Parent and Carer Update 19th March
Dear Parents and Carers
I hope you and your family remain safe and well.
In this update I will cover
- A welcome return to face to face teaching
- A Post – 16 live event for Year 11 students covering details of our academic and pastoral support for students who join the Sixth Form
- An update on testing and home testing
- Assessment Awarded Grades 2021 (previously known as Centre Assessed Grades or CAGs in 2020) for Year 11, 12 & 13 students finishing their courses
- A curriculum update
- Voting for Staff Splash Challenge in aid of Comic Relief!!
A welcome return to face to face teaching
Many thanks for all of your support in helping our young people settle back into College life. Once again we have been really proud of our students in terms of the maturity and seriousness they have shown when getting tested, wearing their face coverings, following all of our other Covid protocols as well as their engagement in lessons.
As we previously saw, the overwhelming majority of students have returned really positively and settled straight back into their lessons as if they had never been away. Talking to students during the day they are really pleased to be back with the majority of students saying to me they like being able to see their friends again and love the routine of coming to College.
We are continuing to be understanding about uniform and haircuts since we recognise there are some difficulties around this with hairdressers being closed until 12th April. Like every school we do not accept extreme Mohican style haircuts with shaven heads since these can come across poorly to other students. In terms of uniform we have also accepted that during the winter, when we had to have windows and doors to classrooms open with learning taking place in colder environments, students would need to wear additional clothing.
However, after Easter with the warmer weather hopefully upon us, we will expect students to return to following our rules about uniform including wearing their College jumper and correct shoes. This includes days where students have PE, and wear their kit all day, we expect the correct PE kit to be worn. Uniform is important because it is about everyone being treated equally so that no one feels disadvantaged if they can’t wear the latest really expensive trainers or hoodies. If you have any problems with purchasing items of uniform or avoiding extreme haircuts please do not hesitate to get in touch with us so that we can provide assistance and avoid any problems in the Summer term.
We also understand that students will have got into the habit of using their mobile phone even more than normal during lockdown. In order to protect all students, we do not allow them to have their mobile phone/headphones out while on College site. Can you please encourage your child to switch their mobile off as they come into College and place it in their bag to avoid the temptation of checking it and it then being confiscated. If your child needs to contact home during the day this can be done through our Key Stage offices.
Post-16 live event for Year 11 students 24th March 17:30 – 18:30
Thank you to the large numbers of Year 11 students who have completed the application form for Post-16 – we very much look forward to seeing you again in September. If you have not completed yours please don’t worry, Ms Craddock has sent another email reminder to complete a new form. The deadline for this is Wednesday 24th March since the sooner we receive your request the quicker we will be able to confirm your choices so that you can focus on completing your current courses.
Unfortunately, due to Covid and lockdown, we have been unable to interview face to face every single Year 11 student to make sure they have plans in place for their next steps. To help students understand their choices and the unique offer we have in our Post-16 we will be holding a live event to help students navigate their next steps. The event is open to all Year 11 since we offer Level 2 courses such as Engineering right through to students who move on to Oxford or Cambridge (last year two of our students went to Oxford with a further three students having been offered places this year).
The link to the meeting can be found here.
Covid testing and home testing
As we move to home testing I just wanted to say another well done to all of the students who have gone through our test centre over the past few days. All of the volunteers who worked in there have been super impressed with their maturity and politeness despite some being nervous about the process initially. Well done and hopefully you now feel confident to continue with testing at home. We will retain a small testing centre on site which can be booked by families if they need some assistance with testing but the 14 station test centre in the Main Hall has now been dismantled and so I would just like to thank once again our wonderful team of more than 30 parents/carers, community members and staff who stepped up to help out. We completed more than 6000 tests over 9 days and over 8000 tests in the short space of time we had the onsite test centre. It has been an amazing community endeavour – thanks again!
To keep you informed this week we did have a positive test returned on a Year 8 student and so again apologise for the inconvenience this has caused for everyone who has to self-isolate. We know this is frustrating however we are bound by law to tell people to self-isolate and our advice from Public Health England for those that refuse to is to call the Police which obviously we do not wish to do to anyone.
Thank you for your overwhelming support in ensuring students are continuing to test for Covid - 19 at home using the Lateral Flow test issued earlier this week. The test boxes contain enough tests to last until the end of the term. The government has asked us to ensure that students who have consented to testing continue to do so over the Easter break. We fully support this request as it will continue to contribute to keeping our students, staff and their families safe. We shall therefore be issuing more testing kits on Tuesday next week. Please ensure that students keep these safe to use during the holiday. Students need to continue testing twice a week (3-5 days apart). It is really important that the tests are used at the correct time to ensure they last, and students are able to complete a test just before returning to college on Monday 19th April. Please ensure a test is completed and recorded on the Sunday 18th or Monday 19th before college.
If you need any guidance, please watch the presentation on our website at https://www.exmouthcollege.devon.sch.uk/news-and-events/mass-testing-of-students/students-home-testing
To remind you, please ensure you record your test results on both the NHS website and our college website (details in the presentation). If when testing at home your child receives a positive result from the lateral flow test your household and close contacts must self-isolate. However, a PCR test can be used to confirm the positive result. This is a different process from testing in college. The explanation from the Government is that when performed in college by trained staff and volunteers, there is less opportunity for user error. The whole household and close contacts must isolate until a negative PCR result is achieved. If a negative is received, your child can return to college. If positive, they must continue to isolate (with the household and close contacts).
Assessment Awarded Grades 2021 (Year 11, 12 & 13 students completing their courses this year)
In 2020 external examinations were cancelled and the school had to put in place a system for awarding grades to students in Years 11, 12 and 13, who completed their courses which were called Centre Assessed Grades. Unfortunately we are now having to do the same for examinations which were due to take place in 2021. This time, however, the process for awarding grades will be based on a holistic judgement of each student’s performance across a range of evidence relating to the content that has already been taught, rather than a prediction of what staff thought a student would achieve as it was last year.
This is obviously a very important area for us to get right and ensure that no child is disadvantaged. We have published detailed guidance about how we are going to undertake this work, however, it should be noted that more guidance is due to come out from the exam boards after Easter and so there may be further changes.
Our guidance is available on our social media and website here and if you have any queries please do not hesitate to get in touch. We know that the awarding of these grades will be a stressful time for some students and their families and will do everything we can to keep all those involved in the process as well informed as possible to reduce that worry.
Curriculum update - Review, Retrieve and Record Weeks (Years 7-10 and Year 12)
During the last lockdown teachers and students worked hard to continue with their learning and undertake new content. We activated prior learning and curiosity and then we explained and practised new knowledge and skills. Up to Easter we are reviewing the material that was covered and then seeing how much students can retrieve and use. This is being carried out in a variety of ways - some in class and some as homework (on Teams) but we are not running formal 'assessments'. At the end of term we will record the progress students have made and this will be sent home early in the summer term.
Comic Relief 2021 – the Staff Splash Challenge
For Comic Relief this year we are raising money for good causes through a staff Splash Challenge. To take part and donate simply visit the Comic Relief offer on your sQuid account and select the member of staff you would like to vote for. The member of staff with the highest number of votes will face the challenge at the Collection Point of the year group who collect the most money.
Many thanks for reading this far and thank you for your continued support.