June 19, 2020

Weekly News – Friday 19th June

Message from the Headmistress

Dear Parents,

How lovely it is to see more children in school, albeit in small groups. The Year 10 sessions have started really well and it is clear that the pupils are enjoying seeing each other again and being face to face with their teachers for some top-quality teaching and learning in their masterclass sessions.

I am so sorry it won’t be possible for the children in Years 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8 and 9 to have a similar reintegrative experience this term but we are planning great things for the beginning of term to ensure all children are comfortable and settled before the curriculum formally begins.

We have started our online transition sessions with new class teachers and tutor mentors for our children moving up to the next academic year in September and we are including in these pupils who will be new to the school, if it is possible for them to join in.

We are getting a lot of enquiries at the moment, so the roll may look different again in 10 weeks’ time. Our next virtual Open Day is next Thursday 25th June at 3pm and there is still time for your friends who might be interested in Hollygirt to ‘book in to come along’.

The rest of today’s update will focus on the questions I was posed in tonight’s open Parents’ Forum meeting as I am sure some are things that many will be thinking. Firstly, thank you to our attendees for giving their time to us and sharing their thoughts. We had representatives of parents throughout the school.

When children return to school in September, will they be required to wear uniform? Yes they will. If stocks are out at the uniform supplier or items unavailable in the second hand uniform shop (which we will make arrangements for shortly), we may be a little more flexible.

Might days/hours be flexible for some cohorts of children? We are anticipating being fully open for September but will be planning in-line with government changing advice throughout the Summer holidays. We can guarantee that at a minimum, if we have restrictions still in place, children will be in for full days. We are aware that flexibility of hours works neither for many parents nor for children who travel by school buses.

Whilst the online provision has been great, what will school be doing to ensure the children catch up with their learning? The first thing we will be doing is to seek to reintegrate the children back into the school environment and build up the social skills. For example, in collaboration and normal social interactions. We are planning 3 days off formal curriculum in the first week in September dedicated to 3 separate projects to gently coax the children in to learning and appropriate social relationships. For some, we are aware this may be their first time in a ‘larger’ social group for many months. From the second week in September, individual subject or class teachers will work with the children to recap and to restart the formal curriculum for the new year. The knowledge part of past learning is less important than the skills learnt which are progressive and a foundation to future learning. Teachers will teach, as always with clearly differentiated strategies to ensure that each child is able to make rapid progress within our small classes. The time missed cannot be caught up, (for any child in any school) but the skills can be. We want the children to respond positively to the future rather than panic about the past.

What about the gap in Year 10 learning? This is of great concern to us as well as to pupils and parents. We are awaiting news from Ofqual about whether there will be any allowances made for the gap in face to face schooling in next year’s Summer exams. The current masterclasses for Year 10 students are going some way to reintroducing the face to face contact and setting up work for the children to get back to teacher led expectations. This has been on-going (with different degrees of engagement) throughout the lockdown period but the constant reinforcement and checks on learning have not been as clear as with direct interaction and the practical elements, the teacher prompting and cajoling has clearly been more difficult. Teams sessions have helped here. At the beginning of Year 11 the teachers will do some sort of gap analysis and will work from there in progressing the curriculum and striving to fill the gaps. There is always more intervention, subject clinics and additional support available in Year 11 anyway. It is fair to say that there will be an expectation of pupils working at full steam from the first full week of term. There will certainly be no slack time.

Can school help with encouraging social engagement and collaborative learning in preparation for the beginning of term? The groups are already meeting as year groups/form groups for time with their mentors/teachers, though this has a school agenda. We are currently planning for whether school can help with group interaction, especially for those children who have been socially very isolated. However with existing bubbles in school and the guidelines currently in place as well as the closeness to the end of term, it is unlikely that there will be any face to face possibilities in school term time. I recommend that parents or the children make contacts with friends and arrange family meet ups with another family in a park or outside space, which is currently within the guidelines. Regarding collaborative learning, we had a lovely suggestion made to see whether some of the project work could be set up for the end of term, or over the holidays which could include some pair or small group tasks, which even if done online would encourage working together and possibly feeding back together. Mrs Wright and Mr Dean will speak to the teachers to move forwards with this great idea. Thank you, Mrs Conway!

Reminder of new children who started at Easter: For a couple of young people, they have been at school nearly a term but still haven’t met anyone. School is reminded of these and to remember their newness when we restart in September.

Remember if you were not able to attend this Q+A but have different questions for me, I am happy to arrange an online meeting with you at a mutually convenient time.

Concurrently with the Q+A, the first Year 6-7 transition session was happening with our own Year 6’s and our new starters and I have had reports that it was a fantastically positive meeting and all the children (and the staff) were beaming and excited at the prospect of being back together in September. There will be two more of these to come as well as a meeting with the parents. We are still speaking with new families for September start into Year 7 so we hope that over the next few weeks for additions to the group. I also have had a sneaky picture of Mrs Thornton looking very comfortable at my desk!

Finally the fantastic new of the week:

Mrs O’Looney has given birth to a lovely baby girl, 6 lbs 12oz, called Evelyn. Mother and daughter are home and well. Many congratulations.

Next week’s timetables for Senior School form times, tutor mentor sessions, subject clinic times, Year 10 on-site sessions, and lessons on Microsoft Teams can be seen below:

I wish you all a very pleasant weekend.

Mrs Hutley

Message from the Head of Juniors

Click here to view this week’s Stars of the Week

Dear Parents,

Firstly, welcome back to our Nursery children who have come back to school this week. They have had a lovely time with Mrs Scott, Mrs Nicholson and the Reception children.

I continue to be impressed by the standard of work that the children are producing. We are currently planning some more themed days, for both children in school and at home, towards the end of term and more details of these will follow.

Next week we will host our second virtual Open Day of the term. If you know of anyone who would be interested, please ask them to look on our website for more details and registration.

Teams sessions for next week are as follows:

I hope the children enjoyed spending some time with their new teachers this week. Please do let us know if you wish to arrange an individual meeting or phone call with your child’s new form teachers. Transition meetings for next week will be as this week and again, we encourage all children to attend.

Have a lovely weekend,

Mrs Wright
Head of Juniors