22 April 2020
Welcome back to the new term! I do hope that, given the circumstances, you had a good Easter although I am aware that many of you have had difficult times through health or economic problems. I am sure we are all looking forward to things getting back to some kind of normality in the not too distant future although this ‘normality’ may look a little different than what we are used to.
My intention for this term is to send you a weekly update on a Wednesday rather than a daily one although, of course, I will immediately inform you if any significant changes or major government announcements are made.
I would like to thank you all for your consistent support throughout this exceptionally difficult time; your positive e-mails and Facebook posts have been a real boost to our morale and we very much appreciate you taking the time to do this. I would also like to thank those of you who have so generously donated over £700 to support the fantastic work of Mr Thomas (Technology) who is making visors for the NHS. Mr Thomas has just dispatched a further 120 visors to the Royal Berkshire Hospital and is now producing 80 visors a day - a truly amazing effort!
College continues to work (not quite as normal!)
I would also like to again acknowledge the work of our Collingwood staff. For the last two weeks over the Easter holidays many of our teaching colleagues have been caring for the children of key-workers in College. I would like to thank them for their exceptional commitment and selfless public service. All teaching staff are now back providing work for students and, of course, support staff are continuing to keep those vital ‘backroom’ services going. It is the case that the College’s work continues in many ways and I can assure you that we are focussing on the normal staff recruitment, transition, timetable/options procedures and health and safety aspects that are required for when we return fully as well as departments working on providing accurate and fair judgement grades for Year 11 and Year 13 students to submit to the exam boards for them to produce the ‘calculated grades’ in August.
There has been much in the press regarding when schools will reopen for all students. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said he cannot give a date for when English schools will reopen, and there are "no plans" to open their doors over summer. Mr Williamson said five "tests" must be met before education establishments could reopen including a fall in the daily death rate from coronavirus, reliable data showing the rate of infection was decreasing to "manageable levels” and being confident any adjustments would not risk a second peak. Of course, we all want Collingwood to reopen but we are pleased that the Government are confirming that the key priority for this decision is the safety of staff and students. We are currently looking at modelling various scenarios so that we are ready when a decision is made.
Laptops and Tablets for disadvantaged students
I thought you might want to see the details of the announcement by the Secretary of State for Education regarding the allocation of laptops and tablets to help the most disadvantaged young people access online learning and social care services.
Young people and families eligible for devices must not already have access to one, and must be in one of the following groups:
- Children with a social worker
- Care leaves
- Disadvantaged children in Year 10, ahead of sitting their GCSEs next year
Responsible bodies will work with schools to identify eligible young people, and then place an order through the government website when it launches later this week. Where care leavers, children with a social worker at secondary school and disadvantaged children do not have an internet connection, they will also receive a 4G router.
We will let you know when further details on the application process are made available.
Change in your circumstances?
During these unprecedented times, we are aware that many people may be facing new challenges as a result of a loss of income. If your circumstances have changed you are able to apply for Universal Credit to support your family. You can do this on line via www.gov.uk/. Once you are in receipt of Universal Credits you can apply for Free School Meals even though your child is not actually in school at the moment.
Please refer to the detailed letter from Mrs Moody, on our website, for further details.