Dear Parents and Carers
A sincere thanks to all those who took the time to respond to last week’s newsletter. I was surprised by the numbers who got in touch and delighted that there seems to be such an overwhelming majority who agree that we can’t afford to waste this opportunity to improve education for all students. I was very flattered to be approached by Schools Week, an online newspaper directed towards the education sector, and the local BBC to comment on the newsletter, so once again, thank you to all those who responded to it or shared it.
This week I would like to talk about planning for the next two years.
Whilst I hope that long-term changes will be made to education as a result of all that we are learning, there is a more immediate need to support your children through the next few years of their learning which, listening to the Government, looks to be focused on reintroducing exam seasons as quickly as possible. There are discussions on how the exam seasons may adjust to make allowances for this shutdown, but one way or another, our students are likely to be back in the exam halls next year. This is about as much as the Government will say at this time, which is understandable as they prioritise defeating the virus.
However, I can share with you some of the plans we are considering. Please don’t assume these are set in stone as things are changeable but, where we can control things, we will.
Firstly, our objective is to make up lost ground in learning. This becomes increasingly difficult as the students get closer to exams so, where time is limited, we will look at reducing the curriculum and/or increasing interventions.
Year 12 (next year’s Year 13)
For next year’s Year 13, we have increased the time available to the Key Stage 5 team to support individual students through next year. Furthermore, the academic enrichment programme, whilst still in place, has been staffed with a wider range of Key Stage 5 specialist teachers to allow for students to access study support rather than enrichment through the year as it is needed. We hope to increase opening hours of study spaces, particularly the library, and to give Year 13 priority in them. We have reserved a sum of money for ‘summer school’ for 2020 and 2021. However, I am loath to spend any of it whilst social distancing is still in place as it will only reach a third of the students it could otherwise. Therefore, it will likely be spent on ‘holiday schools’ in October, February, Easter and May holidays when we can support far more students than we can currently.
Year 11 (next year’s Year 12)
Current Year 11 have missed out on taking exams which I know has upset the overwhelmingly majority of them – they wanted the opportunity to prove themselves. We are committed to helping the whole year group transition into their post-16 choices. For those staying with us, you have been set transition work and the beginning of Year 12 will focus on skills which may have slipped over the last few weeks. For those who are going on to do other things, we hope you can make good use of the advice and online resources we’ve shared with you and we wish you all the best.
Year 10 (next year’s Year 11)
The ‘holiday school’ is also in place for Year 11 next year and then again the year after. Next year’s Year 11 now know they have been withdrawn from RE to allow extra time in core subjects. Those who wish to continue RE may do so in twilight sessions and drop an alternative option. This reduces the GCSE menu to 9 subjects for most students. We have the flexibility for students who are still struggling to lose another option subject and drop to 8. We are reluctant to do this and will only consider it on a case-by-case basis, but the provision is there. I will be appointing a Head of Year 11 to be in post by September, taking the Year 11s out of the House system altogether. This change will help develop a focused and unified year group, all in the same situation and all supporting each other.
Year 9 (next year’s Year 10)
Next year’s Year 10 also now know they have been withdrawn from RE, with the option to continue in twilight sessions if they choose to. Currently, we have not planned much else for this year group next year, however as the year continues, the interventions you will see in place for the Year 11 students may well become available for Year 10 students. When Year 11 leave next year, the Head of Year 11 will certainly remain in place to support Year 10. We are reluctant to do too much further at this point until the picture is clearer, but the resources and curriculum adjustments in place for Year 11 will be retained for the following year to be used as needed.
Years 7 & 8 (next year’s Year 8 & 9)
For current Years 7 and 8 we are looking at our options process. Year 8 have already chosen their options and will start back with those subjects on their timetable. However, towards the end of Year 9, students refine their options down to 5 subjects. We will certainly look at reducing this to 4 and giving the extra time to core subjects. This will yield around 180 additional hours of core teaching over Years 10 and 11 when they get there.
More immediate changes
- More immediately, we are improving our online offer for current Years 7-9 through shutdown. We are increasing the amount of direction from teachers through recorded lessons or live lessons, and today will meet on Teams as a whole staff to confirm how we will improve the feedback your child is getting in response to their work.
- We have also planned a remote/virtual transition programme to support our Year 6s who would normally be looking forward to visiting us. These plans will be sent to all our new intake very soon and they will take into account the individual needs of students, with additions and adjustments for those students who need them.
- As I mentioned last week, we mustn’t retreat on technology. I will be making some changes to responsibilities within my Leadership Team and giving the technology brief to one of my colleagues to continue to improve this part of our provision in the long term. We can see possibilities to improve learning, feedback and workload through technology.
- The other area affected by shutdown is social development. Students have spent a long time away from each other and we plan to help them catch up. In the short term, we are planning to launch a series of challenges with a range of different skills tested. These will not always be academic, but will remind children they are part of a community here at Myton. Longer term, further adjustments will be made to my leadership team roles to increase the capacity to develop students socially.
Without a plan we become just busy people achieving very little. Whilst I must stress all of this is subject to change depending on what happens nationally, it is important you know what we have in mind to support your children over the next few years. I hope you can continue to support us in these endeavours with the same energy and commitment we have seen through shutdown.
Best wishes and stay safe.
Andy Perry – Head TeacherClick here to return to the current newsletter