24 June 2020
My thanks for your continued support for the College and our actions during this very uncertain time. As I have said in previous updates, I am very grateful to the many people who have written in to complement us on our communication, our provision and staff professionalism.
As a College and Principal who always values feedback, I would also like to thank the small number of individuals who have written in with contrary views and who have queried, in a very constructive way, some aspects of our plans to bring in Year 10 and Year 12 students from next week (I am sure their views are representative of a larger group of parents). I have phoned all of these parents and have had some very amicable and constructive conversations. The feedback has been very useful and will assist us in future planning.
Based on these conversations and discussions that I and my colleagues participated in last week during the Engagement and Well-being calls, I would like to answer some of the ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ that were raised which I hope will clarify a number of issues:
Why can’t the College bring in all of Year 10 and 12?
Government guidance limits schools to only having 25% of students in these Year Groups in College every day. For Collingwood this equates to 75 students in Year 10 and 30 students in Year 12. Students in these Year Groups attending the provision for Critical Workers and vulnerable students need to be deducted from these numbers meaning capacity for Year 10 is 60 students per day.
Are transport and the size of the College the reasons why you are not bringing in a larger number of students?
No, although these are additional considerations, they are not the reason why we are only bringing in a relatively small number of students - please see below.
How does social distancing impact on your plans?
Government guidance is, until 4 July, that there should be a 2-metre distance between students and in our standard classrooms this means we can accommodate 9 students. From the 4 July, when the government are reducing this to 1-metre, we can accommodate 16 students.
What are ‘bubbles’ and how do these impact on your plans?
Guidance says that students should be placed in small groups or ‘bubbles ‘and that these groups/bubbles should be kept apart. This has significant implications for secondary schools as a student who is in one set for one subject will not necessarily be in a similar set for other subjects. Nor can they change bubbles to go into their option subjects’ classes.
What actions are you taking to mitigate risk of students returning to the site in larger numbers?
Please see the comprehensive risk assessment we have produced and circulated to you separately.
What is ‘face to face’ support?
The government have given flexibility to schools as to how they implement this and initially were only requiring schools to provide this for Year 10 and 12 students. We felt it was essential to widen this to all our students and is the reason for our Engagement and well-being calls to all Year Groups last week.
What are other schools doing?
All Head Teachers are doing what they think is right for their schools and contexts. Typically, in Surrey, they fall into one of three groups:
Schools that are offering between 15 minutes to 2 hours once per week for students in Years 10 and 12 with an ‘Academic Day’ type review meeting with their Form Teacher.
Schools that are offering approximately 3 hours per week to all students in Year 10 and 12 over a 5-week period (total 15 hours). Students are in mixed ability groups (due to bubbles guidance) with subject specific support.
Schools like ours who are focussing on remote education with the work set at the right level for all and including some live, recorded and OneNote provision. Students have received a ‘face-to-face’ meeting via Teams or phone to ascertain engagement, well-being and any further support required. Students identified as requiring additional support to help with their motivation have been invited in for 6 hours 40 minutes per week for 3 weeks (total of between 16 and 20 hours). Each day subject specialists will be available to give individual support and guidance.
Are all schools doing live lessons and how many live lessons should my son/daughter be receiving?
Many schools are not providing live or recorded lessons. We know how much students enjoy these, so we are working towards 1 live lesson per week per subject for Years 7 and 8 and 2 live lessons per subject per week for Years 9 and above. This is an aspiration and something we are working towards. As parents will understand, this type of delivery is very new and therefore something teachers have had to adapt to; we hope that following the 2 INSET days focussed on Remote Education that more colleagues will feel they have the technical knowledge and confidence to use this medium more consistently. Of course, as staff are brought in to support our Year 10/12 on site their capacity to provide remote education is obviously reduced which is part of our rationale of having only 3 weeks of targeted onsite support.
What is happening in September?
The Prime Minister has said that ‘all pupils in all year groups in England will go back to school full-time in September’ and we await further guidance from the government which they have said will be published in the next two weeks.
I hope that this clarification is useful.
We are now looking forward to welcoming our Year 10, year 12 and critical workers/vulnerable students on site next week, as well as continuing with our remote education for all.
I hope you and your family are staying well and have a good week.