This is our last communication before the holidays and I hope you enjoy the various articles from across school life.
Today is a normal school day, with the postponement of one of our training days to later in the year due to Covid-19 restrictions. Tomorrow, staff will be having some expert updates on virtual learning tools, followed by time in their faculty areas preparing for the next half term.
We anticipate hearing the direction of travel with regards to school openings towards the end of this month, or early March. Our plan for now is to prepare for virtual teaching through to the Easter holiday and if we are able to open earlier, then it is fairly straightforward to shift back to ‘normal’ delivery in school.
We also anticipate hearing the outcome from the consultation on GCSE/BTEC and A-level examinations at the end of this month, which will then drive planning and delivery for these outcomes in the summer term.
One of the biggest impacts of this second closure has been on our extra-curricular programme. At this time of year we would normally be seeing sporting fixtures for girls and boys every day and at weekends, and we would also have had a number of arts events such as the dance show, Velocity. It is very different seeing no one using the sports complex or 3G pitch, and the SandPit Theatre is eerily quiet except for the morning Covid-19 testing sessions. Once we have confirmation of a return to school, we will do our best to activate these and other extra-curricular activities as quickly as possible. I know how much students (and staff) enjoy and value them.
As this half term draws to an end, so does one of our long-standing pieces of software, Show my Homework. We have used Show my Homework for many years and this has proved to be a useful tool to allow students and parents to track Home-based Learning. However, with our increased use and development of the Google Suite, it makes sense to consolidate communications and information into one platform rather than having separate, discrete pieces of software. One of the issues with using SMHW was that staff had to duplicate what they were setting through Google Classroom and this was both inefficient and had the potential for things to be missed. So, from after half term we are moving to Google Guardian Summaries. This will provide parents/carers with a weekly summary of home-based learning via e-mail. It will not allow you access to Google Classroom (this is for the students), but you will be able to discuss work as a family knowing what is expected to be completed for the forthcoming week. We think this will prove very popular and will ensure that nothing gets missed. You will be receiving a separate letter about this together with full instructions on how to set up your account. As always, any feedback on this is most welcome, however it might be best to give this a term or so to bed in before giving views. I would like to thank Mr Allday and the network team for setting up this major piece of work.
And finally, Mrs Cracknell had a busy morning yesterday franking over 400 postcards home and around 70 HTCs for students. I am impressed with how hard you are working and I hope that you enjoy receiving them in the post.
I wish you all a very enjoyable half term and I look forward to seeing you all again soon.
Mr A Gray