Boy workingFirstly, I hope that everyone is safe and well and would like to wish all families a Happy New Year. It is without doubt a strange and very challenging time for us all but a new year brings new hope and it seems that we will have to work through a period of time now in the hope and expectation that things will improve soon. The closure of the school is of course hugely frustrating for us all. We were relatively fortunate in the autumn months to have only a few positive COVID cases which meant that almost all students were in school all the time but things have changed and we have to adapt accordingly.

This letter is deliberately quite brief in order to provide parents and carers with an overview of key issues for the coming weeks; separate communications will come through for specific year groups with relevant information as they normally do.

Remote Learning

We have now moved to remote learning and our staff are working hard to get it right for all our students and families. There has been a great deal of coverage in the media about the challenges of home schooling, particularly while parents and carers are trying to do their own jobs, and please do be assured that we understand that it is not always straightforward; I would also like to remind parents and carers that a great many of our staff have children of their own, notably of primary school age, and that home schooling is also a pressure for them while delivering provision for our students.

Our remote learning provision is blended with a mix of “live” lessons, recorded lessons and set work; in practical subjects such as PE and Design Technology work may take the form of challenges over a period of time or a project. The work mirrors what would be set in class normally and still requires work to be submitted regularly with appropriate feedback.

The key point of the day is the 8.40am tutor period on Teams and students should be virtually attending this each morning unless told otherwise and then following their timetable and work set on Satchel through the day. It has been brilliant to see the very high level of engagement with the tutor period this week and we expect this to continue for all students for the period of home learning.

Further information about remote learning can be found on the school website at:

Years 11 and 13

I am sure that you will have seen the media coverage this week about the cancellation of exams this year. The decision has only just been made and a consultation process about how students will be assessed is now going to take place. This means that it will be several weeks, possibly longer, before we know what this will look like.

In the absence of certainty, we will be expecting all students to continue to work as normally as they can and we will keep everyone updated as further information as it emerges. Staff will be communicating and reinforcing these messages to students in the weeks to come.

Virtual Events

Virtual Events such as Parents’ Evenings and Key Stage 4 Options Evening will go ahead this term as planned – again, further details to follow.

INSET Day – Wednesday 27th January

This date will remain as an INSET Day when remote learning will not be taking place. Staff will be using the day to review remote learning and spend time curriculum planning to ensure the best provision for all our students.

Mass Testing

We are continuing to plan for the mass testing for COVID of students and staff when the school fully reopens. Parental consent is required for students under the age of 16 and we will be gathering this information over the next few weeks so that we are ready to proceed with testing as soon as students are back in school.

Thank You!

We have had numerous messages of support from parents and carers at the end of last term, during the school holiday and this week. They are all enormously appreciated. I would like to reiterate that we know how challenging this period is for all our families in different ways and we continue to work hard to address these pressures and to maintain and develop the strengths of our school community throughout this time.

To reiterate, we will adapt, adjust and support each other during these weeks and I very much look forward to standing in St George’s Road and welcoming everyone back to school when the time is right.