Principal's Update January
I hope you had a great break with family and friends over the Christmas period. In a bumper packed new year edition I would like to cover,
- Current Covid situation
- Face coverings
- Remote learning and knowledge organisers
- Attendance update
- New building developments
- ECC PTFA
Like many schools across our region, as well as nationally, we are unfortunately seeing many cases of both students and staff catching Covid and having to be absent from school.
These high levels of absence mean that some students are missing their learning and that students who are in school are sometimes not being taught by their normal teacher. This is very frustrating for us since it is important that students receive a really good education. To help students stay on track all subjects have mapped out and published their curriculum on our website at https://www.exmouthcollege.devon.sch.uk/curriculum/subjects). We have a large team of our own lesson supervisors, as well as supply staff, who keep learning moving forward.
It is important to recognise that staff absence is also hitting our other critical services which are led by non-teaching staff such as catering, ICT, SEND, Pastoral Teams and Facilities Management.
We are really sorry but these absences, as well as difficulties around recruitment in some areas such as Teaching Assistants, means that sometimes our levels of service can be compromised and wait times longer than normal, as we prioritise our day to day operational delivery. We do apologise for this but Devon Headteachers are being told by PHE that the peak of infections should be over in the next two weeks.
We know that we are not the only school facing these difficulties. Many of our partner primary schools are also facing similar problems along with many secondary schools across the County who we know are now having to take more extreme measures such as combining classrooms or closing year groups. So far we have not had to do this and it would very much be a last resort, however it is worth bearing in mind that we could have to go back to some remote learning and that if we do resources and information will be found on our website here.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support but also pass on my sincere thanks to staff, both support and teaching staff for all their endeavours in keeping the College operating as normally as possible.
Firstly, I would like to say thank you to all students and families for supporting the continued use of face coverings across the College. We have absolutely no desire to keep face coverings in place for everyone for any longer than necessary, however, as you can see from the map below Interactive map of cases | Coronavirus in the UK (data.gov.uk) Covid infections remain really high. Every time someone is infected they are not able to come to College to study or work for at least 5 days. We therefore believe that we need to keep face coverings in place for now (along with ventilation and encouraging hand washing etc) to try and keep everyone in College learning and limit the disruption to lessons. We will review this again at the end of next week but thank you again for your support on this issue.
We are continuing to work through our assessment process and based on the feedback we received from parents and carers last term we have spent some time revisiting these processes with our subject leaders to try and ensure a range of assessments are in place across different terms.
There are two main types of assessment: summative and formative. Summative is high stakes and is mainly the written exams that students will do at the end of Year 11 and Year 13 for GCSEs and A Levels (though some students will study equally valid and challenging vocational courses that have slightly different assessment arrangements).
Most other assessments we do are summative and, in the main, are low stakes. These include written assessments at the end of a learning cycle, quizzes, questions in class, homework etc all of which gives the teacher or teaching assistant information about whether a student has learnt something (great!) or not (what else can we do to help a student understand).
Our curriculum is now built around the essential knowledge that our subject experts believe is the most important for students to progress. Regular assessments such as quick quizzes are a way for us to check the learning before we progress.
Nobody wants to over test students and so subject leaders have a range of assessments they will use to collect this information and feed back to you via your child’s report. It is also important to recognise that these assessments are a normal part of your child’s learning journey. The assessments will also help students build their resilience back up in order to best prepare them for the high stakes testing that will happen at the end of Year 11 or Year 13.
As ever if you have any concerns about assessments for your child all the contact details for our Subject Leaders are on our website along with contacts for the tutor and pastoral teams.
Remote learning and knowledge organisers
As mentioned above, we are hoping not to have to return to remote learning but just in case we do please be prepared at home and take a look at our remote learning page here.
If your child is having to isolate at home due to Covid but is still well enough to engage in work then there are a wide range of knowledge organisers from subjects available here.
We would encourage students going back over and memorising previous knowledge organisers to make sure the essential knowledge is firmly stored in their long term memory. The “Look, read, cover, write” check is a good technique for practising whether the
content has been learnt or not.
Please can all parents and carers continue to ensure they contact the College daily should their child be absent. Contact should be made before 8:30am so we are able to quickly establish our daily morning register.
As from Monday 31st January, all parents and carers should inform the College of absence in the following way:
Reporting absence for Key Stage 3 students - (Years 7, 8 and 9)
Phone - 01395 255695
Email - KS3Attendance@exmouthcollege.devon.sch.uk
Reporting absence for Key Stage 4 students - (Year 10 and 11)
Phone - 01395 255651
Email - KS4Attendance@exmouthcollege.devon.sch.uk
Reporting absence for Post 16 students- (Years 12 and 13)
Phone - 01395 255660
Email - KS5Attendance@exmouthcollege.devon.sch.uk
If you inform the College by email, please email through the account you have registered with us as a contact and ensure you have provided your child's name and tutor group in the subject box, providing a concise reason for absence within the email and your name and relationship to the student. We would be grateful if parents and carers do not leave messages for absence on any other voicemail or email address at the College.
New building developments
We continue to make great progress with the large new build on Green Close. The floors, stairs and lift shaft are now in with the roof and walls starting to go on. In the pictures below you will see how it is beginning to take shape. We are planning to move into the new build in approximately 12 months’ time whereupon the other end of life buildings on Green Close will be demolished with the whole project finished by September 2023.
The Grange refurbishment is now also complete and we are currently planning projects to replace the large Astroturf and refurbish the Dance studio. We hope to begin work on Phase 2 of our Maths Block on Gipsy Lane shortly.
For some time now we have been researching into ways to ensure we are forming links with Parents and Carers and members of the Exmouth community including local businesses.
We are very fortunate that we have lots of members of our community willing to support the College and find opportunities to work together. Sadly Covid19 has hindered this over the last 2 years, however we are determined to pick up where we left off and do even more by introducing new ideas and opportunities.
Our current focus is on setting up a Parent/Carer, Teachers and Friends Association within the College. In particular we would like to facilitate a used uniform shop in addition to fund raising events. Many secondary schools have extremely successful committees who contribute and enrich the life of students through their voluntary work. We believe ECC can do the same to benefit our students.
If you would like to be part of our PTFA, or would like more information please complete this short form https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=d7mDmVf8qkG-I5jxifmXu25flkeobZFCphnKUU-8Zl1URE00VDdGWktMTjdUV1RCSTJMRDJJMjE0OS4u
Thank you for reading this and I hope you find the update useful. As ever thank you so much for your continued support.