Headteacher Update – Arrangements for the start of term

August 2021

I hope that you have all stayed safe and well this summer. Following on from the letter I sent at the end of the summer term, there are a few updates that you need to be aware of prior to your child returning to school in September.

Covid Measures

In light of the new operating guidance published for schools we have updated our strategy, but remain mindful of the need to minimise transmission as far as we possibly can so we will maintain the following:

  • Hand hygiene – students will be asked to sanitise their hands when entering and leaving classrooms.
  • Ventilation – as we have a relatively new building, the ventilation system means that we have good airflow around the building. We also recommend that staff open windows to aid this ventilation whenever practical to do so.
  • Outbreak management plan – this replaces our current plan as we are no longer required to identify close contacts of anyone who tests positive. It is a robust plan that deals with any potential outbreaks we may have in school. This will be published on the school website by the start of term.
  • Face covering – we will continue to ask students and staff to wear face coverings during busy periods in school, primarily during lesson changeovers. Students can opt to wear face coverings at other times if they wish to do so.

I feel that these measures will help us strike the balance between keeping everyone as safe as possible, whilst getting on with a return to a school experience that is close to normal as possible for the students. We will continue to focus on considerate behaviour towards one another.

Start of Term Arrangements

We have had to make some changes to our plans for the return of students at the start of term, so please disregard the details sent out prior to the end of the summer term. The reason for the change is we have looked at the most efficient and least disruptive way to carry out the requirement for asymptomatic testing for students upon their return. Please note that the guidance means that we do not need to seek consent again, meaning that every child whose parent gave consent in March will be tested. Please contact your child’s Head of Year if there are any changes. Parents of Year 7 children will be contacted this week with a consent form.

Testing all students is a logistical headache and the least disruptive way to do this is to test the majority of students on Tuesday 7th September. Details are as follows:

  • Years 11, 10 and 9 will be tested on Tuesday 7th September and will return home immediately after their test.
  • Year 7 will be tested  on Tuesday 7th September and will remain in school until 3pm
  • Year 8 will be tested during registration and Period 1 on Wednesday 8th September
  • Years 7, 9, 10 and 11 will arrive at school at 9.45 on Wednesday 8th September and go to their form classes.
  • All lessons will start for all year groups from Period 3 on Wednesday 8th September.

This plan allows us to test all students very quickly and minimise the disruption to the start of term, in particular with the need for form tutors to spend time with their form groups to go through timetables and the changes to some arrangements that are taking place this year. It is far from ideal to start the year in this way, but it is the best way of identifying any asymptomatic cases before they come into school. You will receive a message this week with the time at which your child should come into school for their test. It is extremely important that you child arrives in the yard outside the sports hall at their allocated time to ensure the testing can run smoothly and we keep numbers gathering at any one time to a minimum.

Year 7 will sit some ability tests on 7th September; these are absolutely nothing to worry about and there is no need for any preparation. The tests are designed to help us understand the strengths and areas of development for each student enabling their teachers to plan work at the correct level; we do these every year, but are taking advantage of the slightly staggered start to get through them much more quickly than usual.

Break and Lunchtime Arrangements

We had hoped to have a new food pod and seating area installed by September, but unfortunately due to supply issues this will now not happen until after October half term. As an interim measure we will be using the Drama Studio for Year 7 to have their lunch and will also reinstate the ticket system to enable students in Years 7-9 to use the canteen at break time if they are going to a lunchtime club. Years 10 and 11 will be able to access the canteen at break as usual. Years 8 and 9 will always be at first sitting at lunchtime. We are also exploring the possibility of pre-order for students with the catering team. Further details, including menus and ParentPay can be found on the school website.

Finally, the link here is for the letter sent out at the end of term that does have some other details around new policies, uniform and timings of the school day.

I am very much looking forward to welcoming the students back as well as meeting our new Year 7 for the first time.

Best wishes

Jonathan