Headteachers Letter – 15th January 2021

Dear Parents and carers,

Thanks for your continuing exceptional support during this period of remote education. We are fortunate to have such a positive and resilient community of parents and carers, and we are enjoying working with you to ensure that both remote education and in school provision is as effective as it possibly can be. Thank you also for all of the positive feedback and emails – this really does mean a lot to us and we are keen to continue to gather views from parents and students in order that we can improve our provision still further – more details below!


Lateral Flow Testing at Wollaston School

We will today have completed the first full week of testing – and I would like to thank and recognise the exceptional work of everyone involved in the programme, which has been superbly led by Mrs Nixon. LAW School students (and our own staff) have been independent, mature and brave in facing the testing process and all has proceeded exactly as planned.  We clearly have expert technicians and co-operative participants as we are yet to have an inconclusive or  invalid test result!  As of this morning – we remain with  a single asymptomatic positive case identified on Monday (confirmed by PCR test).  All other tests have been returned as negative.  This is a reassuring outcome all round, as two of the major concerns regarding mass testing in schools were around large numbers of false positive results and large numbers of invalid or inconclusive tests.

Thanks for all of your support of the programme so far, and once we have plans for the full return to school we will adapt the testing schedule accordingly.


Qualifications 2021 Update

I will refrain from providing a running commentary on the exchanges between Ofqual and the Department for Education, nor on the current speculation in the media regarding the shape of the eventual plans. I feel that the constant coverage can create anxiety and can possibly hamper what it is that our students need to be focusing on in the coming weeks.  I have explained to students  ( in virtual assemblies to Year 11, 12 and 13)  what we do know, and the broad principles and expectations that we should work to in the weeks ahead.

  • Grades will be awarded as late in the academic year as possible.
  • This means that all grades remain “still to play for” – Winter 2020 mock exam results will not be decisive in the awards of final grades.
  • Grades will be awarded through teacher assessment judgements, not through Department for Education algorithms.
  • All curriculum content and assessment activity will continue as planned through the remote learning programme.
  • There are likely to be some assessment activities and questions set and standardised by the exam boards.  We warmly welcome this in ensuring that all schools across the country are as unscrupulously fair and transparent in grading as we always are at Wollaston School.
  • Students should continue to focus on work completion, engagement with remote learning and giving their best efforts in all forms of assessment activity  – this is the best way to guarantee success.
  • Our collective hard work to date has ensured that as a school, we remain very positive about progress in our exam cohorts and are confident in working with students to achieve the grades that they deserve in their 2021 qualifications.

I will of course continue to update students and parents as soon as we have concrete information on any of the detailed arrangements.


Remote Learning Update

Thank you to students, parents and staff for the  incredible hard work on making live lessons function so well over the past two weeks. Our attendance in live lessons has been excellent and we want to at least maintain these levels over the coming weeks. We are also keen to evaluate how things are working, capturing positive feedback as well as hearing thoughts for further improvement. Please do email feedback to remotelearning@wollaston-school.net as we want to continue to refine and improve our remote provision in the weeks ahead.

One issue we are aware of, is that of screen fatigue and the risk of having every minute of every lesson seated directly in front of a computer or tablet.  We are asking teachers to ensure that there is scope within lessons for some independent work, either written or practical – away from the screen in order to ensure a reasonable balance of activities.  There is likely to be some variety here between subjects and also depending on the content studied, but we do want to ensure a healthy balance.  There may be times when intense input is needed and others where most of the lesson can be off screen independent work. We will of course keep how well this is working  under review in the days and weeks ahead.

Please also note that all polices and practice relating to remote learning  can now be found on the school website HERE


Year 9 Subject Consultation Evening 4th February 2021

It is vitally important that we give appropriate time to Year 9 students and parents to provide progress updates and assist with options choices in readiness for Year 10 and GCSE study. We are also determined that despite the current lockdown, we do not fall behind with our school calendar of events and curriculum planning. I am also aware that as above, it would not be healthy for students or staff to spend all day teaching on screen followed by Zoom parent consultations.

With this in mind – we will suspend live teaching for the day on the 4th February – and use both the school day and the evening to schedule appointments with Year 9 parents and students.  Further information to come on this for students in Year 9, including a guide to the curriculum choices available for next year.

For all other year groups, there will be independent learning tasks set for the day , which teachers will ensure that students are well prepared for, through their live lesson delivery in the run up to the 4th February. For some year groups, this time may be used for students to work on some longer timed assessment tasks.


Free School Meals

Our kitchen staff have undertaken some excellent work in providing students with food parcels as per original Department for Education guidance.  However, following the latest Government U turn,  we will now switch to providing supermarket vouchers through the national scheme. Eligible families will be contacted directly and we support this change in the guidance as we have found that the voucher system is the method which assures the highest uptake of provision.


BTEC Quality Verification

Thank you to all of our members of staff who deliver vocational course and who assisted in the remote certification of Wollaston School as a centre to provide BTEC assessment and study – and to Mrs Lydon for leading on this. Pearson were impressed with all aspects of our processes and provision and we look forward to continuing our delivery of a broad, balanced and inspiring curriculum.


Physical Activity During Lockdown

Thanks to students, families and our amazing PE faculty for ensuring that exercise and physical activity continues despite the current restrictions. Through students logging their activities in Core PE lessons as well as any exercise taken outside of normal school time, we are ensuring that lockdown remains as active as possible.

We are competing against other schools in the Northamptonshire Lockdown league https://www.northamptonshiresport.org/lockdown-league

The website above allows students to log their physical activity and to date we have collectively  managed an incredible……776 hours and 19 minutes of physical activity!

A message from the PE faculty follows – and we are obviously determined to win the challenge!

The PE department has been engaging pupils on zoom PE lessons and has this week entered the Physical activity challenge as part of the Northamptonshire LOCKDOWN LEAGUE – a physical activity competition that will hopefully encourage more children to be physically active. Through the promotion of exercise the  Wollaston PE department is helping  relieve the pressures of lock down through active and engaging lessons encouraging all students to be physically active.  Students from Wollaston School are challenging other schools from across Northamptonshire remotely on a weekly basis to see which schools are the most active. This is determined by active minutes record. Students are walking/running/jogging, doing sit ups/squats or walking the dog – any form of exercise that gets the students off the sofa counts!

In the four days since we started this project Wollaston students have amassed 46579 min of exercise across mainly KS3 and KS4 Core PE lessons. We would like to thank the students for all of their hard work and exercise. They have been brilliant.   Mr Bennett – Head of PE


I hope that you all enjoy a relaxing weekend and we look forward to another positive week of remote learning on Monday!

Mr James Birkett