Year 8-13 Return to School
Dear Parent/ Carer
We hope that you and your family have enjoyed the summer break and have stayed safe and well. We are very much looking forward to welcoming all of our students back to school on Monday 7th September.
As we approach the end of the holiday, we wanted to write to you to confirm the details for returning to school and what measures will be in place to protect both staff and students.
The Department for Education guidance allows for schools to implement a return to school plan that best fits their setting. We are aware that many schools locally have created different plans but we are confident that our planning is appropropriate for our school context. Obviously, we are constantly keeping up to date with all local and national developments and guidance and will amend and reshare this information when necessary. While it is our hope that we will be able to ease restrictions as the year develops, we also recognise that it may be that we also need to extend our precautions should the situation change.
At the start of each year, we would usually be able to give dates for Parents Evening. However, we are awaiting further guidance and will confirm our plans for these for Academic Year 2020-21 at a later date.
We would like to recognise how much support we have had from our parents during this challenging time and we hope that, by working together this year and supporting one another, our community will continue to go from strength to strength.
Curriculum and learning
Understandably, there are concerns around students ‘catching up’ with any work missed and closing any gaps in their learning. It is our belief that our best approach will be to teach a full curriculum properly, monitoring students’ understanding regularly and closing gaps as we go. In order to teach this full curriculum and ensure students settle in well, we are aiming to create as normal and familiar an environment as is possible.
Routine, rigour and consistency in how we start and end each lesson will be vitally important in order to ensure that we maximise every minute of learning time in school. The school has worked incredibly hard over the last few years to instil the importance of structure in all aspects of school life and this will continue to be the case on our return.
Structure of the day
As you will be aware, our students travel from across the local area to the school each day. Therefore, we have a naturally staggered arrival to the school as students make their way in via many different routes.
From 7th September, we will be asking all students on their arrival to make their way directly to their Daily Reflection (DR) classroom where they usually meet each morning. Students will not be permitted to gather in any other areas of the school. This includes the canteen and therefore breakfast will no longer be available. On their arrival to their DR classrooms, students will be expected to sanitise their hands and will be assigned their seat. Staff will be on duty in all classroom and outside areas to ensure that students make their way swiftly to their designated room.
In order to help minimise the contact that students have during the school day, we have implemented a one way system in a number of our school buildings. Where a one way system is not possible, staff will manage staggered entrances and exits to these particular areas. On the first day of term, we will prepare students with clear instructions about how to move safely around the site. We have also made slight adaptations to our routines and procedures for entry and exits to classrooms so that we minimise congestion in corridors.
At the end of the school day, at 3.00pm, students will be expected to leave the site directly. We will stagger the exiting of classrooms and would ask our students to not wait for groups of friends but to sensibly make their way directly home. Detentions will still take place but will finish by 3.45pm each day and will be run slightly differently.
We have made the difficult decision to postpone all after school activities for the first term. This will be reviewed in October when we can assess the measures we have put in place and whether the time is right to ease them. By not having after school enrichment, we can ensure that the school has a deep clean each evening in preparation for the next day.
Attendance to School
All students in all year groups are expected to attend school full time from September 7th. The school start (8.40am) and finish time (3.00pm) have not changed from last year. Measures have been taken to minimise risk while students are on school grounds and these protocols will continue to be modified and updated depending on the guidance and advice that we are given.
As a school, we have a clear duty of care to protect all children and so all non attendance will be robustly followed up in line with school procedures. When issues do arise, it is always our intention to work closely and in partnership with parents and students in order to achieve long term positive solutions, but if and when necessary, the school may be required to utilise the support and advice from other professionals.
Student responsibility and behaviour
We have always upheld the highest expectations for the behaviour and conduct of our students. The school policy on corrections, and the common language used by staff to narrate these corrections, will remain the same. Despite the obvious challenges of this return, now, more than ever, it is vital that students adhere to these expectations. In any instance where a student is not following our expectations as outlined here, endangering themselves or others, we will have no choice but to take the most serious action.
If needed, a student will be removed from a class and spend the rest of that lesson in a form of isolation, and a detention will then be served as a result. If a student refuses to leave the class, attend isolation or disrupts isolation, then they will now be subject to an immediate fixed term exclusion that will go on their permanent record.
In order to ensure the safety of staff and students we have introduced the following safety measures:
- We have employed a larger cleaning team to ensure that we have cleaners on site at all times of the day.
- As a student enters a classroom, they will be given hand sanitiser, distributed by the teacher.
- Our classrooms are already set out in rows and students will be in a seating plan for each lesson.
- Faculty Leads have worked on the curriculum content to ensure that we only deliver material that can be taught safely. For example, all practical work in Science will be demonstration only - to avoid movement around the class and avoid sharing of equipment.
- Teachers will be wearing masks/ visors in corridors and in communal, shared indoor spaces.
- Classrooms will have a clearly marked teacher zone at the front to ensure staff distance themselves from the classes they teach. Once in the marked zone, staff may choose to teach without their mask or visor.
- All students should carry a face covering as part of their equipment. Students must wear face coverings during all transitions. Once seated in their classroom or at family lunch, students can choose to remove their face covering if they wish to.
- We will hold our Lead lessons virtually during Term 1 to reduce mass gatherings.
- There is a plan in place to ensure safe changing facilities for PE and Dance.
From 7th September, we ask that all parents/ carers book an appointment if they wish to come onto site to see a member of staff. If you arrive on site without an appointment, we will have to ask you to leave the site and return when you have an appointment booked.
Wherever possible, we are encouraging all students to either walk or cycle to school. We have organised additional bike storage for September. If students are travelling by car to school, we would recommend and appreciate it if you adopt a ‘park and stride’ approach in order to reduce congestion on site. This would mean that students are dropped off at the start of the day and picked up at the end of the day at a convenient dropping off point, perhaps a 10 minute walk from school. Faversham Road is notoriously busy but there are a number of safe places where this could be adopted.
The school will closely monitor the start and end of day pinch points during the first few days and will not hesitate to make any adjustments as we deem necessary in order to keep all staff and students safe.
The current position from Stagecoach and KCC is that public transport to and from school should be avoided, if at all possible. Stagecoach have informed us that they will not be putting on any additional services, either at the start or the end of the day.
There are also a number of other important points that we would like to make you aware of in regards to travelling on public transport.
- In line with current Government guidance, everybody over the age of 11 will be required to wear a mask while travelling on a bus.
- Capacity on buses is currently reduced and capped at 50%. This will apply for both school specific services and all routes that service the school.
- Due to the reduced capacity on buses, at the end of the day we will prioritise space to the younger year groups. Any student who does not get a space will then be required to go to one of the bus stops off site in order to get home. Important: The buses are not school contracted or private hire. They are public service buses and as a result the school has no direct control over them, or the numbers trying to get on them on a day to day basis.
- Although a student can pay for their journey by cash, in line with current Stagecoach policy, there will be no change given. Any overpayments will be donated to Demelza Hospice care for Children. As a result, you may wish to consider one of the following options as a more efficient way to pay until we have more certainty.
- There will also be a new queuing system implemented at the end of the school day that will support social distancing and students will be informed of this on their return to school.
In the coming weeks, we will remain in constant dialogue with Stagecoach and KCC and do everything we can to ensure that any restrictions cause the minimal amount of disruption, particularly at the start of the day.
We will still operate Family Lunch as per previous years as this structure allows us to distance our year groups from each other during lunch and recreational time.
For some sessions two year groups of students will be having lunch at the same time, however they will be in separate locations.
Where possible, we would encourage students to bring a packed lunch to school. There will be a reduced lunch offer available from Independent Caterers, focused on ‘grab and go’ items, such as pasta pots and sandwiches, to avoid queuing at the lunch counter. During Term 1, there will be no hot main meal option. Students who are eligible for free school meals will choose from the options available.
Due to Covid 19 restrictions, we have been informed by the catering company that there will be no cash payments accepted in school. This includes the cash machine in the canteen which will be out of use. Therefore, should your child need to buy food in the canteen, please ensure that their lunch account is topped up online via ParentPay. Students must remember to bring their card with them each day.
During recreation time, students in each year group will be allocated both an indoor and outside space separate from the other year groups. During this time, specific toilet facilities will be allocated to these year groups in order to minimise movement.
Uniform and equipment
It is more important than ever that students remember to bring their own equipment as there should be absolutely no sharing of resources.
In addition to stationery, students must remember to bring a face covering. Please discuss with your child how to wear a face covering correctly including: using hand sanitiser before putting it on and after removal; how to discard safely if disposable; how to store safely in a sealable plastic bag if reusable. Students must ensure that they bring their own named water bottle along with their school identity card to use for printing and for purchasing food from the canteen..
Water bottle (named)
School Identity Card (for purchasing food and printing)
School bag (Large enough to carry A4 books) Rucksack/Messenger/Satchel style bag (no small handbags)
30cm clear pencil case to fit:
Full PE kit for days when students have PE or Dance. We would ask that this is taken home and washed between uses.
French pocket dictionary.
Coloured fine-liners or gel pens.
- Suspected or Confirmed case
If anyone in the school becomes unwell with a new and persistent cough or a high temperature, or has a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell, they will be sent home and advised to follow the ‘stay at home guidance’.
While a student is awaiting collection, they will be moved to a room where they will be isolated behind a closed door with a window opened for ventilation.
- When to keep a student at home
If, at home, your child becomes unwell with a new and persistent cough or a high temperature, or has a loss of, or change in, their normal sense of taste or smell, you must keep them at home and follow the guidance. Please ensure that you contact the school to let us know. We would encourage you to engage with the NHS Test and Trace process.
- Confirmed case
We will follow the guidance given by the health protection team in the event of any confirmed cases within the school community.
- Using the symptoms of Covid to tease, threaten or induce panic in others
While we accept that any instance where a child might, for example, cough on another student to suggest they are developing Covid symptoms, would be most likely done in jest or out of silliness, we must realise that it is likely to cause upset. Therefore, we would treat actions such as these in the most serious way.
Once again we would like to thank you for your continued support. We are so excited to begin this new academic year and look forward to seeing all of our students.
Mr R Billings