A Message from the Principal
A final message to our parents and carers for this academic year.
Dear Parents and Carers
As we approach the end of term, I just wanted to take a final opportunity to thank you so much for all your feedback, support and kind messages of support over the past 4 months.
In this update:
- The last few months
- September 2020 including equipment list
- Reconnecting with the curriculum and Knowledge Organisers
- A final thanks and farewell
The last few months
As a College community we have tried really hard to get things right and to provide education across a wide range of circumstances from meetings with vulnerable students, to remote learning on Teams and Class Charts to face to face sessions and specialist teaching, creative and physical activities, as well as Class Chart and Teams sessions for our Key Worker and Vulnerable Children every day, including holidays, since lockdown started.
During this time your feedback has been invaluable in helping us to improve these processes and we feel very strongly that, when things return to some sort of normality, there are communication processes that we have implemented over the last few months that we will want to continue to use. This will be with the aim of ensuring that our local community remains actively involved in the development of their local school. Most recently this included a Facebook live event (as well as various virtual tours and video blogs) for the Year 6 students and their families which has been viewed over 500 times. It has been amazing to see staff, students and the community rapidly engage with these new methods of communication and we very much hope to see this continue.
Following the release of Government guidance for opening in September on 2nd July we have been focused on how we can fulfil the demands from the Government expectation that we offer a "broad and balanced" curriculum as well as ensuring that all students are kept as safe as possible.
This is a difficult challenge for every school.
However, we have some unique circumstances which add an extra layer of complexity not just around size (which helps in some ways) but also by having a split site which is unbalanced in terms of classrooms which means that in order to access a "broad and balanced" curriculum will still require students to cross from time to time to access specialist provision such as Art, Drama, Music and Design Technology which are vital to student development and our aim to provide a curriculum which inspires all.
Public Health England have been consulted on our plans and agree that moving past each other on the bridge represents a very low risk of transmission and the areas they are more focussed on are around classes, social groups and transport. This is why we will be cleaning classrooms after each use and keeping different groups of students apart from each other as far as possible.
Our plans and site modifications will continue to be developed and reconfigured over the next few weeks to allow for more hand sanitisers, more one way systems, holding areas for students to wait while classrooms are cleaned between lessons, staggered starts, staggered breaktimes, split lessons, populations within year groups being kept separate, separate areas for students at break and lunch, separate exits and entrances for year groups and single year groups having lunch in the canteen at any one time.
Without doubt all these additional measures will provide extra complexity for students (and staff!) when returning to the College but, as has happened with all of our provision over the past few months, students and staff are quick to adapt to a new normal.
As the Government guidance states, "it is not possible to ensure a risk-free environment" however, we believe, that these measures taken together will reduce the risk of any transmission although it is important to recognise that this will rely on students understanding the risks and ensuring that they play their part in keeping safe by:
- abiding by the rules,
- washing their hands regularly,
- not coming into school if they have symptoms,
- trying to stay as far apart from each other as possible including on the way to and from school.
Students flouting these rules and deliberately putting others in danger will be dealt with severely and our revised Behaviour Policy reflects this position.
As you have done so brilliantly over the past few months, feedback from parents, carers and students will help us to continue to evolve our processes during September so that if any virus is bought on to site the risk of transmission is small as long as everyone washes their hands, keeps their distance and doesn't come onto site if they are ill.
Since students will be outside for longer periods, potentially waiting for rooms to be cleaned and their member of staff to manage them into their block, to avoid crowded corridors we would ask that students have a good warm waterproof jacket and sturdy waterproof shoes.
Equipment for September
- Warm, waterproof coat and school jumper
- Equipment, calculator and stationery - it will be hard for us to distribute and collect this in and students won't be able to share
- Their own hand gel (70% alcohol) if possible - we will also have hand sanitisers available across the site
- Warm PE kit (not tight-fitting shorts for girls) To avoid small cramped changing rooms students will be asked to come in their PE kit for the day when they have a PE lesson
- Full water bottle to reduce the need to use communal water dispensers
- Snack - access to the canteen may have to be limited to just one visit a day for food
- Strong sturdy waterproof shoes
- No footballs - we will not be able to run the football clubs and competitions that normally happen at lunchtime to keep year groups separate
- Good rucksack/bag to carry that day's equipment
Reconnecting with the curriculum and Knowledge Organisers
As part of our preparations and planning for welcoming all students back into their education at the College, to help students resume their learning in September, we will be introducing a key resource known as a ‘Knowledge Organiser.
Knowledge Organisers are documents that ‘our’ staff have created for ‘our’ students, summarising the most important information that students will need to know for each subject or course. Many Departments already use them to good effect, so we intend to extend this across the College, supported by a clear strategy for their most effective use. They will be used predominately as the regular homework tasks, set as normal in Classcharts. The purpose of this is to set well-structured and challenging homework that strengthens students understanding of key information, concepts and subject specific terminology. The students will have ‘low stakes’ quizzes and tests in-class or on-line, based upon their Knowledge Organisers, to help them embed their learning in their long-term memory alongside developing their ability to retrieve the information as needed.
To help structure this important aspect of their learning, the Knowledge Organisers will be issued in all subjects and courses across Key Stage 3 and 4, electronically, as half termly collated booklet. All students will be provided a workbook to complete their homework in, that you will be able to check, sign and add any comments to encourage your child. We believe that this approach will help every student to manage their learning and resume their journey towards making excellent progress. In September, we will of course provide more information and guidance to ensure that you can best support your child. Other homework will be set as required but there will be difficulties with rapid marking since books to be marked will need to go into quarantine as they come in and our returned and so some work may still be returned through submissions on Class Charts.
I would like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to some links and signposting for any safeguarding issues you may have during the Summer that were sent out by Miss Miles, our Designated Safeguarding Lead, earlier in the week. These links are also available on our website should you have any concerns about the safety or welfare of one of our students. We will have a skeleton staff on site for the next two weeks or so, however, many staff will return from the week beginning 10th August as we support our Year 13 and then Year 11 students the following week receiving their examination results so please do not hesitate to use those links or contact us through our website if you have any safeguarding concerns.
A final thanks and farewell
Finally, once again many thanks for all your support throughout this difficult period for us all. The students have been absolutely amazing, and I think we should all be really proud of how they have dealt with the crises both from an educational as well as a community standpoint.
Well done to all of them and we are looking forward to seeing you all again in September.
Well done and farewell to our Year 13 and Year 11 students. We wish Year 13 for their next steps as they move to university, work or apprenticeships and we look forward to seeing the majority of Year 11 as they return to Post-16 in September. For those of you not returning remember you will always be Exmouth students and so if you need any help in the future please pop in to see us – we would be delighted to see you! I remain really sorry for the year you all had but am truly confident that the results will enable you to move on, make some fresh starts and successfully re-engage with education.
Don’t forget you all have the potential to be brilliant and a pandemic won’t get in the way of that!
Finally, I would just like to publicly thank all the teaching and support staff at the College. The College has, quite rightly, won many plaudits over the last few months for our work and none of this would be possible without the amazing team of staff that the College have. Many have worked tirelessly, quietly and in often very unglamorous roles that regularly go unnoticed but all of those efforts from every single person build up into an amazing combined response to support and educate our students throughout this crises. I am sure they will all continue to act with the same integrity, determination, and professionalism in September and beyond. Thank you.
I hope you all have a great Summer, stay safe and we look forward to seeing you for examination results days and in September for a full return, conditions allowing.
Andrew Davis - Principal