• Headmaster

Parents and Carers Briefing - Thursday 2nd April

Thank you for all your messages of support in these difficult and uncertain times. I hope that you and your families are keeping well, yours and your family's health and welfare should be your first consideration at present.

Now that you know the joys of home-schooling, please feel able to retreat a little from the pressures of school life for the two weeks of Easter Break, you should be able to step away from your computers and recharge to some extent. I want staff to be able to do that too.

You should not expect any compulsory work for students over Easter.

The school will remain open for Key Worker children and we have an SLT and teacher rota in effect, and a number of support staff will be working too. In these unprecedented times our role in safeguarding our most vulnerable students continues.

We are going to have a ‘virtual’ INSET day on Monday 20th April.

This is for staff to communicate about planning for the half-term of distance learning. Sharing planning workload, moving Year 10 and Year 12 schemes about so that more appropriate content is delivered at this time. Sharing successes and failures in remote learning so far. There will be no lessons set on Monday 20th April.

For Year 11 and Year 13 families, I know these are anxious and frustrating times regarding examination grades. We have yet to receive the guidance on exam grades, so our position remains the same. Please do not engage in correspondence with teachers regarding grades. When we receive the guidance we will need to consider our approach as a school and so our response will not be immediate, please be patient. I am consulting with other Heads across Sutton to ensure a consistent, fair and ethical process emerges. There will be an appeals process and, we are told, an opportunity to sit exams if required. Rest assured we have the students' best interests at heart.

We are not going to be using any video-conferencing with students. Equality of access, both for students and staff, is the guiding principle here. The pressure and stress on staff and students that this expectation would create is unnecessary and unsustainable. We currently do not have safeguarding policy that covers its use either and so we will not be using this technology with students.

Our excellent pastoral focus will remain, with Tutors at the heart of our sense of community and contact. Along with introducing quizzes, competitions and reading groups there is my blog and plenty of staff to follow on Twitter.

After Easter as before, there is no expectation that we will be fulfilling a ‘normal’ school day, and we do not want students or staff chained to computers all day, or overwhelmed with large tasks. What we have planned is hopefully sustainable and will be monitored and under constant review.

Our emphasis and expectations of curriculum will change after Easter, with Year 10 and Year 12 prioritised. There will be an expectation of checking for understanding every so often by teachers in all Key Stages. We will complete syllabuses in Year 11 and Year 13.

Year 10 and Year 12 can expect a formal series of exams on their return to school, in all their subjects (all 4 A Levels). After a little break we will support Year 11 with A Level course transition work. KS3 will have their learning tested too.

We will be monitoring the engagement of students and where this is lacking, our first thoughts will be pastoral and about student welfare. We will let parents know if there is a persistent problem with effort, but there will be little by way of sanction we can apply. In these strange days of schooling we will be relying more than ever on the intrinsic motivation of our students and the understanding that this learning will be forming vital foundations of knowledge for future study.

I will be sending an Easter message tomorrow, look out for that. (I have been talked out of recording a 'performance', sorry).

Keep Faith,

Ben Cloves Headmaster

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