COVID-19: Contingency planning for partial or total school closure

Contingency planning update to parents and carers 17th September 2020

 

What to do if your child or someone in the household displays symptoms of Covid-19

 

Face Coverings – Letter to Parents & Carers 28 August 2020

Dear Parent / Carer

The purpose of this letter is to inform you of our policy on face coverings and provide additional information for those who use buses to travel to and from school and who use the canteen.

Face Masks

Recent media coverage and changes in Government advice have resulted in a situation where different schools are implementing different policies in relation to face coverings. Our position has always been that we will follow Public Health England advice and ensure that we are minimising the risks associated with Covid-19 to both staff and children. Our local area is not currently identified as one where transmission of the virus is high. We do feel, however, that the use of face masks during key times within the school day, will provide staff, students and parents with additional confidence with full-reopening of the school from September. We are also a large and busy school where we are maintaining a full curriculum and will have student movement at various times of the day.

Therefore:

  1. All children and staff are required to wear a face mask when inside in communal areas e.g. corridors and the sixth form block. The only exception to this is the dining hall, once seated, and when sixth form students are eating or drinking in the sixth form block.
  2. Children and staff have the option of wearing a face mask when outside in communal areas e.g. the yard.
  3. Children will not wear face masks in classrooms unless there is a specific need identified in an individual risk assessment. Some staff may have visors on during lessons but this will be dictated by our risk assessment.

Please note that some students and staff will not be asked to wear a mask for health reasons. Parents with children in this category should contact their child’s Pastoral Leader if this is the case.

To support this decision I ask that you ensure your child brings a face mask to wear in school and has at least one spare in their bag. They should also bring a small plastic bag to allow for safe storage when the mask is removed. Ideally, masks should be made of cloth and able to be washed and reused. This will limit expense to parents and carers. No child will be excluded from school if they do not have a face mask but they should report to their year leader before school for support. We do not have an unlimited number of masks in school.

Students will be given guidance on the safe wearing and removal of masks and use of sanitiser hand gel. This will take place on the first day that they attend school.  Click here for the World Health Organisation Guidance on how to wear a mask

Scholar Buses

We are currently in discussions with Gateshead LA and Nexus regarding the number of buses that will be operating when school reopens. Gateshead LA has the legal responsibility to ensure adequate provision is in place for children who need to access transport in traveling to and from school.

At present the advice attached here ‘preparing your child to travel to school by bus’ has been provided by Nexus and the following buses have been timetabled bus timetable as of September 2020 . We are providing Gateshead and Nexus with information relating to what we believe will be the demand for buses and it might be the case that further buses are scheduled.

We ask all parents and carers, where possible, to make alternative arrangements for their child’s travel to and from school. This could include walking or the use of a car, dropping pupils a short walk from school (not directly outside the school gates where unsafe levels of congestion could take place). Where parents and carers cannot do this, we ask that you monitor Nexus travel information via this link https://www.nexus.org.uk/covid-secure. We will also provide updated information as soon as we have it.

Parents and carers are reminded that Nexus requires children to wear face masks and have the correct change for any journey.

Canteen

For those students who use the canteen, we have staggered entry and exit times in order that cleaning can take place in between services. However, in order to maintain social distancing, the canteen is running at a reduced capacity. As an alternative choice, pupils may wish to bring a packed lunch or to make a purchase from one of the grab and go outlets at school.

I hope this information provides reassurance to parents, students and staff at this difficult time. We will of course keep decisions under constant review and communicate any changes as soon as practically possible.

Yours sincerely

F Turnbull, Headteacher

 

Arrangements for Y11 Students – 27 August 2020

Dear Parent/ Guardian,

I hope this letter finds you well and that you have had an enjoyable summer break albeit under unusual circumstances. As a school we are very much looking forward to your son/daughter returning on Monday 7th September and have been working hard to ensure that our site is safe with measures in place that allow for a calm and purposeful return to learning. Some students may be anxious about their return to school, this may be for a number of reasons. I want to reassure you that we will be working hard to alleviate any fears that they may have, be they academic, related to workload or uncertainty after what has been a lengthy absence from the school setting.

We have put in place a number of strategies that will be coordinated by the Achievement Team to support students during Year 11. These include:

  • Subject areas using assessment information from Yr10 to ensure the curriculum in Yr11 meets the needs of all students. Where there are gaps in student knowledge or work needed relating to specific skills, the curriculum has been adapted to address this. 
  • All students being placed in either an English or Mathematics focused tutor group in Yr11. This has been based upon assessment information from English and Mathematics.  Each week some tutorial time will be used to focus on key elements of the curriculum to support student progress.
  • After school revision lessons between September and December focused on practical subjects so that students can access equipment and resources to ensure they are up to date with non-exam assessment (NEA) requirements. Information regarding these revision lessons will be communicated shortly.
  • A rolling revision programme between January and the summer in all subjects after school. 
  • One to one support for students experiencing particular difficulties.
  • Two mock examinations, one in November and one in March. This feedback will be used to accelerate progress and address issues relating to examination technique.
  • Enhanced pastoral care in Yr11 through providing students with access to a range of mental health provision. This is to support movement back into school as well as the demands that next year will bring for individuals. This will include access to a counsellor, mental health first aiders and a range of online resources. Parents and students who want to know more about this support now should contact me.

Unfortunately due to Covid restrictions, we will not be allowing Yr11 offsite at lunchtime as is the normal tradition at Whickham, instead students will be taking lunch on site. We will review this in line with government guidance and hope to be able to introduce this privilege when appropriate. Students should be aware that when possible, permission to leave the school site will be given to students who have earned the right and are achieving their potential in their academic subjects.

We will also be introducing other incentives to encourage our students as they work through Year 11, these include a ‘Passport to Prom’ (please note that we are unable to confirm any details currently due to Covid restrictions) and rewards ties, those who are recipients of these will receive a ‘gold tie’ which they can wear to school and will allow them to stand out for their excellence and their achievements.

Some students have asked to know their tutor rooms, these are listed below:

  • 11CLY – F11
  • 11CT – 34
  • 11SR – 30
  • 11KTH – F10
  • 11SHN – 32
  • 11CC (RGR) – B5
  • 11SSY – B7
  • 11LLE – B4
  • 11JNE – B3
  • 11SAL – B1

If you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the arrangements for the return to school then please do not hesitate to contact me on ghouston@whickhamschool.org or on 01914960026 ext: 225.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Houston, Yr11 Pastoral Leader

 

Arrangements for September – Letter to Parents & Carers 26 August 2020

Dear Parent / Carer,

I hope you are all safe and well. The purpose of this letter is to provide some detailed information about the new academic year. There is a lot of information attached to this letter as it is important that you know of the plans we have in place to welcome all pupils back to school and ensure that your child is happy, safe and successful.

The last few months have been challenging for us all and I understand that a number of parents, carers and children may well be anxious about the return to school. As a parent myself, I understand that you want to be confident that the school has robust plans in place to ensure that risks associated with COVID-19 are minimised and that your child can access the high quality education that they deserve. I can assure you that this is the case and I will outline specific actions we have in place to ensure this.

Reminder of start of term arrangements

Thursday 3rd September: – Staff Training

Friday 4th September:

  • Yr 7 to attend all day. Pupils should be at school by 8.35am for the registration bell at 8.40am. The school will provide lunch for pupils on this day. 
  • Yr12 -10.10am until 12.25pm
  • Yr13 -1.10pm until 3.15pm

Pupils will be greeted by staff and directed to make their way to the large astroturf at 8:40am on both Friday 4th September (Yr 7 only) and Monday 7th September (all pupils Yrs 7-11) where they will meet in tutor groups. Pupils will then be escorted to their new tutor rooms. In the event of inclement weather, staff will direct pupils straight to their tutor rooms.

Actions put in place to minimise risks associated with COVID-19

The Department for Education has produced detailed guidance for schools to follow when opening in September. We have therefore put in place a plan that meets all elements of this guidance and is specific to contextual factors associated with Whickham.

Our full risk assessment and documents that detail how the school will operate is accessible through this link on our website http://www.whickhamschool.org/keeping-your-child-safe/return-to-school-sept-2020/ 

I also feel it is important that I draw your attention to specific decisions we have made and plans that are in place to minimise the risk of infection for both pupils and staff.

  1. At the start of every lesson pupils will sanitise their hands. There are hand sanitising containers in all classrooms and at numerous locations around the site. This is now part of our behaviour policy and is non-negotiable.
  2. An enhanced cleaning programme has been put into place. Cleaning materials will be available in all classrooms.
  3. Pupils will be in year group bubbles which means that contact with other pupils outside of their year group will be minimised. Our behaviour policy now requires pupils to avoid physical contact with other pupils.
  4. We have introduced staggered break and lunch periods so that we have no more than half of our pupils on a break or lunch period at the same time. This enables us to have zones for each year group bubble and ensures we can clean the canteen and other areas between year group use.
  5. KS3/Yr12 and KS4/Yr13 will have slightly different start and finish times for lessons. This reduces congestion around the site during lesson changeover periods and at the end of the school day. KS4 (Yr10 and Yr11) and Yr13 pupils will now finish school at 3.15pm. 
  6. Pupils are encouraged to avoid public transport where possible and walk to school. Pupils should socially distance in traveling to and from school. Note that Nexus requires pupils to have the correct change for each bus journey. Please see further information from Nexus here https://www.nexus.org.uk/covid-secure
  7. Pupils will not be in year group bubbles on buses and must wear a face covering. Pupils should store this face covering in a separate zip lock bag during the school day.
  8. We are currently taking advice from Public Health England with regards to the use of face coverings in school. A separate letter with guidance will be issued by Tuesday 1st September at the very latest.
  9. We are planning to ensure all pupils have access to all elements of our curriculum, including PE, specific guidance relating to adaptations to ensure safety will be issued to pupils when they are back in school.

We all have a duty to minimise the risks to those who are vulnerable and it is important that if  your child has displayed symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 10 days, they should not come into school. This is a responsibility of parents and carers and the school must be contacted and informed if either of these scenarios are the case. 

Uniform and equipment

All pupils will be expected to wear the correct uniform and have an equipment pack every day at school. Yr7 will be provided with their equipment pack on Friday 4th September but other pupils must have either organised their own pack or placed an order with the school. Pupils will be challenged if they are not meeting our basic expectations relating to uniform and equipment. Please click here for specific information which is published on the school’s website regarding uniform http://www.whickhamschool.org/parents-information/uniform/  and equipment packs http://www.whickhamschool.org/student-information/equipment-packs/

We are very much looking forward to welcoming your child back to school, and hope that they will feel excited and ready to join us.

Yours sincerely,

F Turnbull, Headteacher

 

Online Learning

Please see our Online Learning page for links to the on-line platforms and resources being utilised during lockdown.