Headteacher's Blog 10/07/2020

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Head Teacher’s Blog 10th July 2020

The focus of the blog this week is the current planning for September. To help us, we also need some feedback from parents on transport to and from school and also on ways we can stay in touch if we find that we cannot run parents evenings and other similar events in the same way.

Before I get to the September plans, though, I have a couple of other notices:

Early closing, Friday 17th July
On Friday 17th July we will be closing the site to students at midday. We have very low numbers of students expected on that day and an early closure allows us to gather staff virtually before the end of term to run through some things ahead of the break and also to say goodbye to some colleagues who are leaving us.

Thank you (Student Support Survey)
Many thanks to everyone who completed the Student Support Survey. If you have not been able to complete the survey then students have until midnight tonight Friday 10th July to do this using the link they were sent on Show My Homework. We will then analyse the replies and do any follow up work that has arisen so that we can offer the best support we can to the students. Mr. Cain

Some opportunities and support to be aware of

The Big Bang Digital Event – Tuesday 14th July
Aimed at students 11+, this digital event gives young people a front row view of the incredible contribution of people working in Science Technology and Engineering

Announced line-up:

• The worldwide race to develop a vaccine (GSK)
• The environmental impact of staying at home (Plastic Oceans)
• Keeping the water flowing (Thames Water)
• Designing a social distancing lanyard (RS Components)
• Feeding the nation (Harper Adams)

Students have been made aware about this directly and can access video sessions and other events through the day. For more details and the latest confirmed line-up, see www.digitalbigbang.co.uk

Golddigger Trust – Support for boys Y7 to Y13
The Golddigger Trust are a local wellbeing charity who we work with in school. They offer a range of online support to help boys and young men during these strange times. Please take a look at the information sent with this blog.

Children’s University Festival of Fun
The Children’s University are running a range of free activities throughout the summer. They are an excellent and well established organisation who I know many of our young people have worked with before. Many of the activities require booking, which opens on 10th July. For more information, see the leaflet attached with this Blog.

September Planning
Last Thursday we received the government guidance on the return to school in September. I have summarised the main points of the guidance and what we are planning for in September. We will update you with more detail as we finalise plans.

What the government have said
The government have said that all students can return full time to school from September. There will still need to be some differences to the way that the school normally runs, in order to keep the risk of spreading the virus as low as possible. However, there will not need to be so many differences to ‘normal school’ because there are far fewer cases of Covid now and the test, track and trace programme allows public health doctors to react quickly to stop the spread of the virus if there is a positive case.
The guidance sets out a ‘system of controls’ that schools will use to keep the risk of spread of the virus very low, remembering that it is quite likely that there won’t be anyone in school with the virus.

System of controls
This is the set of actions schools must take. They are grouped into ‘prevention’ and ‘response to any infection’ and are outlined in more detail in the sections below.


1. Minimise contact with individuals who are unwell by ensuring that those who have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, or who have someone in their household who does, do not attend school
2. Clean hands thoroughly more often than usual
3. Ensure good respiratory hygiene by promoting the ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach
4. Introduce enhanced cleaning, including cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, using standard products such as detergents and bleach
5. Minimise contact between individuals and maintain social distancing wherever possible
6. Where necessary, wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)

Numbers 1 to 4 must be in place in all schools, all the time.

Number 5 must be properly considered and schools must put in place measures that suit their particular circumstances.

Number 6 applies in specific circumstances.

Response to any infection:

7. Engage with the NHS Test and Trace process
8. Manage confirmed cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) amongst the school community
9. Contain any outbreak by following local health protection team advice

Numbers 7 to 9 must be followed in every case where they are relevant.

An important part of the full guidance is the fact that the rules are not ‘all or nothing’. In other words, it is ok not to have social distancing where it is not possible and it is ok not to have such strict ‘bubbles’ but we should still have social distancing where we can and avoid mixing too many groups of students. Each thing we can do to reduce contact will help, but we don’t have to be as strict as we are at the moment, which allows us to run a normal timetable and have all the children back in school.

So, for example, the guidance suggests that in secondary schools, we can have mixing within year groups, to allow children to be taught in different class groups as they normally would be, but we should try to avoid mixing year groups in school time and we should reduce large numbers of students gathering in the same areas as much as we can.

What will we be doing at Notre Dame
- All students will be back full time from September (see notes below about the first week back)
- We will be able to run a full timetable, taught in normal teaching groups, with a few changes

What changes?
- Staff will be supervising regular handwashing, when students arrive, before and after each break time and before students leave, just as we have been with the Y10 students who have been back in to school this term.
- We will continue with the extra cleaning in school through the day and at the end of every day as we have been this term.
- There will be changes to the timings of the school day. We are likely to be shorter lunch break, with each year group having lunch at a different time, to keep separation between year groups and reduce crowding.
- It is likely that there will be no food available at break time. Break times will again be split, so that there are no more than two year groups on break at the same time and each year group will have their own areas where they can have their break.
- Lessons will, as far as possible, be timetabled so that each year group is in a different part of the school. This will help to stop mixing of year groups and will reduce movement and gathering of large groups of students between lessons.
- Y7 and Y8 students will be taught in form groups as much as possible and will stay in the same room for as many lessons as possible. These year groups will need to go to practical rooms for practical lessons, but as far as possible, they will stay in their form group ‘bubble’ in the same room the rest of the time. This helps to reduce mixing of students and will help with induction of Y7 students, when they have had such a different end to primary and start to secondary school.
- Classrooms will be set out facing forwards and teachers and other staff will need to maintain distancing from students as they will need to mix across year groups
- Form time likely to move to the start of the day, to help you get resettled into school and to check in.

The most important thing, of course, is that students mustn’t come to school if they have Covid like symptoms. In that case, they should get a test and let us know the result. If we have a positive test for someone in school, we will be working with Public Health track and trace and this may lead to some students being told to quarantine for 14 days. We need all students and parents to strictly follow this advice as doing so is essential to keeping the numbers of infection low so that school can safely re-open.

Staff in school will do all we can to run a full curriculum while making the changes we can to keep everyone safe. We need every student and parent to take responsibility for their bit, following the rules in school, wearing face coverings and following the other guidance if they use public transport and observing social distancing wherever possible.

Plan for the first week back
Tuesday 1st September; Training Day (no students in school) – this is an important time for staff to go back through plans for welcoming students back and to look at any updates that have come over the summer.

Wednesday 2nd September; Y7 and Y12 students who are joining us from other schools only. This allows us to do some of the induction work with these students that we haven’t been able to do in the normal way.

Thursday 3rd September; All students return. On Thursday and Friday, students will spend time in form groups, where we will be working on activities to help us to catch-up with one another, get settled back into school and make sure that students know how things will be running in school. Lessons will begin again from Monday 7th September.

Travel to and from school
The guidance remains that students should walk, cycle or use private transport where possible, but we understand that this will not be possible for many of our families. Local authorities are looking at how they can support safe public transport for students from September. First Bus Company have been in touch with us to say that they are working hard to be able to publish plans for public transport and school bus services from September.

To help with our planning, it would be very helpful to know what you’re thinking at the moment about how your children will get to and from school. We understand that there is a lot that we don’t know at the moment about what public transport will look like, but we would like you to let us know what you are most likely to do.

We will also need to plan for the likelihood that we can’t run parents’ evenings and other similar school events in the normal way for quite some time. To help us with our planning, we have some questions about how we might best be able to stay in touch with you remotely if we need to do so. Please do understand that we are unlikely to find a solution that works perfectly for everyone, but gathering this information will help us to do the best job we can.
We have attached a link to a survey so that we can collect your answers about transport to and from school and how we can stay in touch. Thank you in advance for your responses.

September 2020 return to school survey

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