COVID-19 Updates

Parents Bulletin 01/04/20

Dear Parents/Carers,

Thank you once again for your continued support.  Over the coming weeks we will continue to communicate with you weekly and we hope that you find these documents useful. Please contact us if there is anything you need: our staff are continuing to work with students every day, including over the Easter holiday period.

It is important to note that we will not be setting work for all pupils during the Easter break. We believe it is important for pupils to have the same rest from school work as they would usually get. Pupils may want to use this time to attempt the #StayConnected challenges set by school. We would also encourage pupils to use this time for reading for pleasure. Pupils who have found the adjustment to home working more challenging can also use this time to catch-up on some work they have not yet managed to complete.

Easter Holidays

The Government is asking schools to remain open for children of critical workers and vulnerable children where they can over the Easter Holiday period. If your child has a parent who is a critical worker, then a place will be available for them at Whickham School.

When pupils are attending school they will be expected to

  • Follow the usual school rules regarding behaviour and expectations.
  • Wear full school uniform – this is so that they can easily be identified as an essential school attendee when travelling to and from school.

The pupils in school will be supervised by volunteer staff. They will not be provided with work to complete. The pupils in school will have access to the internet and IT facilities and staff supervising them will be ensuring that they observe all social distancing and hygiene protocols. If pupils have a book they are reading at home they could bring this in with them.

We have attached a link to a Google Form which enables us to gather information regarding which pupils are likely to attend school  during this time. This will help us to have a plan in place. Only fill this in if you wish your child to attend school during the Easter Holiday period:.Key Worker Children – Easter. We know that shifts can change, particularly for NHS workers, at short notice and the form remains editable by you on a daily basis, if necessary.

Setting work after Easter

Our Teaching staff have started to plan work for after Easter. Teaching staff have started to use Google Classroom in addition to Class Charts (students access this in the same way that they would log in to e-mail). This platform allows for submission of work and teacher feedback far more efficiently than via e-mail. We will be providing some training videos and teachers will be starting to set more tasks on Google Classroom after Easter. Our achievement team will be supporting students where access to Google Classroom has been problematic. We will monitor how well pupils engage with Google Classroom in the first few weeks after Easter, but the intention will be to move towards setting the majority of work through this classroom if it proves accessible to pupils.

Could we please ask that all pupils with a mobile phone download the google classroom app, so that they can access work set and teacher instructions as they can when they use the Classcharts app.

For further support on accessing any of our online learning platforms and a short video on how to use google classroom, please click on the ‘Online Learning’ tab on our website homepage.

Achievement Team

Please e-mail achievement@whickhamschool.org with the year group and name of pupil in the subject line if you require any support from the achievement team. You can also call 0191 496 0026 and we will put you through to the relevant member of the team.

Year 7 Parents’/Carers’ Evening

Year 7 parent / carer evening is cancelled. Once we have further clarification about re-opening we will be in touch.

Year 11 Prom

With regard to the Year 11 Prom school have paid a fee to postpone the Prom and retain the use of the Crowne Plaza. It is not possible at this time to set a date for this, however we will ensure that we give advanced warning to allow families the time to organise Prom wear.

Year 13 Prom

Due to the current situation Year 13 prom has been cancelled. We will continue to look at ways we can organise an event at a later date to celebrate the year group.

Sixth Form

To support Year 11 Miss Tumelty has contacted all Year 11 students about their Sixth Form options, college places, apprenticeships and other destinations. Students are reminded that we have additional places available in the Sixth Form if they wish to join us in September 2020. Also please be aware we are looking at the best ways to support Year 11 with their transition to Sixth Form and other provisions and more information will follow after Easter. Also parents of Year 12 students can be assured that we are also looking at how to ensure students continue to progress well in the Sixth Form, again more on this to follow.

Keeping Pupils Safe and Social Distancing

Please continue to ensure that pupils stay at home and distance themselves from their peers during this time of uncertainty. Pupils should be contacting one another via social media means and not face to face.

Stay Connected

The buildings may be closed, but we are still open!

#StayConnectedWhickham is about helping students, parents and staff to stay connected with each other through online challenges and competitions. Teachers and staff will set fun and interesting challenges online, via school email and through the school’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Students, parents and staff can submit their entries to different challenges via email stayconnected@whickhamschool.org or adding #StayConnectedWhickham to their videos on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok.

Kind regards

Whickham School

Parents Bulletin 27/03/2020

Dear Parents/Carers,

There is no doubt that this has been a difficult and challenging week for all of us; pupils, parents and staff alike. We have been so impressed with all of our pupils, particularly with how quickly they are adapting to an entirely new way of learning and engaging with teaching staff. We know that some pupils are finding on-line learning easier than others and that for some there are significant practical issues to overcome, particularly where there are multiple pupils trying to access a computer all at the same time. 

The following guidelines may be helpful:

  • If your child is feeling overwhelmed by work or it is starting to cause stress and anxiety then please do not worry. Encourage them to do what they can, perhaps completing some and leaving other work to a different day. It would be helpful if you could let subject staff and the achievement team know if this is the case.
  • Try to support your child with a regular routine. We are setting work according to their normal timetable, however it is also important to build in regular physical exercise and other well-being activities. Our PE staff have provided each pupil with some helpful suggestions, and we have other initiatives such as the Stay Connected project. Regular set breaks can also help.
  • Encourage your child to read each day. This can help to reduce stress and promote wellbeing. 

Over the coming weeks we will continue to communicate with you weekly. Feel free to contact us if there is anything you need: our staff are continuing to work with students every day.  

Pastoral Staff

Pastoral Staff are safely working from home but have the interests of all of our children at heart and will be making phone calls to our pupils should they need to. You can contact them in the usual way via email or phone. 

Pupils who need support from our school counsellor, learning mentor and mental health support worker have been identified and we have already started to get in touch. However, should you feel that your child needs some additional emotional support at this difficult time please feel free to email smaher@whickhamschool.org with your concerns and we will do our best to help you. 

Achievement Team and Work Set

Staff and pupils are working hard to ensure that work is being set, completed and marked with feedback that enables pupils to make progress. Please can we ask that pupils stick to their timetable and complete work lesson by lesson rather than subject by subject. This enables staff to keep up with marking and feedback. 

If a pupil does not complete work this is being tracked by our Achievement Team and parents will be contacted so that this can be discussed with pupils. It is important that this work is completed. Pupils are not on holiday. Your child will get a daily email from their subject teachers and the work set will be on ClassCharts. If they have questions they should email their subject teacher in the first instance. If you have any overall concerns please contact the relevant achievement team representative for your child’s year group (0191 496 0026):

  • Y7 – Mrs Hammerton ext. 324
  • Y8 – Miss Jones ext. 201
  • Y9 – Miss Envy ext. 318
  • Y10 – Mrs Hughes ext. 316
  • Y11 – Mr Day ext. 317
  • Y12/13 – Mrs Ross ext. 252

Class Charts Feedback

We are aware that we need to change and adapt our systems to meet these extraordinary circumstances. As a temporary measure we have suspended negative points. We will continue to provide feedback where work has not yet been completed or where work has been completed to a high standard. 

Year 13 Parents’/Carers’ Evening

The Year 13 Parents’/Carers’ evening on Tuesday 31 March has been cancelled. Once we have further clarification about the arrangements for awarding grades this summer we will get in contact with all year 13 students and their parents and carers.

Year 11 and 13 Proms

All Leavers’ celebrations and Prom have had to be postponed. Please assure your children that we will ensure that some form of leavers’ events will go ahead at a later date. It is important to us that their hard work, dedication and contributions to school life are celebrated. 

Sixth Form

In order to support our Year 11 students, we have been able to increase our capacity within the Sixth Form provision for September 2020. We want to ensure students are given the best opportunities for their Post-16 provision. If your son/daughter is wanting to return to Sixth Form or wishes to change their chosen options please contact Miss Tumelty on stumelty@whickhamschool.org 

Keeping Pupils Safe and Social Distancing

Please continue to ensure that pupils stay at home and distance themselves from their peers during this time of uncertainty. Pupils should be contacting one another via social media means and not face to face.

Social Media and Our School Community

Over the coming weeks alongside the work we are asking pupils to complete and submit, we will be encouraging our young people to complete alternative challenges each week. The challenges will allow pupils to demonstrate a variety of different skills. Pupils can film themselves completing their challenges and send a copy to us. #StayConnectedWhickham

Headteacher’s vlog

A Headteacher’s vlog will be communicated to pupils and parents via our social media channels the first of which is linked below

25/03/2020
A Message from Mr Haigh 25th March 2020

25/03/2020

The Year 13 Parents’/Carers’ evening on Tuesday 31 March has been cancelled. Once we have further clarification about the arrangements for awarding grades this summer we will get in contact with all year 13 students and their parents and carers. #StayHomeSaveLives

24/03/2020

Following the announcement last night from the Government we are now asking for updated information from parents/carers about which children need to be in school between now and the end of the Easter holidays.

Please follow the link below completing a form for each sibling who needs to be looked after at school.

Please remember that Government instructions are that all children remain at home, unless all adults at home are key workers and there are no other viable alternatives.

Please click to complete form

23/03/20

Dear Parents/Carers

This is an important message for parents/carers who believe they are sending their child/children to school tomorrow. The Government’s advice about sending your child into school if you are a key worker or if your child is vulnerable, can be interpreted in different ways. I wish to be very clear with you here.

The default position is that the school is closed. The Secretary of State has now clarified his comments and said that ‘if a child can safely stay at home, then they should be at home.’ Sending your child into school otherwise, places them and my staff at increased risk.

Children in Care

All our children in care are in safe and caring environments and they have been assessed to be such. If this was not the case, they would not have been placed there. Therefore we are asking that all such children remain at home, unless both carers are key workers and there are no other viable alternatives.

Children of Key Workers

Even if you are a key worker, please ask yourself whether your secondary school age child is able to remain at home. Is there another parent/carer who is NOT a key worker? Are they old enough to be left alone for periods of time during the day as they would in the holidays or at the weekends? IF THIS IS THE CASE DO NOT SEND YOUR CHILD TO SCHOOL.

Conclusion

I thank parents/carers for their cooperation so far, however we need all parents/carers who are considering sending their children into school to read this letter carefully. We are happy to play our part in the response to this highly unusual situation, but we also need to keep the list of children in school to a minimum.  

Yours sincerely

Steve Haigh

 

Information for parents of pupils in years 11 & 13 – 21/03/2020

The Department for Education has provided some clarification about the awarding of grades to pupils in Years 11 and 13 this summer.

Please click to view.

Whickham School – w/c 23 March – 20/03/2020

To help us with planning for the supervision of pupils still at school please complete the following short form.
Please remember that if it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be.

Please remember that all pupils must attend in full uniform.

We will be open between 8am and 5pm. Once on school site pupils will not be permitted to leave before 3.10pm. Pupils will therefore need either a packed lunch or credit on their school meal account.

Please click to complete form.

Arrangements for continued education – 19/03/2020

Dear Parent / Carer

Thank you for your ongoing patience and support during these challenging times, it is greatly appreciated. The education, health, safety and wellbeing of all of those in our community is important to us and, as such, this letter is outlining what we are doing to support our pupils.

This is an unusual set of circumstances but we do wish to assure families and pupils that we have a comprehensive plan in place to ensure that our children are educated and safe during this time.

Arrangements for continued education

The following arrangements have already been explained to pupils in tutor time this morning:

  • Work will be set for each child following their usual timetable.
  • Routines are very important for well-being and we would strongly encourage pupils to complete work during the times that they would normally have spent in their usual lessons.
  • Teaching staff will send a daily e-mail by 9am each day outlining the work set for their lesson.
  • Work will be available through Class Charts (classcharts.com). All pupils have been reminded of how to log in to this. If there are any issues please contact the school and we will arrange for new login details.
  • We are trying to ensure that there are a variety of tasks both traditional work and also through utilising various on-line learning platforms such as Seneca, Google Classroom, Hegarty, kerboodle and Sam learning. (links to these platforms can be found on our Online Learning page)
  • As far as possible teaching staff will respond, during normal working hours, to e-mails from pupils with requests for clarification/support with work.
  • As far as possible teachers will provide feedback to pupils. This may involve pupils e-mailing completed work back to teachers or e-mailing a picture of their work to their teacher.
  • We have asked pupils to tell us if they do not have access to IT facilities at home. A copy of work will be posted out to pupils who need it.

We expect pupils to complete the work each day and will be in touch the following day if work has not been completed. It is important to emphasise that the intention of closing schools to pupils is to help promote social distancing. It is important that pupils do not meet up outside of school unless absolutely necessary. Pupils should continue to follow the advice from Public Health England, with particular regard to the regular washing of hands.

Arrangements for continued pastoral support of pupils

We are very aware that a number of our pupils rely on support from school staff for their mental health and wellbeing. Our safeguarding team is still available by e-mail, there is also a worry wall on our school website which pupils can access and send a message to the team. Pupils can also contact childline online, on the phone, anytime (childline.org.uk, 0800 11 11).

We would also like to remind families of Kooth which is a free, confidential online mental health service for children and young people that offers online counselling. Please follow the link to find out more: Kooth.com

Continued opening for children of key workers and vulnerable children

If as a parent you have been identified as a key worker please know that you can continue to send your children to school while you are at work. Our main building will be open between the hours of 8.00am to 5.00pm. As currently, pupils will be allowed to leave and make their own way home from 3.10pm. We have requested that school bus services continue to run. If this changes we will let you know.

Children attending school will be undertaking the same online work as their peers under the supervision of our staff, but there will not be taught lessons and supervision will not always be provided by teachers. Pupils attending school must report to the main hall on arrival (8.40am).

Arrangements for Free School Meal children

Children who are on-site will continue to be fed in the normal way. The government have asked schools to put interim plans in place to ensure that all pupils entitled to a Free School Meal receive these on a daily basis. We will be delivering meals to pupils entitled to a free school meal each morning.

Support for pupils in Year 11 and 13

We are all disappointed that the GCSE and A level examinations in May and June will now not take place. At present it is unclear whether these exams will take place at a later date. What is clear is that students will receive their qualifications and achieve the success that their hard work deserves.

We are continuing to set work and exam preparation activities for these students to support them in preparing for any eventuality. This will also help to ensure that they have the knowledge and skills needed for the next phase of their learning in September.

As a school we are determined to put support in place for all pupils so that they can access their planned destinations whether in Sixth Form, college, apprenticeships, university or employment. We are also increasing the number of places available in the school’s Sixth Form next year so that no pupil is disadvantaged.

If you have any queries about this information please contact school in the usual manner. Once again can I thank you for your continued support.

Your faithfully

Mr S Haigh
Headteacher

COVID-19 Update – 18/03/2020

Dear Parent/Carer

Following the announcement on school closures tonight we will be implementing the next phase of our plan to ensure the continuation of your child’s education. The detail of this will be shared with you shortly and we will be providing briefings for students tomorrow and Friday. It is therefore important for all children who can attend tomorrow do so.

We will be working with you to identify children of key workers and our most vulnerable students to ensure that we can support those who are looking after us all.

Our plans are comprehensive and will encompass all the services we provide for children so we can support their welfare as well as their education.

Staff and pupils have been amazing during this week and we have been able to operate as normal. Everyone will continue to work in the weeks ahead to provide some sense of normality in highly unusual times.

Students in Years 11 and 13 can rest assured that we will continue to prepare them well and that we will do whatever is necessary to ensure a smooth progression on to the next phase of their education or work.

Thank you for your continued support. Please be assured we will continue to do whatever we can to support you and all our students.

Yours faithfully,

Steve Haigh

 

Please see our Online Learning page for links to the on-line platforms and resources being utilised at this time.