatigue’ can certainly set in, we want to help and are here for students, parents and carers if you have any concerns or just want to talk. The most important thing is to maintain a regular routine, and take the one hour of exercise allowed within the lockdown rules to step away from the screen and switch off in the evenings.
Year 11 and 13 Examinations
The national consultation will shortly close with the results revealed shortly after half term. The outcome will reveal exactly how students will be awarded grades in the summer. Having exhaustively read the guidance, my strong feeling is that exam boards will release assessments to be conducted as ‘tests’ within schools and academies, matched to the content covered with each academy. Taking place on site these tests would provide evidence for awarding grades alongside class work, homework, online work and would also allow for exam boards to take samples ensuring consistency between schools. In short, this means that work for Year 11 and 13 is far from over and assessments in some guise will return, this is different from last year, so please make sure that your son/daughter maintains their focus as much as possible.
A huge thank you to the parents and carers who have taken the time to respond to the survey, the results are absolutely emphatic with early results indicating that 96% of parents/carers agreeing or strongly agreeing that our online provision is of a high quality. We take the time to read every response and consider the impact for our practice, we also note in year 8 and 9 the frustration behind the delay to the Chromebooks arrival as the last two year groups to receive them. We share your frustration and continue to push our suppliers against an unprecedented demand globally for their swift arrival. We are the only local school to invest in free device loans for all students in years 7-11 and see it as vital to our progress throughout and beyond this pandemic, so please bear with us.
Finally, my immense gratitude goes to all members of our slowly fatiguing community. Our staff have been immense, our students wonderfully resilient and our parents/carers so incredibly supportive. The huge efforts and sacrifices you are all making is certainly not unnoticed.
Half term is now just a short way away but with the positive news from the parent’s survey, the student engagement scores and continued messages of support it is absolutely clear there is a huge amount to be proud of, so well done, all of you.
Just. Keep. Going.
Mr W Monk