Message from the Headmistress
This may be quite a long one today and touches on some important business. I will highlight in bold so you can navigate between the relevant sections.
Opportunity for you to meet with the new HEADTEACHER. TONIGHT. Mrs Barsham will be online for:
Junior Parents to say hello at 6pm. Use the link below. Obviously you only come to one session if you have children in both sections of school. Mrs Barsham will do a short introduction and will offer you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have.
Meeting ID: 840 6514 5926
and for Senior Parents at 6.30 pm – use this link
Meeting ID: 810 4374 3343
DfE Media Blog. Message from Secretary of State for Education: to all pupils. Published Friday 26th March.
I wanted to let you all know how grateful I am for the way you have responded to the huge challenges you have all faced throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Whether this is your first year at school or your final year of college, I know the disruption you have all faced to your education since the pandemic began has been incredibly challenging and has meant completely changing the way you learn – either learning remotely at home or continuing at school or college with fewer of your friends around you and lots of safety measures in place.
Whether you were at home or at school, the disruption last term and throughout last year asked a lot of you and your families. I am filled with admiration for the incredible way you all responded and the resilience you have shown. Not being in school or college with your teachers and friends was a huge sacrifice. Everything you did, with the help of your families and your schools and colleges, and everything you missed out on – time in school, taking exams, seeing friends, playing sport and much more – made such a huge difference to helping us stop the spread of the virus. I want to say a huge thank you to all of you.
Getting all young people back into school and college safely has been my priority throughout the pandemic. I know how vital it is not just for your education but also to spend time with your friends and to feel happy and secure. All our lives have changed a lot in the past year but the challenges that young people have faced have been some of the hardest. I will continue doing everything in my power to make sure that all of you are supported to boost any areas of work you’ve had less time at school to study, get the qualifications you deserve and have the opportunities you need to succeed.
Continuing to follow all the safety measures your schools and colleges have worked hard to put in place, as well as taking a test twice a week, is so important and helps us to stop the virus spreading. The testing that thousands of you have been taking part in at school and college is a vital part of this. I am so grateful to you and all the staff who have supported you to do this. I know your schools and colleges have worked incredibly hard to prepare you to test yourself at home.
As most of you at secondary school and college move to testing yourself regularly at home, it’s vital that you continue to test and report online twice a week through the Easter holidays and after you return to school. Home testing twice a week for you and everyone you live with makes a huge difference and means you are playing a really important role in helping us move back to a more normal way of life. Your school or college will continue to support you and make sure you have tests. You and your family can also find out more about home testing here.
I was delighted to see the enthusiasm with which so many of you returned to school at the beginning of March and I am sure you have had a wonderful few weeks catching up with your friends and teachers. It was fantastic to meet pupils delighted to return to school on my visits to schools like Arden Academy and Bedford Free School and to see so many more of your reunions on social media. I hope that the new term will be just as enjoyable and successful for all of you.
Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP, Secretary of State for Education
Testing and contact tracing in Schools over the Easter holidays
Following the success of the asymptomatic testing programme on the return to school, it is vital to keep testing at home throughout the Easter holidays and into the summer term. Staff and students should:
· continue to test twice a week at home (all those who are able to)
· report positive, negative or void results using the report a COVID-19 rapid lateral flow test result portal
· test before returning to school or college for the summer term, either the night before, or morning of, the first day back to find and isolate any positive cases
Schools are asked to continue with contact tracing over the Easter holidays.
For the purposes of contact tracing staff, pupils and parents, need only inform the education setting of a positive case if the symptoms develop within 2 days of being in their education setting or they have tested positive with a lateral flow device (LFD) test (and will subsequently need to book a confirmatory PCR test). School is asked to assist in identifying close contacts and advising self-isolation, as the individual may have been infectious whilst in their education setting. If symptoms develop after 2 days, they do not need to inform the setting.
Where pupils, students or staff test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) during the holidays using an LFD test more than 2 days since being in an education setting, they will only need to inform their education setting if they will still be self-isolating when settings return. Staff, students, parents and carers should follow contact tracing instructions provided by NHS Test and Trace.
Parents should inform school on the Covid email address: email@example.com of positive cases developing up to 2 days after the end of term, or if a subsequent positive test means that self-isolation will run into the beginning of the Summer Term.
Lateral Flow Tests have been sent home on Tuesday 30th March with all Senior Pupils, to enable them to continue their twice weekly testing. If any pupil has been absent the very end of term, kits, for pupils, can be collected from reception up to 3pm on Thursday 1st April. Supplies can be obtained from local centres if you are not able to collect from school within this week.
I remind parents of new rules in England from 29th March:
Under the new slogan: Hands, Face, Space, Fresh Air, the following are now permitted:
Social contact – Outdoor gatherings (including in private gardens) of either 6 people (the Rule of 6) or 2 households will be allowed, making it easier for friends and families to meet outside.
Business and activities – Outdoor sports facilities such as tennis and basketball courts, and golf courses, can reopen, and people will be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports.
Travel – People will no longer be required to stay at home but many restrictions will remain in place. People should continue to minimise travel wherever possible, and should not be staying away from home overnight. Holidays abroad will not be allowed, given it will remain important to manage the risk of imported variants and protect the vaccination programme.
We are awaiting further changes when the government updates its roadmap out of lockdown on 12th April. At this point, the parent handbook will be updated and then will be circulated at the beginning of the new term. Until this time we are planning to re-open with the same regulations in places as are current.
It has come to our attention that some pupils in older senior year groups have been posting through a WhatsApp group images which are inappropriate and which have the potential to cause upset or offence. The school takes a hard line on such issues and is working with pupils to investigate the current allegations. The cohort has been spoken to about what is deemed inappropriate and what the consequences might be of posting, sharing or commenting in words or emojis any materials which, even if posted as a joke, can have serious repercussions. All such matters will be dealt with as part of our ‘serious breaches of discipline policy’ and will carry fixed term exclusions. They may involve contacting the police.
English Spoken Cup
I was delighted to judge the final of the English Spoken Cup earlier this week. The finalists were all rewarded with a chocolate treat.
Congratulations to Isabella Ashmore (Winner Y7) with her beautiful presentation of her self-written descriptive poem, and Oliver Limbrey (Highly Commended)
Congratulations also to Noah Hicks (Y8) for his outstanding re-writing of the Theseus and the Minotaur myth, presented with dramatic tension and clarity, and to Lottie Bricklebank (Highly Commended)
Following my previous suggestions, we are now planning that our final day for Year 11 in school will be TUESDAY 15th JUNE. The teachers will have completed their teaching at this point in readiness to submit to the examination boards at the end of the week.
We are yet to consider what will possible for their end of term celebrations, (which will be in line with government guidance later in the Summer Term.)
Exam Grading and Quality Assurance
As you are aware, the school has to undergo a thorough quality assurance process prior to the grades going in. The grades will reflect the standard at which the pupil has performed over the course of study. The judgement will be based on the evidence of the performance on the subject content they have been taught, whether in the classroom or in remote learning. This could include previously completed work, or that completed in the weeks in school between March and June. Judgements will be objective and based on evidence. The quality assurance will involve the school considering the grades in relation to previous cohorts’ results (historical centre data), the pupils own data, via Yellis assessments, and will take account of the impact of any access arrangements. The examination boards will sample some of this evidence as part of their own quality assurance measures. Centres are advised that teachers awarding grades should remain objective and they must not be influenced by undue pressure from pupils or parents in their decisions. The latter would be considered malpractice and the boards would be advised.
We have broken up for the end of term, and are all looking forward to a (hopefully sunny) rest, and some outdoors meets with our friends and family. We may even be able to do some non-essential shopping towards the end of the holiday and go to the gym!
The pupils are back in school on Wednesday 21st April – see you all then.
Message from the Head of Juniors
As the term draws to a close, a huge thank you to all parents for the support this term. We know it hasn’t been easy at times. We are having a lovely last few days in school and enjoying this glorious sunshine – I hope it lasts.
As we plan for next term, our usual events are in the calendar and will be confirmed nearer to the time. We will, of course, follow current guidance and rules but plan to run as many events as we are allowed to.
Junior ECA clubs will begin on Monday 26th April. To begin with, each bubble will be offered a club for one night a week.
Letters will be sent home during the first week back; please return these if you would like your child to participate in a club. The activities will vary from week to week and there will be more information on this detailed in the letter.
Please keep us updated if, during the holidays, any of the children develop Covid symptoms via firstname.lastname@example.org. Please let us know as soon as the symptoms begin and then the subsequent result of the test.
Have a lovely Easter break and I look forward to seeing you when we return for the Summer Term.
Head of Juniors