Dear Parents and Carers
Yesterday, the government released their guidance on getting all students back into school in September. Whilst I would dearly love to be sharing a detailed plan with you on how we will be implementing the recommendations, it is a little early for that. However, I can say that we will be welcoming all Myton students in September and – with the exception of the measures already taken for Years 10 and 11 and RE next year – we will not be carving any chunks out of the curriculum.
Slightly less public is the exam regulator, Ofqual’s consultation on exams in 2021, which will also influence what we teach next September. This consultation will not close until mid-August and then they will helpfully publish their decisions after we have started teaching the students again in September.
There are a few things I can share with you all regarding the next few weeks:
- We have chosen not to run a summer school. Firstly, class size limits remain in place for our age groups and social distancing measures are still in force. This would mean reaching only a third of the students. Secondly, there are likely to be significant changes to the content students must cover for exams and, as mentioned above, we won’t know these for some time yet. Instead we will keep the money we’ve set aside for this and run classes during the school holidays next year. By then, we can have full classes, we’ll know what to prioritise and will be able to build the students’ knowledge towards the exam season in 2021. This summer, we will be sharing some online content with students and our Year 10s and 12s have received extensive packs of work to last through the summer. We will also use our website to signpost local summer camps and activity centres for younger students.
- We are planning to run transition events just before we start in September. These will be for new Year 7 and new Year 12. They will have a social emphasis and are likely to be held outside where there are fewer restrictions. We will confirm dates and arrangements as soon as we can.
- There were two teacher training days scheduled for September: Tuesday 1 and Wednesday 23 September. Our current plans (to be confirmed) are to run a Year 7 only day on Tuesday 1 September to ease our new students into Myton School before welcoming all students over the following day or two. The training day on Wednesday 23 September is likely to be cancelled and become a normal school day. Again, these plans will be confirmed and details shared as soon as we can.
- In order to meet the recommendations in the new guidance, we will be staggering breaks during the day to prevent year group bubbles mixing. We are also exploring staggered start and finish times and zoning the school for the same reason. We won’t be reducing teaching time for any child, however the school day will look different to previous years. Details will follow as soon as possible.
- There will be amendments to the school behaviour policy to cover actions which deliberately undermine measures to prevent transmission of this virus. These amendments are likely to be pretty blunt in terms of consequences.
In my view, it was a mistake for the government to lead these announcements with threats to fine parents for non-attendance in September. I have no idea why they thought this was the most important thing. As an academy, we have autonomy on how we implement this part of the guidance and, as has been the case throughout this pandemic, I will be transparent with parents on what we are doing and the measures we’re putting in place. If there are parents who remain worried for their children, perhaps because of health concerns or vulnerable relatives, we will discuss our plans with them and help as best we can. This will be done on a case-by-case basis and take into account attendance prior to shutdown and other factors. We certainly won’t be imposing blanket fines.
There are things that can be done now to prepare your child. We will have a full cohort coming back in September and the students will be in full uniform. All the rules in place prior to shutdown regarding appearance, phones, etc will all come back into play – so no piercings over and above the small stud in each ear, no unnatural hair colours, proper school shoes, etc. I mention these now as we always seem to have a small number of students who claim they couldn’t sort their hair out in time or that their piercings are new and can’t be removed. This is an 8-week warning that all these things must be sorted please.
Please also investigate alternatives to public transport or school buses. The only measure in place for school buses is to try and zone the seats to keep year group bubbles separate. But the buses are crowded and this is not a great solution. Far better (if possible) would be a nice walk or cycle ride to and from school. This also gives students control to arrive at their staggered start time.
Finally, when your child arrives in September there will be lots of measures in place to prevent the virus transmitting. Every decision we’ve made through this crisis has been about balancing health and education, and September is no different. What we put in place will be designed to ensure the school day is as enjoyable as possible, the curriculum remains broad and interesting, students have their own teachers who know them well and activities outside the classroom start up again. Please discuss with your child the importance of following the rules without question or delay. We will, of course, watch and learn as we go and make adjustments as this is all new, but we do not want to have to explain to students time and time again the reasons behind them. The measures will be there to prevent transmission of the virus. Once that is understood, we can concentrate on settling the children back into school and preparing them for whatever Ofqual decides for 2021.
Lots and lots of details to follow, please look out for it all.
With best wishes
Andy Perry – Head Teacher
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