Headteacher Update

January 2021

We are now midway through the half term and we have spent some time this week reviewing what we are doing as well as planning for our next steps in what continue to be uncertain times. There have been a number of interviews this week with Government Ministers some of which provide clarity to help us with planning and others less so, but in summary:

  • Parents and schools will be given two weeks’ notice prior to children returning to school.
  • There may well be a phased and regional approach to children returning to school as and when the government feel it is safe to do so.
  • Local organisations are urging the government to consider school reopening on a local rather than regional basis as there is so much variation in infection rates.

There is a growing sense that Ministers are warning us that it is unlikely that schools will fully reopen after half term due to the immense pressures on the NHS, but this is speculation and we will know more in two weeks’ time. We just hope to welcome everyone back as soon as we can.

The Government has also reviewed daily testing in schools where individuals have been identified as being a close contact with someone who has tested positive. These daily tests will no longer take place and the original system of a 10 day isolation period has been reinstated. We will continue to test students attending onsite provision on a weekly basis in order to reduce risk; if a positive test is confirmed then all close contacts will need to self-isolate for 10 days.

Year 11

There has been an assembly for Year 11 students this morning aiming to put minds at rest around Teacher Assessed Grades and applications to post 16 providers. I know that some students have been concerned as they are not able to receive offers without their predicted grades, but this has now been rectified. All North Tyneside providers were already happy to offer places based on other application details, but the main issue appeared to be with Newcastle College who have now altered their policy following contact from us. Mrs Winder will email Year 11 directly with details of what students need to do if they are applying to Newcastle College. Most importantly, student should not worry and get in touch with us if any issues arise.

We will be responding to the OFQUAL consultation regarding Teacher Assessed Grades early next week. Some of the consultation is sensible and should mean that teachers will be able to use a range of evidence to reach their judgement of an Assessed Grade for each student in their class. There has been some concern expressed by students about the proposed exam board set tests; we will be arguing that these will be useful as they will provide us with more evidence of what a student is capable of, but that they should not in any way attempt to replicate an exam or have greater weighting than other assessments that students have completed. All assessments are designed to inform teachers of student progress and we don’t believe that any exam board tests should be viewed as anything different. The key messages remain the same – work hard, ask for support when you need it and recognise that no single assessment will define your future.

Year 9

The options process for Year 9 has now started. Again, the message is not to worry and get in touch with the school if you have any questions. We will continue to update parents and students with the process and, if you haven’t done so already, please have a look at the information video from Mrs Clay that can be found on our website. We will take you through the process step by step and this will include a telephone or GoogleMeet consultation in the next few weeks.

Remote Learning

We continue to be pleased with the level of engagement in remote learning by students. We have been in contact with parents where we are concerned about the number of lessons being accessed and it does appear that in some cases students are not submitting work because it is not finished. If your child has not completed a piece of work by the end of the lesson, they should submit what they have done so that staff can record that they have engaged in the lesson. We are mindful of the challenges of remote education for some students and want to be able to support as well as we possibly can so do get in touch if you would like any advice.

Finally, as I mentioned at the start of the update we are reviewing our approach during lockdown as well as what happened last term and would value your opinions. Please complete a quick survey found here and this will help us with our review.

Very best wishes and stay safe

Jonathan