3 July 2020

Dear Students, Parents & Carers,

 

It has been a very positive week in school, with increasing numbers of students on site. Year 10 students have been working on English, Maths and Science and Year 12 have had a series of subject specific ‘lessons’ (lectures might be a more appropriate term) and additional guidance on university applications. We have also been finalising the arrangements for the return of Years 7, 8 and 9 and Form Tutors are looking forward to meeting with their classes again. Schools are strange places when students are absent, and it is been heartening to observe the school gradually coming back to life. We had over 620 responses to our KS3 survey and I would like to thank all those who participated. We have used the results to inform our planning for September and I will share some of the key points in my letter to parents in the final week of term.

 

In addition to KS3 students coming into school next week, there is a comprehensive timetable of Year 10 and 12 sessions. Year 12 will continue with additional teaching across their range of subjects and Year 10 will have teaching in their options subjects. Those sessions will also continue into the final week of term. We will share the timetable for Year 10 and 12 sessions via the students’ school email addresses, Microsoft Teams and will also publish an overall timetable on the school website on Monday. Students need to check their emails for the relevant times and dates and should read the ‘Information for Parents’ letter carefully before attending school.  

 

It has also been an important week in terms of national developments. We now have a significant level of detail regarding the Department for Education’s plans for September 2020 and also information from Ofqual about results in the summer and the autumn series of potential resits. Both present logistical challenges for the school, but it is very good to have a sense of what is expected. Ofqual have also issued a consultation document regarding the 2021 examinations and I would encourage parents to read the document and to express their views.

 

The Department for Education’s Plans for September 2020

 

Ofqual’s Summer Results & Autumn Exam Schedules

 

Ofqual Consultation on GCSE & A Level Exams 2021

 

We will plan very carefully between now and September and will continue to communicate regularly so that all members of the school community can prepare for September. I will write to all parents, carers and students in the final week of term and will continue to provide a weekly update on Fridays throughout July and August. As you will appreciate, there is a significant amount of information to digest and to consider. Based upon that, it would be inappropriate to offer a simplistic initial response now as, rightly, you will expect the school to offer a coherent and carefully considered plan.  The last three months have taught me that there will very probably be new guidance and developments to take into account in the coming weeks.

 

I will write to Year 11 and 13 students and their families before the end of term to share our arrangements for A Level results on 13th August and GCSE results on 20th August. Many schools have planned ‘virtual’ results days, but we feel that it is very important to offer students face to face support and advice regarding their next steps. Therefore, we will invite students into school on those days, but will carefully consider risk at all times.  Mrs Lennon and Mr Wilbraham will also keep 6th form students informed of any new developments.

 

We wrote to Y11 parents and students recently to confirm that the end of year Prom has, regrettably, been cancelled. We have also shared arrangements for refunds to be paid, as many of you had requested that we do so, which is perfectly understandable given the current financial climate. We had also tried to rearrange the Prom at the same venue in early autumn without success. However, our pastoral staff have been working very hard to identify an alternative venue and date. We had no choice but to cancel and return payments, but we are committed to saying goodbye properly, at no cost, to students and their families. I will write to all Year 11 students with additional information next week and we are working hard to offer an equivalent ball for Year 13 students too. We hope that Year 11 and Year 13 will be excited at this news; we are keen to say goodbye and for students to experience some of the ‘rituals of leaving’ that they have been denied through no fault of their own.  

 

Thank you to all those Year 11 and 13 students and parents have been very understanding of the current difficulties associated with such events. We have received some very thoughtful communication from parents about the Prom and that is greatly appreciated. It is unfortunate, however, that some people have chosen to make negative comments on social media without contacting the school to discuss their concerns. I’m aware that many people behave in such a manner without thinking, but it would be remiss of me not to comment on such an approach. Please contact us if you have any queries, as we are always happy to answer questions or to explain our decision making. It would also have given us the opportunity to explain that we have been working on alternative plans, as we care very much about our students.

 

Thank you for your continuing support.

 

A J O’Sullivan