Dear Parents and Carers,

We have enjoyed a successful and purposeful week at Wollaston School, with all Year groups working effectively within the new bubble arrangements. We are extremely grateful to parents and students for reading and following the guidance so carefully as it is these arrangements which allow us to keep ourselves and each other as safe as possible whilst enjoying the full return to school.  Staff have noted the focus and self regulation which students have shown in adhering to all of the new routines and in their approach to their academic studies.  We have of course missed a great deal of time, and our students and staff have worked together to ensure that learning time is used as effectively as possible.

 

National Restrictions – The Rule of Six

You will be aware that  nationally, the Government are once again imposing tighter restrictions on gatherings. These must be limited to no more than 6 people from 14th September, both indoors and outdoors and in public spaces.

Alongside a number of other workplaces and circumstances, schools are exempt from this restriction. As such, the announcement does not affect any of our policies and practices at Wollaston School.  This means, that as with previous iterations of Government policy,  students and staff will operate under different guidance and restrictions in their school lives than they  will in their private lives. I know that this is potentially confusing, and a reminder that our school guidelines can be found HERE Please do let us know if anything is unclear and if you would like clarification on anything that is  / is not permissible when attending school.

 

Returning to More Active PE Lessons

We are pleased to begin moving to a more “normal” schedule of PE activities from Monday 14th September. However, as you may be aware, communal changing, and the use of changing rooms remains a potential risk. In order to mitigate against this, and to manage physical activity as safely as possible, the following arrangements will apply to all PE lessons from Monday.

  • On the days which students have a double PE lesson (or Public Services in the Sixth Form) students will be able to spend the entire day in their PE kit. This includes arriving at school in PE kit and leaving school in PE kit.
  • At the time of their PE lesson, students should go to their timetabled classroom and meet their teacher there.
  • The PE teacher will then supervise sanitisation of hands and escort students to their “bubbled” outdoor space.
  • All physical activities and sports will be carried out  in line with the relevant sporting Governing Body’s return to play frameworks and Covid Secure guidelines.
  • All equipment will only be used by a single class before being sanitised in preparation for use by the next group.
  • Students will work in the same small groups or pairs for the duration of each lesson.
  • Physical contact between students will be minimised through the use of outdoor spaces and larger indoor spaces for physical activity.
  • Physical contact will only ever be allowed as permitted by the guidelines issued by each sport’s Governing Body and only for limited amounts of time.
  • The final 20 minutes of each lesson will be tapered to reduce the levels of physical activity required to ensure that students are not out of breath or breathing heavily as they return to indoor areas.
  • Students may bring to school a small towel to use at the end of  the lesson to prepare themselves for a return to classroom learning. Students should also bring a plastic bag to then store the towel in after use, which should be tied and placed in their school bag.
  • Students will then return to the allocated classroom and sanitise their hands before leaving the room.

If you have any questions about these arrangements, please contact Mr Bennett, our Head of PE benneta@wollaston-school.net I know that students and parents will welcome this return to physical activity which remains  so important at the current time.

 

In Class Assessments

We have deliberately started the year with new content for all year groups. Our aim has been to begin the year as a fresh start, encouraging all students to engage fully with their studies at the start of the new academic year. In the weeks ahead, we will be conducting some in class assessments, particularly for exam groups in Years 11 and 13. The aim here is largely diagnostic. We need to know where any gaps in learning are and will then plan catch up session and lesson content accordingly. These assessments are not mock exams and are not something that students and parents should worry about. We will share all  information from these assessments with students and  parents to ensure that key targets and revision needs are well understood in order to plan for the rest of the year. Whilst it is of course impossible to predict what may or may not happen in the future, our planning is based on a standard GCSE and A Level examination series in the summer of 2021 and that certainly seems to be the view of the DfE and OFQUAL, particularly after the issues with the alternative arrangements this year.

 

Parent Evenings

In the immediate future, we are unlikely to invite parents into school for either tutor or subject consultation meetings.  We are looking into ways of hosting these events remotely, whilst ensuring that this does not become unwieldy for parents or staff.

The first event is the Sixth Form tutor evening which takes place next week. Mr Mills is sending details regarding how this will function and please contact the Sixth form team on millst@wollaston-school.net if you have any questions.

We recognise that it is important that parents, students and staff do have the opportunity to discuss academic progress and next steps and as such, regardless of format, our intention is to preserve the dates as outlined on our school calendar as these have been carefully scheduled throughout the school year. I want to avoid a potentially  endless series of postponements and changes which would be disruptive for students, parents and staff.   For information, the scheduled dates are as follows:

 

Year 12 & 13 – Meet the Mentor Evening – Thursday 13th September

Year 7 – Meet the Tutor Evening – Thursday 1st October

Year 10 – Success at GCSE – Thursday 8th October

Year 11 – Parents Evening – Thursday 22nd October

Year 13 – Parents Evening – Thursday 10th December

Year 9 – Parents Evening – Thursday 21st January

Year 10 – Parents Evening – Thursday 4th March

Year 12 – Parents Evening – Thursday 25th March

Year 8 – Parents Evening – Thursday 15th April

Year 7 – Parents Evening – Thursday 6th May

 

Open Evening 2020

Parents will be aware that we traditionally host an Open Evening for prospective students and parents in late September. Owing to the current restrictions, we are obviously not able to host this as a live event, but will be arranging a series of on line events to promote our school to prospective parents. We will of course write to our partner primary schools to advise them of these arrangements. As part of the virtual open evening, we will also be inviting a small number of current students to participate in photos, videos and talks in order to give prospective parents a flavour of life at our school. I would like to thank in advance all of those who participate and we will also release the virtual open evening content to current parents as well as prospective parents!

 

Online Safety

Following on from our message last week regarding distressing content on TikTok, we have been advised that there are increasing local and national concerns regarding inappropriate, distressing and illegal content circulating on social media. Whilst as a school, we have a mandate to educate, inform and promote online safety we are of course not able to police individual’s use of social media or the internet. We are also aware that this can be a difficult area for parents to understand and support their children with. In order to assist Northamptonshire County Council have produced information and advice sheets for parents, with some ideas on how to monitor, discuss and promote online safety. We appreciate you taking the time to read these and discuss the content with your child(ren).

Parent hand out – 2020

Parents – Online safety gaming and social media

 

School Bus Transport, Parking  and Congestion at the end of the School Day

Thank you to parents and the local community for your support during what has been a very busy dismissal period, exacerbated by the issues which we have had with school bus transport. Whilst the clarity, organisation and reliability of the school bus arrangements does seem to be improving, I know that the site and surrounding roads have been incredibly congested.

As we move forward, please can I suggest that parents collecting their child by car do not arrive on the school site until after 3.20pm. For students who are being picked up at this time, they should wait in their bubble areas until their lift  has arrived to avoid congestion at the front of school.  This will significantly aid a speedy dismissal and parents who have been on site will know that it is impossible to get away on time in any event! It is however surprising how quickly the traffic clears on site and a later pick up time is likely to lead to a less hectic departure.

Please can  parents also be mindful that we take pride in maintaining good relationships with our local neighbours. Please can all those picking up students avoid parking over nearby residential driveways or business access roads (particularly near the water tower) as this can have a negative impact on  local residents and businesses. Thank you in advance for your support and I hope that by encouraging some later collections from school we are able to alleviate some of these issues.

Mr J Birkett

Headteacher