Parent Update 2 October

Released On 2nd Oct 2020

Parent Update 2 October

2 October 2020

Dear Parent

Parent Update

It is hard to believe we are already more than half way through this first half term and well into Autumn! This week we held our first fire drill with our new procedures, ensuring everyone remains in their bubbles as they exit the school and assemble in their own space. The whole community were really impressive – every single person followed procedures and walked to vacate the buildings enabling the whole school to be assembled in their areas in one minute and forty seconds from the alarm sounding! Incredible!

The week naturally has not gone without hitch though – the wet weather set in and has caused us to re-establish the wet weather plan – I’m fairly sure we will get plenty of practice on this from now on in! Please ensure your children wear a coat to school as the weather gets colder and the rain sets in.

#HelloYellow

Last week I told you about our plans for #HelloYellow – world mental health day. All year groups will be working to an 8 session day with six forty five minute lessons and two breaks. We have built a PE/PSHE lesson into the day for every year group enabling us to practice new routines for PE and explain the safety aspects to students before we reintroduce PE back into the curriculum in our phase 2 timetable. It is a non-uniform day and students are asked to please wear appropriate comfortable clothing to participate in PE and include a yellow item for #HelloYellow. There is no donation for the non uniform – it is an awareness raising day rather than fund raising.

Year 11 Revision Evening

In the school calendar we have a Year 11 Revision Evening scheduled for Tuesday 3 November.  The evening usually consists of all Year 11 and their parents attending a speech in the hall followed by visits to different curriculum areas to gather information about revision techniques as well as information on subject specific resources to assist with revision. All the local colleges also attend the evening.

Under current guidelines it will not be possible to hold the evening in the usual way. To ensure students have this important revision information and information about sitting exams in plenty of time to utilise all they learn for their mock exams, we are bringing the date forward. All Year 11 students will participate in a revision event within the school day on Thursday 22 October. We will share the resources with parents that evening online. Students will take home a revision booklet which will include all the information they need for their own subjects and will also bring home an Approach to Learning report to enable you as parents to understand the level of commitment your children are showing in lessons and in their home learning.

Following the mock exams which start straight after half term, Year 11 will receive a full set of mock results which will be shared with parents and will be closely followed by a Parents Evening enabling you to discuss results with teachers. This is likely to be an online event.

Assessments

As explained in earlier updates, phase 1 of our return to school has been about settling children back into the routine of face to face learning and ensuring they understand the changes and can follow the expectations as laid out in our risk assessments. Student wellbeing has been a high priority during this period.

Year 10 and 11 students are exceptionally well settled now and well into the routine of home learning and even starting some after school sessions to assist in their preparation for exams.  As explained above, year 11 will be sitting a full set of mock exams straight after half term – enabling us to fully assess those students who have not made expected gains since the return to face to face learning. 

Naturally in early September we would expect a lot of our students to be a little behind where they would have been had we not been away from face to face learning – particularly with the challenges many of them faced with connections, sharing devices, family schedules, key working parents etc.  We recognise that should we have assessed students too early this term, we would be identifying students for ‘catch up’ who simply need time to embed back to classroom routines and will ‘catch up’ just with face to face teaching again. With a month behind us and learning routines now embedded we can start to carry out appropriate assessments with our students to ensure we can identify those students who have not picked their learning back up sufficiently to enable them to get back ‘on track’ quickly. The timing of these has been really important for us. We don’t want to over identify when many students will make gains quickly simply by being back in school and we also want to give our students time to settle and feel safe and happy before we start asking them to sit assessments. 

Years 8 and 10 will sit core subject assessments over the next three weeks to replace the end of year exams we would have expected them to take in July.  Year 11, as I have said, will sit their mock exams and Year 9 will sit assessments in Maths, English, Science, Humanities subjects and Languages after the Year 11 mock exams finish. This will support Year 9 in making their option choices – the process of which starts after Christmas. Students will receive further information in their lessons.

Our Year 7 students, as well as their reading tests will sit the Cognitive Abilities test which we use every year with Year 7, as do many schools, to identify cognitive ability – raw ability in Maths Problem Solving, Verbal and Non-verbal Reasoning. Year 7 will also complete some assessments in class for Maths and English to enable us to identify their abilities in the absence of Year 6 SAT scores.

The information from assessments in all year groups is simply to ensure we can address gaps in students learning, ensuring we are planning lessons appropriately and facilitating our students making the very best progress they can – whatever their abilities. In December progress report one will incorporate results from these assessments as part of our usual reporting structure. Year 8 and 10 will receive assessment results by half term.

Parking and turning

A gentle reminder please to use the entrance and exit gates as marked. Please do not park in front of them and please do not use either of the gateways as turning areas – this is particularly dangerous at the moment when we have asked Years 10 and 11 to walk along the front of school to the pedestrian gate by the exit to avoid crossing other bubbles. Please also adhere to the on-site speed limits. Thank you.

PE Kit

Assuming we have a successful trial PE lesson next Friday for all students, PE will be back on the curriculum after half term when we begin phase 2 of the timetable. Please could you ensure students have the correct kit by the end of the half term break. Due to limited indoor space with the gym being set up as an additional classroom, please remember the majority of PE will take place outside. PE kit is available from the uniform shop in Yeovil and we would encourage you to purchase at the very least the correct PE top (polo shirt or rugby top) and bottoms – shorts or skorts.  Students will need either the school tracksuit top or a plain black sweatshirt – hoodies are not allowed. They will need either the school tracksuit bottoms or plain black tracksuit bottoms / plain black sports leggings.

On the days students have PE on their timetable they will need to wear their kit to school. Failure to comply with the correct, smart PE kit could result in the same sanctions as incorrect school uniform.  Next week we will send home a picture guide to help you purchase PE kit. Students will receive notification of their PE days before we break for half term.

In the event of a Second Lockdown

One or two parents have asked during Year 8 Parents Evening if there is a plan in place for the event of a second lockdown. If we were placed in a second lockdown that included the closure of face to face teaching again we would be far better placed than when this happened in March.  Microsoft Teams is operating again with all students’ classes available and all students have a school email address. Staff are already sending work via email to students absent due to relatives self –isolating. It is difficult to predict what stipulations might be in place should we have a second lockdown but we do know that we have now rehearsed this and will be able to focus far more closely on the quality of delivery through online platforms as opposed to setting them up. We also have a telephone tree set up for teachers to stay in contact with students and have significantly increased the stock of lap tops thanks to the generosity of our Bridgwater and Taunton College Trust when it transpired that the government lap tops were very limited in number. I am sure you, like us, hope we will not need to implement another school closure plan due to lockdown.

Local Governing Board

Our Local Governing Board (LGB) have a vital role in our school community. They are responsible for holding us to account and ensuring we deliver on our promise to you. The LGB meet once every half term and in normal circumstances members visit the school regularly on an informal basis and at their convenience to view the learning climate and talk to key stakeholders. Our Governors are all volunteers and their service to the school is enormously valued. We would like to increase the size of our Governing Board and are looking for new Governors – volunteers who would like to support the local community by working with us to provide the very best for the young people of the area – not only now but helping us to continue to establish a sustainable high achieving, sought after school for years to come. If you are interested in supporting the school and would like to find out more about becoming a Governor please contact either myself or our CEO Peter Elliot. Please contact the school office who will put you in touch with either of us.

Exam Invigilators

As we draw closer to mock exams in November we are seeking to build upon our existing numbers of exam invigilators. An exam invigilator is a paid role which offers enormous flexibility. Exams can run from anything between 1 and 5 hours and are spread across several weeks of the year. It is a fantastic opportunity to work with the young people and to support the local community. Invigilators receive full training and have the flexibility to choose when they are available to work. If you are interested in supporting the school as an exams invigilator please contact the school office on 01935 823200 and you will be passed to our Deputy Headteacher Miss Ellie Forward to provide you with further details.

Absence

Overall absence has remained in line with last week but a fairly high number of student absence related to colds. We are grateful to parents who have kept their children home so as not to spread colds and illness across the school and risk us having staff absence. We currently have no teaching staff absent from school.

Finally thank you once again for your continued support, your feedback through our website contact us page and feedback directly to us. With our students following procedures well, staff attendance high and some of our ‘usual’ events such as (online) whole school assemblies, (online) primary visits and parents events now planned in, or up and running within guidelines, I am excited for the rest of the year and our continuation on our journey to excellence.

Yours sincerely

Mrs A Joynes

Headteacher