Since I last wrote to you at the start of lockdown, we have all been hoping for confirmation of when students can return to school safely. We had hoped that this would be after half term but this week the Government announced that schools will not be returning until 8th March at the earliest. This date is not definitive and is subject to change pending scientific guidance. The key points from the Government announcement are below:
- The earliest schools might ‘begin to re-open’ will be Monday 8th March, which is the start of the third school week after the half-term holiday;
- The government will set out a plan/review on Monday 22nd February (the first day after the half-term holiday), providing further updates;
- When the decision to return has been made, parents and schools will get two weeks’ notice of this.
Although we all know that the safety of the nation is paramount, I know that this news will come as a huge disappointment to you and your child as it has to us at the College. We all acknowledge that remote learning cannot replace face-to-face education and that it presents challenges to students, staff and families. I would like to reassure that, with the extension of the remote learning provision, we will continue to provide your child and family the very best support that we can.
Remote Learning & Pastoral Support
Over the past few weeks, we have listened to your feedback and that of the students and staff to continually make improvements and ensure that every child has access to the support and learning that they need.
Alongside our teachers, we have a series of dedicated helpdesks and support staff working hard to monitor and respond to individual student need. If your child is having difficulties in accessing their learning for any reason, please let us know. To help us monitor our provision, please use the contact us section of the website. This will ensure that your query is directed to the correct person. Our reception desk is also open on 01208 72114 (8:30am – 3:30pm) but please note that due to staffing restrictions it may take a little while longer to answer your call.
The MSTeams live tutorials are also designed to give your child advice, guidance and support on a daily basis. Attendance at these sessions is monitored so that we can help identify any difficulties students may have in accessing their learning and put in place the necessary support, including technological support.
In addition to these live tutorials, the live Q&A sessions for English, Maths and Science have proven to be very popular. As a result, we are now extending this provision to other subjects. These are aimed at supporting students in getting the most out of their Satchel:One lessons. Full details are outlined in an accompanying letter from Mrs Guest.
We know that working from home can be challenging but we have been extremely impressed by the incredible work the students are continuing to produce. It is important that they continue to do their very best whilst also being mindful of their wellbeing. Tips for balancing their workload and producing their best are available on the covid19 area of our website and also discussed during the daily tutorials.
Please also note that there will be no remote learning or vulnerable critical-worker provision over half term. It has been a challenging time for families and it is important that students, parents and staff get the opportunity to re-charge their batteries.
Exams and Centre-Assessed Grades
Following the government announcement to cancel the A level and GCSE exams this summer, we continue to await information about how these will be replaced. We also await news on how BTEC and Vocational assessments will be graded but the advice from these exam boards is that students should continue with their coursework, class assessments and online exam preparations. The government consultation closes today, so we hope to know more very shortly.
It is highly likely that grades for all qualifications will be calculated from a combination of classwork, assessments, coursework, mocks and exam board assessment tasks. Therefore, it is essential that students continue to remain focused and engage fully in their remote learning whether they are due to sit exams this year or in the future. This will ensure a strong foundation of evidence for teacher assessments, prepare students well for any pending assessment tasks set by the examining boards and of course provide them with the best opportunities for success in the future.
As soon as we know more information, we will be in touch.
Finally, I would once again like to thank you for your continued support. Your positive emails and kind words have been greatly appreciated. I would also like to thank and congratulate you for your efforts in supporting your child’s remote learning through this most challenging time. Remember, we are in this together and we are here to help.
Mrs Emmie Seward-Adams