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Letter to ALL Parents from Mr Hammond: 7th January

Dear Parent/Carer

I hope this letter finds you safe and well.

Having met extensively with Trust Headteachers over the last few days, I am writing to outline the approach that all 5 secondary schools within the Bishop Hogarth Trust will be taking during this period of national lockdown.

Lockdown

The first thing to state is that this is very different to the lockdown last March. Then we were told that schools would close and that our main function was to provide childcare for vulnerable students and the children of key workers. The education of other students became a growing concern as the duration of lockdown grew.

For this lockdown, the emphasis is not on school closure but on the transfer of education to remote learning for all students whilst the building remains open for vulnerable students (who must attend) and children of key workers (who can attend) to continue their education.

Remote Learning

The DfE have set out their expectations for this transfer to remote learning:

In terms of timing they said that secondary schools should take vulnerable students and children of key workers back into school from Tuesday 5th January which we have done. They expected remote learning ‘including some face to face’ sessions to begin for examination groups (Y11 and Y13) to also begin on 5th January which we have done. They expect us to deliver remote (including some face to face) learning for all other year groups for week beginning 11th January but for learning resources to have been available for this week for these students.

Our live learning sessions are due to begin for all students on Monday 11th January. This day will begin with a pastoral session in virtual tutor groups from 08:45-09:00. Students will receive an invitation via Teams from their form tutor. This session will run at the same time every Monday – it will allow students to touch base with their tutors and to have face to face contact with their fellow students.

As teachers invite students to lessons, they will appear on the calendar page of Teams – this will serve as a daily timetable.

The DfE guidance on remote learning says this:

When teaching pupils remotely, we expect schools to:

  • set assignments so that pupils have meaningful and ambitious work each day in a number of different subjects
  • set work that is of equivalent length to the core teaching pupils would receive in school, and as a minimum
  • secondary: 4 hours a day, with more for pupils working towards formal qualifications this year
  • provide frequent, clear explanations of new content, delivered by a teacher or through high-quality curriculum resources or videos
  • have systems for checking, at least weekly, whether pupils are engaging with their work, and inform parents immediately where engagement is a concern
  • gauge how well pupils are progressing through the curriculum using questions and other suitable tasks, and provide feedback, at least weekly, using digitally facilitated or whole-class feedback where appropriate
  • enable teachers to adjust the pace or difficulty of what is being taught in response to questions or assessments, including, where necessary, revising material or simplifying explanations to ensure pupils’ understanding

Research backs logic when it suggests that there are higher levels of student engagement when they can regularly interact with their teachers. This is why we are requesting that there are regular live lessons across all subjects – and that students have explained to them exactly what is expected of them lesson in, lesson out. Our teachers’ jobs remain full time as contracted and their timetables remain the same.

Certainly what we will not do is to upload a folder full of resources and say ‘that is 3 weeks worth; work your way through it’ with no teacher explanation of content, no feedback, no interaction. Students will quickly disengage. Our intention is to randomly sample students across all year groups on a weekly basis to get feedback on their levels of engagement and their experience across subjects. This will help enable us to make whatever tweaks we deem necessary.

We know from life within school that there are occasions were staff are unable to teach their lessons and need to leave cover work and this will be no different. The important thing is that students (and parents) know when a lesson is not going to be live and exactly what the students are expected to do for that session.

Rota system

We have agreed to put in place a rota for the supervision of Vulnerable/Key Worker students. Our rota system will begin next Tuesday (12th January) in order to allow all teachers to deliver live lessons on Monday 11th.  Teachers on the rota will notify their classes that they won’t be live teaching on the day they are supporting on the rota and ensure that their classes know exactly what they are expected to do.

As the emphasis this time is on continuity of learning and curriculum delivery, the students in school are wearing school uniform. They are following exactly the same learning provision as students at home.

Behaviour for Learning

Our expectations for student behaviour and attitude to learning during this time remain extremely high. Students who disturb the learning of others or who use the Teams facility inappropriately will be sanctioned as they would if they were disturbing lessons in classrooms.

We need to use this time to ensure that our students’ learning journey is as smooth as possible so they make as much progress as they possibly can. We will contact you should your son/daughter not engage in the way in which we would like.

I have said before that we are a human organisation. This means that we do not always get things right and we seek to improve when we fall short.

Many thanks for patience, understanding and support.

Stephen Hammond
Headteacher