Welcome to the Spring Term!

(Posted on 15/01/21)

As this is my first blog of 2021, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year.

Thank you for all your feedback on our remote learning provision.

Our policy is centred on ‘blended learning’, of which, live face to face interaction is a key element – but only one element. Our focus is on trying to replicate, as far as we can, what goes on in the classroom in terms of a variety of experiences and activities for students. Our remote learning provision will therefore include: live face to face interactions, some recorded elements, some videos, some links to other sites as well as question and answer sessions, group discussions – (I sat in on a very interesting Year 12 English discussion on Monday), and some research and written tasks, as well as assessments.   Our website will shortly have a remote learning tab for parents and students to access, which contains more resources and guides.

The link below also takes you to some advice and feedback from Ofsted:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/whats-working-well-in-remote-education/whats-working-well-in-remote-education

Our remote curriculum is very much based on the curriculum we would have delivered had students been in school. Every subject has a curriculum and assessment plan that maps out provision for the year ahead – this is exactly what we continue to deliver. Obviously, we cannot replicate all normal classroom routines online, but the feedback to date, is that students are engaging and enjoying their experiences.

I would like to point out a couple of things to parents, carers and students:

You will be aware from national press that schools are now obliged to carry out testing for Covid-19 using the Lateral Flow Device test kits that give results in 30 minutes. We are aware of the concerns around the accuracy and validity of these tests, but we are following the government direction to carry out the tests in school. This week we have tested all staff and all students, (for whom consent was given), who are attending our Emergency Provision.

The school’s gym has been converted into a testing centre with eight testing booths. My thanks to Mr Smith and Mrs Rackham our school nurse, for all the work they have done in setting up the centre, and especially to those staff and parent volunteers who are helping to carry out the testing. The plan is still to carry out mass testing of all students when they return to school. At that time, we will probably need more volunteers and Mrs Rackham will be contacting those who have put their name forward in the coming days, to arrange training.

To the parents, carers and students in Year 11 and 13, further information on the replacement for this summer’s exams will be forthcoming in the near future. The Secretary of State has written to Ofqual, outlining his views, and consultations will begin in due course. You can follow the links below, to see the exchange of letters between the Secretary of State and Ofqual:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/951797/Letter_from_Gavin_Williamson_to_Simon_Lebus.pdf

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/951778/SL_to_SOS_2021-01-13.pdf

We will, of course, keep you updated with any future developments. However, what is clear, is that the Secretary of State is proposing some form of external assessment and that the system eventually put in place must allow for students to continue to be engaged in learning for as long as possible. It is therefore important for students to continue working and engaging with our remote provision.

I’m pleased to announce that following the UCAS deadline, we have this year, submitted a record number of university applications – 140 in total. It’s been an incredibly challenging year in which to organise university applications, and I want to thank all staff who have been involved in mentoring and reference writing. We are already hearing from excited students about the offers they have received and I’m also pleased to say that two of our students have secured places at Oxford – one to read Maths, the other, English. Cambridge University announcements are expected next week. Good luck to those students who have applied and I hope that you all get your preferred choices.

Finally, I would like to update you on the progress of discussions I have been having with the local council on safety improvements to cycle routes to school, especially to the A41. I have met with the Head of Highways and the Deputy Leader of the Council, (who has responsibility for highways), to discuss our ongoing concerns. I am very grateful for the support of our local Parish Councils in these discussions. Plans are being discussed and safety improvements have been promised, and I will continue to push for action to improve all routes to school, but it’s fair to say I have some frustrations regarding the pace of improvements. I would also like to thank all those parents, who have actively involved themselves in lobbying the authorities.

Difficult times remain for our country, but there is always hope for better times ahead.

Thank you for your ongoing support

DP Jones

Headteacher

 


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