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A High Performing Specialist Academy for Technology & Applied Learning

3 March 2021

Dear Parent/Carer

The end is in sight for remote learning and I am sure all of you are very much looking forward to your sons and daughters returning full-time to College next week!  I would like to thank all of you for your support of our efforts to provide quality remote education throughout this period and your understanding of the challenges that this has presented to us.  Let us hope that with the rapid progress of the vaccination roll-out and decreasing numbers of infections that we are approaching a much-improved position for everyone.

Reopening Plan

Below is our plan for reopening as from next Monday.  Please note that we will be reverting back to the previous timetable (the one from 1 January) with staggered breaks and lunches from Monday 8 March (copy reproduced on the last page).  On students’ return we intend to maintain all previous COVID-related procedures: the one-way system, hand hygiene, social distancing, staggered breaks/lunches, separate social areas, as well as the wearing of face coverings inside buildings and classrooms.  The totality of all these mitigating actions is designed to ensure the College is as safe as possible for all students and staff.

Our onsite provision for children of Critical Workers and vulnerable students will continue on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

Year Group

Test 1 Date (no College uniform required) (no coaches will be running)

Date returning to College for normal lessons (coaches will be running)

Remote learning details

Years 13/12/11

Monday 8 March

Tuesday 9 March

Years 13/12/11 to complete work on OneNote on Monday 8 March when not involved in testing

Years 10/9

Tuesday 9 March

Wednesday 10 March

Years 10/9 to access Remote learning on Monday 8 March and to complete work on OneNote on Tuesday 9 March when not involved in testing

Years 8/7

Wednesday 10 March

Thursday 11 March

Years 7/8 to access Remote learning on Monday 8 March and Tuesday 9 March and to complete work on OneNote on Wednesday 10 March when not involved in testing

Face Coverings/Lateral Flow Testing

As you know I have, throughout the pandemic, followed government guidance in implementing procedures to mitigate against risk and keep our Collingwood community as safe as possible.  You will probably have read in the press recently that the advice to schools around student testing and the wearing of face coverings in lessons has changed.

The government has been conflicted about the relative merits and disadvantages of students wearing masks in lessons and has until now advised that the issues relating to students touching their faces and masks, changing them frequently and disposing of them appropriately outweighed the benefits.  However, this has now changed and the high prevalence of disease together with the emergence of more infectious variants has tipped the balance in favour of mask-wearing at least in the short-term.

I appreciate that we will all find it uncomfortable to wear a face covering for extended periods of time, even though the layout of the Collingwood campus will enable students to remove their masks as they travel outside between lessons and at social times.  As a College community this is a key measure that we can all take to keep not only ourselves but our families and our communities as safe as possible.  I am therefore expecting that all students will comply with this important safety measure.  There may be a small number of students for whom this will not be possible for a variety of reasons and I would ask that, should this be the case for your child, that you contact your child’s Year Manager as a matter of urgency.  They will be issued with a wrist band which will notify staff that they are exempt from having to wear a face covering.

You will be aware that schools are expected to offer three lateral flow COVID tests to all secondary school students, and that tests will then be available for students to continue to test themselves at home.  I am pleased that this offer has been made to students and I would urge you to take advantage of it.  Although the test has short-comings and cannot pick up 100% of positive cases it will help us to identify people who are infectious asymptomatically, break the lines of transmission and so help us to work together to keep our College as safe as possible.  It is important that students understand that a negative lateral flow test does not guarantee that an individual is COVID-free so we must all continue to maintain the other mitigating behaviours including social distancing and mask-wearing.

I thank you again for your continued support and trust that we will all work together as a community to keep one another safe in difficult circumstances.

Arrangements for the Lateral Flow Testing of Students

Full details of testing arrangements between Monday 8 March and Wednesday 10 March will be emailed to parents tomorrow, Thursday 4 March.  Please keep an eye out for this information and read it carefully as it will contain important details about how testing will work, including the time(s) at which your child(ren) should attend College for their first test.  Unfortunately, because of the large volume of testing taking place over a short period of time, we are not able to accommodate requests for testing at times other than those allocated.

Please ensure you have returned your completed testing consent form or informed the College if you do not consent to testing.

How Grades will be Awarded this Year

Last week Ofqual published their guidance setting out how grades will be awarded this year for GCSES, ‘A’ levels and vocational qualifications and have written an article specifically for students here and summarised the key points in an infographic below:

A summary of the main points is as follows:

  • Students will receive grades awarded and determined by their teachers using a wide range of evidence and will only be assessed on what they have been taught by their teachers.
  • Student grades will be awarded on the standard at which they are performing now, not their potential.
  • Results days will be two weeks earlier than normal during the week beginning 9 August.

Whilst a detailed response to the consultation in January has been published, which you may wish to read here, we await further guidance from the examination boards to know how this will work at school level.  We are not anticipating this to arrive before the Easter holidays, but once we have received this, we will provide you with details of our plans, timeline and ensure the process is fully explained to students, parents, and carers.

We appreciate that this is a stressful time and I want to reassure you that all the Collingwood staff remain committed to supporting the students so that they can progress to their next destination and receive the grade they deserve.  It is essential therefore that students continue to work hard, complete all work set by their teachers and respond to feedback so that the final evidence base demonstrates their best achievements.

We are very much looking forward to welcoming all our students back to Collingwood next week.

Curriculum Information