September Opening Letter
Dear parents and carers
September Opening Plans
As you know, we have been focusing for some time on how to ensure that our school can safely open to all pupils in September – something we are all looking forward to. We have reviewed the recently released government guidance for schools and we are in a position to update you on our plans.
We are absolutely delighted the government has said all pupils can come back. We have learnt a lot in lockdown about how to deliver virtual education, and you and our staff have been outstanding, but children need the routine of normal school life and they also need to see their friends and teachers. It is vital that we get pupils back to school in September, and the government has made attendance compulsory.
There are some significant changes to normal school life which I outline below but every child will have access to full time education and the full school curriculum.
Here are the five main ways in which we will be establishing a safe return to school for all children:
1. It is the government advice that all children should walk or cycle to school if it is at all possible. If this is not possible then they could travel by car. If none of these options is possible then students might have to take public transport. In this case they will be expected to wear a face mask which they will need to remove when they arrive in school.
2. School will start at different times for our year groups. It is important for students to arrive promptly in their allocated arrival window. They will be using three separate entrances to the building. Once pupils are in school, they will be required to wash or sanitise their hands every time they move rooms.
3. Students will be part of a year group bubble. Bubbles will not come into prolonged, close contact with each other, which will help keep the school safe. As a result of this, we have had to move to year group tutor groups, as well as year group pastoral teams. Consequently your child will have a new form tutor and a Head of Year in September. The Heads of Year are:
Year 7 – Miss Ford and Miss Crew
Year 8 – Mrs Allen and Mr Clarkson
Year 9 – Mr Sillitoe and Miss Hollow
Year 10 – Mr Titterington and Mrs Archibald
Year 11 – Mr Church and Miss Donaldson
4. There will be less movement within the building. This means students will have more double periods. Where students do have to move round the building, they will need to follow the one-way system and staff will support them to transition between lessons without mixing bubbles.
5. There will be three separate break times and three separate lunchtimes to help reduce contact between students. This will mean that each bubble will have a break at the same time, but we are dividing our canteen and outside space into zones so that mixing between bubbles is greatly reduced. However we are committed to ensuring that the full range of food is available to all students irrespective of their social zone.
To explain these changes to children and implement our plans effectively, we will not open to all year groups at once in September. Instead we will re-open gradually with all children being back in full time education by Monday 7th September. Details regarding when the academy will re-open for your child are enclosed overleaf.
Some things to note from a practical perspective:
- Staff will not be able to loan stationery to students, so please do ensure your child is equipped with a pen, pencil, ruler, glue, calculator and maths set.
- Students need to bring wired headphones for their music lessons.
- Students need to bring a water bottle, as we are likely to have to remove the water fountains and students can only fill their bottles in the bathrooms.
- Visitors will not be allowed on site without an appointment.
- You no longer need to buy food for your child to bring in to their Food Technology lessons; instead, we will buy the food and ask you to pay for it online.
There are a number of useful documents attached to this letter:
- The updated uniform guidance
- The canteen has moved to online only payments – instructions are included
- Specific guidance for BAME families to allay any concerns you have about attending school in September
- Advice if you are planning on going on holiday this summer.
We recognise that there will be learning gaps to be addressed when the pupils return, and have planned a ‘recovery’ curriculum for the autumn term so critical concepts and content will be taught.
We will also ensure there is time devoted to the emotional wellbeing of pupils, allowing them to tell their ‘story’ of lockdown. We are also investing in training for our pastoral staff in Mental Health, so we can be responsive to the needs of all the children when they return to school.
Obviously if your son or daughter, or somebody else in your household, has coronavirus symptoms they should stay at home until tested. Likewise, the government guidance says that if there is a confirmed case at school, then we should work with the relevant health authorities to ensure that everyone who was in close contact with them when they were infectious is notified and self-isolates.
The summer term has been long and tiring for families and staff, but it has also been inspiring and uplifting. The whole community has pulled together to ensure pupils feel safe and supported, and we have shown just how much can be achieved in the most difficult and challenging of circumstances.
No matter what your experience of lockdown, parents and carers have been terrific: on behalf of all staff, we want to thank you for everything you have done to support your children’s success over this period, and to support our school.
John Cabot Academy