Parent / Carer Update 29th June

Dear Parents / Carers

                As always, I hope you and your families remain safe and well. Given everything that has happened over recent months, it is easy to forget that we only have three weeks of the school year left! This has certainly been the most unusual, difficult and challenging school year I have ever experienced in my 29 years of teaching. However, putting that aside, it has been fantastic to welcome back our year 12 students, as they experience some face to face sessions on site. The attendance figures for both year 12 and our year 10 pupils have been incredible and they go to prove how much we have all missed the regular school and college experience. In talking to our young people in those two year groups, they all say how great it is to be back and how much they have missed being here. The staff have said the same, everyone has commented how great it is to be working face to face again. Following an update to current government guidance for secondary schools on the 23rd June, we have also taken the decision to invite in year 7 students for some face to face days before the end of term too. Details have already been sent about this. Again, we are all really looking forward to welcoming back the youngest members of our school community over the coming weeks. In addition to those three year groups being back on site, the number of pupils attending our daily care@ provision have risen enormously. All of which is great news and reminds me why I do this job that I love so much but reminds us all of the crucial role schools play in our communities.

Government guidance for schools is continually updated and I have a few other things to pass on to you;

·         There has been much discussion in the media over social distancing in recent weeks and the relaxation of the 1 metre rule to allow various establishments to open on the 4th July. This has led to clarification from the Department for Education about what that means for schools after that date. The clarification is that the 2 metre rule should remain in schools. It states “schools should aim to practise social distancing in line with the measures the government is asking everyone to adopt in public and in workplaces, including keeping pupils 2 metres apart from each other where possible.”

·         Following the well-publicised campaign for the government to fund free school meals over the summer holidays for eligible families, we will soon be in touch with those relevant families regarding access to what is being termed the ‘Covid Summer Food Fund’. 

·         Our care@ provision for the children of key workers and pupils deemed vulnerable will not run over the summer holidays. So the last day for our care@ provision will be the 17/7/20.

·         There has been much talk in the media of a ‘Catch Up’ programme for our young people who have been adversely affected by the last 4 months of disrupted schooling. We are waiting for government guidance on exactly what this will look like and the funding that will go with it. Regardless of that, I would like to reassure all parents and carers that we have already put in place for September, a wide range of ‘in house’ changes that will help and support our young people following the disruption they have experienced as a result of Covid-19.

Finally, on a more general point, I would like to ask all parents and carers to be careful when reading headlines when it comes to the current situation regarding schools. This is the one area that has frustrated me more than anything during this whole Covid-19 situation, headlines and soundbites very rarely tell the full story. We are getting plenty of communication from parents and carers about what is being published in the media

For example – “This year’s GCSE and A levels to be downgraded by up to a third’ was one recent headline. This is pure speculation and as a parent of a current year 11 student myself, very frustrating to read. I can re-assure all parents / carers and students, that there is a full and robust national moderation process that all grades submitted by schools have to go through and we have been assured by the exam regulator, that this will be fair and consistent with previous years.

Another example – “Full class sizes to return five days a week in September”. Of course we all want this to happen! The sooner we can return to ‘normal school’ the better, it will be in the best interests of all young people and will make our job so much easier. However, the article then goes on to say that this will be much more complicated for secondary schools and plans have not yet been decided upon. The guidance for September for secondary schools has not yet been released (we are told it will be by the end of the week) and so currently we don’t know what arrangements for the new school year will look like. Please understand that no-one is more frustrated with the current school situation than I am. All schools want to be fully open and I can’t wait for it to happen but we have to follow government guidance and that guidance is not currently not available or mentioned in most headlines or soundbites.  

My plea to all parents and carers is please, do not base your judgments or jump to conclusions when it comes to the current school situation based on headlines as ‘the devil is always in the detail’.

As always we remain here to help and support you as best we can, please contact your son or daughter’s relevant Head of College, the 6th form team or if you would like to get in touch.

Best wishes to you and your families.

Richard Middlebrook

Executive Headteacher

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