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A High Performing Specialist Academy for Technology & Applied Learning

Letter from the Principal Dated 03.06.20

Dear Parent/Carer

Welcome back

I hope you had a good half term despite the current situation and that you have appreciated a break from the home schooling many of you are doing. I also hope you are enjoying life just a little bit more given the easing of some of the restrictions surrounding Covid-19.

Difficult times

I am aware of the very difficult times many families are going through at the moment, whether that is financial hardship, well-being issues or the poor health of members of your family or friends. I am also aware of a small number of you who have had bereavements in your family linked to the coronavirus and I would like to extend the College’s heartfelt condolences to all of you. The College is here to help whenever we can so please do not hesitate to contact us, through your Year Manager or Progress Leader, if you feel we can assist you in any way.

Student Work

If your child is working on paper, which is perfectly acceptable, please can you ask them to show their subject teachers that they are engaging with the work by either uploading a photo of the work to their OneNote page or by emailing it to their teacher.  This will allow the teacher to provide some feedback.  Alternatively, you could ask your child to email their teacher at the end of each week outlining what work they have completed.  We would also encourage your child to communicate with their teacher via email if they are stuck or if they are finding the work too easy.

Reopening of schools

One thing I know that everyone will agree with is that we all want our young people to return to learning, developing and socialising with friends at College as soon as possible, provided that this wider opening is safe for children, teachers, College staff, parents and others in the home and community. 

We are working diligently with that goal in mind, and in particular, investing in changes to the site and premises which will help to make that return safer.

You will know from extensive media coverage that the reopening of schools has caused considerable debate and discussion regarding when students should start to return to schools and whether the conditions for a safe return have been met.

On Monday 25 May the Government published its guidance for secondary schools to help them prepare to offer face-to-face support to year 10 and year 12 pupils. This guidance can be found here:

Further clarity on a number of the issues raised in the guidance have been requested and we await a response from the government.

The independent report from the Governments Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) has also been published. The full report can be found here:

You will no doubt have your own views on this subject, but it is the case that there is still a significant difference between the government, unions and scientific advisers regarding whether the case for the safe reopening of schools has been made.

There have also been reports in the media, following the reopening of Primary schools on Monday, of only 50% of parents sending their children into school and up to 25% of staff not being available to be on the school site to teach due to personal circumstances.

We have taken many factors into consideration regarding how we should proceed including our size, site lay-out, staffing situation and transport issues, as well as the fact we can offer high quality remote education. We feel that the following plan is the best option available:

  • For all Year Groups remote education will continue to be the predominant form of education delivery for the remainder of the summer term. We have conducted a comprehensive IT audit to ensure our students have access to our remote learning and we have supported families with equipment where a need has been identified;
  • We will continue to provide full-time provision for children of critical workers and vulnerable students in all Year Groups (including Year 10 and Year 12) for the remainder of the summer term;
  • Staff are completing a reporting process for all Year Groups which will highlight those students who are not engaging fully in their home learning and then on Wednesday 17 June until Friday 19 June staff will conduct ‘face-to-face’ discussions with all students and parents, via Teams or phone, to talk about academic progress, engagement, well-being and IT access;
  • We will use the two INSET days on Friday 26 June and Monday 29 June to focus on further developing our remote education and to ensure processes and procedures are clear for the small group of staff and students who will return to site the next day;
  • From Tuesday 30 June at the earliest and subject to the completion of a comprehensive risk assessment, small groups of Year 10 and 12 students will be invited into College to receive a limited programme of part-time subject specialism support for the remainder of the term;
  • These groups will, initially, be for those students who have been identified from the reporting process and the ‘face-to-face’ discussions as having limited engagement with our remote education provision;
  • Collingwood will not open more widely for any other Year Groups until the autumn term 2020;
  • We will offer remote induction/transition activities to welcome our new Year 7 students who are joining us in September.

The focus on quality remote learning now will also place us in a good position for the next academic year as it is unclear when the College will be able to fully reopen to all students.

All these arrangements are subject to change if we receive further government guidance

We are aware that some schools may be returning more of their students to school at a faster rate than this and that some schools may be taking a more careful approach. I do believe, as repeated often through these last 10 weeks, that the health and safety of students and staff must remain our absolute priority and that this cautious, careful approach is the one that currently best suits the context of our College given our size, site lay-out, transport issues and staffing situation.

Further information will follow next week. Take care and I hope you and your families continue to keep well.

Curriculum Information