Despite the challenges this week, I am pleased to say that everything we have put in place has run smoothly and students both at home and in school are continuing to receive an education, albeit a slightly different one. There are a few updates this week.
Free School Meal Vouchers
I am expecting information on this early next week so in the meantime we will continue to deliver food hampers to students eligible for free school meals. This has been a monumental task, but I am pleased to say that all 291 have been delivered this week and we are expecting our next delivery on Monday so will start to distribute these straight away. A huge thank you to Mr McKeen for coordinating delivery and to all the staff making the deliveries themselves. We will move to the voucher scheme as soon as it is available which will be the same as last year.
Our support staff have done a fantastic job in supervising those students in school. Numbers are quite high, which makes it a greater challenge to keep everyone safe and whilst we do want to support all our families we do need to follow the guidelines and only allow students to access the provision who fall into the categories identified in previous communications. Please note that following discussion with the LA catering team hot meals will be available in school from next Wednesday for those students accessing on site provision, although there will not be a break time service.
Mrs Clay has spent this week training a team of staff volunteers who will be carrying out the testing over the coming weeks. She has done a tremendous job as setting up an asymptomatic testing centre is no small task! We have started testing staff and students who are in school from today and I am pleased to say the system is working well with parents or staff receiving the test results just over 30 minutes after the test is taken. As I have mentioned previously this is another measure that we can use to reduce risk further as it allows us to identify anyone carrying the virus who is asymptomatic. The plan is that all staff and students in school will receive weekly tests up until half term. Please note that if your child has tested negative after a school test, but displays symptoms of the virus at any time, then you must get them tested at a local centre and not send them into school for testing.
Year 11 Exams
I wrote to Year 11 students earlier in the week following the government announcement that summer exams would be cancelled. OFQUAL are launching a consultation looking at what needs to happen to ensure teacher assessments are as accurate and fair as possible; this consultation will give us a first indication of what to expect. The senior leadership team will be meeting to discuss arrangements for Year 11 on Monday, including a decision on the mock exams scheduled next month. There is obviously a lot of uncertainty so I would urge Year 11 students to get in touch with their form tutor if they would like to talk anything through.
Form tutors have made a huge effort this week to start making contact with their forms to check in that everything is ok. The vast majority of responses have been positive and that students are settling into their remote learning and everything is ok at home. We do have staff available to offer additional online support or phone contact for students who are struggling, so please do get in touch with your child’s Head of Year if you have any concerns. The PE department will be introducing suggestions for physical activity for students at home during their PE lessons from next week which will be great for mental health and relaxation so please do encourage your child to get involved. We will be introducing some form of physical activity in the onsite provision from a week on Monday.
The feedback from parents regarding our remote learning package for students has been fantastic and it is clear that the systems we have in place this time round are much more effective in getting students to engage every day. I am delighted with the parent feedback many of whom rightly highlight the sheer amount of effort and hard work that teachers are putting into getting the lessons online and then engaging with the students either by live video or through the chat function. This is all the more remarkable when you consider how many staff had limited experience of Google Classroom prior to this lockdown. We are continually reviewing and improving provision, but as things stand student engagement is good and problems with access have massively reduced, in part due to the 180+ Chromebooks that have been loaned to students this week. We have complied this FAQ document, please have a read but do get in touch if there are any issues.
I am exceptionally proud of all the staff at JSCHS for the way that they have so quickly adapted this week, absolutely everyone is doing their bit to help and ensure that our students and their families are supported throughout lockdown.
Best wishes and stay safe