February Half Term Letter - Secondary
12th February 2021
Dear Parents and Carers,
I hope this letter finds all our Waverley families well at this extraordinary time. I would like to start by saying a very heartfelt thank you for the support from our families and staff throughout the half term. We greatly appreciate the help and the support of our families in ensuring that we are able to operate as well as possible during this time. We have received from our enquiry email and our welfare calls some lovely messages of thanks and it has been great to see how the school community and local community support each other despite the ongoing challenges of the pandemic and the third lockdown.
Some key points to update you on:
Remote Learning, Online Form Time and Welfare Calls
I am aware that remote learning has been both very successful and also challenging for some at the same time because it never quite replaces face-to-face teaching and it puts added demands on families to ensure engagement and provide space to learn. Teachers are working tirelessly to ensure that work follows the spring term curriculum and that feedback to students enables progress. We appreciate the work that parents and carers have done in supporting children to study and learn from home. We hope that we will return very soon to face-to-face teaching and in the meantime we ask parents and carers to do their best to ensure that students in the secondary phase access 5 hours of learning a day (government guided hours).
Our Year 12 and 13 teaching provision is a combination of online live lessons and pre-recorded lessons. It has been very successful this half term and it has been reassuring to know that students are engaging very well.
Welfare calls continue at least every 2 weeks for Years 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 and I am reassured that we talk to students and their families on a very regular basis to check upon welfare, to support engagement in learning and to remain in communication with all our families at this difficult time. If any parent/carer wants to talk to a member of staff, please email the enquiry email and your enquiry will be passed on to the most appropriate member of staff. If possible, it is always helpful if you can provide the name or role of the person you wish to communicate to.
Face-to-face online form time in Years 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13: We have carried out online form time for the last 2 weeks across all year groups and the conduct of students and their interaction with their form teachers has been excellent. Form sessions online will continue every Wednesday and Thursday after half term (once a week per student with an appointment set by their form teacher in the MS Teams calendar), so please encourage your child to attend at 8:45am at their allocated time. The sessions are conversational, enable teachers to check upon the welfare of the students and also to check how well they are engaging in school work in order to support where necessary. I have dropped into sessions and it has been lovely to see our students, to talk to them and to see how brilliantly they have conducted themselves. It makes me very proud to be the head of school.
During the half-term break from w/c 15th February, staff will not be available to support your child with their distance learning. As a result, staff will provide feedback on any assignments set after this holiday. The second half of the spring term begins on Monday 22nd February.
Wider Re-opening of Schools
The government has indicated that schools will re-open at the earliest from 8th March. Speculation on how students will return to school seems to have become a national pastime, which I think is fuelled by daily reports and discussion in the media. I know that this constant speculation can feel fairly unsettling to read and hear about – and it is also potentially distracting as we try to focus on providing the best possible education via our remote provision in the immediate time. Outside of school holidays, our remote provision will continue following the curriculum for as long as any child is working from home, and teachers are facilitating opportunities for feedback and assessment where this is appropriate. What I will say is that our planning and experience from the 12 months has put us in a very confident position to plan for the re-opening scenario that the government decides upon. We are confident of being able to respond to changing situations as quickly as possible. I will of course communicate any definite news as soon as we have it and the government has promised schools that it will inform them about re-opening guidance by 22nd February or 2 weeks before the date of re-opening.
Distribution and Loaning of Devices
We appreciate that not all pupils have access to their own personal ICT devices to support their learning at home and many students share devices with other family members. In recent months, in the range of 350 devices have been loaned and distributed to our most vulnerable families across the Primary, Secondary and Sixth Form phases. All our available devices (reconditioned devices that the school has had available and all government loaned devices that the school has been allocated) have been distributed in our endeavour to ensure that families have one device that children can work on. We are aware that we still have some families who would like to loan a device and are on our waiting list. We act fast to pass on devices when we acquire them and we will always try our best to support families in this area.
Free School Meals
We have been able to send out the vouchers to all our entitled students and I thank the staff who have worked hard to ensure that we prioritise this task. If you newly acquire FSM eligibility and you receive the email from the online free school meal service to say you have been approved, be aware that families receive this immediately; however, there is always a time delay for this information to reach school and communication can often take up to 3 working days to reach us because the government use a third party company. Please bear this in mind if you receive your FSM confirmation.
Thank you to everyone for continuing to play their role in protecting families and the community by following all social distancing and hygiene advice and guidance, especially regarding when to self-isolate. Please do also get in touch if you require any guidance or advice on specific circumstances – we are always happy to provide this where we can.
All Government advice regarding Covid-19 can be found HERE
Parent and student school surveys
All parents and students will receive a link to surveys that we are carrying out. Surveys are always very useful to help the school self-evaluate what is working well and how we can be even better. We appreciate you taking the time to complete the survey. It will be sent out via the parent mail app.
Examination year groups- year 11 and 13- assessments and final outcomes
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak and closure of schools, you are most probably aware that the government made the decision to cancel all summer exams for 2021 for pupils in Years 11 and 13- we have written to you before about this. The government held a consultation in January 2021 about what form assessment will take. We are still waiting for the government decision about the subsequent direction that schools will take in assessment. What I will say is that it is crucial that students in Years 11 and 13 continue to engage in 5 hours (more if you add revision time) of lessons a day. It is important that they learn the required content (knowledge and skills) to be able to be assessed to their full potential and of course to be ready to start the next stage of their education or employment. Once I have received information from the government, I will write to you again about the direction the government has asked us to take. I must point out that we cannot provide final estimated grades at this stage, as not only have students not completed their courses, but also it would be wrong to judge your child’s final grade in February 2021 when courses are set to be completed in late spring.
Without a doubt this has been, and will continue to be, the most difficult academic years in recent memory. However, all staff at Waverley School have been working tirelessly to enable the best provision and support for our students and families that we can offer.
I wish you and your family well and a very safe good half term.
Mrs A Lloyd
Head of School – Secondary Phase