Update 3rd April 2020, including information on exam grading

Dear parents and carers

 

I expect this to be the last update from me for a couple of weeks. Although it seems odd to be thinking of ‘holidays’ in the current climate, we still believe it is important that everybody tries to switch off from school for a while – or at least from the academic side. However, please do look out for the various challenges and competitions you can get involved in.

 

  • Please read the latest edition of the school newsletter. This contains an ‘end of term’ message from me on the 2nd page.
  • We have uploaded some key links relating to internet safety and some tips for staying safe online. Please do have a read of this information and make sure you have discussed it with your children.
  • Ofqual and the DfE have today published more information on the process for awarding GCSE and A level grades this summer. This includes a letter to students and guidance for students, teachers, parents and carers, both of which I suggest you read carefully. The basic premise is that schools will make predictions of likely performance based on everything that we know about students, but that these predictions will be moderated through the use of prior attainment data and the past performance of individual schools (to ensure schools do not over-inflate predictions). Since our results in recent years have been excellent, this should mean Lymm High School students are in a strong position. At this stage, there isn’t really anything else to say other than that we have masses of sympathy for students affected by all this and will be doing absolutely everything we can to ensure that everybody receive grades that fairly reflect their ability.

The information suggests that Year 10 students will not be able to receive a grade this summer and will have to sit the exams next summer instead. However, this is not yet a final decision and it seems there will be some kind of consultation first. We appreciate that this may be very unsettling for Year 10 students and will keep you informed as soon as we hear any more. There is no information yet on what will happen with GCSEs in 2021 but we encourage students not to panic; one way or another, account will have to be taken of the amount of school students have missed and they will be in exactly the same boat as everyone else in the country. Put simply, Ofqual will have to find a way of ensuring roughly the same numbers of grades are awarded as in previous years and in fact, as a school, we are in a far stronger position than most. As far as English Literature is concerned, we will wait for the final decision but it is worth saying now that having to sit the exam at the end of Year 11 is perfectly feasible and fundamentally no different to what most other students across the country will have to do – even if it is obviously not what we all wanted.

We appreciate that many of you will have lots of questions about all this, but ask for your understanding of the fact that at this stage we know no more than the information that has been issued publicly. We will be taking our time to make sure the process we follow in school is as thorough and fair as possible and I will probably write again with some more information or ‘frequently asked questions’ later this month or in early May. Schools will not be asked to submit any data before 29th May at the earliest, so there is no rush and the overriding priority is that we do this properly.

Kind regards

Gwyn Williams

 

Update, 27th March 2020

Dear parents and carers

I hope the first week without school hasn’t been too challenging for too many of you. On the positive side, there has certainly been a real sense of everyone pulling together to make things work as well as possible and I have found this truly heart-warming.

A few points by way of an update here:

  • We will be open again next week for children of keyworkers and parents of vulnerable children. The only change to the last few days is that the usual school buses will not be running. Instead, minibuses will be deployed to pick up students on an individual basis from Monday and therefore we need a slightly different system.
    • Please email keyworkers@lymmhigh.org.uk by 3pm the day before if your child needs a bus and tell us which bus stop they use; a minibus will collect them at roughly the same time as the normal school bus would. Even if you have been using the buses this week, please email this address over the weekend to let us know what you need for Monday.
    • You do not need to email everyday if your child will be using the bus regularly – please just let us know about the week ahead and if anything is changing on any given day.
    • If there is a problem with buses arriving in the morning, please tell your child to call school on 01925 755458 in the first instance or 07730 075996 (bus company emergency contact just for these children at this time if they get no response from school).
    • No more than four students will be in any one 16-seater bus so that social distancing can be properly employed and the council have plenty of minibuses available to facilitate this.
    • We are intending to stay open throughout the Easter holidays to support key workers, including the bank holiday if required. Please let us know using the same email address if you need us for this. Similarly, if you might need weekend childcare at any time, please let us know as soon as possible.

 

  • As parents and carers, please try not to put too much pressure on yourselves around supporting children with home learning. This is difficult enough to manage for those of us who are experienced teachers and we completely understand that many of you will be finding it very hard and might be feeling anxious about it. However, we all need to remember that these are unprecedented times and we can only do our best. Try to ensure students stick to some kind of routine as far as possible and try to show an interest, but be prepared to be flexible and don’t feel that you should know the ‘answers’ to all the work they are doing. As long as students are making an effort to complete as much work as they can in the time suggested, then that is all any of us can ask for. It really doesn’t matter if they are not finishing everything or if they do not understand every single thing they do. We will keep going with the work that has already been set for next week and then all of us can reflect on what has worked well and what we might look to change after Easter. In the meantime, as I say, please try not to worry.

 

  • Similarly, none of us want students getting upset because they are overwhelmed with work. We know of a few younger ones who are worrying about not finishing everything, but please reassure them that this is not a problem – it is impossible for teachers to set an amount of work that suits everyone and, on the whole, we have tried to err on the side of ensuring there is plenty to be getting on with. We do not expect every student to finish all of it and there is certainly no question of anyone getting in trouble for not doing so!

 

  • The government has released another, very brief statement on the grading of exams this summer. It doesn’t say anything new, but does say that further details are due next week. Rest assured that we completely understand people’s concerns about this and are eagerly awaiting more details.

 

  • Apologies to those of you who received Gateway/text messages about attendance last week. This was due to a glitch in the system, which we hope is now fixed.

 

  • Please note that telephone lines are not being regularly manned in school at the moment because, in line with government advice, we are trying to keep the number of staff in work to a minimum. The best way to contact us to email the relevant person.

 

  • We are in the process of setting up a portal on the website so that all information relating to school closure, work set and so on will be stored in one place. This should be up and running shortly.

 

  • A couple of people have asked about Year 9 option choices and when students will know. As you can imagine, this process has been delayed a little – but not by much and we expect to be able to let you know within a week or two of the Easter ‘holidays’.

 

  • Finally, watch out for information on challenges that we will be setting over the next few days to keep your children active at home. Prizes and hall points will be available! Sixth formers are invited to check out Instagram for the latest efforts at kicking teabags into cups, some of which are very impressive!

I think that’s it for now. Have a lovely weekend.

Kind regards

Gwyn Williams

 

 

Update, 23rd March 2020

Dear students, parents and carers

I hope this finds you well and that the first Monday without school hasn’t been too stressful. I am not intending to provide daily updates from now on unless there is particular need, but there are a few points that have arisen today that I think are worth sharing:

  • Well done to those of you who have already established a routine for work; the sooner you do this, the easier it will be and the more productive and happy the coming weeks will be. As per my original letter (click here) our strong advice is that you try and follow a schedule as close to your normal school timetable as possible. So, for example, if you would have had English period 1 and Geography period 2, then start the morning with an hour of English followed by an hour of Geography. Of course, you’ll need to be flexible, but this should be a good starting point.
  • We are aware that Show My Homework has not always been accessible today. This is because of the huge volume of students across the country who have been trying to access it. We expect this will settle down fairly soon. If there is ever a time you cannot access the site and need work to do, our default advice would be to read a book for pleasure and/or use knowledge organisers for self-quizzing.
  • Please do not use the school remote desktop for accessing SMHW or Microsoft Teams. This puts too much pressure on the school systems. You are much better off accessing them via the internet directly.
  • Please bear in mind that it is very difficult for teachers to judge how long it will take you to complete tasks – because obviously this will vary from student to student. For those of you feeling a little overwhelmed by the amount of work on SMHW, please just do as much as you can in the time you’d normally have for lessons and do not worry if you can’t get it all done.
  • On the other hand, if you are getting through the work too quickly, you may find some ideas on the ‘Exceed and Excel’ section of the school website. As always, reading a good book is also an excellent use of time.
  • Unfortunately, it is not possible for students to come and collect exercise books in a way that we can manage without taking unnecessary risks. As per my original letter, please just keep work in a safe place such as a folder or on a USB pen drive.

On a slightly different note, it has been extremely disappointing to hear of students gathering together to socialise in the local area since school closed on Friday. We explained to all students last week why this is a deeply stupid thing to do in the current climate – aside from the risks of contracting Covid-19 yourself, you are being utterly irresponsible by potentially passing it on to others who may be far more vulnerable than you. To those parents concerned, I beg you to be more responsible and not let your children out and about: there really can be no excuse.

For those families of vulnerable children and/or keyworkers:

  • Thank you to those of you who managed to find alternatives to sending children into school, in line with government advice. There is no doubt that minimising the number of students in school is the best way to help reduce the numbers of people contracting the Covid virus and therefore ease the burden on the NHS. Equally, we remain open for those of you who really do need us. Please email StudentServices@lymmhigh.org.uk if anything changes as regards likely attendance compared to what you have already told us.
  • Students coming into school no longer need to wear uniform.
  • The Cat 5 bus from Partington is no longer running. Please contact us if this causes a major problem.
  • N.b. at the time of writing, we are waiting for the government’s daily press conference (scheduled for 8.30pm) and will be in touch again if anything changes as regards school opening for key workers.

Finally, I would like to thank parents and carers for all the support you have shown the school during this time. We have been overwhelmed by the number of you who have taken the time to get in touch and I want you to know that the staff really do appreciate it.

Kind regards

Gwyn Williams

Message for key workers

Dear parents and carers

Thank you to those of you who have replied to the survey letting us know that you will need childcare next week. This means we now have a reasonable idea of numbers and can plan accordingly.

You will appreciate that these plans are very much subject to change, but a few points just for the moment for those of you intending to send children in:

  • Most importantly, we beg you to follow government advice and only send children into school if there really is no alternative at all. The whole point of school closures is to avoid social contact wherever possible. Any individual who sends their child into school when it is not absolutely necessary is, quite literally, risking the lives of other people in our community. We will be looking at the circumstances of each student this week and really want to avoid too many awkward conversations with parents where we can see it was not essential to send children into school. For example, we would expect most children from older year groups to be able to look after themselves at home for the majority of the time.
  • Similarly, no child should be sent into school if they are displaying any symptoms of the Covid virus – i.e. a continuous cough or any signs of a temperature.
  • That said, we are taking our duty to support vulnerable children and those of key workers extremely seriously. The response of staff at school has been magnificent and we all want to do our bit to ensure those of you who really do need to be in work to keep the country going can get in. Please therefore let us know if it would make a difference to you if, for example, we put on some kind of provision at the weekends and/or before and after school. Email any such requests to my PA, Helena Headon (hheadon@lymmhigh.org.uk). I cannot promise anything at this stage but we will do our best to support this if more than one or two of you need it.
  • As things stand, school buses will run more or less as normal – with one or two ‘duplicate’ services removed. Please click here for the slightly revised timetable (the services highlighted in yellow will not be running) We believe that this will continue but will obviously let you know if anything changes.
  • Students should come in wearing school uniform tomorrow. This may change.
  • Please note that our primary concern is to provide childcare rather than education. What exactly we do is still being planned, but we will likely still follow a structure similar to that of a normal day.
  • We will be encouraging students to practise hand hygiene and social distancing. However, please understand that it is not realistic to be able to guarantee that students are kept 2 metres apart from one another all of the time. Please help to support by talking to your children about the importance of these measures.
  • We are aiming for physical activity, outside if possible, every day. Therefore, students should bring PE kit with them everyday. They can keep it in school if they wish.
  • If you are intending to drop students off and/or pick them up at times that are different to the normal school day, then please make sure you let us know by emailing Student Services (StudentServices@lymmhigh.org.uk)  Otherwise, we shall assume your child will be in between 8.20am-3.10pm.

I hope this provides sufficient information for the time being, but please contact Mrs Headon with any urgent enquires.

Kind regards

Gwyn Williams

ParentPay refunds

Dear Parents/Carers,

Please be assured that all unspent school meal balances will be returned to your ParentPay account, without the need for you to make an individual request.

This will be completed as part of our school closure process. To help our staff cope at this challenging time, we would ask that you do not make individual requests to the school (which risks delaying completion of this process), unless you have an outstanding query with your child’s account.

We are liaising with ParentPay direct. School staff will be working next week to communicate our plans.

Thank you for your patience.

COVID-19 School Response

Following the announcement by the government on Wednesday 18th March 2020, Lymm high School confirm that we shall be closing at 3.10pm on Friday 20th March.

The school will remain open for pupils who are the children of key workers. Please see this guidance from the government to clarify whether you or your partner are a “key worker” under the current directive:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision.

For children who are classed as “vulnerable,” the school will also remain open.

Vulnerable children include those who have a social worker and those with education, health and care (EHC) plans.
Children who have a social worker include children in need, children who have a child protection plan and those who are looked after by the local authority.

Please note: the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend. The fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.

Buses will run as normal on Monday 23rd March, and children attending school need to wear uniform as normal on Monday. Both situations will be regularly reviewed and we will update you with any changes.

Please complete this survey as soon as possible to indicate whether, as a key worker, you need to send your child(ren) into school next week https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=pKAWUGLG4UeBIshlv3a2awRYL80PCwVMpChOatTmT2tUNzAzWlRROVVFSk5DTVQyMzA2TkUyNzEyVy4u