It has been a very difficult week for us all, with the Coronavirus situation moving at an incredible pace. Last week was an emotional one for many Year 11 and 13 students who were told their exams had been cancelled and that Friday would be their last day in school. We hastily put together a ‘final day’ to celebrate their many achievements but understand this was far from the leavers’ day we would have all hoped for and a significant number of students were not able to attend due to the self-isolation rules brought in earlier in the week. I’ve no doubt that this is a worrying time for all young people and their families, but we have been overwhelmed by the response from the whole school community over the past week, demonstrating a fantastic, supportive and public-spirited attitude throughout. This has offered real hope and instilled a genuine sense of pride, whilst trying to plan for a truly unique set of circumstances.
The challenges in school are considerable and our whole community has pulled together in a positive, optimistic and resilient manner. My number one priority is for the safety and well-being of our students, parents and staff, but understanding schools have a crucial role to play in overcoming the threat posed by the Coronavirus. We remain absolutely committed to supporting the key workers in those vital sectors to ensure they can continue to provide the resources and services we will all need in the coming weeks.
School opened on Monday to offer supervision for students whose parents are key workers and for our most vulnerable students. The guidance from the government to parents of key workers states that ‘If children can stay safely at home, they should, to limit the chance of the virus spreading. That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend’.
The advice goes on to state that ‘There is an expectation that vulnerable children will attend school, so long as it is safe for them to do so’. Given the update last night, we would strongly recommend that parents only send their children into school if it is absolutely necessary.
Whilst our staff are very happy to support these children, I am extremely grateful that parents are only sending their children into school where there is no alternative and fewer children than initially expected attended school on the first day of these new arrangements. Those students were a real pleasure to have in school and a real credit to their parents/carers.
Going forward we understand school will not be open ‘as usual’ for the foreseeable future. We have put in place a range of plans, both short and long term to allow school to remain open, offer support for those children who are eligible for free school meals and provide continued opportunities for learning whilst at home. I would like to share with you some of the key information that may affect parents and carers directly.
The timing of the news that Year 11 and Year 13 exams were to be cancelled came as a shock to all concerned, not least our students. The latest advice has been included in the link below:
Whilst there are still many questions that remain unanswered, we want to highlight three key aspects of the information provided to us by Ofqual that are applicable to both Year 11 and 13 students.
- The grades will be based on a range of factors, including teacher assessment, but the finer details are not yet known and haven’t been decided. Please can I ask that students don’t email their teachers regarding this as they only know the same information we have shared with you. Once further advice is offered to schools, we will share this with you.
- There will be an appeals process for grades that are awarded.
- We are led to believe from the guidance that there will be a re-sit opportunity but it remains unclear as to when this will be and students have been advised to retain all their work (books, folders and coursework) until the examination grades are finalised.
We would also like to inform you of the specific details about providing work going forward. The decision regarding Year 11 and Year 13 exams has changed our thinking in terms of the work being set. We have provided specific details below:
The vast majority of subjects have completed all units of work for Year 11 but where they haven’t, colleagues have indicated that they wish to make this work available. Some of the practical subjects have indicated that students should complete outstanding non examined assessments. Each subject area will then set ‘bridging units’ to support students who are transitioning to A-Level courses and those students will be encouraged to complete this work in subjects they are considering in the sixth form. We strongly recommend that students complete work in at least five subjects to ensure that this reflects the four subjects students they will eventually choose to study.
It was clear that subject teachers felt it wasn’t appropriate to set work for everyone as many have finished all units of work. Where there is outstanding work to be completed staff will make this available and it will be up to individual students whether they decide to complete this. Students and teachers should liaise via school email if further support is required.
Year 10 and Year 12
We understand that Year 10 and Year 12 students will feel as concerned as anyone as they are not clear when they will be returning to school. They will no doubt be aware that whilst they have access to the content, it is not being delivered by a qualified teacher. We would like to offer reassurance to all students that this is a national concern and we believe that this will be reflected in some way when the final grades are awarded. Please do not worry!
Students have just completed their options choices and we are currently collating all this information in preparation for their new timetables in Year 9. We will share the outcomes of the options process as soon as this becomes available. Following discussions with colleagues yesterday, we believe that after Easter we will be suggesting that all Year 8 students focus their efforts on their ‘new timetable’. This will mean that students will complete work in:
English, Maths, Science, RS plus their three options (and strongly encouraged to complete work in their reserve choice).
In order to support the students in school and their families, we will be operating enrichment activities throughout the holiday period and are keen to maintain the current offer, allowing vital services to continue.
Finally, I would like to share with you an email I sent yesterday evening to colleagues, as it encapsulates my views on the lengths staff have gone to in order to support our children and their families.
I hope that those that know me well would say I am honest and someone not prone to exaggeration.
I can honestly say today was one of the most incredible and moving days I have ever experienced in my teaching career. Lots of people put in a huge amount of work to generate the plans put in place today, to keep the school functioning in both the short and long term and I would like to thank them for the tireless work they put in last week and over the weekend.
To be fair, I know how lucky I am to have a really dedicated, committed and hard-working staff who always pull together in times of adversity. However, the response from every team in school today was truly humbling and I believe we have a clear plan, in every area, to protect colleagues as much as possible, whilst supporting our wider community to provide the vital services we all will need over the next few months. A couple of examples typify the positive response made by the whole school community; teams volunteering to maintain provision on Good Friday and Easter Monday, colleagues indicating they would work in other schools if necessary and on receipt of 161 boxes of food for families with students entitled to a free school meal (which we had NO idea would arrive this morning) colleagues rang round those families most in need of our support and used their own cars to deliver them. There were many other examples.
Given the very difficult situation and knowing that many colleagues are clearly worried for their own, and their families wellbeing, I was genuinely moved at the positivity and cheerfulness that permeated the school.
I’m sure the comments on Facebook that Elaine has shared this evening are typical of the vast majority of families who realise their children attend a fabulous school with fabulous staff. I would like to add my thanks to the ones expressed by those parents.
Very best wishes
I would offer a final thanks to all parents for all the support and understanding we have received as a school. We will continue to work with all our families in the coming weeks and months. I have included two documents that have been shared with us and feel may be useful for parents during this difficult time.
This is a rapidly changing situation and we will do our best to keep you up to date with any developments that may affect you and your family.
Message from Mr Jackson – 22nd March
Maintaining Educational Provision at Haslingden High School
As a country, we all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The Government has stated, very clearly, that if children can stay safely at home, they should do so to limit the chance of the virus spreading.
As a school, we too are committed to doing all we can to protect our community from the spread of the virus, whilst supporting children of those parents who are deemed to be ‘key workers’, along with vulnerable children, by providing a safe learning environment. However, the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children we have in school, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.
If you are a ‘key worker’ and you have no possible alternative childcare arrangements available, we will, of course, accept your child into school for the foreseeable future. We do, however, need to stress that we are currently operating under very difficult circumstances, with a skeleton staff and, therefore, we cannot operate as normal. As such, we’d like to outline our expectations and our commitment to you at this challenging time.
- All students attending school should be fit and well. Any student who presents with any symptoms (primarily a cough or a fever) will need to be isolated from other students and removed from the school setting at the earliest opportunity. Should your child appear unwell, we will contact you in the usual way and ask that you arrange for your child to be collected from school. Please remember that we are not health workers and cannot ‘diagnose’ illnesses, but in the event of suspected symptoms, we will err on the side of caution, in order to fulfil the Government’s primary aim of containment.
- We will endeavour to provide a purposeful learning environment for all students, by supervising students in completing the work set by their teachers. This work will be the same as that set for students who will be working from home.
- The school day will run according to our normal timings with the exception of Wednesday, which we plan to run in line with the rest of the week. Registration will be at 8.40am every day, and school will finish at 2.50pm every day.
- Lunchtime arrangements will be as normal, albeit with a reduced menu.
- Our usual expectations regarding student engagement and behaviour will apply at all times. If a student’s attitude or behaviour causes concern, they will be dealt with in the appropriate way and we may contact parents to report any issues or arrange collection.
- All students will be expected to wear full school uniform for safeguarding purposes. Students should also have their PE kit available every day.
- If your child cannot attend school, please email firstname.lastname@example.org rather than telephoning.
This is a challenging time for everyone and we thank you in anticipation of your continued support.