Headteachers Letter – 25th September 2020

Dear Parents and carers,

Thank you for your support for another really positive week at Wollaston School.  Our new systems are working well and students and staff are now well versed in our routines. We also appreciate your proactivity in ensuring that students have the correct uniform and correct equipment in school. A significant part of our control system is the need for self-sufficiency and the avoidance of shared equipment, so your support here has been crucial.

We are pleased that the atmosphere at Wollaston School has continued to be so warm and positive, despite the current restrictions. Our current rates of attendance are significantly above national averages and students report feeling safe and reassured whilst at school. This is of course vital to ensuring a school community focused on learning and achievement. However, I am aware that at the same time as ensuring that every child benefits from an excellent education, we are also fighting an invisible virus, and it is right that we remain alert and  proactive in ensuring that all possible control measures are actioned as fully as possible


Face Coverings on School Buses

I know that many staff, parents and students are concerned that the use of face coverings on school buses is reducing over time. From an informal study of buses arriving at / leaving our school, it is only a minority of students who are wearing face coverings.

Improving this position is a particular priority as our bubble system is proving to be very effective and school buses are the only enclosed spaces in which students from different bubbles are together.

It is of course impossible for Wollaston School to change the law on the use of face coverings on school transport – they are not compulsory on school buses and neither we nor the bus companies can enforce a rule which is not the legal position. We would also not be able to enforce a school policy which was so far from our control regarding students boarding and alighting transport in multiple villages and locations.   However – I do feel that it is the right thing to move to a phase of more active encouragement around this issue. To this end:

  • Please can all parents ensure that students using school transport have an appropriate face covering and wear this in the morning when boarding the bus.
  • Form tutors at Wollaston School will spend some time next week discussing with tutees the importance of face coverings in situations when they are outside of their year group bubbles.
  • At the end of the day,  teachers of Period 6 will ask and encourage students to wear face coverings when leaving the classroom.
  • All staff on bus duty will also ask and encourage students to wear face coverings when boarding the bus (if they are not already doing so).

Our tone will of course be around friendly encouragement to do the right thing, and we will be mindful that some students will be exempt from mask wearing.

We would appreciate you discussing this with your son or daughter, as this is one of those situations in which, if every individual does the right thing, the risk for everyone reduces.


National Changes to Social Distancing and Covid -19 Restrictions

You will be aware that the national picture seems to be increasingly concerning and that the Prime Minister announced a further tightening of restrictions on 22nd September 2020.  In terms of guidance and regulation for staff and students, there are no changes for the operation of schools. It is increasingly clear that schools are going to be prioritised ahead of most other sectors and social activities, meaning that we are able to operate in a different environment than in other areas of society. Nevertheless, this is demanding for students and staff, because we need to learn and comply with two different sets of regulations (one for our private lives and another for our educational and professional lives). It does of course remain vital for us to follow all requirements in our personal lives as we then collectively make our school a safer place to be. We are grateful for parental support in ensuring that students adhere to all relevant guidance outside of school, in order to minimise the risk of transmission.


Attendance, Illness and Testing Capacity

Please find HERE a letter from the NHS with advice regarding Covid-19 symptoms and detailing when / when not to access a test. This is the same message that we have consistently given as a school throughout the crisis and I thank parents for having followed this guidance so carefully.

Testing availability remains limited both locally and nationally, and following the guidance above allows for those who need tests to access them promptly. As always, please do advise the school if a student is self -isolating and awaiting a test result, or if you are unable to book a test and a student does have coronavirus symptoms.

If a positive test result is received, please alert us as a school immediately. Please telephone the school, email the relevant head of year and copy me into the email. Birkettj@wollaston-school.net

Please note, we will never reveal the identity of an individual who tests positive.


NHS Covid-19 App

On the 24th September the NHS track and trace app was launched. More information can be found HERE

Some key information regarding use of the app in school settings:

  • The app is designed to be available to everyone aged 16 and over.
  • The app runs in the background on mobiles phones using Bluetooth. There will be no need for students who are using the app to have their phones out in lessons, or during social times.
  • The app will automate some track and trace functions following confirmed cases and alert users if they have been in close contact with a positive case.
  • Alerts are always anonymous – users will not know who has tested positive.
  • There is a caution regarding leaving phones in bags, lockers or away from one’s person. This is because it is phone to phone contact which can trigger an alert – not actually person to person. Leaving phones in fixed locations, away from one’s person will increase the likelihood of false close contact alerts.
  • If users receive an alert to self isolate – we will expect students and families to comply with this instruction.
  • If a student receives an alert whilst at school, they should contact the nearest member of staff immediately and advise them of the alert.
  • We will then make arrangements with parents/carers for collection and ensure that in school isolation procedures are followed.

As with so much in the current climate, it is uncertain how the app will work on a national scale. However, we would of course support all staff and students (those aged 16 and over) who wish to use the app, to do so. It is probably also worth noting though, that the app is not just to provide users with information. If a member of staff or student receives an instruction to self-isolate from the app, we understand that they would have to do so, even if they believe the alert could be erroneous. Of course this system does not replace our existing notification procedures and decision making.


Drinking Water in School

Thank you for your support in reducing the need for students to access additional drinking water in school, this situation has improved significantly in the last few days, possibly helped by the weather! Whilst all schools do have to provide drinking water on request, and of course we would always ensure that no child is left thirsty, the issue here is around reducing high frequency touch points around the school.  Even within the bubble, there are potential issues with hundreds of students filling bottles from the same point. We are currently working with our specialist health and safety advisers on how we may safely re-open the bottle refill stations. In the meantime, we appreciate parents support in ensuring that students are as self-sufficient as possible.

Virtual Open Evening 2020

Thank you so much to all of the students and staff who contributed to the filming of our first ever virtual open evening last night. This did of course involve a far smaller pool of students than in previous years – and all students kept to their bubble locations. We want to show off the dynamism and passion of each faculty and make a video which appeals to Year 6 students and their families.. More filming will take place on Tuesday 29th September.  We will have a finished product for viewing in early October which will also be shared with existing students and parents.


Our prospectus is only available online this year – and prospective parents have to sign up to receive this and the videos. We have already had over 250 families sign up and have yet to run the usual advertising and publicity – so although we won’t see them in person – it will be another  bumper year!


Arrangements for Practical PE Lessons – A message from Mr Bennett, our Head of Physical Education.

The PE department would like to thank all  students in every year group for the brilliant way that they have started their PE lessons this term and prepared themselves with the correct kit and uniform for their PE days. Please could the students be aware that now the activities will move on and also the weather will change as well as  the condition of the field. Therefore  students will be required to bring boots for their outdoor lessons, as well as wearing trainers to school. Due to the bubble system and allocation of spaces/locations around the school, students will be using the field more frequently. It will be essential that they bring boots and shinpads to support themselves during their hockey and football lessons in particular.  The PE staff will inform the students of their activities and the relevant need for their boots and protective equipment.

Students must wear the PE uniform as illustrated below.  The PE department understands that  students will be wearing coats to school. These are not part of the School PE kit and may not be worn during PE lessons.

A warm base layer that is dark in colour can be worn underneath the PE top.  Any students can also use the waterproof/Long Sleeved Training top as shown in the diagram below.  Dark Tracksuit trousers and Dark Sports leggings can also be worn to keep students warm.

Thank you so much for your support in helping our students stay active and enjoying their Sport and Physical Education. Any questions please contact Mr Bennet Benneta@wollaston-school.net

Careers Information

Students in the Sixth Form were able to access some careers guidance from Wollaston School alumni as our current Year 12 and 13 students consider future careers and opportunities for further academic study.

Degree Apprenticeships are an increasingly popular and competitive route, which sees students study for a degree whilst enjoying salaried employment. A former student discussed their experience with Year 12 via a zoom call and there is further information on degree apprenticeships HERE

Sixth Form students also heard from a former student whose degree apprenticeship is with the police force and were given details on how to successfully apply and the benefits of this route. We do have a number of students who are interested in joining the police force as well as in degree apprenticeships generally. Mr Myers, our careers lead will provide on-going support and can be contacted on email Myersb@wollaston-school.net


Year 7 Meet the Tutor Evenings 

After the success of the Sixth Form Zoom events, Year 7 parents have the opportunity to meet virtually with Mr Beeby and their child’s form tutor next week. Events will take place throughout the course of the week, and each tutor group has their own time and date. Please contact Mr Beeby Beebyk@wollaston-school.net or Mrs Cootes Cootesa@wollaston-school.net for further information.

Next week will see us move out of September and we will begin to focus more intently on monitoring student progress and re-introducing formal assessments. More information to follow next week, but the purpose will be to ensure we identify any curricular gaps and improvement targets across the curriculum. Our aim, as it always has been is to ensure excellent academic outcomes for every student and despite the pandemic we will help every student achieve their potential across the curriculum.

Thank you, as always for your support and cooperation in these matters and of Wollaston School. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us via email on Fitzhughj@wollaston-school.net

Yours sincerely,

Mr James Birkett