Head Teacher’s Blog 20th November 2020
We are just over a week away from the start of Advent. I find it hard to believe we are there already. Colleagues in our chaplaincy team are working on plans for how we can mark this season with particular focus on the Advent themes of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love which I think all have particular meaning for us this year.
Students will also be receiving their next round of monitoring shortly. One of the things that it reflects is just how well students are responding to the disruption this year. Of course there are individual stories to tell and there are individuals where there is an obvious negative impact from that disruption in their approach to learning and their progress. We are taking care to identify these individual students and to work with them to find the right additional support to help address the particular challenges that lockdown and ongoing disruption has causes.
However I think it is also important and encouraging to highlight the fact that this is not the general picture in the way that we might have feared. We are certainly seeing examples of a focus on learning which is better than we would typically see, especially amongst those closest to exams and this is playing a big part in compensating for the negative sides of the disruption.
It is a shorter Blog this week, but I have a few notices and reminders below.
Update on Covid cases
While the number of Covid cases in Sheffield has been higher, I have not been sending a general letter home to inform all parents about every case as it happens. Instead it seemed to make sense to give you an update through my Blog. We are of course contacting directly any parents whose children have been identified as contacts of the person who has tested positive.
Over the three weeks since returning from the half term break, we have had 9 members of our school community who have tested positive for Covid. In a school where there are 1700 people (adults and children) this is about what we might reasonably expect given the overall numbers of positive tests each week in Sheffield and if anything is a lower rate than the numbers of positive tests per 100000 in Sheffield over that time. It is also in line with the picture seen across schools in the City.
We continue to work with the public health teams to identify any person who is a contact of anyone who has tested positive and those people are informed and have to isolate.
Not all of the positive cases have resulted in a need to isolate other students as in some cases the people who tested positive had already been isolating because other members of their household had displayed symptoms. As a result, they had not been in school for some time before their symptoms began and therefore won’t have been in contact with anyone when they might have been infectious.
These cases are great examples of the way in which people who are following the guidelines have not only helped to reduce the risk of spread of the virus, they have also reduced the numbers of people having to isolate as a precaution. My thanks to all students and parents for continuing to follow all the measures that are in place, both to keep people safe and to minimise the disruption to education for our students.
This is a good point for a couple of reminders that I have been asked to share by the local director of public health:
1. Don’t send you child into school if they or someone in your house has Covid symptoms.
The person with symptoms should get a test as quickly as possible and everyone in the house must stay at home until the results come back. While the overwhelming majority of people in our school are following this guidance, we do occasionally have to send students home who have come to school with symptoms. Staying at home when we or someone in our house has symptoms is the biggest thing we can do to reduce the risk of the virus spreading.
2. Children in bubble can’t be seen out of school.
Some parents and students across the city have misunderstood messages and believed that if their child is in a bubble with someone in school, it is alright for them to see that person out of school. This is not correct. Even though they will spend time with other students in their year group in school, there are other measures in place to help reduce the risk at these times. Avoiding contact at other times still helps to reduce the spread of the virus.
Home Learning Curriculum
I just want to remind all parents that if your child is having to isolate, they now access home learning through the curriculum plans which are on the home learning section of our website. They will find a plan there for each of their subjects, telling them what work will be covered in school each week up until the end of term. The plans also include instructions and links to tell them where they can access work to help them with that learning and how they can get support.
The work and support will come through a mixture of pre-prepared resources, links to other websites, activities set through Show My Homework and interaction via Microsoft Teams.
If your child is isolating, it is a good idea for them to look through the plans for their subjects over the first couple of days to put together their own plan for how they are going to do that work, as we know there will be times and ways of working that are different for each child and each household.
Many students have been doing a brilliant job of organising themselves and engaging with the home learning. Where there are students who we know find this more difficult, we are making contact directly with them and their families to help with this. Teachers are also highlighting these plans and how to work with them when students are in school.
This year, at least for the foreseeable future, our parents evenings will happen remotely. We will be using a web based system called School Cloud, that some parents may have come across in other schools.
When it is coming up to the time for your child’s parents’ evening, you will receive instructions from school about how to log in to this system. You will be able to do it on any device which can connect to the internet (phone, tablet, laptop or PC).
Once you have logged in, you will be able to request appointments with your child’s teachers and the system will set those appointments up. You will be able to see a schedule of your appointments.
On the evening itself, you will be able to login and have video appointments with the teachers. You will automatically be invited to join each appointment when it is time on your schedule. The appointments will be timed to 5 minutes each and the video call will automatically end once that time is up.
To join the calls, you will need a device which can connect to the internet and which has a camera and a microphone, so a smart phone or tablet will work well. It is possible to join with microphone only.
The feedback from other schools who have used the system has been positive so we hope that will be the case. Parents and teachers of Y12 students are the first to run with it this Thursday, so we will have some experience by the end of the coming week.
If you have any concerns or queries, please do get in touch with your child’s form tutor or head of year and someone from school will get back to you as soon as we can.
EU settlement support and advice
I have been asked by the Sheffield City Council to highlight support that is available for EU citizens living in the UK who need to apply to the EU settlement scheme. There is a poster attached outlining the support that is available in the city, if you think that this may be relevant to you or someone you know.
That is all from me for this week.
Mr S Davies