Dear Parents and Carers
As we approach the end of a unique and challenging academic year, it is worth reflecting on the achievements of our students and staff who have coped so admirably in exceptional circumstances.
Students across all year groups have had to adapt to a new way of learning. Outdoor music lessons have become the norm and art classes in languages rooms have certainly developed inspired levels of creativity! For extended periods, students have taken part in remote lessons, learning in their homes and have found new ways of communicating with each other. Staff have also adapted to online teaching and have delivered face-to-face and virtual lessons concurrently during periods of student isolation.
Lessons have been taught in 'bubble zones', and teachers have become adept at moving swiftly around the school, often transporting a range of subject resources to each of their lessons. As external examinations were cancelled this summer, students in Years 11, 12 and 13 have completed a series of internal assessments and will be awarded teacher-assessed grades (TAGs) in each of their subjects.
The school community has adapted well during this exceptional period and has remained vigilant in dealing with this dreadful virus. Although transmission rates have remained low throughout the term, there has undoubtedly been an acceleration of positive cases over the past few weeks. We are very aware that the Delta variant is now the most prevalent variant in the county.
Despite the challenges created by the pandemic, the school has continued to make progress throughout the year.
Revised School Day
The new school day is now established and both staff and students are familiar with the revised timings and structures. Our after-school extra-curricular programme is comprehensive and well-attended by students of all abilities.
Remote Learning, Website and Learning Platform
We are currently developing our website, working in partnership with an external organisation to further enhance the appearance and navigability of our site. This development will be followed by an upgrade to our learning platform to create clear curriculum pathways, which will facilitate future remote learning and homework.
Transition and Summer School
As you would expect, our usual busy programme of transition has been restricted this year. However, we have still been able to offer a diverse range of activities to help students prepare for their new secondary school, including our Year 6 taster day.
This year, we are also offering a summer school for our incoming Year 6 students. During the week, students will have an opportunity to form new friendships and will be able to have a great time taking part in exciting activities such as "Using a microbit", "Being a journalist" and "Embarking on a scientific journey of magic, mystery and wonder".
Recovery planning has already started and a range of interventions are planned across all year groups. Tutoring will remain an integral feature of catch-up planning and learning mentors will continue to work with individuals and small groups across a variety of subjects, including maths and English. The government has reinforced its support for mentoring, although plans for an extended school day have been deferred for now.
Parents' evenings have been organised very differently this year, with virtual rather than face-to-face meetings. The response to this remote delivery has been overwhelmingly positive from staff, students and parents/carers and we will be retaining this format for all year groups over the next academic year.
We have conducted a robust recruitment process during the summer term and made a series of high quality appointments. New staff who will be joining us at the start of the new academic year include:
- Ms Thompson (Curriculum Leader for ICT)
- Mr Patel (Teacher of ICT)
- Mr Lewis (Teacher of Mathematics)
- Ms Hernandez-Meza (Teacher of Spanish)
We wish all new colleagues every success in their new roles.
We are sad to say farewell to a number of our staff who leave their posts after many years of distinguished service at Lady Manners School.
- Mrs O'Toole (Assistant Curriculum Leader of Languages)
- Mr Sloane (Curriculum Leader of ICT)
- Mrs Sloane (Teacher of ICT)
- Mr Pacey (Careers Leader)
- Mrs Catt (Student and Family Support Worker)
- Mrs Allen (Senior Science Technician)
- Mr Gibbs (Duke of Edinburgh Manager)
We wish all our leavers well in their future endeavours and I would like to personally thank them for their excellent contributions to the benefit of all students at our school.
Congratulations also to a number of our existing colleagues who will be starting new roles from September:
- Mrs Shaw (Teacher of English)
- Mrs Lincoln (Assistant Curriculum Leader of Languages)
- Mrs Caldwell (Senior Science Technician)
As the country moves to Step 4 of the roadmap, we find ourselves moving away from the stringent restrictions we have experienced over the past 18 months. We can now look ahead to the new academic year with potentially greater freedoms and a hope of returning to some form of normality. Over the next few days, weeks and months, we will be implementing a number of changes to our school routines and practices. All decisions will, of course, depend on the latest government advice.
Tracing Close Contacts and Isolation
From 19 July, schools will no longer be required to identify the close contacts of positive cases. Contact tracing will be taken over by NHS "Test and Trace" who will work with the positive case to identify close contacts.
From 16 August, students will no longer be required to self-isolate if they are identified as being a close contact of a positive case. Instead, students will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and advised to take a confirmatory PCR test. Close contacts will not need to self- isolate while awaiting the results of the test. Please see further information regarding changes to contact tracing, including an explanatory letter and a 'Frequently Asked Questions' document from NHS Test and Trace.
From Step 4 (19 July), face coverings will no longer be advised for students, staff and visitors either in classrooms or communal areas. However, coverings may still be worn on a voluntary basis. The latest DfE advice states that students are expected to continue to wear face coverings when travelling on school transport.
From September, we will be dispensing with year group bubbles. This means that students across all age groups will be able to move around the school buildings freely and will be taught in specialist classrooms.
In line with government guidance, students will have two on-site lateral flow device tests, 3-5 days apart, as they return to school in the autumn term. Further details of our testing programme will be forwarded during the summer holiday. Following these tests, students will then continue to test twice weekly at home until the end of September, when this requirement will be reviewed by the government.
In order to run the tests efficiently and safely, we will be slightly extending our phased return of students in September. In practical terms, this will mean that one year group will return a day later than originally planned. This will be the new Year 9 cohort (current Year 8 students), who will now return for lessons on Wednesday 8 September. All other year groups will return to school as planned (Year 7 and Year 12 on Monday 6 September; Years 8, 10, 11 and 13 on Tuesday 7 September).
Although Step 4 will play a significant role in 'unlocking Covid', we will remain vigilant in ensuring the safety of our school community and many of our robust control measures will be maintained during the new academic year. We will ensure good hygiene for everyone, maintain appropriate cleaning regimes and keep occupied spaces well ventilated. We have recently updated our 'Outbreak Management Plan' and will continue to liaise closely with the Public Health Team at Derbyshire County Council to deal with any local outbreaks.
In the event of a future outbreak, we may have to consider re-introducing a number of our previous control measures for a temporary period. This could include returning to bubbles for a time-limited phase and/or temporarily re-introducing face coverings in communal areas and/or classrooms. Any decision to re-introduce measures would not be taken lightly and may be preceded by a number of interim actions.
We respectfully ask for your full co-operation if temporary adaptations have to be made. Any measures implemented would follow direct advice from local public health protection teams and would be for the shortest amount of time possible.
In time, I am sure the pandemic will become a more distant, although never forgotten, memory. In my view, all members of our school community have supported each other well in extremely testing circumstances and we are now well-placed to make the most of the opportunities that will be presented in the future.
On behalf of all at Lady Manners School, thank you for your patience, empathy and understanding during this very, very strange year.
Have a great summer!