Dear Parents and Guardians,
You will be aware from other recent communication that we are busy planning a phased return to school for specific year groups from 15th June, following government guidance and an extensive risk assessment that has been undertaken. This will provide an opportunity for Year 10 and Year 12 students to gain some pastoral support and face to face learning before the end of the summer term. For other year groups however, this will not be the case and so home learning will continue to form the basis of many of our students’ education during the final half term of the year. This letter provides an update on Teaching and Learning for all year groups and will hopefully answer the most frequently asked questions received from members of our community.
Year 7 and 8
Teachers will continue to set (in the main) weekly assignments that reflect the amount of curriculum time each subject is allocated. Skooler will remain the platform on which the assignments are set and on which teacher feedback, where appropriate, is given. A programme of further staff training has been scheduled for the week beginning 8th June in which improved practices will be encouraged. These include the setting of weekly assignments on the first lesson of each week as dictated by students’ timetables, to avoid a build up of work appearing at the start of each week. With staggered deadlines set (minimum of a week for each), students should be able to organise their time more effectively and therefore minimise any stress caused by too many assignments arriving at any one time. Teachers will continue to use a variety of resources to set the work including digital platforms such as BeReady and Oak National Academy. Digital resources that we have access to including Kerboodle and MathsWatch will also be used, as many of these offer instant feedback which students have responded very positively to.
Students in Year 9 have now submitted their GCSE option choices albeit in a remote fashion. Whilst we understand that this may alter the focus and motivation for some students to complete all assignments set, especially from those subjects which students will not be continuing to study next year, we feel it is important for students to keep their learning as broad as possible. If we were in school, Year 9 students would continue to attend lessons in all subjects until the end of the academic year. Some teachers when setting assignments will be indicating which work is compulsory for all and which activities should be completed by those continuing with the subject at GCSE. It is important that students take note of this and complete the relevant work in order to prepare well for the start of their next phase in education.
Year 10 and 12
As outlined in Miss Coffill’s letter, we are busy planning the reintegration into school for students in these two examination year groups. The phased return will be measured and kept under constant review. The time in school will not replace home learning but instead, complement it. The focus of the lessons in school after the pastoral support has been offered will be on consolidation of learning rather than new course material as we appreciate our students have had varying home learning experiences during lockdown. Subject teachers will continue to set assignments on Skooler covering new course content and these should be completed as much as possible by all students.
Teachers that come into school to deliver face to face teaching will not be asked to set work for Year 10 students. The work will instead be assigned to students by another member of the Faculty or Department to help balance teacher workload.
We are providing staff with Microsoft Teams training to enable colleagues, should they wish to, to organise some remote face to face learning with their Year 12 groups before the end of the year. Some staff are keen to do this, but it should not be the expectation that all lessons will begin to be delivered in this way. From a safeguarding perspective, staff and students will need to follow strict guidance given by the school when video lessons are arranged. Students will be emailed and asked to give their consent to participating in Microsoft Teams lessons.
We have provided Year 11 with a range of bridging assignments designed to prepare students well for their next phase in education. Request for access to the Sixth Form SharePoint has been excellent and it is good to see the level of motivation from many of our students to keep their learning broad.
For those students who have been assigned to a particular bridging course group and who have not completed the work set to date, will be contacted by the relevant Head of Department to find out the reason. It may be that students have changed their choice of A Level subjects to study; however, it is really important that all Year 11 students remain engaged and prepare well for the start of Year 12.
We have provided all Year 13 students with access to an online course called ‘Making an Impact’ provided by EtonX. Whilst many of our students await the A Level grades in the summer and prepare to start secured apprenticeships, work or university courses, we hope that completion of this course will be beneficial to all who choose to engage with it. Being a certificated course means it can be referenced on applications and discussed at future interviews.
Frequently asked Questions
What level of feedback should my child expect to receive?
We understand the importance of feedback and are constantly looking for different ways in which this can be provided and improved upon. Many of our digital resources provide instant feedback e.g. quiz scores, so students can see how they are performing. We are also keen for students to be actively involved in the feedback process and encourage students to make use of green pen opportunities provided within many of the assignments set, where students are provided with answer sheets, mark schemes and model answers in order for them to mark their own work and measure their own performance. Some key pieces of work do require teacher feedback and we are all working hard to ensure this happens. We have also been keen to celebrate real success by issuing Kudos points for excellent work, sending digital postcards of praise and emails to parents informing them of their child’s success. This will continue to happen to help maintain the enthusiasm for learning during these challenging times.
Our fantastic pastoral team (Heads of Year and Form Tutors) are continuing to check in with students by making regular phone calls home. This is proving a success as students are able to feedback on their well being and home learning experience. This contact will continue to happen until we return to school.
When will face to face online teaching be available to my child?
As a school we made an early decision not to provide face to face online teaching as part of our home learning provision. Concerns over safeguarding on platforms such as Zoom meant that we could not guarantee the safety of our students and teachers which is of paramount importance. We have however, based on parental, student and teacher feedback decided to trial the use of Microsoft Teams as a way of providing this kind of teaching moving forward. With any change it is important to manage it well and so it has been decided to trial this lesson approach predominantly with Year 12. However, those members of staff who feel confident in using Microsoft Teams can, if they so wish, also start using Microsoft Teams with groups of students in other year groups.
We are always looking for opportunities to improve the learning experience for our students. All staff will complete training next week to enable them to produce PowerPoint resources in which voice-overs can be added. This will make the resources feel more like real teaching when students access them. We cannot expect all staff to create resources in this way due to a variety of reasons including access to required technology at home, but your child should see an increase in resources in which the teacher’s voice can be heard, and work explained.
What do I do if my child is struggling with home learning?
If you are concerned that school work is causing anxiety and stress, please in the first instance contact your child’s Form Tutor to discuss the matter. We can support your child in a number of different ways for example reducing the amount of assignments they need to complete. Some students at the very start of lockdown were given work packs to complete as an alternative to online learning and our fantastic AEN team are continuing to support a large number of students at this difficult time.
We are committed to providing the best possible home learning experience possible for all our students. It is important to note however, that during lockdown, not only are our wonderful staff setting and offering feedback on student work, they are also caring for and home-schooling their own children. Some are caring for family members and some are regularly in school supporting the learning of our Key Worker and AEN children. Please therefore appreciate that these responsibilities can at times impact on work being set. That said, we are always open to feedback. I would be delighted to hear about specific practices that you feel are working particularly well so that the ideas can be shared amongst colleagues and help improve the learning experience for all. If you would like to share your observations or offer suggestions for improvements please email me at email@example.com
We look forward to seeing more students back in school building soon and hopefully all students in the not too distant future. Until then please keep safe and we wish you and your families well.
Associate Deputy Headteacher