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A High Performing Specialist Academy for Technology & Applied Learning

25 November 2020

Partial Closure

Figures from the Department for Education reveal that last week 25% to 27% of schools across England had 30 or more pupils isolating due to potential contact with a positive case of COVID inside the school.  The figure has increased for two consecutive weeks, up from 8% to 9% on Thursday 5 November, and 18% to 20% on Thursday 12 November.  It is also revealed that nearly three quarters of secondary schools had at least one pupil self-isolating at home, with overall pupil attendance dropping from 83% to 78% in a week.  You will be aware of a secondary school in Surrey Heath who now have a virtual 2 week ‘circuit breaker’ for all students other than those of Key Workers.

It is therefore no surprise that we have had a number of confirmed cases but until yesterday these all resulted in relatively small numbers of students (30 to 40) having to self-isolate as well as a small number of staff.  My recent letter to you explained that a further confirmed case yesterday morning led to a significant number of Year 9 students needing to self-isolate as well over 20 teaching staff requiring cover.  This led to the decision to send all of Year 9 home during the morning.

Can I thank parents for their support and understanding of this very difficult situation both at the time of collection of students as well as for a number of very positive emails and social media comments last night on how the situation was handled.  I would also like to commend all Year 9 students for the very mature and sensible way they conducted themselves throughout the morning.

At the time of writing this article we have 26 teaching staff and 14 support staff absent.  The absent staff include the majority of Year Managers and Pastoral Assistants, a number of SLT, a number of cover supervisors and some key SEN staff.

As soon as the number of absentees is confirmed for today I will look at the projections of the numbers likely to be absent on Thursday and Friday alongside lesson timetables and I will then inform parents of plans for the rest of the week and possibly next week as well.  Given the current significant number of staff projected to be self-isolating for the next 10 days it looks inevitable that some type of partial closure will be required.

Year 11 Mocks

We have now finished two weeks of mock exams for our Year 11 students and I wanted to pass on to parents how impressed we have been with their attitude, work ethic and behaviour.  The external invigilation team have been extremely complimentary about this cohort and we think this bodes really well for the next few vital months and for the summer examinations which will take place in June.

Structure of the College Day - Change for Next Term

It is now obvious that the current COVID-related procedures will need to continue next term.  As you know we have implemented a rolling break and lunch time system which requires Year 9 to have breaks during Periods 2 and 4.  Some staff and students have remarked how well this has worked whilst others have found it less satisfactory.

In the interests of fairness, we are investigating switching Year 8 and Year 9 next term so that Year 8 will become the year group with breaks during Periods 2 and 4.  As with all changes there will be detrimental consequences as well as benefits to this change and I will carefully consider this balance before finalising my decision.  Arrangements for all other year groups will remain unchanged.

I will inform parents and students before the end of this term if these changes are to go ahead.  I know another change to procedures is not what we would ideally want but I trust everyone can see the rationale for considering this change.

College Fund

Every year I write to all parents/carers regarding our site improvement programme and the significant improvements which are made to the campus and facilities of the College.  The College continues to be ambitious in its plans and will continue to invest in the building and outdoor areas for the benefit of our students and staff.

I am aware of the current very difficult financial circumstances that many of our families are currently experiencing so I have sent the College fund letter (dated 11.11.20) in the knowledge that there may be some parents and carers who will not be able to support us this year however much they might wish to do so.  I do know, however, that there are many of you who will be able to contribute to our plans and I wanted to give you an opportunity to do this.

In an effort to keep our administrative costs to a minimum and allow us to concentrate this funding specifically on raising standards for our students, we would request that donations are made either by a one-off payment made by using Parent Pay or by Standing Order. If donating by Standing Order please use the form attached to the letter which, when completed, should be sent to your bank.  Please note that due to the current COVID restrictions we are not requesting any paperwork to be returned to Form Tutors.

My sincere thanks in advance for any support you can give us with our fundraising.

Mr Tanner - Principal

Curriculum Information