Message from Mr Jackson – 4th January

Dear parent/carer

I would like to wish all members of our school community a very happy new year.  It is good to be back in school but it is certainly not the same without the students.  There is much planning still to be done to facilitate the government’s plan for mass testing but in the meantime, I am writing to update you about the arrangements for the next fortnight, following our INSET day today.  There is a lot of information to convey and I am trying to share this in as succinct a manner as possible.

Years 11 and 13 are currently required to attend from 11 January, and all students are expected to return on 18 January, though the Prime Minister is due to address the nation this evening at 8pm and this may be subject to further change.

Students in year 12 who have a vocational examination in the week commencing 11 or 18 January should attend these assessments as planned and should attend any revision sessions in school as directed by their teacher.

Vulnerable and key worker children can attend from Wednesday this week as outlined in my letter on 31 December. If you have not spoken to a member of school staff or emailed your intentions to please do so before 10:30am on Tuesday 5 January in order to allow us to make the necessary arrangements. Students should bring their iPad with them, as well as any necessary books and equipment, as they will be accessing the same lessons remotely as those students who are learning from home.  If possible, please could students also bring a set of headphones to avoid us having to lend these.

Tomorrow is a planning day for us as we try to get to grips with the huge logistical issues required for mass testing.  On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week all students (apart from those mentioned in the paragraph above) will learn remotely from home and will follow their normal school timetable. This will also include a shortened tutor period in the morning for years 7 to 11 where students will have the opportunity to raise any concerns or questions they have with their form tutor. Please note that due to the nature of the subjects there will not be a lesson for PSHEE or core PE.

The majority of your child’s lessons will include a live element, which will be conducted via Zoom.  The exceptions to this are where the lesson is not delivered by the class teacher e.g. in the event of staff illness, medical appointments, training etc.  Live learning in all lessons is much easier to deliver when all students are working from home and whilst this still presents a real challenge, there are less logistical issues than delivering lessons with some students in the classroom and some working remotely. If there are any technical reasons why your child will not be able to access online learning, please contact Mr Roper:

We will be sharing the details for each lesson in the same manner as we publish homework.  Students in Years 7 and 8 should access Edulink each day and follow the link for each lesson, which will often be to the teacher’s Zoom lesson.  Students in Years 9-13 should follow the links on Show My Homework.

If your child is unable to attend these online lessons for any reason please let us know in the usual way by contacting our attendance team.  Teachers will take a register each lesson and you will receive an automated phone message if your child has not attended the online lessons in the morning and we have not been notified as to why.

As we do not have to accommodate separate breaks and lunches during this period of remote learning, we have taken the decision to amend the school day slightly, allowing for each lesson to be 50 minutes in length.  The timings of the school day for the next fortnight are given below:


Session Time
Tutor Period 8.45 to 8.50
P1 8.55 to 9.45
P2 9.45 to 10.35
Break Break
P3 10.50 to 11.40
P4 11.40 to 12.30
Lunch 12.30 to 1.10
P5 1.10 to 2.00
P6 2.00 to 2.50


Class teachers will end each lesson slightly before the published finish time, to allow students time to access the link for their next lesson.  Please remember also that lessons on Wednesday will finish at 2pm.

Please note that additional homework will not be set whilst students are learning from home over the next fortnight.

Year 11 Parents Evening will take place remotely on Wednesday 13 January and parents of students in this year group should have received further information about this. Similar events for Years 10 and 12 were held last term and went very smoothly with lots of positive feedback from parents.

Year 7 and 8 assessments are calendared for January/February.  The current plan is for students to complete their block assessments as scheduled, however, we will review this in the event of any potential future announcements.  Teachers will be discussing these with their classes and the PRPs (Personalised Revision Plans) remain a useful resource for preparing for these assessments.  Year 8 students have already received these and year 7 will receive theirs this week.  We recognise that assessments can be a cause for worry for some students and we urge them not to do so.  Teaching staff are mindful of the difficult situation which we are presented with at the moment and, whilst we encourage students to try their best, we understand that any results may not be a true reflection of their effort and ability.

I am sure the next couple of weeks will be a challenge for staff, students and their families. To help establish some consistency and support effective learning I have copied below a protocol for students to follow, which will be emailed to all students tomorrow morning. Please read this with your child and ensure that they understand our expectations and understand that this has been created to help all students cope with this change to their learning. If you have any immediate queries please email Mrs. Parker on (from noon tomorrow when her email address will be activated).  Mrs. Parker is a new colleague who has been appointed to offer support to any student or parent with remote provision.


Remote Learning – Expected Practice

Your teachers remain dedicated to supporting your learning and we know that the coronavirus and associated restrictions and lockdown measures have been very difficult for our student body.  During this period of home learning each lesson will have an element of ‘live learning’ via Zoom. Each of your teachers will upload the link required to access their classes on Edulink (if you are in year 7 or 8) or SMHW (for years 9 – 13).  If you have not done so already, we would recommend you download the Zoom app to access the best experience, however you can access this in your web browser.

We are sure that you will appreciate the opportunity to have your learning delivered in this way, but we ask that all students adhere to the guidance set out below to ensure we maintain a productive and purposeful learning environment for all:

  • You are expected to adhere to the Eight Expectations at all times.  If any student fails to do so, they will be removed from the lesson immediately and contact will be made with home to discuss this behaviour.
  • You may not record or grab any images from the livestream without asking for your teacher’s permission.
  • Ensure you are on time for your lesson.  You should click on the Zoom link 2-3 minutes at the start of the lesson to allow your teacher to welcome you into the lesson for a prompt start.  An attendance register will be taken for each lesson.
  • You can only join sessions via the invitation shared with you directly by your teacher via Edulink or SMHW.
  • You may only join a Zoom lesson using your school email account and you must use your full name. Anyone not using their full name will not be allowed to join the online session and will not get beyond the ‘waiting room’ your teacher has created.
  • Your camera will also automatically be disabled when you enter the lesson.  In some cases the teacher may give you permission to turn on your camera and, in this instance, you should follow the guidance below.
  • Ensure you are appropriately dressed for the lesson (along with any household member who may appear in the background). 
  • Where possible, set up your device in a location where viewing other members of the household in the background will be kept to a minimum (ideally not at all).
  • Select a location that is appropriate with nothing personal or inappropriate in view of the camera.  A blank background would be the preference.  If this is not possible, you should disable your camera before joining the lesson.
  • Your microphone will automatically be muted when you enter the lesson.  If you wish to ask a question, raise your hand and wait for the teacher to allow you to speak.  If directed to do so by the teacher, you should use the ‘raise hand’ option in ‘participants’ to do this. 
  • In some cases the teacher may give permission for the microphone to be unmuted throughout the lesson and they will advise you how to communicate during the lesson.

Best wishes

Mark Jackson