Head Teacher’s Blog 12th June 2020
After a lot of information and things that I’ve had to pass on to
you over the last couple of weeks, it is a much shorter blog today, with a few things just to make sure you have seen.
This week, we have been able to start increasing the numbers of staff in school at any one time. We have been working through the plans for having more students in from next week and getting everything ready on site. Even though it is far from normal and we are sadly not able to see many of you back with us yet, it certainly gave me a lift even to begin to see some steps back toward the day when we’re all back together again.
As a father myself and as a head teacher I certainly understand the worries and anxieties of some students and parents who know they won’t be back in the building this academic year and who worry about the uncertainty in September. I have included in the notices below a summary of the things that are going on at the moment in school and more widely to plan for whatever the future brings.
Notices and updates
Home Learning Curriculum
I wrote in my last Blog about the reviewed ‘Home Learning Curriculum’ designed to give students and parents some more clarity about what to expect over the coming weeks Students have been sent an email with a link to the curriculum information on the website and parents have been sent a text explaining how you can find it. The curriculum for each subject and each year group, explains what students will be learning in the coming weeks, how that will be supported through activities that they do and how the teachers will be keeping in contact with them.
Arrangements for Y10
Y10 parents and Y10 students will have had information by email about the plans from next week, when we are now allowed to have up to a quarter of Y10 students in school at anyone time, as long as they stay in their ‘bubbles’ and observe social distancing and hand hygiene rules. If you have a child in Y10 and have not seen the information, please phone reception or send a message through the enquiries box on the school website to alert us to the problem.
Students will have received resources from their Head of Year as part of this week’s form time curriculum, designed to help them to engage with the events of recent weeks and the things we can do to bring an end to racism and racial inequality in our school, our city and our country. You will also have received a letter from me alerting you to those resources and asking for your support. I really appreciate the supportive messages that I have received from so many of you.
As year 10 students return to school next week, in order to try to give them the best pastoral and spiritual support we can, we intend to do a short survey to give them the opportunity to share with us, if they wish, if they have been affected by a bereavement during the lock-down. To this end all year 10 students will be sent a link to the short survey on SMHW. A letter is also being sent electronically to all parents and guardians today with further information on this.
We will be sending out similar surveys to students in other year groups in due course. We thank you for keeping us in touch with how things are going for your children, particularly where they are facing bereavement or other difficulties at this time.
Notices for students in Y12 or those joining Y12 next year
Students starting Y12 in September:
The sixth form team will be in touch shortly to share arrangements for confirming places and subjects on GCSE results day. Students have been placed into their new forms and we hope to hope some ‘virtual form time’ via Microsoft Teams in the last 2-3 weeks of term. In this unusual time ahead of starting sixth form, we strongly encourage students to engage with the transition work put together by departments, this will allow for the best possible start in September. Transition work is available online and can be found here…
Meanwhile if you have any questions about any aspect of sixth form at Notre Dame please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Mr Birch firstname.lastname@example.org
Students in current Y12:
At this time of year students turn their attention to plans beyond sixth form as June signifies the start of the university open day season. Many universities are putting on ‘virtual open days’ due to current restrictions which although won’t be as good as a real visit they can give an excellent flavour of what a university has to offer. https://www.opendays.com/ is an excellent starting point for what’s on and when.
Mr Dransfield is now available in school for 1:1 careers/progression appointments each Wednesday and is currently in the process of signing students up to UCAS a form at a time vis Microsoft Teams. If you have any questions about careers and progression after sixth form please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Mr Dransfield email@example.com
I would also like to draw your attention to a webinar run by Leicester University aimed at the parents of current Y12 students who are beginning to think about University. The webinar is intended to help parents to support their children through the decision making, application and Student Finance stages of going to university.
The event will run on Wednesday 24th June from 17:30 – 18:30.
The event booked up very quickly last time, so book early to avoid disappointment!
Parents and Carers can sign up here: https://myleicester.le.ac.uk/events/booking/286
Plans for September
At this time we do not know what the position will be in September, whether or not school will be open as normal to everyone, or whether there will be a continuation of some disruption.
Staff in school are looking at different contingencies for the new academic year. Whatever the practical arrangements, the emphasis is on maintaining a good understanding of how students are getting on, so that we understand how we need to modify our curriculum and target support for reintroduction into school life whenever that happens.
One thing I do expect is that even if we are able to have all students back from the start of term in September, we will be taking things slower than normal in helping students find their feet in school again and also catching up with exactly what they need most support with pastorally and academically.
For students joining the school in Y7 and those starting 6th form, we will take time to run transition activities, especially where we haven’t been able to do everything we normally would in the summer. This will include chances to get to know other students as well as time to take in all the things they need to know to make a good start. We are also running ‘virtual’ versions of some of our normal transition activities during the summer term.
There will of course be particular urgency for students in current Y10 and Y12 who face exams next summer. Through discussions with other Head Teachers and through my union, I am aware that the position of these students is high on the agenda of Ofqual (the organisation who oversees exam boards) and also the Department for Education. I am expecting some consultation from Ofqual soon and you can be sure that I and other head teachers will be representing the concerns and hopes that we hear and understand from our Y10 and Y12 students. We will of course then plan to respond to any changes that are made to exams for those students.
I would love to give more clarity to everyone at this time, but we can only make detailed plans once we have more certainty about what guidelines and rues we are working to. For anyone who is feeling particularly anxious, though, I would just remind you that this uncertainty is there for everyone and the only way to face it is to do what we can with the things we can control. To quote St Francis of Assisi “Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”