The Christmas break already seems a very distant memory and it is hard to believe that students have only just been ‘back’ two weeks. There has been a huge amount going on already this term and this letter provides an update of some key issues that may affect your child.
Since Wednesday 17 December, when we expected all students to return after Christmas, the government has reacted to the rising infection rates with a series of decisions that finally led to schools being closed to all but vulnerable and key worker children. With one day’s notice, schools were informed that all students would have to be taught remotely until February half term.
The response from students, parents and staff has been truly exceptional and I have been immensely proud of the manner in which the school community has pulled together to resolve the whole host of logistical issues that presented themselves when undertaking the task of delivering a full curriculum and timetable with a live element to the vast majority of lessons. The support and positive feedback received from parents and carers, via email and social media, has been greatly appreciated by the staff, who have been working exceptionally hard in difficult circumstances to provide all our students with an effective and engaging learning experience. Your support has played a huge part in the success so far. Thank you!
Accessing live lessons
We are aware that there a small number of ongoing issues which are presenting problems with students accessing live lessons. We are working hard to resolve these but if there are any technical issues which we are not aware of please email email@example.com.
Behaviour in Live Lessons
Whilst the overwhelming majority of students have behaved impeccably in lessons, there have regrettably been a very small number of instances where some have not met our high expectations and have disrupted the learning of other students. To help us with this, please could you go through the expectations which were sent out to students at the start of term. I have copied the contents of the email at the end of this letter for your reference. In particular we would ask that you reinforce that, for the protection and safeguarding of all children, students must:
- access Zoom lessons using their own forename and surname
- not share the links to the lessons with anybody else
- only attend their lessons as set out by their timetable
- only use the ‘chat’ function to engage with the lesson
- not make any inappropriate comments during the lesson
- not behave in a way that could cause offence to another student or member of staff
We recognise that not being in school means that some students may not have access to all equipment they require. In order to be well prepared for the lessons we recommend that students have the following: pens, pencil, ruler, rubber, pencil sharpener and calculator. If you are struggling to provide this equipment please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do all we can to help.
In addition, students will be expected to produce written work in many lessons and in many cases their exercise books will be in school or full. In these situations, students should write on paper and we understand this may present difficulties for some families. Again, if this is an issue, please contact email@example.com.
Year 11 and 13 Exam Grades – Ofqual Consultation
As I am sure you aware, the government have announced that GCSE, AS and A Level exams have been cancelled this summer and on Friday, the DfE launched a joint consultation with Ofqual (the exams regulator in England) on how these grades should be awarded in summer 2021. They want to hear the views of students who were due to take their exams, their parents and carers, their teachers, school and college leaders and others who have an interest, including further and higher education providers, and employers. A link to the consultation is here. A helpful, short summary of the proposals has been provided by one of the exam boards and can be found here. A similar consultation is being held for the award of vocational qualifications and a link to that document is provided here. We will be submitting our own responses to the consultations and encourage you to do the same if you have any strong views on the matter. The consultations close at 11:45pm on Friday 29 January. I will keep you informed as further information becomes available. In the meantime, we cannot give any further advice other than students should continue to attend all live lessons, work hard and complete all work set as directed by class teachers and ensure that they are prepared in the event of any further assessments.
Free School Meals
At the end of last week, the government announced that the national voucher will again be available to schools, and as such, from this Monday we will be using this scheme to support families whose children are eligible to receive a free school meal. Parents should receive one voucher via email to cover the cost of this for the four-week period from Monday 18 January to Friday 12 February. This voucher will cover all eligible children who attend Haslingden High School.
We are working hard to keep our school as safe as possible. You may have heard that testing for those without coronavirus symptoms is beginning across the country using new, quicker COVID-19 tests, known as ‘lateral flow tests’.
Along with the other protective measures we are taking, these tests will help staff and students to remain in school with increased safety. Up to one third of people who have coronavirus experience no symptoms. By testing, we will help to reduce the spread of the virus and assist in keeping our school open as safely as possible. The test is voluntary, but I would encourage everyone to take it.
We started testing all staff who were in school last week and have found the lateral flow tests to be quick and easy using a swab of your nose and throat. Those taking the tests administer them themselves and are supervised by trained members of our school staff.
We are going to roll out the offer of these tests to students who are attending school during this lockdown and those parents should have already received a separate email. The government have asked that staff are tested weekly and those students who are currently in school are tested twice, between three and five days apart. For students this is a ‘one-off’ process and they are not required to be tested weekly.
If you are happy for your child to be tested when school resumes, please could you complete the consent form if you have not already done so. This can be found by logging into Edulink and then selecting ‘Forms’. This is a significant administrative task and we would greatly value a prompt return if you wish your child to be involved.
If you do not consent to your child being tested please could you confirm this via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions about this process please email me at email@example.com.
Thank you again for your ongoing patience, support and understanding as we try to do our very best to ensure that school is safe and students are learning as effectively as possible, whether that be in school or online.
Email to students regarding our expectations in relation to remote learning:
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.