Dear Parents, Carers and Families
School Closure from Monday 23 March 2020 until further notice
Today in school we have been starting to come to terms with what is happening, and what lies ahead.
Assemblies for students
Students attended assemblies in which we explained the seriousness of the pandemic, and our collective responsibility to help the national effort to stop the virus. We emphasised the great seriousness of the Government’s request for ‘social distancing’ for as long as is needed, and talked about the sacrifices that we all have to make in the weeks and possibly months ahead.
We attempted to put the pandemic into some sort of historical context, so that students would have a realistic understanding of the range of possible outcomes in our community and beyond. The students have been exceptional in their maturity and perceptive insights.
‘Core provision’ in school and the creation of an ‘extraordinary roll’
We are mindful of our duty to support social distancing measures, while at the same time playing our part in the wider community effort. We therefore remain open to offer a ‘core provision’ for the children of key workers, and those with additional needs.
We have already drawn up an ‘extraordinary roll’ of students we feel need a place in our core provision based on our knowledge of families and students’ additional needs. Other parents and carers will also need their child to be in school as part of the core provision because of their essential job role. Please would these families contact the school as soon as possible with an email to Martha Collins at email@example.com, putting the words “Extraordinary Roll” in the title. Please just state simply that you are requesting a place for your child to attend school during the period of closure because of the nature of your job role. Please do also put any questions about this in an email.
Once we have collated the roll, we will be in a position to run provision safely from next week. We will review the roll in the Easter break, and then again at the start of next term.
“I am just not ready to leave here yet.”
We started the process of saying goodbye to Year 11 and Year 13 students. The whole education system has told them since they were infants of the importance of public exams; now, in the blink of a news flash, students have been told that this is no longer the case. Many are understandably completely bemused and deflated, and we must be mindful of these students over the coming months. One student at the gate summed it up saying, “I am just not ready to leave here yet.”
We know, of course, that their achievements are so much more than final exams and grades, but that won’t feel easier for them tonight, or probably until their future pathways are completely secure. I am asking all families to play their part in cheering the wonderful achievements of our future school leavers. Please be assured: we will support them into their future pathway in the summer, or whenever we come out on the other side of this. We do not know what will happen about their school leaving accreditation. We will inform families as soon as we do know, and will not let go until every student has found an appropriate pathway. We will also be at the forefront of the argument that no child should be disadvantaged or inconvenienced by their accreditation outcomes, however they are decided.
For the rest of us, home learning
The next few months are going to be a time of exploration for all of us, as we live our lives in very different ways than we are used to. It is a great opportunity for each of us to learn new skills and achieve things we never thought possible. If nothing else, let’s all make sure we have read a great many books. We will be in touch with more detailed thoughts on this in due course.
There is a vast amount of information online to support home learning. But the truth is, it is not that easy, and families and school both need to take time now to think through ways of supporting children to carry on learning in a way that is both realistic and productive.
Staff at the school will, like you, be at home with their families and loved ones. Many will be looking after children and elderly relatives, and like many of us, will doubtless become involved with the crisis in ways we had not anticipated. Many will also be involved with our ‘core provision’.
Nevertheless, staff are very willing to volunteer their time to support home learning, and will most certainly dedicate time to putting resources on the school website and, most importantly, on Show My Homework. As time goes on, and we get more used to a new way of living, it is also likely that staff will want to keep in touch with students and check in with them on what they are doing, and help them structure their time more productively.
We are not going offline, even if the school is closed. We are committed to supporting you throughout this, and I propose that we take it in stages. Teachers are now setting work to complete in the last 2 weeks of term. There will then be the Easter holidays. We will think separately about our approach to provision in the 5 weeks at the start of next term, and will respond to parent voice in this regard. Please do feel free to contact me directly if you have comments to make.
In the meantime, I wish you all the best. I am available on my email, firstname.lastname@example.org, to any family who wishes to be in touch. Please include a phone number in your message.
With best wishes