Released On 11th Sep 2020

Parent Update 11 September

11 September 2020

Dear Parent

Parent Update

Well what a superb week it has been. It has been so fantastic to have our students back on site again but what I have absolutely loved is seeing how exhilarated the staff are because they are back with your children and working face to face again. It really has been special.  Yes, not everything has gone completely smoothly but thanks to your feedback and questions as well as those of the staff, we have been able to make a few ‘tweaks’ and continue to review everything we are doing to ensure we meet everyone’s needs and most importantly, we are doing all we can to keep everyone safe. Much of this week’s update is in direct response to queries or concerns you have raised – even if only raised by one person it probably means others have thought the same – all views are important to us.

Bubbles

We have been incredibly impressed this week with the student response to ‘bubbles’. It is very clear that you have all supported us in sharing the updates that have come to you to ensure your children have understood the new school structure from the very start – thank you. Naturally we have made some adjustments as we watch our systems in practice but again students have responded well and given us an enormous amount of confidence moving forward with the new timetable and structure. Students are starting to consistently adhere to the routines of sanitizing as they enter buildings and rooms and cleaning their desks at the start of every lesson in order to be responsible for their safety. We have had to provide some gentle reminders, but these routines are now becoming common place across the school.

Community Art Project

One of our priorities this week has been to take time to settle our community back into school and ensure everyone is feeling confident about returning. The whole school community has taken part in a project which has explicitly enabled us to reflect on the last six months together, find time to talk to one another and ensure we have re-established the fantastic sense of community we have at Stanchester Academy. One of the things I love most about the project is that it was inspired by our students. Throughout the week staff and students have completed portraits in the style of artist Julian Opie with the aim of creating a whole school mural celebrating and sharing our unique experiences as a community. I cannot wait to share the final piece with you and for the whole community to appreciate the work they have created together.

Absence

Whilst I do not intend to share information about individual attendance, I thought it might be useful for you to gauge a sense of attendance across the Academy over the coming weeks.  Our attendance for students for the first week of term has been over 98%. We have no staff or students absent with Covid symptoms.

Wisepay

We are aware that there have been a number of families who have not been able to log in to Wisepay. There is currently a technical issue at Wisepay which we are working with them on. Please can you ensure that if you continue to have difficulties with Wisepay you please contact the school finance office at finance@stanchester.co.uk to ensure they are aware of which families are affected.

Parking

Please can we ask that wherever possible parents of Year 7 drop off in the Sports Centre Car Park, Year 8 and 9 through the school car park one-way system and Year 10 and 11 on the roadside in front of school. Please be mindful of students walking through car parks and adhere to the speed limits and entrance / exit signs.

Transport

Guidance from County Transport is unchanged regarding the wearing of face coverings.  However, national guidance related to social gatherings has changed. In light of this and feedback about bus stops we are making the wearing of masks at bus stops compulsory.  Students are to wear their face coverings at the bus stop and onto the bus as from Monday.  As students are clustering together to get off the buses, they must also wear the face covering to get off the bus and only remove once they are inside the school grounds and supervised. I will be asking our local PCSO’s to check students at bus stops when possible and also asking for feedback from any parents or senior students who are present to ensure this request is adhered to. This is the safest way to protect not only our students but also their families. You may be interested to know that I attended an online local authority meeting this morning and have asked for guidance to be updated to ensure there is no confusion and to remove the contradictions between public and school transport. The local authority are also pushing for this at a national level.

In previous updates I have said that we would aim to have a bus seating plan in place.  Although we have tried to ensure students enter the buses in the correct order, we are aware that as yet they are not always sitting in year group rows. During the next week we will ensure we have established the seating plans and been able to communicate these to students. Again, this is not in the school transport guidance but we believe it will help keep our students safe. Our additional challenge is that at present under our guidelines and risk assessment, staff cannot get on the bus with the students and walk up and down the aisles.  We are relying on feedback to improve the safety on the buses. I have met with our senior students today with regards to them supporting us with this.

It is important that you are aware that at present school staff cannot enter the buses as they have done previously to check seat belts. It has always been the case that once the member of staff leaves the bus we cannot guarantee that students have kept their seat belts on – they need to take responsibility for their own safety but we will continue to remind students of the importance of safety on the buses, as we are sure parents also do.

Late Arrivals

The school gates will be closed at 8.20am – our official start time. Staff cannot remain on the gates after this time as they start teaching at 8.30am. If you arrive late at school with your child please take them to the main entrance where they will be collected by a member of staff from their ‘bubble’ and escorted to their tutor base.

End of Day Timings

During the week students have worked with us to establish the quickest and safest exit routine. To enable us to safely get all 740 students off site and the majority to buses, Year 10 and 11 are exiting the site, from the far end, at 2.40pm. Years 8 and 9 leave lessons at 2.40pm to line up on the playground and exit at 2.45pm. Year 7 exit the site at 2.50pm after lining up on their playground. We have to have the buses off the site by 3pm as they move to a different school once all our students have been dropped off.

Uniform

I am incredibly pleased that uniform on the whole looks very smart and is being closely adhered to. We do have some concerns about the length of some girl’s skirts and request that you ensure skirts are knee length or as close as possible. I would also like to remind you that the policy clearly states the only piercings allowed are one piercing in each ear.  

PE Provision

At present PE lessons are not taking place. We want to ensure we can operate these within ALL sports guidelines before we start re-introducing them. We also want to ensure introducing for example, the wearing of PE kit all day to adhere to rules around changing, does not mean that our young people’s hygiene is compromised by remaining in ‘kit’ all day following a PE lesson.  

Key stage 3 classes have PSHE and in some cases personal development as part of their curriculum. In these lessons students are learning about the importance of health-related fitness and wellbeing and we are monitoring the level of exercise children are involved in.  You will recall that we have a phased approach to this year, and we are only in phase 1. PE lessons have not been removed from the curriculum and students will partake in practical PE as soon as possible under guidelines which include us looking at staffing levels – as a smaller school we do not have the additional staff required to meet many of the sports guidelines but we are working on a different curriculum to ensure students access physical activity in school as well as encouraging them to utilise our earlier than most finish time to partake in physical activity in the afternoons / evenings out of school.

Fixtures are not taking place at all across any schools currently.

Bring Your Own Device

We have received a number of enquiries regarding devices in school and the level of need for them. One of the reasons for introducing the policy is to ensure, should we have a high level of staff absence, that students are able to access work through our online platforms.  We also initially were uncertain in July of whether we would be able to timetable IT rooms safely within bubbles. The work we have done on the timetable ensures that Year 10 and 11 classes are timetabled in IT rooms when they need to be so that the need for devices in these year groups is only when we have long term (more than 2 days) absence and for completion of home learning. Years 7, 8 and 9 will need to bring devices when they have IT, online or BDS timetabled and again should we have a longer absence. If a staff member is going to be absent and a class need to bring a device for their class work, we will let them know and text parents. Students will be utilizing these devices for their home learning which will be set online in the future. If staff are going to complete a lesson where a device is needed, they will inform students beforehand.

Finally, I would like to express my thanks for your ongoing support and the regular communications you keep with us – I cannot tell you how important it is that we understand how things are from your perspective and that you raise concerns or questions with us as they arise.  

Yours sincerely

Mrs A Joynes

Headteacher