News & Events

To see all of the wonderful things our students have been up to, please check out our most recent newsletters. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook where you can keep up to date on all that happens at John Spence.

Concerns about Coronavirus

03.07.2020 Update

As I am sure you are all aware the long-awaited guidance on schools reopening in September was published yesterday. We are very much looking forward to welcoming all students back and will try to make sure that the return is as close to normality as possible whilst adhering to the guidelines to keep everyone safe. We have been planning for this scenario and have already considered systems that stick to the key principles of safety and a broad curriculum so it is pleasing that these same principles are very much at the heart of the document published yesterday. We will continue to work on the logistics of full reopening next week and you will receive detailed information in the last week of term explaining exactly what the school day will look like and how we will be following the guidelines to prevent transmission of coronavirus. Rest assured that all students will be back in school.

I do appreciate that some parents may be concerned about the risks associated with full reopening so I would urge you read the guidance that the government has prepared for parents alongside our information; obviously, please feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss our plans once we have shared these with you next week.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/what-parents-and-carers-need-to-know-about-early-years-providers-schools-and-colleges-in-the-autumn-term

Parents of Year 11 students

I have posted a letter on the school website regarding exam results so please do have a look at the following link if you haven’t seen it already. A copy will be sent out in the post on Monday.

Parents of Year 10 Students

A consultation was published yesterday by OFQUAL regarding summer 2021 examinations (OFQUAL are the organisation responsible for overseeing how exams are designed and delivered). The consultation is for parents, students as well as schools and it raises a number of suggestions about how exams may look next year. This is an opportunity for us to shape the experience that students will face so we will be submitting a response. The key areas of the consultation are:

  • Moving the start of the exams until after May half term
  • Changing the way the content of each exam specification is tested
  • Providing a broader range of question options in each exam
  • Removing the necessity for participation in practical work or field trips

The tone of the consultation is very much to leave things as they are for the majority of subjects with the exception of a later start to the examination series. We will be arguing for a greater flexibility for all subjects, but we are preparing a support package for Year 11 to enable them to catch up missed content throughout the year. We will share details of this package with you before the summer holidays so that you and your child knows what to expect when they return in September. I would like to put your mind at rest regarding examinations in that your child is in a similar position to thousands of others up and down the country; this will be reflected in exam performance next year and results will remain broadly in line with results from previous years. Having said that, those that have engaged more with the work that we have set will obviously be better prepared for their return in September so we would encourage you to continue helping your child to complete their work.

Please note that the face to face support sessions will continue to run until Thursday 16th July. There will be no sessions on the last day of term.

Free School Meals Vouchers

There has been an update from Edenred and from now on FSM vouchers will only be valid for one month from the date of issue. The next issue date for e-codes is on Monday – this will be for 2 weeks. You will then receive new ecodes every fortnight to cover FSM until the end of the summer holidays. If you receive paper vouchers, it is very important that you check the valid from date as these will be posted out in bulk next week to cover the summer holidays. Some of the vouchers will not be valid at the start of the summer holidays due to the one month limit that will be in place so please do check the dates before you go to the shop!

Student Work

The final cycle of work will be published and distributed on Monday. It will look slightly different in some cases as teachers are giving Year 10 students an opportunity for a bit of catch up as well as ensuring that there are additional activities for those students who have managed to keep up with their work throughout lockdown. There is also a greater emphasis on project work from some subject areas for other year groups so that it can continue into the summer holidays if you wish.

School Provision

The school has been offering provision for children of critical workers and vulnerable students throughout the lockdown and this will come to an end on Friday 17th July. We will be having socially distanced activities on Thursday 16th July with ‘bubble’ competitions and school will close at 1pm on Friday 17th July. The students engaging in this provision have been fantastic throughout and I’m sure they will find it a little odd when their little community is joined by hundreds of others in September!

Sorry for such a long update and please remember that we are here if you need support or advice whether that is about students work, well-being, school uniform or anything else.

Best wishes and stay safe

Jonathan

26.06.2020 Update

It has been another positive week in school with fantastic attendance from the majority of Year 10 students who are engaging very well with the face to face support. As part of our extended opening, Heads of Year from other year groups have been in touch with many parents this week to invite their child in for a face to face meeting in the coming weeks. These meetings are for those students who may be struggling with the length of time out of school and it is designed as a useful opportunity to touch base and see how things have been going. Please do get in touch with your child’s Head of Year if you would like a meeting, but in the meantime staff will continue to contact families by phone – so far over 2500 welfare calls have been made.

Further advice has been published by the government on keeping safe on line and details can be found at the following link. I would urge you to look through and browse the links in the document to explore the best ways of keeping your child safe.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-keeping-children-safe-online/coronavirus-covid-19-support-for-parents-and-carers-to-keep-children-safe-online

Details of the government’s summer catch up programme have been shared and they do appear quite limited in their scope and at this time there is nothing specifically identified for children in North Tyneside. In the absence of a national programme, we are exploring the possibility of running some small programmes for targeted groups of students with charity organisations over the summer and will hopefully have more details on this in the next two weeks; this will be on a very small scale. The government has also clarified that schools will not be open during the summer holidays for the children of critical workers and vulnerable groups so this provision, which has been running continuously from 23rd March, will come to an end on Friday 17th July. I will provide details of how you can contact the school during the holidays in my end of term letter that will be posted to you during the last week of term along with your child’s end of year form tutor report.

We are hopeful that we will receive guidance next week about September so I should be able to provide you with more details in next Friday’s update. It does sound like all year groups will be back in school and from an article published yesterday this will be full time for all students; this remains speculation, as it will be reliant on removing the social distancing measures and the bubbles that we are currently operating, but it does sound like this is the plan. We are all really hoping to see everyone back full time in September.

Finally, I hope that you have been able to enjoy the amazing weather!

Best wishes

Jonathan

19.06.2020 Update 

It has been great to welcome back Year 10 this week for their face to face support. Attendance has been fantastic and students are leaving school telling us that the sessions were helpful and will support them with their learning at home. The sessions have also allowed us to understand better where students are in terms of their progress and also their wellbeing allowing us to start planning in earnest for September. The announcement today regarding 1 to 1 tutoring for many students is a positive step forward and was something that we were already considering so it is good to know that we will have some financial support to manage this.

There have also been announcements this week regarding provision in school before the summer holidays. The announcements cover two areas:

  1. Schools have the opportunity to welcome back students from other year groups for some face to face support. There are challenges with this as we are operating a ‘pod’ model in school meaning that each provision remains completely separate in terms of staffing and students. We are looking to extend our opening further, but it will be very limited because we need to make sure we do it as safely as possible without compromising the structures we have in place. We do not expect to see large groups from Year groups other than Year 10 in school before September.
  2. The guidance regarding provision for children of critical workers has been updated – Parents whose work is critical to the coronavirus (COVID-19) response include those who work in health and social care and in other key sectors. Many parents working in these sectors may be able to look after their child at home, but attendance is strongly encouraged. Please contact your child’s Head of Year if you are a critical worker and you would like to discuss your child returning to school before the end of term.  A list of critical worker occupations can be found here.

It was fantastic to see the government u-turn on providing FSM vouchers over the summer following Marcus Rashford’s campaign.  The voucher system continues to work well for the majority of our families, but there are a small number that have yet to redeem any codes. We are contacting with these families to try to resolve any issues, but if you are experiencing problems please do get in touch by Wednesday next week as we will be uploading the next phase of codes on Thursday.

Finally, today was meant to be the 2020 Tyne and Wear School Games. Like many organisations the Tyne and Wear sport Alliance has been looking at creative ways to keep things running so please do have a look at the following link for events happening throughout the day.

https://www.tynewearsport.org/vsg20

Best wishes

Jonathan

12.06.2020 Update

This week has again seen a number of statements made by the government and huge levels of speculation in the press around schools. As yet, we have no information on what the expectations are around September other than schools will be open to all students; this could mean fully open to all every day, but it is more likely to mean some kind of rota system for some year groups if social distancing measures remain in place. Our aim is to get as many students back into school as soon as we can and as safely as we can, but as things stand we are following the government guidelines on opening and as such we are pleased to be welcoming Year 10 students back for some face to face support from Monday. As I mentioned last week, it does now appear that Years 7-9 will not be returning before September.

The Prime Minister’s pledge of a summer catch up plan for all has also created much speculation and we await further details of what this may look like next week. Once we have these details we will be able to move forward with our thinking on how we will provide ongoing support in the coming months. Rest assured, we are planning for all scenarios so that we are well placed when any further decisions are made by the government.

Test and Trace

The system is now up and running and appears to be improving day by day. If you are contacted then please do follow the guidance on self-isolation and also let us know even if your child is eligible to come to school. If your child has been in school and you are contacted by the test and trace team then please do let us know and also tell the team that your child has been into school; the team will then contact me directly to advise me on the measures we should take, if any.  As yet, we have still not had any confirmed cases of Coronavirus from anyone who has been in school at any point since lockdown started.

Use of Public Transport

From Monday it is compulsory for people to wear a face covering on public transport. If your child is coming into school on public transport then please ensure that they have this face covering, but we would ask that they have a bag to put it in for when they arrive in school. The social distancing and hygiene measures as well as the cleaning regime we have mean that face coverings are not advised when in school.

Year 10 Attendance

Each student has received an individual timetable for their face to face support sessions and it is essential that they only come to school at these times. If your child is unable to attend for any reason please call the school absence line and leave a message detailing the reason for the absence, e.g. ill non-Covid, Covid symptoms for child, self-isolation due to Covid symptoms in household, family health etc… We are very much looking forward to seeing Year 10 next week and I know that many students have said they are looking forward to getting back into school even though it is only for short periods of time.

Home Learning

Please have a look at the video link below that has been put together by Mrs Briggs that explains how remote learning has been developing during lockdown. It is designed to support the guidance that we have given in updates and letters. Hopefully, it will help you to support your child with their learning at home.

JSCHS parent tutorial for online learning.mp4

Best wishes

Jonathan

05.06.2020 Update

As schools start extending their opening to other year groups there remains a great deal of anxiety around whether or not it is safe for children to return to school. The government guidelines do offer some reassurance, but more importantly the steps we are putting in place are designed to keep everyone as safe as possible. Yesterday I wrote to parents of Year 10 students regarding the face to face support that we will be delivering from 15th June, if it is considered safe to do so by the government and local Public Health. I have included a copy of this letter here to provide all parents with some reassurance about the lengths we are going to that will keep everyone as safe as possible in school. The model of provision that we have designed for Year 10 not only ensures we can maintain social distancing and hygiene routines in school, but also limits the amount of social mixing to and from school which is just as important. I would encourage you to remind your child of the importance of these measures for everyone as the lockdown continues to ease.

As I am sure you are aware the government test and trace system is now up and running and we have received some guidance on this and how that will affect us as a school. In effect, it is highly unlikely that we would need to close any of our provision if an individual who had been in school tested positive due to the systems that we have in place including social distancing, regular handwashing, continuous cleaning and so on. To date there have been no confirmed cases connected to individuals who have been in school. What is important is that if your child or a member of their household does test positive that self-isolation regulations are followed and also that you inform the school. This information will be kept strictly confidential, but it is important as it allows us to keep a constant review on the level of risk in school. It is also worth noting that there are a number of scams around test and trace and Northumbria Police have asked us to share the following advice that can be found here.

As we enter the 13th week of lockdown we will be publishing the next cycle of work on Monday. As usual, those who have requested paper versions will have this delivered to you by Wednesday at the latest. As time goes on it becomes more and more important that your child engages with the work and with their teachers. There are some absolutely fantastic examples of students going above and beyond what is expected and countless examples of some wonderful work being submitted across all subject areas. Please do encourage your child to keep going because as the date for the summer holidays approaches it is seeming increasingly unlikely that we will be extending our opening beyond the face to face support for Year 10 before September. We will  continue to do as much as we can within the government guidance and be ready to adapt and update as things change.

Please remember that the school office is open every day and that Heads of Year and teachers are available if you or your child needs advice and support.

Very best wishes

Jonathan

26.05.20 Update

Information for parents of Year 10 students
We have today received guidance from the government on what is expected when we reopen the school more widely for Year 10 students for some face to face support. This guidance follows the Prime Minister’s statement on Sunday that secondary schools would be providing this support for the year group from 15th June if it is safe to do so.
As mentioned in previous updates we have been putting in place strategies to ensure that students and staff are safe when we open more widely and we will now review these strategies and the model of provision that we planned in the light of the guidance we received today.
I will write to you early next week with full details of our safety protocols and of what face to face support will look like at John Spence. I would like to reinforce earlier messages that this support is to aid ongoing remote learning which will continue to be the primary method by which students are accessing education at this time.
I do know that many students are keen to get back into school, but equally I know the anxieties that some will have. We will do our best to support the students and you as we continue to make our way through these uncertain times.
Best wishes
Jonathan

22.05.2020 Update

Incredibly, another half term has passed by as we continue to live through these difficult times.

The uncertainty that exists at the moment has made it very difficult for schools to plan for any increase in children attending schools after half term, whether that is in primary or secondary school. Yesterday North Tyneside Council published a letter for parents that can be found here, which explains that provision in different schools will vary due to the wide number of factors that need to be taken into account when preparing to open schools to more children in a safe manner. Having said that, North Tyneside secondary schools are following similar models and none that I know of are inviting Year 10 students into school straight after half term. So unfortunately, we are not in a position to provide parents of Year 10 students with a date for when this provision may start due to the absence of specific guidance from government, but we have designed a model so that we are ready to go ahead when it is safe to do so. We have also been planning how to keep everyone as safe as possible and a key part of this is keeping numbers in school to an absolute minimum at all times so that social distancing can be managed effectively. I am sorry that I cannot provide further details at this time, but to avoid confusion I would not like to publish something that will need to change as advice and guidance is updated over the next week or so.

I will update Year 10 parents as soon as we receive additional guidance and will provide plenty of notice of when provision starts so that you have time to consider the model and the safety measures that we will be putting in place.

We will obviously continue to stay in touch and provide work for all students in all year groups; please remember that staff are keen to hear from students so that they can support them as much as possible. We have also reviewed work set and will continue to develop what is set to keep students engaged with learning. It has been lovely to see so many postcards being sent home to recognise the efforts that many students are putting in to their work.

There is no need for students to continue completing work next week as it is half term, but it may be an opportunity for a little bit of catch up if your child has not done quite as much as you would have hoped!

The school office will be closed over half term, but please do contact us via email on jschs.office@ntlp.org.uk if you need to get hold of us urgently.

I hope that you all find time to relax over the weekend.

Very best wishes and stay safe

Jonathan

15.05.2020 Update

I hope that you are all well as we near the end of another week where updates from government have not always given the clarification that was intended! This has very much been the case with naming June 1st as the possible date that schools will re-open for Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils if the conditions are met. Whether this will or can happen is being debated, but I do believe there is the common principle from all sides that we need to get some children back into schools on a phased basis as soon as it is safe to do so. I am not in the position to explain details of what any provision might look like at secondary level other than to share the following that summarises the key points from the Government update on 12th May:

  • Schools are asked to offer some face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of Year 10.
  • Schools should limit attendance in the setting at any one time and should keep students in small groups.
  • Schools should encourage all vulnerable children in all year groups to attend in line with the current guidance – this relates to those children with a social worker or those with an EHCP.

We are expecting further guidelines in the next week or so of what this ‘face to face support’ might look like. We certainly do not envisage Year 10 returning to school in any normal sense as the guidelines make it clear that attendance should be limited and provision should focus on supporting ongoing remote learning. It would be wrong of me to go any further and suggest possible models at this stage as the situation is so fluid and we need to await further announcements from the DfE as well as work with the Local Authority. As I have said in previous updates, a return to school will be managed with exceptional care so that the safety of students, staff and our wider community is not compromised.

The following link is a publication for parents by the government, but it does tend to focus on the possible Primary phase of reopening.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers/reopening-schools-and-other-educational-settings-from-1-june

The next wave of student work will be published on Monday. Please do remember that the work runs on a two week cycle and that students shouldn’t get overwhelmed by the work that is published as they do have two weeks to complete it. The deadline for this set of work will be Friday 5th June as half term is in the middle. We will be distributing paper versions of the work on Tuesday and Wednesday next week to those families that have requested it. Staff are very keen to hear from students and provide feedback so please do encourage your child to get in touch. It has been fantastic to hear how so many students are continuing to do their best in such difficult circumstances, so much so that we are sending out over 200 postcards this week to say well done!

Finally, the Free School Meal voucher scheme does now appear to be working for most families. Those of you who receive an ecode via email will receive another £30 at some point late next week or early the following week – this will be for weeks  commencing 1st June and 8th June as meals are not being funded during the half term holiday.

As we move forward during this next phase of the lockdown it is important to reflect on the wonderful work that many of you are doing every day as front line workers for our community. It will be hard to balance the demands of work and caring for your family with the restrictions that we have in our daily lives so I would like to say thank you for all that you are doing and also thank you for the support that you have given the school.

Best wishes and stay safe

Jonathan

12.05.20 Update

Last night the government published details of how some school settings could possibly reopen on June 1st if conditions allow. This follows the statement made by the Prime Minister on Sunday evening where he stated that there would be some face to face contact for secondary students who are sitting examinations next year (Year 10). We are seeking further clarification about what this may look like, but it is a scenario we have planned for.

I will update you fully on the latest developments once we have further details from the Department for Education  and additional advice from the Local Authority.
As stated in my letter last week, our priority will be the safety of all our community.

Further details for parents can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents-and-carers
Take care and stay safe
Jonathan

07.05.2020 Update

Last night the Department of Education (@educationgovuk) tweeted:

“There is no set date for schools to reopen. Schools will remain closed to most until scientific advice indicates it is right to reopen and the five tests set out to beat this virus have been met.”

It is important for us to recognise that information in the media is speculation, but it is also important for you all to know that we are planning for all eventualities, whether that is a phased reopening at some point before the summer or that schools remain closed until September. Our priority in this planning is how we can keep our community as safe as possible.

A full update for this week will arrive in a letter that is being posted out today for parents of Years 7-10 students. A separate letter will be sent to parents of Year 11 students next week.

I hope that you all manage to enjoy the sunshine and the Bank Holiday safely with your family.

Best wishes and stay safe.

Jonathan

01.05.2020 Update

I hope that everyone has stayed safe and well this week. It is strange to think that we are now in week 6 of the lockdown and just how much our lives have changed during that time. We continue to try and maintain the connection between school and home through the updates, communication with students on Show My Homework and Google Classroom and phone calls home – Heads of Year alone have made over 900 phone calls during this time. Please do get in touch with us if you need advice or support whether that is about your child or some help you may need as a family and we will do what we can to help.

We do understand that home circumstances can make it difficult for children to access the work we are setting so we are sending a substantial amount of work out every fortnight where access to online technology may be difficult. It is worth remembering that students can access Show My Homework on their x-Box or PlayStation as well as on phones, tablets and laptops. Some students may struggle to access some of the work that is set so please encourage them to contact their teachers if they have any questions as they are available for support throughout the week. Our SENDCO, Mr Purvis, and his team have been in touch with many families that they work with to provide additional guidance, but for further information have a look at these two links – the first is some advice from the Department for Education and the second is from the Local Authority Dyslexia Team.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/help-children-with-send-continue-their-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19

The next 2 week phase of work for students will be launched on Monday.

As we continue to live through these difficult times the challenges of mental health for some young people becomes more acute. Please do contact your child’s Head of Year if you have concerns or encourage your child to access Kooth, which is an online service for young people.  Information on Kooth was provided at the point of school closure, but do please get in touch if you would like further details.

You will have heard that the Government are now working on plans to look at how schools can re-open. I do not think it is right to speculate openly about possible dates and stages of opening, but as I have previously said, rest assured that our priority is the safety of our students and their families alongside the safety of our staff and their families. We have already planned for what provision may look like and how we will keep everyone safe in school, but will obviously await Government guidance and decisions on reopening before we finalise details that we will then share with you.

You may have seen on social media that this week we have been able to work with Longbenton High School in making parts for PPE equipment. On Wednesday Longbenton delivered 1000 visors to Northumbria Healthcare as part of their ongoing efforts to support our frontline. We will continue to work with them to make the headbands that attach to the visors to help keep the production line going.

Finally as a reminder, the school office remains open every day between 8.30am and 3pm (closed for the Bank Holiday on Friday 8th May) or you can contact us by email on jschs.office@ntlp.org.uk

Best wishes and stay safe

Jonathan

24.04.20 Update

Another week has passed in these strange times. I’m pleased to report that many students are engaging well with the work that we have set this week and there are increasingly good levels of communication from students to their teachers. As I said in my letter before Easter, it is important that students access this work so that learning continues for the duration of school closure and we will continue to support as best as we possibly can. We have delivered well over 50 packs of work this week where students are struggling to access materials online. Please do get in touch if your child needs any resources delivered to them.

If you are looking for additional learning opportunities then the online lesson from the Oak national Academy and the daily updated lesson on BBC Bitesize are of a very good quality and will complement the work that we are setting.

https://www.thenational.academy/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize

If the school had been open year 10 would have been sitting their exams in the next few weeks. These exams have obviously been cancelled and we have no intention of students sitting exams if the school reopens before the summer holidays.

We continue to look for activities that will help Year 11 students make the transition to the next stage of their education. The following resource is useful for students who are considering moving onto A Level study next year.

https://www.gcsepod.com/free-resources/getting-ready-for-ks5/

Online safety remains a primary concern now that students up and down the country are engaging in huge amounts of online activity. I would urge you and your child to look at the following link that focuses on online safety at home.

https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/

The school office remains open between 8.30am and 3.15pm every weekday. Please do get in touch if you have any queries or need any support or advice. You also have contact details of your child’s Head of Year if you have any specific concerns you would like to discuss.

I hope that you all have a relaxing weekend and are able to enjoy the sunshine.

Best wishes and stay safe

Jonathan

21.04.20 Free School Meal Voucher Update

We are aware of a delay in a number of you receiving the FSM vouchers for this week. There appears to be around a 3 working day lag between ordering and delivery via email from Edenred who are the company running the voucher scheme. We are only able to check the status of orders either late evening or early morning as at other times it is difficult to logon due to the exceptionally high volumes of traffic. The latest updates are:

  • All orders that were uploaded on Thursday 16th April are now live. If you have not already, then you should receive an email very soon. This means that the vast majority of orders are now up and running.
  • If we were unable to upload your order on Thursday due to incorrect or no email details then we uploaded a further group of orders on Friday and a very small number yesterday. None of these order are yet live. This will probably only affect those of you who were contacted on Friday last week about your email address. I will check the status again later this evening and update those affected tomorrow.

I appreciate that this must be frustrating for you, but we are doing all that we can to ensure the delivery of vouchers. Edenred are sending millions of vouchers out so I am sure that you understand that the system is struggling to cope.

Please do get in touch with the school office if you require any further advice or support.

Very best wishes and take care

Jonathan

20.04.20 Update

I hope that you all managed to find time to relax and enjoy the wonderful weather that we have had over the Easter break. I know that this will have been a difficult time for many, but in times of crisis the wonderful stories of communities supporting one another never ceases to amaze.

There were reports in some Sunday papers yesterday that schools were due to re-open imminently, this is not the case and we remain closed until further notice other than provision for vulnerable students or children of critical workers. The principle remains that where possible children should be kept at home. The claims made in the papers were swiftly denied by the Department for Education, although rest assured that we are already planning for re-opening as and when we are told to do so.

We are now back into term time and have published new work for students to access on Show My Homework. The work has been carefully designed so that students can complete the work independently, but their class teachers are available by email, Google Classroom or through the Show My Homework platform if support or explanation is needed. Please encourage your child to respond to messages from teachers so that we can keep the connection going between school and home. Some advice and support for home learning:

  • If your child has any issues around passwords for their school email account or Show My Homework,  we now have a dedicated email address where queries can be resolved quickly – jschs.password@ntlp.org.uk – Please just state your child’s name and what the problem is and we will endeavour to get it sorted straight away.
  • Please contact the school office if you need paper versions of the work and we will get these delivered to you.
  • We have stock in school such as pens, pencils and exercise books. If your child needs any resources, please email the school at jschs.office@ntlp.org.uk and we will deliver to you.

You may have heard in the Government briefing yesterday that there are online resources available from the DfE and that there is new guidance for parents on home learning. This is currently aimed at Primary level students, but we are expecting further guidance for parents of secondary students this week. The one main exception to this is a series of video lessons that have been developed by teachers across the country called Oak National Academy. Early indications are that they are of a good quality so we would recommend students accessing these in addition to the work that we have set.  You can access the lessons here:  https://www.thenational.academy/

We are also looking into the announcement yesterday around the supply of technology equipment and 4G routers for some families. We will be in touch with any families who may be able to take advantage of the scheme as soon as we have more information around eligibility.

Free School Meal vouchers are now up and running. I have checked the Edenred website this morning and can see that vouchers are now live for many students meaning the code has been activated. Please do check your Spam folders if your child is eligible for Free School meals and you have not yet received an email. We are still experiencing problems with the voucher system for the small number of families without access to email, but will hopefully resolve this today.

Year 11 results day has now been confirmed on 20th August 2020. This will be a strange day for students and staff, but we will endeavour to do what we can to ensure students are able to progress in the pathway that they had planned prior to closure.

A further update will be posted on the website on Friday.

My best wishes to you all. Take care and stay safe.

Jonathan

Message from North Tyneside Council

Dear parent/carer,

At this difficult time when your children are being asked to access learning at home, we realise that most of this learning is done online, and that some families may not have access to the technology.

Smartphones are great for many simple tasks, but they can make other tasks difficult or impossible in some cases.

North Tyneside Council is looking at different ways to try to support families to ensure that every child can access online home learning easily. If you believe your family would benefit from additional support in this area please click the link and complete this short form.

All information gathered is solely for the purpose of getting support to these families and will not be shared beyond North Tyneside Council.

North Tyneside Council

Year 11 Update 03.04.20

OFQUAL have now published details of how they will be awarding qualifications. Please click here for a letter from OFQUAL to all students about how the process will work and what they can expect. I wanted to get this out to you asap so once we have processed all the information we will update you further.

Best wishes

Jonathan

03.04.2020 Update

Please note that Free School Meal deliveries will continue to take place throughout the Easter holidays – Contact us today if you do not require a delivery throughout this period as we will be unable to update deliveries during the holidays. We are still waiting for contact from the voucher provider that we will be using after Easter so we will get that information out to eligible families as soon as we can.

A full end of term update can be found here. We will be sending a copy of this letter in the post to you along with a couple of flyers from the Local Authority and Northumbria Police about staying safe.

The school office will be open between 9am and 3pm every day, but if you do not manage to get through by phone then please email jschs.office@ntlp.org.uk

Best wishes and stay safe.

Jonathan

01.04.2020 Update

Yesterday the government announced a voucher system for students eligible for Free School Meals. We are currently waiting for an email from the voucher provider that will provide us with full details of how to implement the system following which we will contact parents of eligible children. We intend to end the current delivery service on Friday and I would like to thank Radar Taxis once again for their generosity in delivering the meals for us. The voucher system will commence after the Easter holidays.

The Local Authority have asked us to identify families where both parents are frontline NHS workers or if you are a single parent in one of these critical roles. If this is the case, please can you click this link and answer some quick questions so that we can share this information with the Local Authority.

We do continue to have a small number of students in school on a daily basis, but thank you once again for following the government guidelines that where possible children should be kept at home. We will be open throughout the Easter holidays for the children of critical workers, although I know that virtually everyone has been able to make alternative arrangements. We will be closing registers for this provision on Friday so that we can finalise staffing for the next two weeks.

I will post a further update on Friday, but in the meantime if you have any questions please contact the school office between 8.30am and 3.15pm.

Best wishes and keep staying safe!

30.03.20 Update

I hope that your child is managing to login to ShowMyHomework and accessing the work available for them, there should be more than enough to keep them going until the Easter holidays. If you do need paper versions of the work then please contact the school office between 8.30 and 3.15 and we will arrange for the work to be delivered to you. Teachers are currently putting together work for all year groups for after the Easter holidays and we will publish further details in a later update.

Mrs Entwistle, from the Art department will be issuing daily Art challenges on Instagram from today so please follow jschs.art and use #jschsart to share some artwork. It would be great to see our students getting creative and producing some amazing work over the coming weeks!

As mentioned in Friday’s update we are expecting to hear more from OFQUAL by the end of this week about how Year 11 qualifications will be awarded and another development this week should be more information on how Free School Meals will function after the Easter holidays. We continue to deliver meals via Radar Taxis until the end of this week.

Next update will be on Wednesday, but please do contact the school if you need any information.

Best wishes

Jonathan

27.03.20 Update

We have received some further queries from parents regarding how qualifications are to be awarded for our Year 11 students. We are expecting full details of this process from OFQUAL by the end of next week at which point we will have a much better idea of how it will work. The guidance at the moment is based upon two key areas:

  • Teachers’ predictions
  • Students’ prior attainment

The teacher predictions will be based upon a range of evidence including classwork, homework, performance in assessments and coursework where appropriate. A student’s prior attainment will be their KS2 SATs scores as these are a reliable indicator of what students should achieve by the end of KS4. There will obviously be variability in terms of rates pf progress across 5 years so our teacher predictions will reflect this, but when analysed as a full cohort rather than at an individual student level, we would expect that that prior attainment to be a reliable indicator meaning that the system is as fair as it can be in these exceptional circumstances. Once we provide this information to OFQUAL they will then analyse it at a school and national level before reaching a decision on what grades each individual student will be awarded. I would also like to reinforce the point that I made to Year 11 before they left that it is highly likely that they will be studying the courses or engaged in the training that they had planned to prior to the cancellation of exams.

It is also worth noting that current Year 11 students will be able to opt into examinations in the Autumn Term if they wish to do so, of which more details will follow next week. Bearing this in mind, we encourage all Year 11 students to access the work set on ShowMyHomework so that they are able to access these exams in the future. Work for Year 11 will be updated after the Easter holidays with a combination of revision tasks and activities helped to prepare them for September.

I’m sure you’ll all agree how moving the ‘Clap for the NHS’ was last night. To stand outside our front door and hear the community come together in appreciation of the work being done by NHS workers was inspiring. As a community we are standing together and following the rules of the lockdown to slow the spread of infection and protect the most vulnerable. As a school, we will continue to do what we can to support our families during this time.

My very best wishes and stay safe.

Jonathan

26.03.20 Update

One of the best things that you can encourage your child to do over the coming weeks is read. Reading not only develops vocabulary, knowledge and communication skills, but it also offers an escape into another world which, 4 days into home schooling, may be a welcome proposition for parents as well! North Tyneside Libraries are obviously closed, but they buy into a service called BorrowBox meaning that all NT Library members can download up to 8 e-books or audio books. Follow these simple steps:

  1. If you are already registered with the North Tyneside Library Service and have a Pin then go to step 8
  2. Click on the following link:  https://my.northtyneside.gov.uk/category/1009/join-library
  3. Click Join Online
  4. Complete the registration form
  5. Make a note of your Barcode
  6. Check you emails and click on the link to confirm registration
  7. Enter a pin number that you will remember
  8. Download the BorrowBox App or search BorrowBox online
  9. Search North Tyneside in the app/BorrowBox website
  10. Enter your North Tyneside Library barcode and pin
  11. Your’re good to go, but remember you’ve only got 8 free e-books!

I believe that every member of the household can register as long as each individual has a personal email address.

As an alternative for younger readers follow this link to access over 6000 free books: https://bit.ly/2WJ4qjP

Let’s stay safe and get reading!

Jonathan

 

25.03.20 Update

Very little to update today as we all adapt to the new rules in place around the lockdown.

We are investigating ways to connect with our students throughout the school closure. Form tutors will be doing this through ShowMyHomework, but we are looking at other platforms where this would be much easier.

We dealt with a number of queries regarding ShowMyHomework yesterday and have hopefully resolved most of the problems. Please do contact your child’s Head of Year if they are unable to access the platform or the work for any reason and somebody will get back to you with a solution. Follow the link here for a reminder of the instructions to access ShowMyHomework.  We will be publishing some details regarding activities for Year 11 as well as an update on qualifications in the next day or so.

Heads of Year email addresses:

Finally, it was great to see the work of Radar Taxis recognised in The Chronicle yesterday.

https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/taxi-firm-delivers-free-school-17970622

Please note that from now on school office hours are 8.30am – 3.15pm.

Stay safe everyone

24.03.20 Update

We will all be coming to terms with the lockdown announced by the Prime Minister last night and do not doubt that we will all do our best to follow these instructions. I know that it will be a struggle for some children to understand the necessity of staying at home so I have included a graphic in today’s update that really shows the impact of reducing contact between people. The concept behind the graphic is that if a lockdown doesn’t occur every person infected with the virus would infect on average 2.5 other people; the lockdown will cut this number by half. This will dramatically reduce the spread of infection.

an image showing the spread of infection

The school does remain open for the children of key workers and vulnerable children. Again, thank you all for your support in keeping your children at home in line with the Government advice If you have arranged for your child to attend this provision, but you change your mind or need to self-isolate please contact the school office by 8.45am.

We are aware that there have been some issues with ShowMyHomework and Hegarty Maths. Unfortunately, the demand on these platforms across the country means that they can be a bit more sluggish than usual. Both companies are working hard to address this issue. Please contact your child’s Head of Year If your child has any specific issues accessing the work set for them on ShowMyHomework and we will find an alternative for you.

The school office is open between 08.30 and 15.30 every day if you need to get in touch.

Our continued best wishes

Jonathan

23.03.20 Update

I hope this update finds you all well and managing to adapt to the strange new world that we are currently living in. Our provision for key workers’ children and vulnerable students is now up and running and I would like to thank you all for helping us to keep numbers to an absolute minimum in line with government advice. We do understand that circumstances may change so please do get in touch with the school office between 8.30am and 3.30pm if you would like to discuss the school’s provision during closure.

Thanks again to Radar Taxis who are today delivering 80 packed lunches to students entitled to a Free School Meal. If you have requested a packed lunch please make sure you are listening out between 12.15 and 1.45 as the drivers will not be able to wait around for long on each delivery. If you have requested a packed lunch, but would like to cancel, please contact the school office.

The latest Stay at Home advice can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

We will continue to post updates every morning this week, but will not be texting to inform you of the updates from now on unless there are significant changes.

As a community we can beat this if we all follow the advice so please stay safe.

My very best wishes.

Jonathan Heath

20.03.20 Afternoon Update

It was a sad moment to say goodbye to the students today not knowing when we will see them again and it was especially difficult to say goodbye to Year 11 who in all likelihood will not be returning to school. The government have just announced the way in which qualifications will be awarded to students, which will be via a combination of teacher assessment and predicted grades; once we get further detail we will be able to put this information together and I am presuming students will receive their qualifications in the normal way in the summer.

Our provision for Monday is now ready to go and parents of children who will be attending school will be notified by text about the arrangements. It is worth noting that this provision is supervision and not education as the remit of schools has now been changed.

If you are eligible and have taken advantage of the Free School Meal offer then expect a delivery by Radar Taxis between 12.15pm and 1.45pm on Monday. It is amazing that Radar are supporting the school and our community by offering this service free of charge.

This week has been a week like no other in living memory and I would like to thank all our staff for the absolutely amazing job they have done in supporting the students and the senior leadership team; they really are a fantastic group of people to work with.

Finally, once again thank you for your ongoing support and understanding.

My very best wishes and stay safe.

Jonathan

20.03.20 Morning Update

The Government has now updated the advice for parents around job roles and whether or not they fall into the category of key worker. The key worker list and information can be found at the following link. Please read it carefully and get in touch with the school office by 12 noon today if you feel that this criteria applies to you and that you would like your child to attend our provision from Monday morning.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision

I have also copied the main details into a document that can be found here.

The letter found here  is the official confirmation that the school is closing until further notice from 3pm today. We will continue to post updates over the coming weeks, but please get in touch if you have any queries. We are here to help our community get through this.

I will post a final update for the week after the children go home today. A very sad time for us all.

19.03.20 – Evening Update

Unfortunately there is little more to report at this time following my earlier update. I was hoping for some clarification of the provision that we need to put in place for vulnerable students and the children of key workers so we will continue to plan based upon the announcement made yesterday by the Prime Minister. There has also not been any further clarification around key workers so again we will continue to plan based upon yesterday’s announcement that I referred to in my previous update. Please do contact the school by 10am tomorrow if you feel your job role falls into one of the categories

I will publish a letter on the website tomorrow morning detailing the official closure of the school until further notice. Very sad, but unfortunately a necessary step at this time.

19.03.20 Afternoon Update

We are continuing to put in place our response to the Government’s announcement last night and in particular planning our provision for vulnerable students and for those students whose parents fall under the Government’s key worker categories. We are still seeking clarity on the definition of vulnerable students and  will be in touch with parents directly once we have this clarification. We are also still awaiting the Government’s definition of key workers, although we do have a broad idea. With this in mind, if you feel that you fall into one of the following categories, please can you contact the school office who will put you through to a member of the senior leadership team.

  • Key Workers – If necessary, I will update this list following the government announcement later today

o   Healthcare Workers

o   Emergency Services

o   Teachers

o   Logistics, e.g. supermarket delivery drivers

If both parents or, if you are a single parent you, fall into one of these categories then we will be able to supervise your child during the school day. Please contact the school office on 0191 296 1432 as soon as possible and no later than 10am tomorrow morning if you will need to use this provision. Sadly, no other students, apart from students identified as vulnerable or those with an EHCP, will be able to attend school as it would heighten the risk of infection and as such contradict the Government’s advice on the reasons for school closures.  I hope that you understand the position of the school in that we are adhering to the advice to help the fight against Coronavirus. I do appreciate the profound difficulties that many of you will face over the coming days and weeks.

I will post a further brief update at the end of today, but from now on updates will be posted at 9am every day.

Thank you for the kind messages of support that many of you have posted.

Best wishes

Jonathan

19.03.20 Update

This page will be updated throughout the day with more information as and when we receive it; especially regarding critical roles and plans for Year 11 pupils.  We very much appreciate your patience and support as we deal with these unprecedented events.

18.03.20 Afternoon Update

The decision made by the Government to close all schools at the end of this week for all students other than those with parents in critical roles or the most vulnerable students has far reaching consequences, but I would like to reassure that it is a scenario that we have been preparing for. As of this moment we have no further details around which job roles are considered critical, although there are some obvious occupations e.g. healthcare and the Police.  As soon as we have this information we will update you.

This is clearly a worrying time for us all, but we will do all we can to support our community through this period. One thing we will do is continue to provide a daily bulletin so that you are always updated with the latest information from the Local Authority as well as updates on provision for our students. The following points are a brief initial response to school closure, we will provide more detail tomorrow as further details are released by the Government:

  • A leaflet will be posted home tomorrow for all parents and students with contact information for school. The main contact will be the school email jschs.office@ntlp.org.uk which should be used for general enquiries about student work and updates about the school closure. Other contact details will be shared for any issues around support and guidance for students.
  • Work is now published on ShowMyHomework (please look at the document link on the 16.03.20 update for information on how to login if your child is experiencing problems)

o   KS3 projects are available for all subjects.

o   KS4 revision materials are available for Year 10 and 11

o   KS4 lessons will be available for all subjects from Monday and will be updated at least 24 hours before a lesson would be due to take place on your child’s timetable.

The news that the May/June exams are cancelled is hugely significant and I know that many students will be upset that this has happened following the work, effort and commitment that they have put in over the years. As yet, we do not have the details of how students will be awarded qualifications, but as soon as we do we will update students and their parents. We will obviously be available in school over the next two days to support students following this decision.

Finally, I would like to express my thanks for the support that you have given to the school as well as acknowledge how fantastic our students have been in school during the last few weeks as this situation has developed. We will all continue to work hard to provide the very best provision we can in these exceptional circumstances.

My very best wishes to you all.

Jonathan Heath

18.03.2020 Update

As expected we saw a significant increase in the number of students self-isolating yesterday meaning that we will no longer be setting work for students at an individual level, but instead will be setting a range of tasks for different year groups.

In KS3 there will be a project for each subject for each year group that can be completed independently at home. Full details of each project can be found in ShowMyHomework and will be titled ‘KS3 Project – Subject’

Projects are currently available for:

Technology, History, English, Cultural Studies, Maths, ICT, Music and Art.

In KS4 we are supplying a range of revision materials. In Year 10, revision materials and activities will be linked to the focus of the Year 10 exams and in Year 11 they will obviously be much more wide ranging. The materials are titled ‘KS4 Year 10 – Subject’. 

Revision materials are currently available for the following subjects:

Technology, History, English, Ethics, Maths, ICT, Business Studies, Music and Art.

There is obviously a lot of concern from all parents, but in particular Year 11 parents will be worried about the implications of current measures on exam preparation and the exams themselves. A letter from Mrs Wylie can be found here.

We remain in a strong position with very few staff absences compared to other local schools. We are able to operate normally today, but will obviously review our provision on a daily basis in response to inevitable increases in staff absence.

Finally, the advice is clear – if any member of a household displays any symptoms then the whole household should self-isolate for 14 days even if symptoms disappear relatively quickly. These are a challenging set of circumstances, but hopefully these measures will limit the spread of infection and the ultimate impact of the virus both locally and nationally.  Thank you for your support.

17.03.2020 Update

Following the new guidance issued last night there are obviously some changes that we need to take into account today.

  • Self-isolation is now for 14 days for the household and not just for the individual with the symptoms. Symptoms remain a new continuous cough and/or a high temperature.
  • If your child self-isolated in the last couple of days the period of that self-isolation now needs to extend to 14 days.

We do fully understand the level of concern in our community, in particular where family members are elderly or have underlying medical conditions that are considered high risk. In these situations you will be making very difficult decision about what is the right thing to do and we would again direct you towards the latest information from the Government to help you make these decisions:

https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

As well as keeping you up to date with the situation in school, we are also talking to the students. The link below is a message that will be read out during form time this morning offering advice and guidance:

Information for Students 17.03.20

We continue to monitor the situation very closely and adapt our planning as the days progress. We currently do have a number of students self-isolating, but fortunately the vast majority of staff are in school so we are able to operate normally in school with minimum disruption.

Please note all trips out of school and sporting events have been cancelled.

Updates will continue to be provided at 8am every morning until further notice.

16.03.2020 Update

As yet we are still unaware of any confirmed cases of Coronavirus linked to John Spence staff or students. Having said this, we do have a very small number of students self-isolating following the update to guidance at the end of last week. Just to remind you, if your child develops a cough or a fever (above 37.8 degrees) then they should self-isolate for 7 days. Currently the guidance does not extend to self-isolation of families where one member has a cough or fever. Government guidelines on self-isolation are available below:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-people-with-confirmed-or-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

 If you find yourself in the position of needing to self-isolate your child please follow these steps:

  1. Contact the school office rather than use the student absence line.
  2. Ask to speak to your child’s Head of Year. If they are unavailable you will be put through to our Home School Liaison Officer.

You will be given advice on how your child can access work during their self-isolation. All work will made available via ShowMyHomework so we are currently checking all student login details, but if your child is unable to login please follow the steps in the link below:

https://www.johnspence.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/ShowMyHomework-Advice-for-Parents.pdf

If an issue remains then please contact the school office.

We are operating as normal in school and will continue to follow the guidance from Public Health. We do not intend to cancel any school events or local trips in the short term, but will obviously consider the risks of any activity on a case by case basis and take advice where appropriate.

Please note that the Year 8 Parents’ Evening planned for tomorrow night has been postponed until the summer term. Please contact your child’s form tutor or Mrs Knight if you have anything you would like to discuss in the short term.

Please continue to encourage your child to wash their hands for the recommended 20 seconds before school, during the school day and when they get home.

 

13.03.2020 Update 

No doubt you will have heard the update on the Government’s approach to the outbreak of Coronavirus in that we have now moved from the ‘Containment’ to the ‘Delay’ phase. We ask all parents to read the advice found at the link below around self-isolation, in particular that if any student who develops a new cough or fever should self-isolate for 7 days. At the moment this advice does not state that families should self-isolate if one member of that family develops a cough or fever.

Please follow the normal absence procedures if you need to follow the advice to self-isolate your child. We have work available for students who need to self-isolate on ShowMyHomework, in the short term this will be updated by your child’s class teachers, but if numbers increase we will be providing project based work for KS3 students or extensive revision materials for students in Years 10 and 11. We also have an enormous number of communication resources on ShowMyHomework meaning that students will be able to access plenty of learning opportunities. We will provide advice sheets for parents around ShowMyHomework access in the near future and we are checking that all students have their login codes. Please contact your child’s Head of Year if you have any queries regarding ShowMyHomework.

We do expect further information from Public Health this morning and will update the website as and when this happens.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

 

12.03.2020 Update

We recognise the concerns that parents may have around the potential spread of coronavirus over the coming days and weeks. The school is briefed on a regular basis by Public Health England who inform us of any confirmed cases in North Tyneside; we will be contacted directly if there are any connections between a confirmed case and John Spence students or staff. To date there are no connections to John Spence.

We have been planning for all eventualities including the provision of work for any students who may be required to self-isolate. We are confident that we can respond to any changes in advice as and when it occurs, but in the meantime we will continue to follow advice from Public Health in that we continue to function as normal and encourage hand washing to prevent the spread of infection.

The following link provides you with the most recent information from Public Health England: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

 In other news

Youth Sport Trust – 25th Anniversary – John Spence are an OUTSTANDING school!