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Message from Mr Solly 22/05/20

Please see the latest message from Mr Solly - that will be sent out via email today (22/05/20)

Dear parents and carers,

I hope this message finds you all safe and well.

Throughout this pandemic I have tried to communicate regularly with our parent body so that you are aware of how our plans are progressing and what the current situation is. I always endeavour to model our school values in all communications as I believe this builds a strong bond of trust throughout all stakeholders in our school community. Being open and honest with you has been central to this, as has the ‘parent test’ question that I always ask myself. I have also tried to be as clear as possible with our intentions, as this is essential during such an uncertain period for us all.

However, achieving this clarity has become increasingly difficult in recent weeks as the guidance provided for schools has been ambiguous and often contradictory. This has been deeply frustrating as we want to create plans that will enable students and staff to return safely to school. We are now at the end of the first half of the summer term and it is important that we clearly communicate what is happening after half term, along with the rationale behind our decision.

From June 1st we will have a handful of students in school who are children of key workers. These students will be completing the remote learning tasks that have been set by their teachers on laptops in school, supervised by staff.

All other UCC students will remain at home, working on the remote learning tasks set by their teachers. I have explored the possibility of bringing Year 10 students back after half term and my decision is that I do not believe we can do this in a way that keeps everyone safe. I analysed the feedback from the recent Year 10 parent survey, I have held many meetings with other schools and considered the advice of a number of professional associations; I do not believe it would be safe for larger numbers of students to return to school at this point. 

There are a number of other factors that have contributed to this decision:

  • secondary schools have been promised guidance documents from the government but these have still not been published
  • schools have not yet been provided with any scientific evidence that suggests it is safe for schools to reopen to larger numbers of students 
  • the guidance for school leaders from professional associations regarding Year 10 is that we should proceed with great caution when planning any form of return to school until we can be confident of securing everyone’s safety

Considering this, we will be taking stock and reflecting over half term about what our plans for ‘face-to-face’ contact with teachers for Year 10 might be. We will consider a range of in-school options including 1-1 tutorials and small group sessions, as well as solutions that would be entirely online. As ever, we will keep everyone’s safety and well-being at the forefront of our decision making and I will communicate these plans with you as soon as I am able to. 

I greatly appreciate the fantastic support you are providing for your sons and daughters during this challenging period. Over the half term break we will not be setting work so that students can have a break from online learning. After half term we will continue to set work in the same way on Show My Homework, and as we have done throughout this period we will refine and improve our approaches to enhance the experience students receive. 

If you are a parent of a Year 9 student, the option choices for Key Stage 4 will be sent out after half term. Mr Brooks has been working diligently to ensure we have as many students allocated their first four choices as possible and I am pleased to say that we have achieved our highest ever percentage in this area. 

I know there are still so many unanswered questions for us all. Will we be able to return to normal school arrangements in September? What will happen with GCSE exams in 2021? How will the gaps in learning be addressed? What will the transport arrangements be? What will the catering arrangements look like? What will happen with school trips, performances and sports fixtures? I am as keen to establish answers to these questions as you all are and as much as I want to get specific plans in place for all of these matters, I think it is important to be as patient as possible in order to get things right. 

I hope you are able to enjoy the bank holiday weekend and half term break.

Take care and stay safe.
Mr Solly