Headteacher Update

April 2021

It was absolutely fantastic to see the Sports Academy back up and running this week. It really felt like the beginning of a return to normal and that John Spence really felt like John Spence again, particularly in the sunshine. A huge thank you to Mr Pilkington, the PE team and coaches for making sure that everything ran smoothly and safely. Also, well done to the huge numbers of students who were involved – over 200 in all.

As things start to ease across the country we can all start to look forward and we have been reviewing our procedures in light of this. Safety does remain our priority, but we do now feel we are in the position to start making some changes so that more students will be able to access specialist teaching spaces. So far this year only Years 10 and 11 have access to specialist rooms such as science laboratories, technology workshops and art classrooms, which was a decision based upon the need for students to access these resources for their GCSE studies, but we are mindful that Year 7 have never accessed these spaces and some may never have been into these areas of the building. To this end, from Monday 26th April the Year 7 teaching zone will be removed and students will move around the school much more so that they can receive the traditional curriculum offered by the more practical subjects. Student movement will be controlled so that we limit crossover with Years 10 and 11, but with the measures we have in place we are confident that the likelihood of any transmission between the year groups remains very low. We will talk to Year 7 at the end of next week and explain how everything will work.

We continue to review our measures and procedures, but would hope that we can remove further teaching zones before the summer, if infection rates continue to slow and national lockdown continues to ease.

Year 11 are currently in the middle of Assessment Window 2 and I am delighted by the mature and responsible attitude the majority of students are adopting. There is clearly a determination from the year group to show their teachers what they are capable of so that they can develop a strong portfolio of evidence for each of their subjects. Further details on how Centre Assessed Grades work, provided by the Joint Council for Qualifications, will be shared next week. On another note, following a discussion with Year 11 student Mya, we will be hosting a Festival on the Field for Year 11 after school on Thursday 27th May. This is to replace the prom, which unfortunately will not be able to take place again this year. The details of the festival are currently being drawn up and will be shared with everyone as soon as possible. We hope to make it a great celebration of their time at John Spence.

The official leaving date for Year 11 is 30th June 2021, but due to the need for the school to moderate and finalise the Centre Assessed Grades, the majority of assessments will be completed by May half term. With this in mind, the last day in school for Year 11 will be Friday 28th May, but there will be a need for some students to return during the first week after half term (w/c 7th June) in order to complete any final assessment that may be needed to confirm grades in particular subjects. In addition to this we are also developing a programme for the Year group after half term so that they can continue to access online learning as well as getting involved in volunteering activities and hopefully some transition work with post 16 providers – details of this programme will be finalised in the next 4 weeks.

Finally, we have had our next supply of student home testing kits delivered and will be distributing these soon. Please do remember that if you or your child develop Covid symptoms then you should not use the home test kits, but go to a testing site for the PCR test. If your child or anyone else in their household has symptoms, then please contact the school and do not send your child in until you have received a negative test result and informed the school of this.

That’s all for this week. I hope that you all enjoy the sunshine and the little bit more freedom we have this weekend!

Best wishes and stay safe

Jonathan