Principal's Weekly Update
Dear Parents, Carers and Students,
You will be aware that the government are suggesting that primary schools work towards a return to school, beginning on 1st June, with high schools having some face-to-face contact from this point onwards too. Next year’s exam classes, Year 10 and Year 12 will take priority to receive some academic and pastoral mentoring. However, any opening of provision is dependent on certain conditions being right, not least of which is the infection rate; the R value, that we read about in the news, which must be kept well below 1. I will not expect a return to school for Year 10 and 12 until we have the right measures in place to protect the health and safety of students and staff. The safety of all concerned is our priority.
As senior leaders at Grace College and across the Emmanuel Schools Foundation (ESF), we have been planning for this contingency provision and the necessary risk assessment. Our contingency plans will cover the all-important social distancing required outside our households, when shopping, and exercising. Year 10 and 12 students will be required to keep at least 2m apart when on site. This is key to stop coronavirus from spreading. We are also gauging the availability of our staff as some have underlying health concerns and/or have been told to shield for twelve weeks.
You will therefore appreciate that I cannot confirm the date when we expect on-site provision to be in place for Year 10 and 12 as all our planning needs scrutiny alongside recommendations and advice we expect to receive in the coming days from ESF, local government, the Department for Education and the government.
On-site provision for children of key workers
What I can confirm, and you would have received notification in this week’s parental survey, is that our on-site provision for children of key workers and vulnerable students will be offered at Grace College. Look out for the weekly survey which needs completing if your son or daughter needs to access this provision.
The most effective learning we can offer, at this time, is the tasks and activities being set for all students by their teachers via Microsoft Teams. Subject teachers and tutors are developing and refining these materials each week and I must urge all parents and carers to take some time to encourage their children and hold them to account.
We will be increasing the level of feedback teachers provide on tasks completed so that students can see the progress they are making and learn from their mistakes.
Year 10 and 12 studying for GCSE and A level 2021
The expectation for online learning for Year 10 and 12 will be ramped up considerably over the coming weeks. Students cannot afford to be too far behind others across the country as they need to work towards the GCSE and A level exams in the summer of 2021. Students in these year groups must now be looking to spend 3 to 5 hours per day on their studies. They should expect to take a full set of written exams next year and so cannot afford to lose learning time. Our teachers are offering a well-crafted, sequential learning programme online. Therefore, we must see greater commitment from these year groups to cover the material set by staff and to complete each online assessment tasks and test. We hope that as students become familiar with this way of learning they will find it easier to recognise where they have knowledge gaps and to then take time to review the course content.
Subject Selection Surveys – Students in Year 8 and 9
During the last few weeks we have been in communication with home about selecting subjects for the coming academic year. The surveys sent out to parents of Year 8 and Year 9 seek to gather subject selections and are accompanied by a detailed PowerPoint which explains the process you are required to follow.
If you have yet to complete the Year 8 survey, please follow the link available below.
If your son or daughter is in Year 9 and you have yet to complete the survey, you will receive a reminder each day this week until there is a 100% return.
Weekly Engagement Report
The weekly engagement report, which all homes would have received this week, seeks to provide a point of contact each week to assist the dialogue between parents and their children. Subject teachers are using the metrics available in Microsoft Teams to check on the extent to which students are effectively involved in their learning and reporting an Engagement Level 1 for “Proper Engagement” and an Engagement Level 4 for “No Engagement” with points 2 and 3 referencing engagement between these two points. It will be important to consider how and why a student’s engagement in a subject is below a level 2 and how a student might achieve a level 1.
There may be several reasons why engagement has been below expectations, so we would encourage feedback from parents as to how tasks are set and distributed, how we assist to improve connection to MS Teams and how we provide additional structure as a school.
Recognition of Outstanding Work
Linked to the Engagement Report we are using Twitter to acknowledge excellent effort from students and tutors and Heads of House continue to highlight the best performance in the twice weekly tutors’ periods and the weekly House Assembly. Weekly tutor and house awards are there to recognise and complement students who are fully engaged.
The new Grace College uniform is now available online at Michael Sehgal . This uniform will be worn from September by all students in Year 7 through 11. We would advocate that parents and carers begin the process of acquiring the uniform or at least budgeting for this expenditure. It may be good to purchasing certain items now ahead of the summer rush!
And for the Sixth Form, we have negotiated a specially designed suit for students across ESF. The suit is elegant, smart and durable which will allow our senior students to lead by example. The cut and styling of the suit is such that it can easily be worn for job interviews and other occasions where a student would want to present themselves well.
There is much we must do as we plan for the coming weeks and as we look to next year. May I encourage parents and carers to be in close communication with school so that we can plan properly and provide the right level of pastoral support and academic mentoring for your son or daughter. May I once again quote Helen Keller, who went blind and lost her hearing as a toddler of 19 months: “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”. Let’s build our community together!
This period as a community, nation and global family will go down in history as being one of the most difficult, trying and deeply affecting. We stand with those who are struggling through it and with those who have lost loved ones to the disease. I continue to pray that the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ will provide us all with a quiet peace and a firm resolve to do more together for the benefit of all.
Mr M Hall