End of Half term letter
I hope this letter finds you well!
I wanted to update you on plans we have as we move after the half term break into a second half term of closed school and life under lockdown.
I last wrote to parents on 11th May, the day after the prime minister announced plans for the gradual lifting of the lockdown. In the letter I said that Mr Johnson had said that Year 10s would: ‘ Hopefully have an opportunity to see their teachers before the summer break.’
I added that unfortunately, until this was definitely confirmed, we could not say when or what form this would be but that it was essential that any return was safe. Since then, it seems the news has changed every day with the trade unions, parent groups and different education authorities across the country suggesting different things about what is best. I wanted to write to you about our plans for after half term and the expectations we had for student engagement22nd M with school.
Closed School Curriculum after Half Term
Years 7 to 10 will continue with their on line learning after the half term break. We think it is essential that we continue to offer students the full Sale High School planned school curriculum as far as possible. We would be doing them a disservice if we did not. Therefore, after half term we will continue to cover the school curriculum for all subjects that we can- unfortunately practical technology, drama, music and PE being exceptions. It is our continuing expectation that students will complete three lessons a day.
Year 11 would be coming to the natural end of their SHS schooling. Mr Williams will be writing to Year 11 parents separately about next half term.
Personal Social and Health Education
Super learning Days are the main timetabled time where we deliver these vital aspects of the curriculum. We will be ensuring we are covering the topics timetabled for Super Learning Days through our distance learning next half term.
We have already re introduced the Friday quiz but will also be adding activities to build house and community involvement
Student engagement and involvement in school
After ten weeks of lockdown, we are concerned that some students are not completing all the work set. We understand that this may be for many different reasons and want to support home as much as possible. We understand fully if there are issues that are preventing students working- such as family illness or inability to access technology. We will do all we can to help remove any barriers to home learning. However, it is crucial that students are able to make the most of their time at home and continue following the school curriculum as set. If students are not regularly accessing work then we will look into this. After half term, form tutors will be monitoring each student’s logging on to Show My Homework and each student’s submission of work. Form tutors will give feedback on this to parents in their phone calls home and raise concerns if students are not working.
Students have been set key pieces in Year 10 that they MUST complete and submit. Staff will be providing feedback on these pieces and students will be asked to respond to that feedback. Some parents have expressed concern that students will be assessed on these key pieces. Any assessment will be only to inform our teaching and help us understand areas for development and strength. No ‘grades’ will be taken that contribute to a final assessment grade. However, we will be recording the ‘effort’ taken and using this to contribute to our assessment of students’ attitude to learning, which in turn is used in references for college and work.
After half term, students in KS3 will also be assigned key pieces that they must complete and submit and will receive feedback on. Subject staff will be in further contact with their classes about this shortly.
Rewards and Recognition
We know from talking with you and the many emails we receive that students have really enjoyed the rewards and recognition for work completed. We will be looking at increasing the opportunities for this next half term: Amazon vouchers, e praise postcards, use of social media to celebrate have all been a hit. We will also think of ways that we can reward those who have shown excellent attitude to learning when life gets back to normal …rewards trips and reward afternoons are some of the ideas we have had.
Year 10 Review session
As I said earlier, the government guidance is that Y10 will have ‘some opportunity for face to face contact’ after the half term break.
We have had much discussion over this. We have also met with staff from the local authority and had discussions with other schools. What is most important is that we make our decision on what we can safely achieve in our school. We have decided to do the following:
- Parents in Year 10 will receive an invitation for themselves and their son/daughter to attend a review session in school. IT IS VITAL YOU MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO ATTEND. Meetings will be shortly after the half term break.
- The review will focus on the student’s wellbeing, their learning during lockdown and will look at ways of addressing any of their barriers to learning. Staff will also give advice on other resources and materials students can be accessing, target grades and thoughts about college and next steps. As we will be adhering to social distancing guidelines we would ask that only one parent attends. The meeting will last about 20 minutes. Full details will be sent out after the break.
- We are also hoping to increase opportunities for Year 10 to come into school for some teaching over the next half term. You will understand that given the current restrictions this will be a limited offer. This is also dependent on how the picture develops in our region with regard to the virus and our risk assessment of what we can safely achieve.
Teaching offer during School Closure- a ‘Blended Learning’ approach
Our parent survey shows that the very vast majority of you are happy with the amount and level of work being set and the follow up support for students who cannot access work, or who are struggling technically.
These are new times for us all and as teachers we are adapting to teaching at a distance. We are currently working on increasing the levels of interaction where we feel it will be of benefit and have introduced recorded instructions/advice and short video clips embedded into PowerPoint.
We can see that most students prefer to respond to short quizzes rather than work on longer pieces so we need more learners to access all levels of work set. We hope feedback on the key assessment pieces will help motivation and the re-introduction of rewards will boost effort and determination. In addition, form tutor reporting on submission of work will place the responsibility firmly on the student to ensure they are making the effort.
A small group of colleagues are trialling ‘Zoom’ lessons in Maths, English, Science and Health and Social and we will be training for all staff after half term to share the experiences to date. The training will give all staff an occasion to trial using it ready to run a class session where the department feels it will be of significant benefit to the learners. We believe that a blended learning approach to learning and teaching will be with us for a while yet, and so we are always working to help students and staff feel comfortable and confident learning in these new ways.
I know that parents will have many concerns at this time. We share them! We wish the students were back in school but given the situation, our responsibility is to put safety first and ensure a slow and steady response, mindful of what we can achieve in our setting. Watching the news you will see that this is the response being taken by all school leaders.
We are thinking hard about what September will look like and planning for the best return. This means a return, which balances the need for safety and wellbeing with the need for the quickest possible return to a ‘normal’ education. Again, everyone nationally is in the same boat. Of course, we are worried about those who will have exams but we recognise that there will have to be a national, government led response. We will let you know of any updates and information as soon as we get them.
Thank you so very much indeed for all you have done as families to look after your child’s learning! I know it is a really, really hard job managing their welfare, juggling your other commitments and then having to support them with schoolwork. We really appreciate it and thank you.
Thanks also for all the wonderful messages of support you have given us and all your comments that have been constructive and helpful.
As we move forward, it is essential that students make the most of their time and apply themselves to the learning set. We will be monitoring this closely and supporting where necessary. We will do all we can in September to catch students up on learning. However, they must do their part now in doing the best they can. We thank parents and families in advance for their support with that.
Very best wishes
Ms J O'Grady