Headteacher’s notice – 20 March 2020

Taken from the latest issue of More News:

Dear Parent/Carer,

Hello, may I start by thanking all of you as our Parents/Carers for your ongoing support, encouragement and understanding as we try to navigate our way through this rather unsettling and unusual period of time.

I appreciate that you must have a growing number of questions and I will endeavour to answer as many of these as I can here.

As you know schools have been asked to remain open to support families where spouses are designated to be ‘Key Workers’. The intention is to offer support during normal school hours for those families in particular and those families only. This is based on continued advice from central government which remains as such:

“the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend”.

“the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society”

With that in mind, I would urge Parents/Carers to continue monitoring and encouraging your child(ren) with respects to their use of the advised practice of ‘social distancing’ and to support us as a school in our efforts to comply with the provision and the reasons for it as outlined above. Included in this edition of More News is a letter for those Parents/Carers considered to be Key Workers, outlining for you the process for communicating with school regarding your need for support during school hours. As explained in documentation supplied by central government, this support is not obligatory and is entirely at your discretion as to whether you avail of it or not.

Information is included in this edition of More News outlining how those Parents/Carers might alert us to their need of support during the school day. I have also asked for a message to be placed on our website and social media pages detailing opening times etc. With that in mind, I would urge all relevant Parents/Carers to communicate their position as a Key Worker and their need to either Mrs Weighell or Mrs Roberts by 4pm on Monday. This will allow us to make final arrangements re provision in school and alert us to the actual number of children to expect.

Our Year 11 and 13 students were due to receive their reports shortly. We will post these reports out to Parents/Carers as we feel it is important that you do receive these as a fitting summary of your child’s progress to date, albeit that it has been cut short by circumstances beyond our control. Additionally, and on a more sentimental level, our Year 11 and 13 students may wish to have them as a keep sake for the years to come.

You will be aware from communication received earlier this week that we were already preparing for the eventuality of a full closure. These plans remain in place. Staff have been issued with a comprehensive timetable which will focus their efforts in setting work for students to complete whilst at home.

This information will include all necessary resources and instructions. The tasks will be dated and checked by both Senior and Middle leaders for both quality and quantity on completion. It is essential that all students complete the tasks set so that valuable time is not lost with respect to students’ learning during this fractured period. We have also put in place a system of email communication between students in Years 11 and 13 should they wish to communicate with their teachers regarding any queries or concerns regarding the tasks set, work completed or how to improve their work. Staff have been informed that there is a clear expectation that they monitor this communication and respond within an appropriate time.

Prior to leaving, I met with those Year 11 and 13 students in school. I appreciate that this is indeed a testing and trying time for them and that there is a great deal of uncertainty concerning the cancellation of their GCSE and a Level exams and the impact this may have on their final grades. We have been assured that this will be addressed formally, appropriately, in a manner that is fair to all and will in no way disadvantage students. It has been suggested that further information regarding the mechanics of this will be issued within the coming week. I have however explained to Year 11 and 13 students that it is important that they continue to complete the work set and engage with their teachers via email or Show My Homework as it is important that we have adequate samples of their work should they be requested as part of the evidence based called upon to support our estimations and predictions regarding their exam success.

We have also ensured that our Sharp System is in full working order should either yourselves as Parents/Carers or your child(ren) wish to refer any safeguarding concerns or pastoral issues to us. We will view this system daily and will respond as appropriate and within a sensible time period.

Clearly we don’t know for certain when we will be back to full working order and are aware that our Year 10 Parents’ Evening was scheduled to occur on our return from our Easter holidays. We will identify an alternative date for this Parents’ Evening and will make you aware as soon as this is agreed.

Again, thank you for your support and as we approach the celebration of Easter, I wish you and your families every blessing of the season.

God bless you all.

Headteacher | + posts

Mrs S Bowen is the Headteacher of St Thomas More Catholic School.