April 17, 2020

Update on Coronavirus – 17/04/20 at 16:45

Dear Parents,

I hope you have all managed to do something a little different over the longer bank holiday weekend and that you made the best of the lovely sunshine. If you are blessed to live in a rural area or in walking distance of woodlands, open fields, parklands or riversides which you can access for your daily exercise you can’t but help being overjoyed by nature: the greenness and of the fields and the cherry blossom on the trees; the bird song which has never sounded so loud and so varied, the butterflies and huge bees, all going on in spite of our human crisis.

There is also joy to be had in the plethora of online resources to entertain us, the theatre shows are my favourite. I am also relishing the online live contact with friends and family for chat and quiz times.

I realise however that for many times are tough and the strain is starting to show. For our key workers, especially those on the front line, we are all grateful for your sacrifices. There are two places I am happy not to be working at the moment, one is in the cabinet, the other is in a hospital or care home.

We have now been instructed that the lockdown will continue for a further three weeks (at least). I am endlessly optimistic that schools will be able to resume at some point in June…

Can I thank all those friends and families of the school for their kind donations last term to our sponsor a slate appeal for the Junior School roof. We raised just over £2000. Well done everyone!


Summer Term

Term officially restarts on TUESDAY and our online learning platform will be displaying the full curriculum of lessons for our young people to re-engage with their learning.

Class teachers and teacher mentors will be calling parents at the beginning of the term to see how things are going at home and to see if there is anything we can do to help with pupils engagement and pastoral support. Please note that teachers are requested to withhold their personal numbers, so the calls will show as an unknown number.

We are also rolling out a trial of online real time learning via Microsoft Teams to some cohorts. We know there will be some technical teething problems as staff and pupils learn this new way of working, but if it is successful this is likely to grow as all our confidence grows. All lessons will still be on the Satchel:One platform.

Junior School will start next week with ‘live’ form times on the following timetable:

EYFS Wednesday 9am
Year 1 Wednesday 10am
Year 2 Tuesday 9am
Year 3 Thursday 9am
Year 4 Tuesday 10am
Year 5 Thursday 10am
Year 6 Thursday 10.30am


In Senior School, the draft schedule is as follows:

Staff Tue 21.4 Wed 22.4 Thu 23.4 Fri 24.4
Mr A Firth Y10 EC1 Biology, 2pm
Mrs N Howlett Y9B Geography, 1pm
Mrs P Hutley Y11 Drama, 11am
Miss H Nisan Y7 MFL, 2pm
Mr D Thompson Y8B Music, 2pm Y8A Music, 2pm



Key Workers

As the new term starts, school reopens for children of key workers (if parents are not able to work at home). We will be staffed every day with 2 teachers in Juniors and 2 in Seniors. We would be grateful if parents could let us know in advance via info@hollyirt.co.uk so that we can amend staffing as appropriate. The hours of opening are 8.30am to 4.30pm. I remind parents that attendance is for those children designated by the government as eligible. School will engage in social distancing good practice and the areas used will be thoroughly and frequently cleaned.


Fee Bills

Fee bills should all have been received my parents/fee payers, showing the discounted amount due by Tuesday 21st April. Many thanks to those who already paid. I will stress that the discounted rate

is as generous as we can afford to be and is greater than the cost saving we are likely to be making. We are fully appreciative of the insecurity of some families’ income in the short and longer term and urge you to open discussions with us if you can’t make the full payment on the due date.

I also remind parents, if they are wishing to withdraw their children from the school for the Autumn Term, that the full terms’ notice is also due in by Tuesday 21st April.

We are delighted to be welcoming new pupils to the school for the start of this term: Rishi to Year 4 and Ahmad to Year 9. This a strange time to be new and I hope that the class will welcome their new friends at the first opportunity, which may be the first online live tutor session. We hope they will be very happy at Hollygirt .


Year 11 Matters

  • Fees for Year 11 pupils

At this time of year we always have a number of parents questioning why they are expected to pay the fee when their children are only in school for a few weeks. This year, I expect more than usual are questioning the fee bill received last week. I will note to barest bones of rationale for this unique year in this update to all parents but offer the opportunity for parents if they wish to join me in a meeting on Zoom on Monday at 3.00pm to discuss face to face any issues they have. If you would like to be sent an invitation to join the meeting, please email me directly to request this and I will send the joining code.

  1. We have offered, in the 20% discount, more than we are saving with our furloughed workers and our other cost savings.
  2. We are aware this is more generous than some schools
  3. The teachers are all still teaching, to finish curriculum and to engage the students in Year 11. We are doing this for a number of reasons: to ensure they have no knowledge gaps when they start their next courses; to ensure they are well prepared if they wish to take examinations in the Autumn; and  to enable teachers to contribute to their on-going assessment of the children up to the end of May. We are keen that those children who have been working hard just before and continually throughout  closure are given credit for their efforts. For those who do not engage during closure we will still have a full evidence base on which to make predictions for the examination boards as all data, mock examinations, class tests and assessments and their prior work ethic will all provide evidence and count towards their grades
  4. Should we reopen for before the end of the Summer Term, for example if restrictions were lifted in June, we would welcome the Year 11 into school for lessons to continue their learning to help them finish courses when the content relates to their future study plans, or to prepare for exams in Autumn. The biggest thing for me is that children do not just go to sleep for 6 months as the waking up will be hard and painful. I am a firm believer in the need to keep brain cells operational. Without such, I fear pupils will be  potentially disadvantaged in their next courses of study.

In this term, the teachers, instead of invigilating external examinations, are being asked to scrutinise their full evidence base to make their grade predictions and to rank order, per grade, the pupils across teaching groups. This will take a huge time commitment from them (alongside their teaching and pastoral commitments on the online platform.)  And so this term’s bill reflects the ongoing teaching, and the creating the assessment profile for the predicted grades for the exam boards in June. This is why it is important that the fee is received for the Summer Term. To off-roll a pupil at the end of the Spring Term would effectively mean that there would be no grade outcomes possible.

  • Ofqual Consultation

Ofqual have a short window for parents, teachers and all associated with the Summer examinations to contribute to a consultation paper. This can be found at www.gov.co.uk and is entitled ‘Exceptional Arrangements for exam grading and assessment in 2020.’ The deadline for responses via their on line form is 29th April.

  • Prom / Leaving Event

Whilst we are still wanting to host a prom and to have our informal end of year celebrations with the Year 11 cohort, we are not in a position yet to suggest when these might happen. We will let you know as soon as restrictions are lifted how we propose to do this.

Have a lovely weekend.

Mrs Pam Hutley