Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
To provide further information for students and parents about our current school arrangements and procedures we have decided to include a FAQs section on the website.
Why has the school day changed?
In our letter dated 17th July we discussed some of the challenges we faced as a school regarding re-opening to all students using the bubble arrangements that government expected.
These challenges included:
- the size of our student population (we are one of the largest and most successful schools in the country);
- the limitations associated with our school buildings;
- staggering lessons, breaks and lunchtimes would not be possible without having to limit the curriculum offer to students and therefore, we did not consider this a viable option as it would not provide a broad and balanced curriculum;
- ensuring year group ‘bubbles’ do not mix throughout the day was a particular challenge given that we are a school that also has a Sixth Form of over 500 students with different weekly learning hours to lower school.
- Government guidance made it clear that no large gatherings are to take place including assemblies and, for us, this also included the normal lunch break, as we are unable to have our normal lunchtime and ensure social distancing between year groups. Consequently, we moved to a closed gate policy for the two breaks during the school day, with students remaining onsite and within their year group bubbles, for these times.
Despite these challenges, we were determined to produce a plan that allowed students, in all year groups, access to a full curriculum with specialist teachers in each subject area. To achieve this, we adapted the timings of the school day to follow a continental style arrangement.
For all students, utilising revised lesson timings allowed all year groups to follow their normal timetable. We appreciate this is a focussed school day, however we feel that with a structure of two breaks and an earlier finish, this can be balanced and will work well. We felt this arrangement was more manageable for students given the 2 shortened break times with no extended break for lunch.
We have also built into this plan catch up support sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons after normal lessons have finished that are initially targeted at Yr.11 and Yr.13 students but later will be adapted for other year groups.
When do you think the school day will return to normal?
We want to return to a normal school day as soon as possible. Initially we were hoping the new timetable arrangements would only be in place until October half-term. However, given the national and, more specifically, the local situation the current arrangements will stay in place until Christmas.
Depending on where we are in terms of COVID-19 nationally and locally our intention for the Spring Term we will be to extend the school day even if the break times have to remain the same.
What happens when you are informed on a positive case of COVID-19?
Once we are informed by a parent that a student has tested positive for COVID-19 we contact the Local Authority Public Health Team to ascertain the period of contact tracing we need to carry out. This is usually a 48-hour period prior to the first symptoms developing in the affected student.
From this we collect the seating plans from the student’s teachers, tutor and any catch-up sessions they have attended. With these we identify any students who were sitting within a 2-metre radius of the affected student. These students will now have to self-isolate for 14 days since their last contact we the affected student
With this information we text parents to say we will be asking students who now have to self-isolate to leave school immediately following the text.
Then senior members of staff go to the lessons these students are in to explain the situation and highlight that this is a precautionary measure.
After this a senior member of staff we ring the parents of all the students involved to provide further detail. This will also include how and where students can access work from home.
A letter is that sent to the parents involved confirming these details and stating the date students can return to school.
How much work should my child be doing when self-isolating
Your child should follow their usual daily timetable and complete the tasks provided on our SharePoint system for the lessons that they have on that particular day.
My child has additional educational needs. How will they be supported?
When students are self-isolating, their keyworker will be in contact within 48 hours and plan further support and intervention sessions from that point. For students with Education, Health and Care Plans, they will be offered up to one Teams-led support session for maths, English and one general additional session from a member of the learning support team each week. This offer will be increased should there be a whole year group isolation or a full lockdown. Students at SEND Support level will be offered one troubleshooting Teams-led support session each week.
If students are self-isolating, whilst others from the same year group are in school, what is the school’s remote strategy for those at home?
In this situation work will be uploaded by teachers to the school SharePoint for students to access. Their Head of Year will also send instructions on how to find the work - students have also received a tutorial on this.
For English, Mathematics and Science, all students will receive a video lesson which presents learning for that week, but also reviews and recaps previous learning.
Our ambition is to increase the number of recorded presentations in other subjects for students who are self-isolating. Unfortunately, this is a complex situation as this is impacted by the size of the department. It is easier for larger departments to share resources and produce recorded content than for other smaller teams. We will therefore endeavor to make this available where possible.
If a full year group bubble is shut down, what is the school’s strategy for remote learning?
In this circumstance, staff would teach lessons live, following students’ normal timetables through the Microsoft Teams app. Students will be sent a video demonstrating how to access these lessons in the event of this scenario.
What is the school’s strategy for remote learning if the school closes and students are in a full lockdown?
As with the previous lockdown, we will provide all students with every lesson that they are timetabled. Alongside the lesson resources, students will also be sent video recordings for every lesson which demonstrates teachers modelling and explaining how to complete the relevant tasks.
Additional to this, students will be able to opt into up to 2 live review lessons each day. This will be through the Microsoft Teams app and give students an opportunity to listen and watch live explanations of the content they have been studying during the current or previous week.
Can teachers switch on the Teams ‘Meet Now’ button to allow students who are self-isolating to attend the lesson ‘live’?
We have received requests to broadcast lessons that are being taught live. Recent research has suggested that the best form of remote learning is a combination of pre-recorded content which ensures explanations and teacher modelling is of high quality and a series of interactive activities for students to complete. There is much current educational debate regarding the effectiveness of live lessons, particularly when the teacher is teaching a class in front of them at the same time.
We have decided we will not broadcast live lessons unless all students in the class are self-isolating.
We believe by providing lesson content and recorded presentations for every lesson, this allows us to ensure what students have access to is of high quality. Furthermore, we also have to consider the potential for GDPR data protection breaches and how teaching in class and home simultaneously could result in a poor experience for some, if not all of the students.
I do not have IT access; can the school provide a laptop?
The current Government advice for high quality remote learning explains that it should be available on several platforms. All content that the school shares with students at home, can be accessed on a range of IT hardware which includes desktop computers, laptops, tablets and mobile phones with large display screens.
Our strategy for remote learning, which asks students to follow their usual timetable, also allows flexibility for those who are sharing computer provision due to the context of the household. Students can choose to complete the work outside their usual hours if this helps in scenarios such as devices being shared.
If a family has no access to any device or internet provision, if you have not already done so, please contact your child’s Head of Year.
Can my child wear PE kit on the day they have PE?
The advice from Government suggested that changing into PE kit is currently not possible in school. This is because changing rooms would need to be deep cleaned between each use.
After October half-term - we will allow students to attend school in their PE kit when they have either core PE, or the practical PE lesson in the GCSE or OCR course (which is an additional one lesson per week). All tutors have received registers to identify each day for every individual student.
We are asking parents to support us with this to ensure students are only wearing their PE kit when it is their practical PE day. It is much easier in First and Middle Schools to identify when students have PE as often everyone in the same class has the lesson at the same time.
We are trusting students not to take advantage of this scenario, therefore we will review and monitor how successful this is.
My child has had a negative test result after being told to self-isolate from school. Why can't they return sooner?
We are following strict Public Health England advice about self-isolation and unfortunately because the virus is not always detected right away, even a negative test means your child must follow the self-isolation advice from Public Health. A negative test on one day could still mean a person develops symptoms days later.
Will my child's work be marked while they are working at home?
Your child should complete work at home as if they were in class and share this with their teacher as they normally would who will look at this. If this an assessed piece of work or a test, then it will be marked by the teacher either by this work being sent via email or when your child returns to school.
Why are whole classes or year groups not being told to self-isolate?
Our health and safety procedures being followed in school means we only need to send home those students who are classed as a close contacts or have had contact in a friendship group. We are working closely with Public Health England for each individual case and their advice is to currently only send home close contacts.
What happens if after self-isolation my child returns to school, and they must self-isolate again?
Unfortunately, this will happen, and it is the same situation for all families across the UK in these unprecedented times. If this does happen, it is important that your child keeps up to date with all lessons/work set and we encourage your child to stay in touch via email with us as much as possible for further support. We will keep a log of this information and this will be used with the exam boards so that special exam consideration can be applied.
Why is my child unable to complete practical subjects in subjects like technology, Food or Science?
To ensure we are following government guidance, in line with our risk assessment and to help minimise the spread of Covid-19, year groups are working in different blocks/bubbles. This means that there is not the access to all specialist rooms currently. This is something that we are continually reviewing and adapting to try to suit the needs of all year group. Therefore, by the end of the year the aim is that all year groups will have been able to complete elements of their practical work subject to government guidance.
My child is feeling anxious about coming back to school (or being in school), what should they do?
This is perfectly normal. We want students who feel this way to talk to us. They can email their Tutor/Head of Year/Key Worker or any other member of staff. Parents can also do this on their child’s behalf. Students can also refer to the wellbeing support leaflet for advice as well as the weekly wellbeing support update.
My child needs some help with work when working at home, what should they do?
They should email their class teacher and ask for clarification or help. Their teacher will be teaching their normal timetable but will always endeavor to reply.
Can my child wear a face covering in a lesson?
Yes. Any students who wishes to wear a face covering during a lesson is able to as per our risk assessment.