Principal's update: Friday 5 June 2020
Published on 05/06/20
Update about our future plans
I hope you and your family are safe and well, and had a restful half term. Over the last weeks the situation regarding COVID-19 has changed very quickly, for example during one week the Department for Education issued 15 guidance documents for schools. As part of this guidance, you will be aware that Government have asked schools to invite more pupils into schools. In Primary Schools, the expectation was to start from 1st June and in Secondary the expectation is currently 15th June 2020. However, there are also local considerations and some Local Authorities have taken a view that all schools will remain closed pending the advice of Public Health England. Despite this, our planning continues and is centred on safety, there is more about this later.
For now, there are three areas I wish to update you on:
- Improving remote learning for all of our students.
- Providing additional support for our disadvantaged students.
- Providing some face to face contact between teachers and Year 10 students before the end of term.
1. Improving remote learning for all students
Initially, our priority was student wellbeing, due to the unprecedented situation of lockdown and the pressures it created for our young people we provided work which could be completed without teacher supervision. It is now clear that remote learning is going to be part of school life for some time, so we want to improve our provision in order to increase our students’ engagement in learning.
Many parents/carers have thanked us for the quality of the work being set and also the continued support from staff. One or two parents/carers have asked us why we have not provided more ‘live’ teaching more quickly. The three main reasons are: sourcing the appropriate equipment (cameras and microphones), training staff to use Teams for teaching and most importantly, ensuring that we have robust and up to date advice about online-teaching and GDPR/safeguarding for students and staff.
Some subject areas are currently having success with recorded lessons/tutorials and we plan to expand this provision across more subjects and year groups but also provide some ‘live’ online teaching from 15th June. We will aim to use our existing timetable through Teams to invite students to join our live sessions but we may also use other time ‘slots’ during the school day depending on availability of staff.
We will also be making increased efforts to find out why some students are finding it difficult to engage with their learning and how we can provide tailored support to help them change this.
2. Providing additional support for our disadvantaged students
We are looking at how we can improve the support given to our disadvantaged students. This includes help with technology, encouraging eligible students to come into school to access the online provision, and regular one-to-one support. There continues to be a question of access for some students who do not have IT equipment or internet and we are still awaiting the delivery of IT equipment from the Government to support our disadvantaged students.
3. Providing some face to face contact between staff and Year 10 and 12 students before the end of term
During the half term holiday, the DFE published secondary guidance that allows us to invite up to 25% of Year 10 and Year 12 students into school for face-to-face teaching in small groups. This would not be ‘business as usual’ in school and will involve students in Y10 coming into school for one day per week, with limited social time in small groups. Y12 will be contacted by our Post-16 staff and have personalised provision according to their Special Need. For Y10, the school day would include longer lessons but fewer of them and be taught by subject specialists. We are also currently working on strict social distancing procedures and risk assessments to ensure the safety of all of our students and staff.
Bus travel may an issue for our students so we are working with Derbyshire County Council to reinstate the school buses from 15th June. It may be that our parent funded buses are unable to run due to financial viability but we are talking to the bus companies and parents about this possibility. Could I ask that you consider how you might bring your child into school if they were unable to use school buses?
The earliest we will invite Y10 into school is the week beginning Monday 15th June. However, this is not definite and is dependent on guidance at both local and national level remaining the same and us having sufficient staffing levels. As ever, student and staff safety is our priority. Y10 students and parents will receive more detailed information about the return to school next week, including when they are expected in school if everything is in place and guidance continues to be the same. Y12 will also know what is available and when to attend.
We know that not all of our Y10 students are able to come into school, so we will also provide online support, as outlined above
All of these preparations will mean we are ready to bring other year groups into school in the Autumn term if it is safe to do so. Rest assured that we will be ready to welcome our other year groups back into school in a staged and safe way. Meanwhile, our improved online teaching should help to keep them engaged and learning.
Thank you so much for your continued support.
With very best wishes,
Mrs Gaynor Jones
Principal, Hope Valley College