Headteachers Letter – 5th January 2021

Dear Parents and Carers,

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement last night, I am writing to outline the contingency plans we are putting in to place in order ensure the very best possible education is provided during this period of closure to most students.

Given the unexpected nature of this announcement, there does remain much detail that has not yet been released, and I will of course write regularly with updates and information as soon as we are in receipt of national guidance and policy.

However, in terms of what we do know – and what we are in control of, our approach will be as follows.


Remote Learning

We aim to provide the very best possible remote learning experience for all students, and will largely follow the model put into place for the partial closures last term.

  • A full package of remote learning for all year groups will begin from Wednesday 6th January 2021.
  • Students should follow their usual timetables (including morning registration at 8.50am).
  • Provision will largely consist of  live lessons on the Zoom platform, delivered by the student’s usual teacher / form tutor.
  • All links will be placed on Go4Schools prior to the start of each lesson.  In the event of issues with the Go4schools platform, we will shift to posting links using INSIGHT.
  • If a teacher is unwell or unavailable for work, there will not be a live zoom lesson, but work will still be set using the Go4Schools platform.
  • In most cases, students should have their exercise books with them and should complete work in these books.
  • Students should also have a mini whiteboard and pen which are likely to be useful in live lessons.
  • We will monitor attendance and engagement in live lessons and contact parents where there are concerns.
  • As this is an extended period of remote learning, Mr Anderson and Mr Beeby will send out a guide for parents and students, regarding expectations and how to ensure that students make the most of their remote learning and live lessons.

We will also be outlining how and when students can submit work, and what should be expected in terms of teacher feedback and assessment. This will be slightly different from subject to subject and for students in different year groups.


Provision for Children of Critical Workers and Students who require Additional Support

As in the previous lockdown, we will call this provision LAW (Learning at Wollaston) School. All normal school opening hours apply and we understand that school transport will run as usual.

  • Students will be based in their bubbles and should arrive at school wearing a face covering, and enter the site through their usual gate.
  • Students will be based in a computer room within their bubble. This will allow them to access the same live lessons and remote learning as students who are learning from home.
  • The live lessons accessed will be delivered by the student’s usual subject teachers and form tutors.
  • Students need to bring in their own headphones, in order to plug in and listen to the live lessons.
  • There may be some lessons (for example Core PE) where learning is undertaken outside of the classroom and in a different way to the usual remote learning provision.
  • Students will be supervised at all times, but not by subject specialists.
  • All existing bubble arrangements, including break and lunchtime provision will continue as usual. There will be the opportunity to buy food from the canteen, but this will not always be full meals.


Qualifications 2021

One of the more shocking announcements yesterday was of the significant changes to this summer’s examinations series. I know that this will be upsetting and disappointing for students, parents and staff alike.  Whilst there is no indication yet of exactly what is proposed, we will of course commit to ensuring that every student receives the qualifications that they deserve in the summer. We do of course trust that the Government have learnt the lessons of last summer – and we also understand that there will be a significant element of teacher assessment which is to be welcomed.  Pending further announcements, some key points to note:

  • External exams in January are currently scheduled to go ahead as planned. We will run these as per the original timetable and if students are scheduled to sit an external examination in January, they should be planning to sit this. We will send specific information regarding the practicalities to students affected in due course.
  • Students in Years 11 and 13 should continue to work as hard as possible in all aspects of remote and home learning. We are continuing with all specifications and despite the cancellation of this summer’s exams, we would encourage all students to continue their excellent levels of application and progress. Given the time available before the summer, it is likely that we will need to develop our own robust assessment systems to ensure that our students achieve as well as possible.  We want to ensure that we begin January with the  purpose and ambition required to face whatever alternative approach is outlined in the coming days and weeks ahead.

I will of course provide parents and students with a full update as soon as we have any further information.


Mass Covid Testing in Schools

We have had confirmation that this programme will now continue, albeit on a slightly different timescale. During this period of lockdown, we will ensure that we have this established and running for the regular staff testing as well as for those eligible to attend LAW school.  It will also be our aim to test students prior to their return as soon as the Government confirms the dates for this. Again – further details to follow.

Thank you as always for your support and flexibility regarding the need to quickly adapt to changing arrangements. I know that such uncertainty can be difficult to cope with and my hope is that by meeting these challenges in partnership we can emerge as strongly as possible from these difficult and devastating times. Most importantly, I hope that you and your loved ones stay well and stay safe.

Mr James Birkett