The Covid-19 testing has continued this week and the team of staff have refined the process further. They are now experts and I would like to thank Mr. Nicholls and the team for their hard work and efforts to deliver this important programme. To date, we have had no positive tests which is very pleasing.
We have looked at our school calendar and decided to adjust one date at the end of this half-term. We normally finish with a two-day staff conference but, with Covid-19 restrictions, this is not able to happen. So we will be postponing one of the two training days and moving this to the summer term, when better use can be made of the time. This means the following change to the calendar which affects all families:
Half term will begin on Friday 12th February 2021 (not Thursday 11th February as previously published). Please make sure this is adjusted in your diaries. Thursday 11th February is now a teaching day and students will be expected to be completing the VLC as normal.
You may be aware that the DfE are now consulting on the final arrangements for the awarding of outcomes in GCSE, A-level and BTEC qualifications this summer. Almost daily, there are further messages on how things may work and it is important that this is resolved as quickly as possible so that students know what is expected of them. We hope to have some clarification by half term. What we do know now is that BTEC examinations are also cancelled and that an alternative process will be used to make the award of these qualifications.
We have had some indication of a likely direction of travel revealed in letters between the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson and Ofqual. These suggested that:
- Grades will be awarded based on teacher assessment using a broad range of evidence whilst seeking to assess what has been taught
- Ofqual will consider using externally set, but internally marked, tasks or assessments to help support teacher’s assessment of students
- Non Examined Assessments (coursework) should continue and can be used to inform judgements
- It is important that students are as taught for as long as possible to give them the opportunity to catch-up
- Teachers’ final judgement on students’ grades should be made as late as possible in the academic year
- Schools will be required to quality assure teachers’ judgements and there will be some external sampling checks to ensure fairness and consistency
- A review and appeal process will be available for students
Year 11 students have had a busy week, receiving their trial and current predicted grades on Monday, attending a virtual PTC on Monday evening and then meeting with me for a one-to-one conversation about their current performance and plans for the future. Then on Thursday evening, they, together with a large number of external students attended the live virtual ‘Into the Sixth’ evening in preparation for applying to join in September. They have been really mature in their approach to the current situation and clearly trust the school to support them through this challenging time. It has been a real privilege meeting them and talking about their aspirations for the future. Well done Year 11.
For the Year 13 students, we have been discussing how best to support them through the final four months of their secondary education, and how to accurately assess their performance. We will need to wait until the national guidance is issued in order to finalise our arrangements, but for now each subject area will continue to teach high-quality lessons and assess progress as appropriate.
The government have finally resolved the national issue over Free School Meal provision with the re-establishment of national Free School Meal vouchers. We have now received details of how we can set up the system for our families and hope that this can be implemented as soon as possible.
Finally, thank you again for engaging with the Virtual Learning Curriculum. Staff have a further training session after school next Tuesday to further improve their knowledge and skills in using the variety of one-line tools available to deliver high-quality remote learning. I would like to thank all the staff for their work to provide this teaching – they have been amazing.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend and are able to keep in touch loved ones through virtual means.
Mr A Gray