Headteacher Update

February 2021

It’s been another busy week and we are certainly on track to welcome everyone back during the week beginning 8th March.

Thank you to those parents who have completed the consent form for Covid testing for students when they return, please do complete this form as soon as you can so that we can finalise start times for students. The form can be found ­here. Thank you also to those of you that have volunteered to help with the testing process, we will be back in touch later today with details if you are needed. Further details regarding testing arrangements will be sent out next week.

The staggered return of students during the week beginning 8th March is designed to ensure that we can get students back into school as safely as possible and it also provides us with the capacity to target our support for students as they return as we recognise that some will struggle with the transition back into school. Remote learning will continue until the day your child’s year group is due back into school and on the day of return work will continue to be set for those students who are arriving for their first Covid test later in the day. Our approach is fully aligned to the government guidance as well affording us the opportunity to start our work with students in helping them to overcome some of the challenges they may have faced over the last couple of months.

Next week you will receive full details of how we will be welcoming students back into school and of our plans for the 3 weeks before Easter and beyond. We are very clear that the scaremongering in the press about catch up is not helpful and we will be very much focusing on supporting our students back into a school to rebuild the resilience they need to recover progress in both an academic and social sense. This letter will also include the day and the start time for your child. Please do get in touch with your child’s form tutor or Head of Year if you have any specific concerns you would like to raise about your child’s return to school.

The outcome of the consultation on Assessed Grades for Year 11 has been published this week. We are working our way through the detail and awaiting further information from exam boards later this term so will share our response with as soon as it is practicable to do so. In the meantime, Year 11 students should continue to do their best in their remote learning and we look forward to seeing them a week on Monday.

During this lockdown we have loaned nearly 300 Chromebooks so that students can access learning from home. These devices can remain at home after 8th March so that students can access the blended learning opportunities that will be available. Our intention had been to launch this learning programme in September, but the loan of devices means that we are able to bring this forward and build upon the opportunities that Google Classroom and other platforms give us. You only need to return your child’s loan device at the moment if you have purchased an alternative or if it is no longer needed as other family laptops are available.

Next week we are hosting an Active Week for all of our pupils both in school and at home. This was originally planned on the assumption that not all year groups would be returning so soon as we were aware of the amount of time they were spending looking at screens, either through the delivery of lessons or completing them – now it seems like a good way to end the remote learning experience for everyone!  The UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines states that children and young people (5-18) should engage in moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity for an average of at least 60 minutes per day across the week. With this in mind we have challenged all of our staff to include at least a 5 minute screen break activity for every lesson next week, boosting each pupil’s activity levels by 30mins each day!

On Friday 5th March, Key Stage 4 will continue with the compulsory 5 minute screen breaks, whereas Key Stage 3 will take part in the ‘Grade 9 Challenge Day’. This will be a day of limited screen time challenges set against iconic landmarks in the North Shields area. Pupils will work through a series of different challenges, set out by various subjects in order to work their way through a series of ‘locked’ classrooms, whilst following a virtual route around our town. More information will be released via assemblies and videos throughout the week in your child’s Year Group Google Classroom. We are excited to offer this Active Week in what is hopefully our last full week of lockdown learning. If you have any queries or questions about this, please contact Mr Pilkington adam.pilkington@johnspence.org.uk

Finally, please note that we were due to have a training day on the last day of this term, but we have now postponed that until 18th June as we feel it is important that students have a full week with us prior to the Easter holidays. On 18th June teachers will be in school, but unlike a normal training day, activities will be set for students to complete at home. These activities will very much focus on community and resilience.

I apologise in advance if you feel bombarded by information over the next week, but we do have a lot to communicate to ensure we have a smooth start. If anything is unclear or you are unsure about any aspect of reopening then please do get in touch with the school office who will put you in touch with someone who can help.

I hope that you all have an enjoyable weekend, it’s looking like Spring is emerging with the sunshine!

Best wishes and stay safe

Jonathan