We do trust that you and your families have enjoyed a good summer break and once again we praise God for His hand upon our community over these past months. The new autumn term starts for all pupils from Y1 to Y11 on Monday 6th September. The new Reception class will start on Wednesday 8th September at 8.45am, but will finish at 12.00pm (before lunch) for the rest of the week.
Here are some updates about recent developments in school so that you know what to expect at the start of the new term.
We are expecting to return to school with far fewer restrictions and expect to run a full programme of teaching and activities. We will be returning to the school start time of 8.45am when the whistle and bell will be sounded and pupils will line up on the yard. We are really looking forward to seeing parents at the gates and on the yard but the gates will only be open from 8.25am so please try not to drop off pupils before 8.30am.
Please also be aware that most of Overbury Street and the adjacent Cardwell Street are for residents parking only, so please use Jack’s car park if you plan to walk in with children. There are now two new pedestrian crossings at the lights which should make this much easier.
According to guidance from the Department for Education issued on 17th August, schools no longer need to maintain social distancing but need to have an enhanced regime to combat the spread of infection and a further contingency plan to increase these measures if staff or pupils test positive for the virus. We will be writing again with more specific expectations and our updated Covid risk assessment will be uploaded to the website shortly.
We will no longer be operating a bubble system at school, and break times, lunch times and assemblies will go back to how they were before.
Contact tracing will no longer be carried out by school but by local public health officials who will contact parents at home. We are no longer expected to send groups of children home to isolate if there are infections in the class. However, we have been warned that more infections are likely as we move towards the autumn and winter, and the Department for Education guidance encourages schools to put or keep in place measures to reduce the likelihood of spreading the virus in school. The following measures will therefore remain in place:
All pupils in years 7-11 (and adults in school) are asked to carry out twice weekly lateral flow tests (LFTs) at home. This is now considered to be the first line of defense against bringing the virus into school. The other equally important action for parents is to take all Covid symptoms seriously and arrange for a PCR test for themselves and their children if they develop any symptoms. We would also ask that if your child has symptoms of a heavy cold (runny nose, headache, sneezing, sore throat) that your child stays home and you arrange for a PCR test. It is anticipated that colds and flu will be very active this year, so we need to limit the spread of all respiratory diseases as far as possible, especially as some symptoms of the common cold are also common symptoms of the Covid virus.
We are offering year 7 and new pupils in years 7 - 10 a supervised LFT test in school on Monday 6th September so that they become familiar with how the test should be done. These pupils should arrive at school at 8.30am and a member of staff will take them to the hall where testing will take place. Permission forms will be emailed to parents over the weekend.
We will continue to provide opportunities for regular hand-washing, as well as hand-sanitising stations in specific areas of the school. However, it is very important that all pupils in years 4 - 11 have their own small hand sanitiser (gel) with them which is refilled regularly. They should keep this in their pencil cases or their pockets as they will be moving between various rooms during the school day. Please also supply tissues and surface wipes and be aware that pupils will be moving rooms between lessons, especially from year 7 and up, and will need to have these items with them during the day.
Classroom windows and doors will be opened as as much as possible to enable a throughput of air. In colder weather, doors and windows will be opened for a few minutes at a time at regular intervals. The lecture theatre is sometimes used for years 7 - 11 and though it does not have opening windows, we have an extractor fan which will be turned on high between lessons and when the room is not in use to ensure a full change of air.
We will continue to provide twice daily cleaning of frequently touched surfaces such as door handles.
Pupils will not be able to use water fountains to refill their bottles, so we ask that they bring as much drinking water as they need to last the whole day - two bottles if necessary.
We are very pleased that all of Lower School are resuming swimming lessons every Thursday, and Middle School will be swimming on Mondays. All swimming lessons will start during the second week of term - ie. Monday 13th September and Thursday 16th September. The cost of swimming will now be paid with general fees. Please note that if swimming lessons are cancelled, we will be providing another type of activity session for which we need to timetable teachers / instructors and will divert funds to those activities. Parents will be able to purchase swimming costumes and caps from school. More details will be provided about how you can order and pay for these in the next update email.
Middle school equipment years 4 - 6
Please note that as per the equipment lists various items of equipment and stationery are now being provided by school and pupils should bring the payment of £10 to school during the first week to be handed to their form teacher.
We have also decided that pupils in years 4 - 11 should come to school in their PE kits on days when they have PE, as they did last year. Please ensure that pupils are wearing correct items of PE uniform.
School community news
God continues to be very gracious to us. We finished the year with very few infections and managed to put on a highly successful production of Little Women for close family in person and friends online. Congratulations are due to the class of 2021 who did very well indeed with their GCSE results and are all now able to go to the sixth forms and colleges of their choice. May God go ahead of them and prepare a place for them to thrive and to bless others.
Over the summer, the building team and maintenance team have worked hard to maintain and enhance our facilities. The work on fixed wiring will continue throughout the academic year. We have had some windows replaced at the entrance and admin block thanks to a generous donation. Roy Sammons and his team have been especially busy getting school ready for the start of term. However, we are in need of a new cleaner, so if you know of someone in your community who would be interested in working at school as a cleaner, please ask them to contact firstname.lastname@example.org
We would like to welcome our new parents to our school community and trust that you will find much friendship and fellowship amongst us. We hope to create a number of opportunities to meet together as a community over the coming weeks. In particular we would like to invite all parents to our PFC (Parents and Friends Collaborative) meeting on Tuesday 19th October at 7.15pm to 9.15pm (postponed to 16th November). So please put this date in your diaries now and look out for more details.
Finally we would like to give advance notice of events for you to be aware of in the next few weeks:
1. Year 9 Information Evening - Wed 22nd September 7.15pm - 9.00pm
2. Min-Y-Don residential, years 6 to 8 - Wed 29th September to Fri 1st October
3. Year 7 and 8 Parent Forums - on two evenings this term, TBC
4. PFC meeting for all parents - Tues 19th October
5. Staff INSET days Thurs/Fri 21st and 22nd October
6. Half Term Break 25th to 29th October.
We will be writing again next week, to provide you with further details and other information that you will need. Thank you for your ongoing support in all these matters.