Update for parents and carers following latest Government advice on increasing numbers of students on site for face-to-face sessions.
Dear Parents and Carers
First, and foremost, I hope you and your families are safe and well.
My apologies for a lack of recent updates, but a significant amount of work has been going on behind the scenes at the College over the past few weeks which has kept us very busy. Amongst other things we have:
- successfully kept the school open for most students despite many staff and families self-isolating at the start of the outbreak
- re-designed our pastoral system to ensure students are well looked after
- massively increased our social media output to assist with communication
- completely changed the way we deliver our lessons
- re-thought all our meetings whilst keeping various building projects, budget planning, orders and site inspections moving along
- drawn up an extensive rota for all staff groups to limit time in school
- continued to recruit staff for September
- kept our Nursery open for those that needed the service
- completely re-invented the awarding of examination grades in Year 11 and Year 13
- reinvented the system for allocating vouchers to Pupil Premium families
- implemented Microsoft Teams/student emails across the school and thought about the training required by staff to deliver outstanding distance learning
and, of course, continued to provide a place of safety, fun and learning for vulnerable and keyworker children for the past nine weeks.
We remain immensely grateful for all your kind words, encouragement and support over the past few weeks. Thank you.
Face to face sessions for students in Year 10 and Year 12:
As you may have seen last week the Government has now asked primary and secondary schools to start thinking about admitting more students back into school. I don't like to use the term "re-opening" since it is clear to me that we haven't ever been shut over the past nine weeks!
In secondary schools this is described by the Government as,
· secondary schools, sixth form, and further education colleges to begin some face to face support with year 10 and 12 pupils, although we do not expect these pupils to return on a full-time basis at this stage
· all schools and childcare providers to continue to offer places to the priority groups – vulnerable children and children of critical workers – they have been supporting since the end of March
Year 7, 8 and 9 students
At the moment, the Government has not released any details about the return of Year 7, 8 and 9 students and, therefore, I think it is likely that this will take place at some point in the Autumn term. The Government has also said that, before finally allowing more students on site, it will review the latest evidence on the 28th May and make a final decision at that point.
The safety of everyone, including families and the wider community of Exmouth
There has been a wide variety of press coverage about how safe it is, or isn't, to hold these sessions and we have been working with a wide variety of other organisations to ensure we get the best advice. This includes taking account of the advice from other school leaders across the country, the Government's own scientific advice, other reputable online scientific advice and teaching unions. We have even made contact with the Marine Camp at Lympstone to find out what they have been doing.
Everybody in education recognises that, for the sake of students, we want to get back to normal learning as soon as possible. Differences in opinion between a range of national organisations about what constitutes "safe" have become very apparent of late. This is a great shame after such a period when the whole country seemed so united. From my point of view, we have an incredibly dedicated staff, many of whom have gone well above and beyond over the past few weeks; from making face masks for key workers, to ringing students who are having a tough time, to delivering food parcels. At our College, with this level of commitment from our staff, I think I will have more problem with staff wanting to do too much than too little and so it is important that we have thought about the safety of everyone, including the more vulnerable members of the community in Exmouth, such as those in care homes, before having more students on site.
As we move towards admitting more students back into the College I will be aiming to ensure that parents, carers, staff and students are brought together in a clear well thought out plan that is as safe as it can be, with clear risk assessments in place for the activities we will be undertaking. We are currently writing those plans and they will see us working in an incremental way and reviewing our provision as we go, to ensure that the sessions we are providing are both safe and effective for the students who attend.
It will be school but not as we know it….
The provision we are planning to put in place will look very different to "normal" school. Class sizes will be small to ensure that students stay 2m away from each other at all times, students will need to stay in the same learning group while they are in school, there will be minimal students spread across the site, they will need to wash hands properly and regularly, as well as behaving very responsibly on the way to and from school. This is to protect both them and their families, staff and their families as well as the wider community within Exmouth. Unfortunately, students who cannot follow these stringent rules and put themselves and others at risk will not be allowed to access this provision.
We will keep you informed as we develop further details over the next week or so, but my current expectation is that we will need to initially provide staff training on the new procedures to ensure safety measures are applied consistent before opening the site to greater numbers of students. Our plans will develop incrementally to make sure we are operating safely as we have done for the past two months or so. We also need to await the Government’s final decision on whether it is safe to open or not which will be issued after their review on the 28th May.
Keyworker and vulnerable student provision on-site
During this time, we will continue to provide supervision for vulnerable students and the children of key workers using the normal booking form. We will shortly be opening bookings for children in the keyworker and vulnerable category for the half term week and week commencing 1st June so please keep an eye out for these emails if you fit these criteria.
Update on Activities Week
Finally, as you may be aware, after the Government announcement regarding Key Stage 3 students returning at some point in the Autumn Term we have now had to cancel Activities Week and we are in the process of contacting parents and carers. We are very sorry about this.
Many thanks for your ongoing support.
Andrew Davis - Principal