6 May 2020
Collingwood has only been (partially) closed for 23 days but it’s the longest 23 days any of us can remember! I’d like to again thank all the parents, carers and students of Collingwood for their positive attitude and support. We all hope we are not too far away from being able to return to normality.
This morning we held a staff meeting for our 200+ staff via video conferencing which was an interesting experience! It was good to hear that staff are adjusting well to working from home, are enjoying using the technology and are getting a good response from the students in terms of work being submitted. A number of teaching staff are busy supervising our on-site provision, setting work for all their classes remotely as well as working on the Centre Assessed Grades for our Year 11 and Year 13 students. Work is also proceeding on our normal routine processes of timetabling, options, transition and recruitment. Support staff are busy dealing with administration, finance, HR and site issues.
The College is only partially open, but the work is continuing!
We anticipate receiving further details from the Prime Minister on Sunday on details of how and when schools will fully reopen. I repeat my assurances to you that the College is working on several scenarios so that we are ready for the reopening in whatever form it takes. It is worth noting that the Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson has said that the reopening of schools in England is expected to take place in a "phased manner". He told the Education Select Committee last week that the date for opening would depend on scientific advice - but schools would get "as much notice as possible". He added that the idea of all schools returning on day one with a full complement of pupils “would not be realistic”.
Feedback on Recording Live Lessons
Thank you to everybody who responded to our invitation for feedback on our plans to trial the recording of ‘live’ lessons for our students using Microsoft Teams to enhance our remote learning provision whilst the College is partially closed. The overwhelmingly majority of the replies were in support and therefore from tomorrow some lessons will be recorded and made available to those students in the teaching group who were not able to participate at the time. This trial will continue over the coming weeks and will be reviewed in conjunction with our planning for a possible reopening. We are very grateful for those respondents who made constructive comments regarding our proposed approach and we have incorporated these into our practices.
Congratulations to our 20 students who have completed the PiXL Edge qualification with 13 Apprentice Awards, 5 Pioneer and 2 Graduate Awards. This is fantastic news and a tribute to all the hard work put in by the students. Thanks, also, to Dr Sinclair for all her work in supporting these students.
Debating Club Success
Collingwood competed throughout the weekend in the Grand Finals of the International Competition for Young Debaters. This was to have taken place in the Oxford Union and we are very fortunate that, unlike other competitions, it wasn’t cancelled and continued on-line.
Our Year 9 team debated against elite British schools such as Westminster and St Pauls Girls as well as schools from Shanghai to Vancouver. Interestingly, the school from Vancouver was also called Collingwood which caused one or two issues with the organisers.
Only one British team made it through to the semi-finals which demonstrates the exceptional calibre of students who made it this far. You might remember that we qualified with our A and D teams in the very tough Southern regional round held in Oxford earlier in the year.
Our students were exceptional ambassadors for the college and for our country in what was a very tough couple of days of debating difficult topics against some of the smartest students in the English-speaking world.
Congratulations to all the team for this exceptional performance!
Student finance - Year 13 applications for loans
The Student Loans Company has confirmed that the application service will remain open to students as part of its response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and are encouraging students in England to apply for student finance as soon as possible to ensure their finances are in place for the new academic year.
New students are being asked to submit their applications before 22 May 2020. The Student Loans Company is contacting returning students to remind them to reapply for their next year’s student finance. The deadline for these applications is 19 June.
Applications for student finance can be made here: https://www.gov.uk/student-finance
We have had a request from Iain Hedley, father of one of our students, to use our playing fields to walk 54 miles in aid of charity. He was scheduled to walk 54 miles through the Scottish Highlands in aid of the Army Benevolent Fund. However, this event (the Cateran Yomp) has been postponed until next year.
Nevertheless, he is still keen on walking 54 miles in aid of a charity organised by the adventurer Jordan Wylie who is aiming to fund the building of a school in Djibouti.
To this end, we have agreed for Mr Hedley to walk (alone) around the perimeter of the playing fields today and tomorrow, walking 27 miles on each day.
His fundraising link is https://givepenny.com/SurreyACFWalkingMilesAndClappingPushUps
We wish Mr Hedley all the very best in his aim to raise money for this worthy cause.
And finally, …
No doubt we will all be watching the Prime Minister’s update on Sunday to hear what the next steps are in reopening schools - it may take a couple of days to assimilate his comments so I will update our position in next Wednesday’s information to you.