Coronavirus Update – Week 7

May 24

Dear parents and carers,

Bizarrely enough we have reached the end of half term without actually seeing the vast majority of our pupils. Everything is very, very different and while we are all becoming more accustomed to remote teaching and learning, well….it’s just not the same, is it? The school staff thrive on the interaction we get with the students and with each other, and we’re all missing this – one of the key reasons we all wanted to work in schools in the first place.

Before I get too far into the details of reopening, there are a couple of things I’d like to tell you about the school in more general terms.

Mrs Gough left us at the end of this half term to take up a promoted position as Head of Food at a local Academy. She will be missed terribly. Her love and enthusiasm for her subject during her time at JCSC have been matched only by her dedication to her students. She leaves us with all our good wishes for the future, and I’m sure she’ll keep in touch.

Year 7 will be taught at South Avenue next year. We had planned to do this already for a variety of reasons, but the current situation means that we can’t do any proper transition activities with Year 6, so keeping them in their familiar environment seems to make even more sense. They may be taken to the upper school site for some specialist subjects, such as DT.

We will post a walk-through video of the site on Facebook by the middle of the week to show you what our school looks like, ready for reopening. This will give parents and students the chance to see what they can expect on their return, and how much work we have put in to make sure everyone is as safe as possible. We hope this visual guide will reassure you.

We will set up a reopening FAQ [Frequently Asked Questions] section on our website. If the answer to your question isn’t there, email us and we will we answer you, and add it to the FAQs.

Once we know when Year 6 will return, we will contact those parents directly with more details about buses, timings of the day, what to wear, and what we expect from students but the main headlines are:

small groups of up to 12, allocated into ‘bubbles’ that don’t mix with any other bubbles throughout the day

no uniform for staff or students – outdoor learning is encouraged, and each bubble will have a clearly marked section of the field and shared access to the running track and playing fields

a shortened school day, at least in the first instance, with lessons starting around 9 am and finishing around 2 pm.

We are keen to find out how our parents and students are doing at the moment, to see what we can do to support you all.
If parents and carers could find 5 minutes to complete this short wellbeing questionnaire and students could do the same with this questionnaire, we’d be most grateful. They are open until noon next Saturday.

Our entire staff have been working tirelessly during the past few weeks, none more so than our superb facilities team, who have a huge amount of experience in successfully managing situations that can pose risks. The team have been working closely with myself and the rest of the leadership team to transform our school into a place that is as safe as possible for staff and students on their return. There are some pictures attached that show a classroom and corridor, prepared for two-metre spacing. The whole school will be prepared at this level before we return.

These photographs show a classroom and corridor, prepared for two-metre spacing. The whole school will be prepared at this level before we return.

Staff and Year 6 students will only come back into school when the government’s five key indicators have been met. This will be no sooner than Tuesday, June 2nd rather than June 1st.

Given the huge amount of structural and procedural changes I am about to describe, we need a training day to allow the staff to visit the site and familiarise themselves with the new routines we are putting into place. This is necessary to ensure we adhere to the social distancing and hygiene routines  that are key to the safe running of the school. Returning on the 2nd of June, at the earliest, allows time for us to thoroughly train our team.

The government plans to let us know whether the five key indicators have been met, and therefore it is safe for Year 6 to return, this Thursday 28th May. Even if they believe it is safe, we may not agree that it is safe, and would, therefore, remain closed. Parents of Year 6 students will get a message on Friday 29th May to say whether we will open on Tuesday 2nd June or not.

Please do not send your Year 6 child to school on June 2nd [unless they are already attending our daily care facility] until you have had confirmation from us.

I will run through the actions that we’ve taken in the guide Arrangements for Reopening to Year 6 Students [downloadable at the bottom of this post for your convenience] to ensure we have minimised the risks posed by COVID-19, and the procedures we have put into place to ensure the highest levels of safety for all. We’ve read every piece of guidance published by the DfE [there were 41 updates last week alone] and ensured we’re compliant. We’ve gone much, much further in many cases to make sure we do the very best in our school for our community and staff.

I have to warn you, there is a lot of it… but please remember the video and FAQs will hopefully be a lot easier to digest.

There is, as yet, no detailed guidance around the return to school for other year groups such as years 10 and 12, so the following applies to Year 6 only at present.

Please do keep in touch. We are trying to do all we can to support you, your children and each other through this stressful time. Rest assured we’re working hard to be as efficient and effective as possible, and any advice or suggestions you could give us would be most welcome.

Most importantly, stay safe and take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Best wishes,

Neil Rodgers,

Executive Headteacher