6 January 2021

Dear Year 11 Student,

I hope that you and your family are well. I am sure that you will have been worried by two announcements made by the Prime Minister on Monday 4th January 2021. Firstly, that you will not be able to physically return to school before February half-term. Secondly, that GCSE examinations will not take place as normal this year. I want to emphasise that second point in particular, as it does not mean that all examinations are cancelled. The Prime Minister used the following phrase:

In these circumstances, we do not think it is possible or fair for all exams this summer to go ahead as planned. The Secretary of State for Education will therefore work with Ofqual to put in place alternative arrangements after consultation with the sector.

Many people have interpreted the above statement to mean that GCSE examinations are cancelled and there have been some additional, confusing statements from Government Ministers since that have made that seem more likely. However, the Education Secretary has instructed Ofqual (who are responsible for all examinations in England) to plan for other ways in which your work can be fairly graded and assessed. Therefore, please don’t be disheartened; you will still get the chance to improve and show your ability between now and July 2020. Working hard continues to be very important.

We don’t currently know what plans are being discussed, or what system will be chosen. We do, however, have very clear plans in place to support you and to make sure that you stay on track for success; that you improve and have as many opportunities as possible to do well. I have outlined below some of the key support that we have planned for this half-term:

What we will do:

  1. Mr Wright led an online assembly for Y11 this morning explaining that mock examination results would be issued today. They will be sent via email and should be shared with parents and carers. If you missed the assembly it can still be accessed.
  2. You will receive a detailed letter with your results. It explains what the results represent and what they do not represent. Please read the letter carefully.
  3. We wrote to all parents and carers yesterday to book appointments for Monday 11th January’s virtual parents’ evening. Please ask your parents or carers to read the accompanying letter very carefully. Your teachers will explain what you have done well and what you need to do in order to improve. They will give feedback on your work in their subject. Teachers won’t speculate about Government plans, as appointments are based upon helping you to improve and that time is precious. Please check the website for updates that concern all students in Year 11.
  4. On Tuesday 12th January letters will be sent to all those who have applied to study in our 6th form from September 2021 onwards. We are thrilled that so many of you have applied. Mr Wilbraham will share next steps with you via an assembly and will answer frequently asked questions.
  5. Please continue to contact the 6th Form Team if you have queries, or Mr Kennedy if you require any specific advice regarding careers. Mr Kennedy is contacting all those who have identified in form that they might need additional guidance.  
  6. We intend to carry on with assessment and there will be additional mock examinations before July in all subjects. We are planning for your return and to give you every opportunity to succeed.

What you need to do:

  1. Keep working hard and be as positive as possible. Let us know if you need extra support or are having any difficulties. Log on for form period at 8.30 a.m. And stay in touch with your Form Tutor.
  2. Follow your timetable each day. Lessons are being delivered live each daily and teachers are available to work with you during the normal timetabled lessons, unless they are unwell. Work will be placed on Teams if that is the case. We will monitor attendance and Mr Bowman will contact home if you are not participating; you need to keep working. 
  3. Contact the school as normal if you are unwell, have a confirmed case of Covid-19 or any other difficulties. We need to have a record of absence/illness as normal.
  4. Check the school website and our Twitter account on a weekly basis for any updates that are shared. This will help you to stay as part of the school community and means that you won’t miss important information. There is an update every Friday, but we will share any Ofqual or Government plans as soon as we have had the chance to understand and interpret them.
  5. Think carefully about your next steps. Use any spare time to research careers, A Level subjects, other qualifications and university courses. We might be restricted now, but you have all kinds of opportunities to look forward to in the years ahead. Do additional reading and research on your current subjects; grades matter, but so does a love of the subjects that you are studying.
  6. Contact us if you having any issues with resources, IT, Teams or technology via the usual school email address.

To summarise:

  • Examinations haven’t been cancelled. There will be some form of assessment as a replacement – you need to work hard in your subjects from home.
  • Ofqual are looking at alternative forms of assessment. As soon as they share their plans, we will share them with you in an easily understandable way.
  • We have clear plans in place to help and support your current study and next steps.
  • Offer letters for those who have applied for a place in our 6th Form will be sent by post next week.
  • Working hard each day and following your timetable is really important. Year 11 hasn’t ended – you must keep working with us. You need to attend each day and try hard to improve.
  • Let us know if you need any extra help or support, or if you are unwell.

Take care and remember that things will improve; this won’t last forever.

Best wishes

Mr O’Sullivan