This is our first Sandprint of the new year, and I am already wondering what our last one of 2021 will be saying. Let’s hope that it is something along the lines of, “this time last year we were in the midst of a pandemic, and here we are now back to a more normal way of living”. I suppose time will tell!
We start the year back to where we were last March, with staff using our Virtual Learning Curriculum (VLC) to deliver education remotely to students. This is not ideal; however we have to accept the current restrictions and work within them to the best of our ability. In addition, Year 11 and 13 students know that they will not be sitting examinations this summer, and that their outcomes will be determined by teachers’ assessment of performance up to a point in the year, as yet to be determined by exam boards. This is likely to be around May. We have written separately to all Year 11 and 13 about this. Schools are now waiting for detailed guidance from the DfE on BTEC qualifications, and also the process we need to use in order to generate grades for each student at GCSE and A-level. As soon as we know we will inform you of this.
The VLC has improved since last March, and our review of the first week is that the majority of lessons have been ’live’ with teachers delivering in real time for about 50 minutes. This is deliberate, to allow for change over between remote lessons and time for students to take a short break from working at a screen before their next lesson begins. Staff have new software tools to use which should make teaching even more effective and exciting. Some of these help staff to assess the progress of students through set assignments on line, and tests. This is important because we need to monitor progress to ensure our work is having an impact on learning. Each day we monitor engagement and where we feel a student is struggling, there will be some form of intervention. The vast majority of our students seem to be very self-sufficient and are accessing the VLC well. We do also rely on students and parents to let us know if there are issues accessing the VLC so please do get in touch if this is the case.
As you can see from the picture above, our amazing Science Technicians, Support Staff, and Sandpit Theatre Team have already been busy getting our theatre ready for mass testing as and when the school is fully back open again. So far they have tested 50 of the students and staff who are currently on site and they are also busy collating all of the consent forms so that everything is in place for when we need it. If you haven't already completed the consent form (even if it is to not give consent) please could you do so as soon as possible. Thank you to those who have replied already and to everyone involved in getting the mammoth task ready so quickly.
I will try to focus on a different faculty each week and, for this first Sandprint, it is our wonderful PE Faculty. They reviewed their delivery of virtual lessons from the last lockdown and decided to make a change. For now, they are delivering live Physical Education lessons which can mean they are working out up to 5 hours each day with the students. I know they are all incredibly fit, but this is going above and beyond to ensure that all our students maximise their PE time, so I think we should all say a very big thank you to our PE staff and hope that they get a good rest over the weekend. Thank you.
Finally, this week we have launched our entry to the Sixth Form programme to Year 11 students, either from Sandringham or elsewhere. Being unable to hold a Sixth Form Open Evening physically means that everything is virtual, however our school web site is now populated with all of the information students require to learn about the ethos and opportunities the Sixth Form has to offer. I am sure there will be a significant interest once again in joining Sandringham Sixth – and I look forward to meeting our new class of 2021 later in the year.
I hope this half term goes really well for everyone.
Mr A Gray