The following update from the Headteacher was emailed to parents and carers on Friday 26 February:
Dear Parents and Carers
As you will be aware, the Prime Minister announced his roadmap out of lockdown on Monday evening. This included plans to reopen schools in England from 08 March 2021. As is customary, we are now awaiting further details and points of clarification following the initial outline of the government's intent. There is usually a time lag in receiving this further guidance, which is often essential before final decisions can be made. However, I thought you may appreciate an update at this point ahead of sharing our more detailed reopening plans when all available information has been received.
We have been analysing the Prime Minister's announcement carefully and have held meetings throughout this week to discuss the return of our students. Since our enforced school closure in January, we have been actively planning for the eventual reopening of our school, and we are well-prepared for the safe return of all our students to face-to-face education.
The safety of our students and staff has always been our highest priority. We have already made plans for further adapting our site (many of which were announced before Christmas) and we are continuing to refine our operations to ensure a smooth return to school. Our site adaptations and high expectations will be reinforced before students return to school.
We have consistently followed all government recommendations throughout this pandemic and we will continue to do so. In line with the Prime Minister's announcement, will be making a number of changes to align ourselves with the very latest guidance.
1. Phased return to school and the initial testing of students
We have been asked to COVID test all staff and students before they return to face-to-face education. We are planning to complete our initial testing programme as quickly and efficiently as possible to enable students to return to their classrooms in a phased and timely manner. However, as I trust you appreciate, there are a significant number of logistical issues to overcome which require careful consideration and detailed planning. We will provide further details of our testing timetable and phased approach to face-to-face education over the coming days. As part of our phased approach to the reopening of our school, remote education will continue for some students for a short period during the week beginning 08 March. Further details to follow.
As you may know, we have been testing our vulnerable and key worker students since the start of term. We have developed a highly efficient system and have trained a significant number of excellent volunteers from our local community. We are confident we have a streamlined process that will operate effectively within a safe and controlled environment.
The DfE has advised schools that students should be tested three times at school before transferring to home testing. Your child cannot be tested without your consent (unless they are in Year 12 or Year 13 when they can self-consent). Although not compulsory, I encourage you to provide this consent. The more tests completed, the more reassured our school population will be. The consent form can be found in the General Folder on Wisepay.
2. Face masks
Our systems during this COVID era are now established and transmission rates within our school community have been extremely low. We have planned a number of further adaptations this term to ensure the continued safety and well-being of our students and staff team. Teaching 'bubbles' will be retained and our enhanced cleaning procedures will continue. Following the government's announcement, there will be an additional important change. In line with guidance, students will now be expected to wear a face mask in all indoor areas, including classrooms, when the school reopens. This situation will be reviewed at Easter. Please ensure your child has a comfortable and durable face mask to wear during their time at school. Students will not be expected to wear face masks during practical PE lessons.
3. Summer examinations
The promised update on this year's summer examinations was published yesterday. We are currently analysing the government's response to their consultation feedback and will be contacting our Year 11, 12 and 13 students soon to provide information on how GCSE, A level and vocational grades will be awarded this year.
We will be finalising all our reopening plans over the next few days and will provide further details during the next week, including a timetable of when students from different year groups will be allowed to return to school.
We hope you agree that our remote lessons have provided a positive experience for our students who have engaged well with new technologies and different ways of learning. We are all looking forward to welcoming students back and seeing them in their classrooms again.
Thank you again for your patience and support during this exceptional period.