03 June 2020
I hope that you have been able to take some sort of break over the Spring Bank Holiday period. During half term, the Prime Minister has given further statements about secondary schools starting to reopen for small numbers of students in Years 10 and 12. A summary of the guidance we have received is given below:
From 15 June, secondary schools are able to offer face-to-face support for a quarter of the year 10 and 12 cohort at any one time. Alongside this, the government is asking secondary schools to:
- continue providing full-time provision for vulnerable pupils in all year groups (including year 10 and year 12)
- continue providing full-time provision for children of critical workers in all year groups (including year 10 and year 12)
- provide some face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of year 10 and year 12 pupils, with a clear expectation that remote education will continue to be the predominant form of education delivery for these year groups and that this should be of high quality
- continue to use best endeavours to support all other pupils remaining at home, making use of the available remote education support and ensuring a high quality offer
Our provision for vulnerable students and children of key workers will continue throughout the next seven weeks up to and including 17th July. Free school meals vouchers will continue to be provided for eligible families during this half term.
At the moment we are working hard to ensure that we have updated risk assessments and indications of staffing levels to clarify what can be offered to Year 10 and Year 12 students. As indicated by the Department for Education, we are planning to offer some face to face time with these students but remote education will continue to be the predominant form of education delivery this term. We want to ensure that we can do this safely for our staff and students. We are currently planning how to accommodate no more than a quarter of students on any day in small groups of 10 or less with staggered start times and limited movement around the buildings. They will attend short sessions with no breaks or lunch times on alternate weeks for Year 10 and Year 12. As details become available, I will share them with parents of Year 10 and Year 12 students alongside the invitation for these students to attend school at specific times over the last few weeks of term.
In the meantime, the expectation is that all students should continue to undertake the work their teachers have set for them to compete at home for the remainder of the school year. I would like to congratulate the students who have received £10 vouchers this week in recognition of their work. We will continue to award one voucher per subject each week for the rest of term.
We continue to telephone a number of families regularly and have already telephoned all the parents of children in Year 6 who will be starting at Aldridge School in September. Our intention is to make telephone contact with our students in Year 7 to 9 and any who don’t attend in Years 10 and 12 before the end of the term. I hope that you will appreciate the call and the attempt to make contact when it comes.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any information about what may come next or how schools might return in September other than what we all see in the daily news briefings but when there is more to share I will let you know.
Virtual Sports Day
I would like to thank the PE department for arranging the virtual sports day event this week. The Twitter feed (@ALD_PE) shows a lot of interest from students and staff. If you haven’t started yet there is still time to take part.
Keeping Safe Online
I would like to remind you about the support available to help you to keep your child safe online at this time when they are likely to be using the internet and social media even more than normal. They will not have the filtering system that we have in school to protect them from accessing harmful websites. There is lots of advice available for parents including the following (CTRL and click to follow the link):
- Childline– for support
- CEOP– for advice on making a report about online abuse
- Thinkuknowprovides advice from the National Crime Agency (NCA) on staying safe online
- Parent infois a collaboration between Parentzone and the NCA providing support and guidance for parents from leading experts and organisations
- Childnetoffers a toolkit to support parents and carers of children of any age to start discussions about their online life, to set boundaries around online behaviour and technology use, and to find out where to get more help and support
- Internet mattersprovides age-specific online safety checklists, guides on how to set parental controls on a range of devices, and a host of practical tips to help children get the most out of their digital world
- London Grid for Learninghas support for parents and carers to keep their children safe online, including tips to keep primary aged children safe online
- Net-awarehas support for parents and carers from the NSPCC, including a guide to social networks, apps and games
- Let’s Talk About Ithas advice for parents and carers to keep children safe from online radicalisation
- UK Safer Internet Centrehas tips, advice, guides and other resources to help keep children safe online, including parental controls offered by home internet providers and safety tools on social networks and other online services
In addition, Walsall Council have produced a leaflet which is a guide to online risks and tools to protect yourself, your child and others from harm online.
A copy is on our website and can be found here: https://aldridgeschool.org/2020/04/18/building-digital-resilience/
Support for students’ mental health
We all know that the past few weeks of lockdown have been tough and may have caused our students anxiety and worry. Usual patterns of eating, sleeping, studying and socialising may have been affected by the isolation and restrictions we have had to face. We want our students and their parents/carers to know that if you feel like you need support or advice with your mental health, we are here to help. As a result, we have set up a referral process for anyone who wants support with their mental health and emotional wellbeing. Any concerns can be sent to us via the email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Your concern will be picked up by our specialist staff and a support plan will be put in place. Students have access to this email address and we would encourage students to make contact via their school email account where possible.
As I mentioned before Half term, we also signpost students to Kooth which is a mental health charity for young people. The website is free, confidential, safe and secure and can provide support, especially with concerns young people are experiencing at the moment.