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Welcome to Chilwell School

Share, Care, Believe, Achieve

26th February 2021

Our first week back into this half-term and we are already expecting significant changes to take place over the next few weeks. I hope that you found the half-term break a chance to refuel. It was certainly good to see students and parents who came to the "resource bus" last Thursday.

This week there is a lot of information to take in. I hope you find it clear.

Grading decisions for qualifications

First, in terms of grading for the summer GCSEs and A Levels, the final decisions from Ofqual were published yesterday. It has been clear that there was a significant response to the consultation and a high proportion from students. It is good to see that they have been determined to have their voices heard.

The statement from the Department of Education makes it clear that our teachers will assess the standard at which students are performing.

"Teachers will be able to use evidence about your performance gathered throughout your course to inform their judgement. This might include work that you have already completed, mock exam results, homework or in-class tests. Your teachers may also use questions from exam boards, largely based on past papers, to help assess you, but this won’t be compulsory. Reasonable adjustments should be taken into account if you have a disability.

The arrangements for this year are designed so that teaching and learning can continue for as long as possible, so your teachers’ judgement of your work should take place as late in the academic year as is practical. It’s important that you keep engaged in your learning and study as long as possible so that your hard work can be considered in your grade. And it will stand you in good stead for the next stage of your life. Teachers will tell you which pieces of work will count towards your grade, before your grade is submitted to the exam board."  (How qualifications will be awarded)

As we plan for the return of students, our teachers are putting in place the arrangements to ensure that students in years eleven and thirteen can produce work that can be assessed and contribute to the overall picture of performance. I would echo the statement from the Department of Education that it is vital for students to continue studying to reinforce their knowledge, understanding and skills.

Faculty leaders and the senior team are planning the means by which this evidence can be collected. Further information will come to year eleven and thirteen students and their parents from their teachers when they are back in school.

Return to school

You will be aware that the government has announced that schools are to return to face to face teaching starting from Monday 8th March. I wrote to you last Tuesday to explain that this would involve the offer of three lateral flow tests, conducted in school.

"Testing and return of pupils can be phased during the first week to manage the number of pupils passing through the test site at any one time.

You should offer 3 tests, 3 to 5 days apart. You have the flexibility to consider how best to deliver testing on a phased basis from 8 March, depending on your circumstances and local arrangements, but you should prioritise vulnerable children and children of critical workers, and year groups 10 to 13. Pupils should return to face-to-face education following their first negative test result. Pupils not undergoing testing should attend school in line with your phased return arrangements.

Schools will have discretion on how to test students over that week as they return to the classroom."

I am pleased to let you know that we have now prepared a return to school plan which means that we can get through the testing regime and bring students back into school as quickly as possible. This has been discussed with our governing body who have agreed the plan below.

There is a significant demand upon staffing and so in order to ensure that students are back in school, we are starting the programme on Thursday 4th March. This will mean that we can bring students on to site safely and at particular appointment times and then start the second batch of testing in the week commencing 8th March. In addition, we will be open on Saturday 13th March for the third and final school based test for one cohort before students and parents assume responsibility for home testing.

Even with the earlier start and the Saturday, it does mean that the first week of on site learning from 8th March will involve some on site and some off site learning.

Once we reach 15th March, the school will be fully operational as a place of learning. From that date onwards, students and parents will be responsible for testing at home. The three testing sessions in school will ensure that all students are confident in how the test needs to be undertaken and can then continue with twice weekly testing at home.

Day Testing Lessons
In School
Thursday  4 March Group A
8, 10, 12, 13
Key Worker/Vulnerable All Years
(Group A some disruption)
Friday  5 March Group B
7, 9, 11
Key Worker/Vulnerable All Years
(Group B some disruption)
Saturday 6 March No N/A N/A
Sunday 7 March No N/A N/A
Monday 8 March Group A
8, 10, 12, 13
Key Worker/Vulnerable All Years
(Group A some disruption)
Tuesday 9 March Group B
7, 9, 11
Year 12 & 13
Key Worker/Vulnerable
Years 8, 10 - Full Timetable
Years 7, 9, 11 - Some disruption
Wednesday 10 March No All  
Thursday  11 March No All  
Friday  12 March Group A
8, 10, 12, 13
Year 11
Key Worker/Vulnerable
Year 7, 9 - Full Timetable
Years 8, 10, 12, 13 - Some disruption
Saturday 13 March Group B
7, 9, 11

We have split the school population into two cohorts in order to ensure a balance of numbers. Students will be in either Group A (years 8,10,12,13) or Group B (years 7, 9, 11) Key worker children and vulnerable students will continue with on site provision throughout this period.

The above chart shows the testing arrangements and learning provision for all students. I am pleased that we will be continuing to offer teaching every day and every lesson for students as our teachers will continue to give their full focus to learning. There will be some disruption as students come in and out of school for their tests and travelling between home and school.

For example: a year seven student will have on line lessons on Thursday 4th and then will be issued an appointment time to come into school on Friday 5th for a lateral flow test. Once the test has been completed, the student can return home and resume on line learning. On Monday 8th, the student will have on line lessons and then will then have an appointment time to come into school on Tuesday 9th for a second lateral flow test. Again, once the test has been completed, the student can return home and resume on line learning. The student will then come in to school for a full day of face to face teaching on Wednesday 10th and Thursday 11th March and will have on line learning again on Friday 12th March. The third and final school based lateral flow test will be scheduled for Saturday 13th March. On Monday 15th March the student will start a full week of in-school learning.

I thank you in advance for your understanding in these arrangements. They are complex for us, but for students it should be more straightforward. The year seven student in the above example will have five days of learning in the week commencing 8th March, with two of those in school and three at home online, with some disruption when undertaking lateral flow tests. Year eleven and sixth form students will have three days in school, in line with the recommendations that we prioritise these year groups.

It is important that parents are aware that this is a strategy to ensure the safety of our school. Students still need to be continuing with social distancing and personal hygiene as well as wearing face coverings. It is especially important that on 4th and 5th March, students do not gather in groups, as this will still be the period before the formal relaxing of lockdown restrictions.

Appointment times for students to attend the site for lateral flow tests will be sent out on MondayWe are asking for consent to be given for these tests - the consent form will be sent out later today (Friday 26th February). Where consent is not given, students should remain at home during the testing periods and attend school only at the scheduled times for on site learning.

Free school meal vouchers

For the week commencing 8th March, we will continue to issue free school meal vouchers - three days value for students in years 7, 8, 9 and 10 and two days for students in years 11, 12 and 13, to match their attendance on site.

Face coverings

Further to the information that I sent out at the beginning of January, we are expecting all students and staff to be wearing face coverings when arriving on site, in social areas and also in classrooms. We already have a list of students who have medical exemption and we will have arrangements in place for these students so that they can be supported, have exactly the same access to education as others but with arrangements so that we can protect all of our community. This may involve some changes to seating arrangements and movement around the building. Thank you in advance of your co-operation.

My apologies for such a lengthy communication this week. Thank you again for the support you have given us. We look forward to seeing our students again.

Keep safe,

David Phillips

Head teacher

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