4th June 2020
Dear parent of a year 10 or 12 student,
I hope this message finds you and your family safe and well.
This is a further message to the general update sent to all parents today. This message is about the expectation on secondary schools regarding providing face to face support for year 10 and 12 students.
You will recall that BEFORE we had secondary guidance from the DfE on this provision, we proposed a phased approach to this as follows:
Phase 1: Site and staff preparation (no students on site)
Phase 2: Welcome phase (One to one meetings between students and staff)
Phase 3: Curriculum catch up phase (small groups of students as invited by the heads of department to come in and gain support on Teams work)
Phase 4: Early thoughts on how we might have half year groups in at a time.
I said at the time that phase 4 was unlikely to take place before the summer holiday but we were planning in case it was possible.
No doubt you are aware that the national picture regarding the expectation on secondary schools is now clearer. We are not expected to have any year 10 or 12 students in until at least the 15th June, that we can have only up to 25% of a year group in at a time, that schools have the flexibility to decide who those students should be and that any onsite provision is only to supplement remote working, not replace it.
What is pleasing is that it fits very well with what we had proposed with only some minor tweaks needed. It's clear that our phase 4 is not needed for this half term.
I attached a survey to parents about this plan. Thank you to those that gave us feedback. The feedback was, overall, positive about this staged approach. The majority thought they would take up an offer of coming in for phase 2 (the welcome phase) and phase 3 (the curriculum catch up phase) with others saying they were not sure or definitely would not. That's fine: this is an offer and as I said before half term, although we would strongly recommend doing so, there is no obligation to take up this offer.
In terms of timings, assuming no further changes to the national guidance, we are currently planning as follows:
Phase 1: This week and the week beginning the 8th June
Phase 2: The week beginning the 15th June. Year 10 meetings to take place on Monday to Wednesday (15th, 16th and 17th June), and year 12 meetings to take place on the 18th June.
Phase 3: The week beginning the 22nd June onwards and for the rest of the term.
Our risk assessment planning continues in earnest, as do our adaptations to the school site. Staff are being invited in next week to come in and see these adaptations, and to meet to talk about how to best continue remote learning as well as how phases 2 and 3 will work within school.
For phase 2, there will shortly be invitations out to you to book an appointment slot for your daughter or son. We plan to do this using the Parents Evening module on Eschools. If you have not used Eschools recently, you may want to refresh your memory on how it works at: https://st-annes-soton.eschools.co.uk/web/eschools_parents_app/296589. You will probably not be able to see the parent evening module on the ESchools yet but it is being activated shortly. If you are having issues with accessing Eschools, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For phase 3, we will share more information about who is invited in and when nearer the start of that phase but to clarify, this will be an invitation to targeted pupils as identified by the heads of department for those subjects, up to 25% of the year group at any one time. The main way your daughter or son is expected to learn will be remotely. This way, they are being set work by the teacher that knows them best in terms of their curriculum. Anything happening on site will be to help support them with that online learning as opposed to separate learning.
Some general responses to the feedback from the year 10 and 12 survey follow. Thank you for the many positive comments received.
Can we have the phase 2 meetings remotely? The purpose of the welcome phase is to welcome students back into the school so that we can meet, but also to help them overcome any psychological barriers to coming on site. It also allows them to see the adaptations and expectations before they would be to follow them. Doing this remotely diminishes the effectiveness of this.
How many children will you have in classrooms? For phase 2, it would only be your child and a teacher for a one to one meeting. When we get to phase 3, this work will be in computer rooms as they will be accessing MS Teams with specialist teacher help. Different classrooms are different sizes but it is tending to be between 5-12 to ensure we can maintain social distancing of at least 2m.
Will you be operating a "bubble" system of staff and students? Again, this is really for phase 3. Secondary schools are not expected to do the same as primary with regards to this. The bubble system of keeping the same pupils with the same member of staff all the time every day works well at primary, and is expected to happen as it is less likely they can maintain social distancing of 2m. At secondary, we are expected to maintain social distancing and keep mixing to a minimum but it is inevitable if we want to have specialist teachers with the right children there will be some mixing of students and staff during the day.
Will you be starting online lessons? We don't have any intention of doing this at the moment. I can see why it might seem to be such an obvious replacement to normal lessons, but it is not the panacea it seems. My message to parents from the 13th May explains in detail why we have taken this approach. This is exemplified by some of the responses we have had from parents, one of which I include here: "We feel you are doing absolutely the right thing to stick with the teams provision, our other child has online live lessons and as you have suggested this is not always educationally better, in fact we find that time is often used inefficiently when teachers communicate with a class of pupils in this format. Your system is allowing our daughter to work at her own pace, spending more time on areas where she needs to, and actually we have been impressed by how her organisational skills and self-directed approach to learning have improved.". I am aware from other responses that not all are finding this time as profitable and successful for a variety of reasons. The next question links to this and the other message to parents that has gone out today has an attachment with some further guidance on working remotely.
What mental health support will there be for coming back? This is very much the thinking behind the welcome phase. Rather than just assume everyone will be fine, we want to speak to each child to see if we need to refer to other help and support. We already have some of this happening remotely, and if your daughter or son is struggling with this beyond your ability to support as parents, please do let us know even before the welcome phase meetings by contacting their head of year and we will try to help where we can.
Thank you for your continued support and engagement.