Headteacher's Blog 17/03/2020

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Head Teacher’s Blog 17th March 2020

This is a shorter blog than usual as I just wanted to take the opportunity to share with you the messages we are sharing with staff in school in relation to the response to the Coronavirus in school.

We continue to follow the advice from the government and Public Health England. We are also being supported at a local level by Learn Sheffield and the City Council who are coordinating the work of schools in Sheffield.

As things stand, our focus is on staying open to provide a safe place for students to be, allowing parents to continue to work particularly those who work in the NHS.

Both for students in school and for those who are rightly following advice to self-isolate but are otherwise well, we are shifting our planning to provide meaningful work to minimise disruption to education. We will not be able to replicate the normal pattern of teaching and learning for students who are at home for a period of time, or indeed for those in school, as we will face inevitable increases in both staff and student absence. However, just as will be the case if school shuts at any time, it is possible for us to set and support activity which students can do more flexibly.

You will be aware that we have cancelled the Spring Concert and the Y10 Parents’ Evening. We have now also taken the decision to cancel the Y9 Parents’ Evening. There will be some other changes, such as the cancellation of some extra-curricular competitions etc. We will notify students and parents involved where things are cancelled.

We are also following the government on school trips abroad. Mr Nixon is liaising with trip leaders in school, tour operators and also our insurers. He and trip leaders are updating parents as soon as we are getting clarity on the specific implications of the advice for each trip. If you haven’t heard anything directly about a trip that your child is due to be on, either Mr Nixon or the trip leader will be in touch very shortly.

The reason for these steps is both in line with the advice given yesterday to support ‘social distancing’ by removing any activities which are not absolutely essential, or which could reasonably be replaced by an alternative method. For example, in the case of the parents’ evenings we will arrange for teachers to provide parents with summary reports about their child’s progress in each subject.

I do want to reassure parents of students in Y11 or Y13 with regard to work for those students. At this point in the year, teachers are moving the focus onto revision and preparation for independent study towards the exams. We are well resourced with ‘tried and trusted’ materials which students can access whether they are in or out of school. We will re-share the advice that has been given to students about the most effective means of revision. Therefore, whether students preparing for exams are in school, or out of school, they are well set up for any change to have minimal impact on the work they are doing. While I appreciate that there are questions being asked about how the exam season may be affected, these are things that the students do not need to worry about.

A common message for the students is to do the best with what we can control, don’t worry about the things we can’t and make an extra effort to be kind and helpful to one another. I must say that they are rising to this very well and we can be very proud of them.

Summary of priorities that are being shared with school staff:
- Keeping school open until such time as the guidance changes. Where necessary, we will collapse classes in order to manage staff absence.
- Helping students to remain calm, being particularly mindful of students who have heightened levels of anxiety.
- Pastoral staff are checking in on students with particular vulnerability, whether they are in school or not
- Changing planning from the normal delivery of the curriculum to delivery of activity which can be accessed more flexibly either within school (where the timetable is likely to be disrupted) or by students at home who are well enough to stay in touch with work.
- Where needed, stop activity which is not directly necessary to support these priorities in the short term

I would just like to end by thanking you for your continued support of the staff in school and your appreciation that some things are not happening quite as they would normally. Please do be patient if you are trying to get in touch with school. If you have a general query in relation to the school’s response to Coronavirus and any steps you should take, please do check the Coronavirus section of the website, which will contain a summary of the most up to date advice that we are working to and links to government and NHS guidance.

Included on that page is some advice for helping young people deal with the anxiety that can be caused in uncertain times. This is good to look at as parents and to share with your children.
Corona virus advice - NDHS website

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