Released On 18th Sep 2020
Parent Update 18 September
18 September 2020
Another busy week comes to an end with a variety of further changes to Government and local guidance as well as the challenges I am sure you have all been following around childhood illnesses and rises in Covid cases across various areas of the country. I am pleased to report that despite everything we see in the media, the new routines and systems at Stanchester are really starting to settle and embed. Students in years 7 to 9 have been completing assembly activities related to Fundamental British Values this week which years 10 and 11 will complete next week. They have spent time reflecting on our school values - not only how these link to the Fundamental British values of democracy, tolerance, law, individual liberty and respect but also how critical our values are at this time. Students have reflected on how our 6Cs – challenge, critical thinking, creativity, caring, collaboration and commitment which, for many years now have served as a foundation to all we do in ensuring we develop superb young people, have also enabled us to explain the importance of everything we are putting in place, together, to protect our community. I have been delighted to pass a message to all students about how proud they should all be of the way they have adapted to the new routines and how quickly they continue to adapt when we need to evaluate and change things. Thank you to you as our parents for supporting us in sharing aspects of our updates with your children to help them understand and appreciate all we are doing.
Community Art Project
Last weekend our staff completed their portraits for the Community art project. During the next week we hope to start collating these in to a mural celebrating the coming back together of our school community. Staff and students will work together on the installation which we hope to display and film to enable you all to view. We are also delighted that local portrait artist Heather Ford will be supporting this venture with us and sharing her years of expertise with our students.
Buses and exit from school
Thank you to all our parents who have supported the request for all students to travel wearing a face covering. As the week has progressed students have become more and more familiar with the routine and well over 90% of students are doing exactly as asked and wearing their face covering continuously on the bus and along the paths into school where they may be walking near students outside their bubble.
The exit from school has become much slicker over the course of the week. We have adjusted the year 8 and 9 exit time for those walking or being collected by parents. They will exit from the main gate at 2.40pm to enable us to safely exit the bus students, bus by bus and a year group at a time to ensure the buses have exited the site by 3pm. Again bus students have adhered to our request and are wearing their face covering to exit the school gates before they get on the bus. Students are then seating themselves in their year groups as requested. It important to have consistency across all buses in this regard despite children from the same family but in different year groups travelling on the same bus. Consistency becomes very difficult to manage if rules change for an individual or for one bus.
This week we have seen a slight fall in our student attendance figures. The fall is due to parents being more cautious about sending poorly children to school where they may have a cold, for example. This helps us to avoid the spreading of germs and illness which again could lead to increased staff absence making it difficult to sustain our timetable. If you are unsure about sending a child to school please contact the school attendance line to seek advice. This week we have seen no change in attendance related to Covid symptoms.
Illness reported in school
Staff have been issued with a flow chart to support them ascertaining whether a child needs to go home if they are unwell. With movement across the site limited, students are unable to take themselves to the student office if they feel unwell so we have put a system in place to ensure we can support children with this.
We have had one or two instances where it has been reported to us that a younger sibling not in Stanchester has been sent home from school, told to self-isolate and take a test as a precautionary measure. Please remember that if one member of the family is directed to self-isolate that this affects the entire family until a negative test result is confirmed. Other members of the family do not need to test unless they themselves develop symptoms – this has not been the case for any of our students or staff to date.
This week we have completed one full week of our new timetable. Whilst there were naturally one or two changes to be made to enable change overs to take place as smoothly as possible, on the whole the timetable has run incredibly smoothly though admittedly is exhausting for staff who now move across the site all day long for lessons. There are an enormous amount of steps being clocked up and I for one am currently sporting at least six blisters! I am fairly sure I am not alone.
During this week we have looked at the IT facilities and how we can improve the timetabling of these to also reduce the need for students to bring their own devices. Year 10 and 11 are already timetabled in IT suites for the subjects when it is necessary and as from next week all of year 9 will be in a suite for IT. In year 8 it is more complicated as two classes at a time have Business and digital skills (an amalgamation of IT and business skills) and there is only one suite within the year 8 set of classes. Those students who have Mrs Hyde will be timetabled in an IT suite and those with Mr Mitchell will need to use a device.
We currently have a class set of devices being built to support the lessons where they are required. The year 7 Head of Year has been looking at the storage of books in the year 7 classes. We are trying to reduce the need for our youngest students to carry everything with them every day. As they are mainly based in their tutor room we should be able to achieve this relatively easily. We plan to look at similar for years 8 and 9 though this is far more complex on their timetable.
A reminder please that jeans are not acceptable as school uniform. Students can wear black trousers, skirts or tailored shorts. Jeans are not included in this and will be challenged.
In line with all of our decisions throughout this challenging period, we made the decision to postpone the setting of home learning for a fortnight to enable our students to transition back into school life and to get the rest at home that they would very much need in order to adjust to a new pace of life. A fortnight in and we have now made the decision to strike a careful balance, to ensure that what we ask of our students is only what is absolutely necessary in this particular context. Therefore from Monday 21 September Year 10 and Year 11 teachers will set weekly home learning tasks which should take around 30 minutes to complete for each GCSE subject. These home learning tasks will be posted on Microsoft Teams and students should submit work electronically to avoid the physical exchange of materials wherever possible.
Years 7-9 will be set a weekly reading comprehension task to support their 'Drop and Read' texts. This exercise, whilst not an overly lengthy piece of work, is highly impactful at improving language and literacy, which in turn accelerates performance across all curriculum areas. Undoubtedly students who make the best progress with this learning are those who are able to read and talk about the tasks with an adult at home. This will be the only piece of home learning set for Years 7-9 at this stage. Tutors will set this home learning each Monday and students are expected to complete this piece of learning and bring it to school each Friday.
Parents evenings – Year 8 (w/b 28 September) and year 7 (w/b 5 October)
Year 8 are due to have their parents evening during the week beginning Monday 28 September. In order to follow all safety guidelines it is not possible to hold this in the usual way where parents can book to see all of a child’s teachers. With 180 students in the year group and almost every member of teaching staff involved, the management, however we tried to achieve this, is impossible. It would be unacceptable to ask all staff for example, to complete five nights a week until 8pm and repeat this for every year group throughout the school year.
To provide parents with an opportunity to discuss their child’s progress, we will be collating information from every class teacher which will then be shared with parents through a parent tutor meeting. Each tutor is available for bookings on two evenings during the week. Bookings will be open on Wednesday 24 September through Epraise. The tutor evenings run from 4pm and finish at 8pm with final appointments at 7.45pm. Each family are able to make one appointment for each child in the year group. Appointments will take place in the sports centre. The days are as follows:
8JBU: Monday 28 and Wednesday 30 September
8MCL: Tuesday 29 September and Thursday 1 October
8RWE: Tuesday 29 September and Thursday 1 October
8TH: Monday 28 and Wednesday 30 September
8SG: Monday 28 and Tuesday 29 September
8HH: Monday 28 and Wednesday 30 September
The following week is Parent / Tutor evening for year 7 where parents will be able to meet their child’s tutor and discuss how well they have settled, ask questions and raise any concerns. The evenings will follow the same format to enable us to space parents out and reduce any risk to staff and families through too many people being in one space. Bookings will be open on Monday 28 September through Epraise. The tutor evenings run from 4pm and finish at 8pm with final appointments at 7.45pm. Each family are able to make one appointment for each child in the year group. Appointments will take place in the sports centre. The days are as follows:
7JC: Monday 5 and Wednesday 7 October
7RWI: Tuesday 6 and Thursday 8 October
7KR: Tuesday 6 and Wednesday 7 October
7SB: Wednesday 7 and Thursday 8 October
7AMC: Monday 5 and Tuesday 6 October
7HS: Monday 5 and Thursday 8 October
Open Day / Evening
Parents of children in years 5 and 6 should have received information regarding Open Evenings across the local schools. Somerset schools have all agreed that Open Evenings will not take place. With sometimes 600 visitors coming through the door we would not be able to guarantee the safety of those visitors or our staff and students. All Yeovil secondary Headteachers have agreed though to produce a video which families will be able to view at their leisure and which we hope will assist in their decision making. As a year 6 parent myself I know that we would all have loved to be able to share the Open day / evening experience with our children but I know you will understand that for the sake of our communities safety, it is simply not possible.
Please click here for the joint letter that has been written to all year 5 and 6 families. I look forward to sharing our video with you early in October. The video will be available on our website and accessible to all.
Finally, may I thank you again for all the support you have given us in ensuring your children adhere to our requests and help us to keep them, you and us safe. We are living in a very fluid situation but the regular communications between yourselves and us and the superb attitude taken by our young people has enabled us to continue to thrive and to ensure we provide the very best we can despite the circumstances we find ourselves in. Please stay safe and have a lovely weekend.
Mrs A Joynes