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12 August 2020

Dear Parent/Carer and Student

As you are aware we are finalising our plan so we can reopen our doors to all of our students on Wednesday 02 September 2020. It is fundamental to us that we offer a broad and balanced curriculum and support our students both academically and emotionally following the challenges that they have faced and continue to face in regard to the COVID-19 situation. As a result, I am delighted to inform you that we will continue to offer our students the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects in September 2020 and we have minimised disruption as much as possible to student’s ‘normal’ timetable whilst at the same time adhering to the Government COVID protocols. I have outlined some key information below in accordance with the latest Government guidance and will write to you again the week beginning Monday 24 August 2020, with more information (students will have their own timetables by this point also).

Year Group Bubbles

• Students will be grouped into year group ‘bubbles’ to ensure that they do not mix with other year groups. As a result, students will have staggered start and finish times and will have their lunchbreak with their year group only.
The timing of the school day will be as follows:

Year Group Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 Year 10 Year 11
Start Time 8:20 8:30 8:40 8:50 8:10
Finish Time 14:00 14:10 14:20 14:30 15:30

• To ensure students get at least 5 sessions of teaching, there will be no morning registration or daily Tutor time. Lunch time will be 20 minutes and students will have one Tutor period every two weeks. Year 7 to Year 10 will have PSHE embedded within curriculum time to ensure that we are supporting their wellbeing. (Further details will be sent to you the week beginning Monday 24 August 2020, regarding this). Year 11 will have additional learning periods (ALPS) to support them with their GCSE preparation.

Students Attendance
• As in accordance with recent Government guidance, students are expected to attend school. We understand that staff, parents/carers and students will all have a sense of anxiety about returning particularly after such a long period of absence. Please be assured that we will work with our staff, parents/carers and students as closely as possible in the coming weeks and months to ensure as smooth a transition back to Academy life as possible.

Test and Trace Support for Schools and any suspected / confirmed cases
• There has been a lot of information in the media regarding the testing and tracing system in schools, we await further information from the Government and Local Authority regarding this and will then inform parents/carers and students. Students displaying COVID-19 symptoms or confirmed to have COVID-19 are expected to self-isolate. Their work will be available on-line for them to complete with the school supporting (if possible) with IT access if this a problem.
Regular Cleaning
• Hand sanitation zones have been set up in all areas across the Academy including in every classroom, corridor, canteen area, reception, student entry areas, etc. Regular cleaning will take place across the Academy every day and areas in ‘heavy use’ will be cleaned more frequently including canteen, toilets, etc.

Other Key Information
• There will be no big group gatherings such as assemblies. Assemblies will be held on line and key messages from myself, the Head of School, will be ‘zoomed’ to students on a regular basis.
• Visitors to the school are not allowed without appointments. Parental appointments will be (unless in emergency cases) over the telephone or on line.
• Students will stay in the same ‘zone’ for some of their classroom-based lessons to limit the movement of students around the corridors. For example, Year 11 will be based predominately in the Maths ‘zone’ for English, Maths, Science and Humanities based subjects. All year groups will have their own zone.

My team and I know that parents/carers and students must have a lot of questions for us, as already stated I will send out further information the week beginning Monday 24 August 2020 and there will be a team of staff available to answer any questions on Monday 01 September 2020.

Other key information with regard to next year includes the following:

Staffing for September 2020
I am pleased to inform you that staff retention for the academic year 2019-202020 was 88%, the highest in the Academy’s history. All of the Senior Leadership Team, Heads of Faculty and Heads of Department remain in place for the academic year 2020-21. Unfortunately, we have said goodbye to two of our Progress Leaders, Mr Pedley who has relocated to Belgium and Mr Emblem, who has gained a promotion in another school. As a result, Ms Steenkamp and Mr Concannon will join the Progress Leader team, both are established members of staff and I know they will do a great job with the support of our very experienced team.

It is critical with the current COVID-19 situation that students have sense of ‘family’ and have every opportunity to maximise their progress. I am confident that with the talented, caring and hardworking staff in place throughout the Academy, in partnership with parents, we will do all within our power to support our young people to reach their potential.

Improving our Academy
Throughout the ‘lockdown’ period, we have worked hard to refresh some areas of the Academy, following feedback from the Student Leadership Team. We have transformed one of the drama rooms into an additional dance space, redesigned the library so students have more access to IT and more space to study either collectively or individually and added more seating areas in the courtyard. It is important that our Academy is a beacon of hope and opportunity for our students both now and in the future. Please be assured we will continue to provide an outstanding learning environment for our students and put them at the very heart of everything we do.

Again, a massive thank you to all of our parents/carers, students, staff, governors and community for coming together and supporting each other through this continuous challenging time. I know our young people have missed out on so much over the previous months and whilst many of our students have engaged in on line learning, it is clearly no substitute for the wonderful energy, sense of togetherness and importance of routine that a school can provide when young people are surrounded by their friends, peers and staff. Please be assured whilst we will do everything possible for students to make maximum academic progress when they return to us in September, we will also focus on their wellbeing and the ‘fun’ element, so our young people can be the very best they can be in every aspect of their lives.

Best wishes,

Yours sincerely

Mrs G McLaughlin


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