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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 21

As we reach the midpoint of our academic year, we are holding our breath as we await news from our political leaders on when and how schools will be reopening from 8th March 2021.

As I write this blog there remains a conflict of opinion with some experts advising a steady, staggered return and others proposing students return in one go. We also await guidance on testing of students and staff and expectations regarding face masks. So how do we prepare for the unknown?

Well, we have plans A, B and C! The expectation of students to wear face masks in school is likely to be an expectation for all students. Like many public venues, face masks will be compulsory from the school entrance and throughout the school. The decision about face masks in classrooms is yet to be made. Please help us keep your child, other students and staff safe by emphasising the importance of wearing a face mask to your child and ensuring they are equipped with one (and a spare) each day.

We will be sharing our plan for students’ return with parents in the coming days, along with our lateral flow testing programme. Again, parents can help us to be better prepared by completing the consent form for their child to be tested. Guidance on testing of students is not yet known, and may not be an expectation. However, we are collecting consent now in the event that testing of students is part of the government’s plan for the wider opening of schools.

If you haven’t already seen the newsletters from your child’s Raising Standards’ Leader, you can find them on our letters home page.

I was thrilled to be alerted to some lovely feedback in the Manchester Evening News over half term.

"The Kingsway School in Cheadle, Stockport. The head Mrs Lowe and all staff have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic. The staff are always there for the kids and parents. My daughter is thriving still, they follow the school planner for live lessons as though it's a normal school week. Lots of fun challenges as well. Welfare checks made with their form tutor daily. This pandemic has proven that our choice of high school for our daughter was the right one 100%. Thank you Kingsway staff."

It was nice to see in black and white how appreciated our staff are and the difference they are making to our beloved students during this pandemic. 

We are thrilled that this view was also evident in the remote learning feedback that was undertaken last half term. Parents and pupils were overwhelmingly positive about the current offer, and were fully appreciative that whilst we all agree that the best place for our children is back in school, until that can happen The Kingsway’s remote offer is providing the best education in very challenging circumstances. In the interests of transparency we have produced a Remote Learning Feedback document analysing our findings and outlining our responses. 

Remember, whilst this feedback cycle has closed, you can share your feedback with Ofsted at any time of the year via Ofsted’s Parent View or just dropping an email to the school.

We have an active staff wellbeing (SWB) team at The Kingsway School, led by Mrs Gray and Miss Murray. Before half term, staff were invited to submit entries for our SWB photo competition. The theme was “go outdoors on your doorstep” and the competition was judged by ex-member of staff and parent, Kirsty Edgson, a local photographer with a good eye for creative flair. Here are the top three winners:

In third place was Mrs Beattie

In second place was Miss Burrows

In first place was Mr Soles

Like the bicycle in Mr Soles’ photograph, we encourage our students to keep themselves fit and healthy and reduce their carbon footprint by cycling to school. We have bike sheds and pods where students can safely store their bicycles. Electric scooters are not permitted on the school site and will not be allowed storage in our school facilities. We also hope that our students are keeping active with our ‘Seven Summits Challenge’ and that they will provide their tutors with their half term updates this week. We know that several are well on their way to their first summit!

We were delighted that our students have also got involved in a number of House Challenges that were set last half term. Mrs Lucas shared the final results of the Taskmaster challenges today. The final challenge was to take a photo of the best outside thing and the results are as follows -1st Rylands, Joint 2nd Lowry & Pankhurst, 4th Turing, 5th Whitworth, 6th Gaskell.

The amazing photos can be seen here. After the final competition, the Taskmater competition results are:

Mr Howarth has already launched one of this half term’s challenge and this time we are aiming high to see if we can set some World Records! The Heads of Houses are challenging our students to see if they can beat the following World Records:

Congratulations to Dylan R and Emma B in Year 9, our first students to successfully complete the STEM Den project. Dylan’s invention was a motorised solar panel that follows the sun, therefore maximising the amount of electricity produced. Emma produced a perfect running and walking shoe, including a mobile app. We hope all the other students who registered will successfully meet their deadlines and we can celebrate again.

You may recall that we recently shared some images of the fabulous cakes that Mrs Guess has been making as part of the Year 10 Food Technology demonstrations. We are delighted to inform you that over half term, Mrs Guess and her daughter were both sold out and raised over £300! This combined with a 10% discount from Morrisons supermarket meant that she was able to make a sizeable donation of over £330 worth of essential food to her local Foodbank. Well done Mrs Guess and family!

We hope that our students and their families will take inspiration from this and continue to contribute to those in need. Altruism is one of the opportunities that our students have been offered as part of the Wellbeing Wednesday enrichment programme that will commence this Wednesday afternoon. Please don’t forget to share all the wonderful things you are planning on getting involved with or completing.

Finally, some sad news regarding a retired member of our school community Mr. Tony Wintringham who passed away during half term. Tony worked at The Kingsway School for over 25 years - as Deputy Head of the Girls’ School originally and then after the merger - Head of Kingway upper site. Our thoughts are with Tony’s family at this sad time.

Dates for your diary

Date Event
Wednesday 24th February - Afternoon Enrichment Supporting Wellbeing - no live lessons, all materials to be accessed via Google Classroom
Monday 1st March Year 6 National Offer Day
Monday 1st March Year 9 Options Deadline
Wednesday 3rd March World Book Day
Thursday 4th March Year 8 Spring Monitoring Data released
Thursday 4th March Year 8 Virtual Parents' Evening, 5-8pm (There will be NO live lessons P4 & P5)
Friday 5th March Year 7 Spring Monitoring Data released
Thursday 11th March Meet the Team Year 6 Parent Welcome Evening
Thursday 18th March Year 7 Virtual Parents' Evening, 5-8pm
Wednesday 24th March Year 11 Spring Monitoring Data released
Friday 26th March End of term

Have a good week, and stay safe and well.

Mrs J. Lowe

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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 20

As we reach the end of another half term, I would like to thank our families for all their hard work in supporting their children and our teachers with remote learning. You are doing a great job and this can be seen in the high proportion of students who are attending and engaging in their online lessons. We have also been inundated for requests for new exercise books - so there must be a lot of work being completed at home. A reminder that you can request books or other equipment using the online form.

Whilst going abroad for some winter sun, or booking a week away enjoying our country is not a possibility this half term - I hope very much that you and your children manage to get some rest and relaxation from the pressures and demands of homeschooling. But most importantly, I hope that you keep yourselves safe and well. There is light at the end of the tunnel, with news of COVID rates dropping and vaccinations increasing - it’s so close now we must try harder then ever to follow the rules in the next few weeks.

Sadly, school will remain closed after half term to all students except those who are vulnerable or children of critical workers. We hope to hear from the DfE soon if we will be allowed to open our doors to all students week commencing 8th March 2021. As soon as we hear anything, we will let you know how we will be responding, including any plans for mass testing.

Here’s to keeping our fingers crossed!

When students do return, we will expect them to wear a mask as they enter the school building. Prior to lockdown, we noticed some students wearing their mask unsafely around school, e.g. tucked under their chin. In order to support the control of the virus, we will be taking a firm stance with any students who do not wear a mask in school. Please help us by reiterating the importance of wearing a mask to your children.

In response to feedback received from staff, families and students we have been working on a plan to reduce the amount of screen time and to continue to prioritise wellbeing. With this in mind from Wednesday 24th February, every student will be encouraged to move away from their screens and to engage in a wide variety of activities.

Enrichment Supporting Wellbeing will take place every Wednesday afternoon thereafter between 1:00-3:00pm. Students will be able to access a wide variety of activities under the headings of: community, exercise, creativity, headspace, altruism and ‘other’. The activities are appropriate for all age groups and cover a wide variety of interests. Activities can be completed by individuals, with friends (COVID compliant) and families together. Some activities come with external accreditation, but all completed activities will carry a tariff of merits awarded by the school. Just a few examples of activities include: Duke of Edinburgh Award, Coronavirus Capsule, The Great Exhibition and start your own podcast. There will be over 60 activities for students to select from. 

This ‘classroom’ will go live to all students on Friday 12th February so that it can be accessed and used over the half term to alleviate some of the boredom!

For those accessing the current in-school provision next half term, they will also be able to take part in Enrichment Supporting Wellbeing.

When students return to school their ''normal' school timetable will resume automatically. 

We are also delighted to launch our Seven Summits Challenge. All tutors groups, including many tutors, will be in a virtual race to conquer the top 7 highest summits in the world, by recording their daily steps. Students will need to keep track of their daily steps, using their trackers, pedometers or even counting, and then provide their weekly step information to their tutors who will submit this once a week. For students wanting an added challenge we have set a TIF where they can choose to climb stairs as well as their steps. We hope to be able to share those leading the race over the next few weeks, and hopefully some photos to keep everyone motivated.

Some news to share from last week:

We were thrilled and grateful to have received 10 tablet devices from Martin Dawes Ltd for us to issue to our students who are having difficulties accessing remote learning at home. Thank you to our colleagues at the Education Learning Trust (ELT) who helped make this possible.

Thank you to Ms Djang (SENCO) and Mrs Rouse who last week held virtual coffee mornings with families of SEND students. This virtual space allowed parents and carers to connect and share their experiences. Additionally, this feedback, alongside all the others that have been collected over the past couple of weeks, will continue to allow us to enhance and develop our remote offer.

Thank you to those parents who fed back on the success of Year 9 Parents’ Evening which was again run remotely. It seems this online approach is much favoured by parents and staff and is likely to be here to stay! All information to support Options continues to be available on the school website, but please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions. 

Virtual Student Councils were held for each year group last week. Student representatives discussed a wide range of issues and continued to contribute to the development of our school. This information will be collated by Mr Wood and responses provided shortly. Our students continue to impress us with how connected they are as a community, even at this difficult time.

On Thursday afternoon we postponed live lessons to allow staff some screen break before parents’ evening. In school, staff and students took advantage of the screen break and had a game of mass dodgeball led by Miss Pike and Mr Howarth.

Our Behaviour Support Team of Mrs Bartle and Mrs Nay have shared their hidden talents in gardening and are running a Forest School with groups of students from our in-school provision. The before shots of our quad show how wild and unloved it had been - here’s waiting for the after shots!

Dates for your diary

Date Event
Friday 12th February School closes for Half-Term at 3pm
Monday 22nd February Students return to virtual school (Blue Week)

Have a good week, and stay safe and well.

Mrs J. Lowe

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Children’s Mental Health Week

This week marks Children’s Mental Health week, and in the current situation we all find ourselves in, it seems even more prevalent! 

There are many charities, organisations and virtual events taking place online this week - below is the virtual assembly, sponsored by Place2be, the organisation that set up Children’s Mental Health week six years ago.

This year’s theme is 'Creative Expression' - something which personally I believe to be key in balancing our Children’s Mental Health. Have you thought about balancing virtual learning/working from home with using Creativity as an outlet.

YoungMinds are a great organisation who have adapted their resources to be in line with the Pandemic. They have many resources for parents, and advice for parents who are worried about their child’s mental health.

For our young people, as always Mind provide some great advice and support covering all mental health issues and wellbeing. The below link will take you to their page, including a guide for CAMHS (Child and Adolsecent Mental Health Service) and how to understand the process if your child is referred for services there.

For our Stockpot residents, if any of you missed this a few weeks ago – I tweeted a guide of local support and services available to parents and children who live in the Stockport area. This includes helplines, free texting services (hopefully some of you were able to attend the Kooth Webinar last night?) and online referral signposting.

The Kooth Webinar provided some great insight into self-management tools for our young people. To reduce ever increasing anxieties and feeling of worry. The Kooth team have provided their contact details for anyone wanting to know a little more about the service, and what they do - below are their emails they have shared to our parents for support.

  • Hearher Hook -
  • Tom Boroughs - 

I’ve also attached my Top 10 Tips for Student Wellbeing - the most important I feel at the minute is limiting their screen time - why don’t you go screen free as a family for a day at the weekend?

My support is available not only for our students, but for our parents and families too - if you would like a Virtual Appointment with me to share the concerns you have around your child’s anxiety, please email me and I will be more than happy to talk with you: 

Ms C. Cropper
Operational Safeguarding and Wellbeing Lead 

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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 19

Last week the Prime Minister announced that it will not be possible to resume face-to-face learning immediately after the February half-term and instead hopes it will be safe to commence the reopening of schools and colleges from Monday 8 March. This is disappointing news but we appreciate that the decision has been made in response to the national public health data and pressure on NHS capacity.

School will not be open for children of key workers or vulnerable students over half term. The local authority will be providing vouchers for students eligible for free school meals during half term. Our remote learning and in-school provision (for children of key workers or vulnerable students) will resume after half term.

We have everything crossed here at Kingsway for the roll-out of the vaccination programme, control of the spread of virus and a safe return for all students to school. We miss them!

The thanks and praise from parents in terms of the quality of our remote learning continue to flood our emails. Many thanks for the positive feedback - it is great to share with staff who are working hard to make sure that the education your child is receiving at home is as best as it can be. We continue to track students’ attendance to remote learning each lesson, and we currently stand at 89% attendance. We would like this to be higher, in line with good attendance to school at 95%+. Please make sure your child attends all their online lessons. You can track this using the Class Charts app.

Class Charts is our home/school communication system, which enables parents and carers to be informed of their child’s learning in real time. As mentioned above we have been using this to track remote attendance and you may have received notification of ‘non-attendance’ since January. This is one of our methods of tracking engagement with remote learning, which is a requirement by the DfE. Now that routines for attendance are fully in place, we are adding a new notification, one of ‘non participation in remote learning’. 

Student engagement is vital in ensuring teachers can monitor understanding and progress. In class a teacher will regularly invite students to respond to questions and complete work. Where a teacher has sought a response, or work is not completed, parents/carers will be notified via Class Charts, of non-participation, which will only be sent when the teacher has tried to engage the student and there has been no response following a warning. We are aware that there may be occasions when there are technical issues or other circumstances so this notification will not award demerits, or sanctions, but is an alert to inform home of the teacher concern about the engagement and progress in class. Raising Standards Leaders will also track this information. 

Both non attendance and non participation alerts will be used to inform Attitude to Learning Grades. If you have specific concerns about receiving a notification in the first instance you should email the teacher who has sent the notification. All staff emails are (e.g Staff will attempt to respond to your queries as soon as possible but please remember that most staff will be delivering live lessons throughout the school day. 

Over the next couple of weeks staff will be completing their half termly assessment milestones. Many of these will be completed via the Google Classroom but to ensure that parents and carers are fully informed teachers will record the date of the assessment, the format and the content on Class Charts. 

These assessments will provide staff with useful information to support, attainment grades but will be used diagnostically to identify gaps in learning, misconceptions and to support further progression by using the information in future planning and any intervention that may be required. As such it is vital that staff have sufficient time to mark these assessments and provide feedback.  These assessments may take a little longer than usual to mark, due to the constraints of online assessments and any additional replanning that may be required, so we are providing teachers with a small amount of additional time when they can provide remote independent learning, rather than live lessons. The effect upon your child’s learning will be minimised by all staff providing work in the relevant Google Classroom and students will be able to access these through the resources provided and with independent application of their learning to date. 

Carrying on regardless of COVID-19, last week we launched our Year 9 options information videos to support our Year 9 students and their families in making decisions about GCSE options. These videos can be found on our website.

We are hosting our annual SEND catch up meetings virtually. The aim is to make our SEND parents feel involved and up to date through a relaxed and informal platform. The Inclusion & Diversity team will be on hand to offer advice and support, whilst also providing families with an opportunity to network with other parents and share lockdown experiences.

Dates: (all times are 1pm-2pm)

  • Mon February 1st - Year 7 
  • Tues February 2nd - Year 8
  • Weds February 3rd - Year 9
  • Thurs February 4th - Year 10

We also held our virtual GCSE presentation evening for the Class of 2020, whose last day in school was 20th March 2020. They were robbed of their leavers’ assembly, prom and the opportunity to sit their GCSE exams. It was a pleasure to congratulate them on their success and resilience via our virtual event. I am so proud of this COVID generation who have gone onto further education, employment or training in another challenging climate. They are simply fabulous human beings!

In other news, our normal school Immunisation programme will continue as planned once schools are fully open. In the event that students are not back in school, the Local Authority has an outreach plan for immunisations. See the below letter for Year 9 parents.

We received some much welcomed news last week. Our Resourced Centre staff will be the first to receive the COVID vaccination. I hope this is the start of a wider roll-out to school staff before we return to full operation in the Spring.

Thank you to parents and students who are sharing photos of students home learning. Keep them coming. Here’s one from Beth C (Year 7) who made a berry-layered dessert in Mrs Knowles’ food lesson. Beth emailed her teacher Here is a photo of my Berry Layered Dessert from today's lesson. The lesson was lots of fun and I really enjoyed it! “

Here’s a photo of Bradley S (Year 9) making library lockdown cupcakes in Life Skills.

COVID-19 reminder

The DfE has asked schools to continue to record cases of COVID-19, even if students are studying at home and not attending our in-school provision. Please can you use our specific email address ( to report any incidents of COVID-19. Further details are on our school website.

Please do not send your son or daughter to school if they have any COVID-19 symptoms. If you are unsure, then it is better to be on the side of caution.

Dates For Your Diary

Date Event
Thursday 4th February 2021 Year 9 Virtual Parents’ Evening - All afternoon lessons will not be live delivery (all years). Content and resources will be uploaded to Google Classroom for Period 4 & 5

Have a good week, and stay safe and well.

Mrs J. Lowe

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Consultation Regarding Replacement of Exams for Summer 2021

Consultation: Replacement of Exams for Summer 2021

Currently there is a consultation open regarding the replacement of exams for summer 2021. This consultation is aimed at getting views of different stakeholders in order to arrive at a system that is fair and robust. The reason for cancelling exams is because there is a general consensus that exams can not be held in a fair way due to differential learning loss across the country. The challenge now is to design a system that is based on a range of evidence in order to arrive at a final GCSE grade and ensure that there is a clear system for quality assurance and appeals.

The consultation raises many questions that are yet to be answered, but in this document we wanted to share with you what is being discussed and what happens next.

Who will be awarding GCSE grades now that there are no exams in the summer?

Exam grades will be awarded by the school based on a range of evidence. What this range of evidence is has not been specified and we will be expecting further guidance from the exam boards. There will be a system of quality assurance both internally and externally that will be in place to ensure that grades have been awarded in accordance with the criteria issued by the exam board. The details of this system of quality assurance is yet to be shared with school.

What evidence will be used to determine GCSE grades?

The consultation states that teachers assessments will be based on the standards that students are performing at. This is different to last year where teachers were asked to project what grade a student would achieve had they sat the exam and this was based on evidence teachers had collected. Given grades will be based on standards that students are performing at, it means that work students are currently doing as vital. The consultation states that teacher assessment could be based on evidence such as:

  • Formal tests and Mock examinations
  • Exam Board papers
  • Substantial candidate work

More guidance is required from exam boards regarding what schools are to use, how to use it and what ‘substantial candidate work’ actually means in order to arrive at a teacher assessment. We are currently unaware what can be used to reach teacher assessments therefore it is vital that students continue to do their best every day.

What are the Exam Board papers? 

The consultation is proposing that exam boards could provide papers, which would be marked by teachers to help inform their assessments but does not specify whether using materials will be mandatory or optional. As of yet there is no guidance on what, how and when materials will be used. Following the consultation we will adhere to the guidance given by the Exam Boards.

Will students be examined on the full course content?

The consultation states that teachers assessments will be based on the standards that students are performing at. Exam boards will focus on what grade students are ‘performing at’ rather than projected grades. The consultation suggests that teachers should assess students on the areas of content they have covered and can demonstrate their ability, while ensuring sufficient breadth of content coverage. This will support consideration of differential learning loss that needs to be taken into account when awarding grades. Following the consultation, it is hoped that Exam boards will release guidance on how to address differential learning loss. The course content for some modules in Vocational courses have been amended to reflect the loss of learning time.

When will teacher Assessments be submitted to the Exam Board?

Teachers will continue to gather evidence until the end of May/start of June. At the end of May/start of June teachers will be collating evidence and following Exam Board advice in order to award grades. We are hoping that leaving the opportunity for students to provide evidence as late as possible will motivate them to continue to work hard and engage in making progress. Working until the end of May will also provide extra time to address learning gaps.

What happens after Teacher assessments are submitted?

Once data has been submitted, internal quality assurance will take place mid June. No guidance has been given from Exam Boards regarding what this would look like. Once the window for internal quality assurance has taken place there will be a process for external quality assurance. No guidance has been given from Exam boards regarding what this will look like. Provisional results could be available early July when an Appeals Process will open. No details have been released from Exam Boards regarding what the Appeals process will look like.

What can my child do to have the best chance of achieving the grades they have the potential to achieve?

Assessment information is being collected until late in the academic year. Not only will this give students the opportunity to catch up with lost learning, but also provide increased learning time where students can demonstrate progress. Students need to know that the work that they are doing now will have an impact on their final grade. This should motivate them to engage in their learning. What has happened in previous exams/assessments may or may not be included in the evidence base when making final teacher assessments, so it is really important that students look ahead to what they can do now, rather than dwelling on what has already happened.

Assessment will be based on what has been taught and so recognises that students in different schools have had the opportunity to access more of the course than others. There will be a broad range of assessment taken into consideration when determining final grades, so there will be numerous opportunities for students to demonstrate that they have made progress.

The best advice for students is to attend live lessons, engage in their learning, take opportunities that departments are offering regarding revision and follow teacher advice on how to make improvements.

What happens next?

The Consultation ends Friday 29th January. Therefore, we do not expect a response to the information gathered until the end of February. Following the release of the consultation findings the Exam Boards will then work on providing schools with details about the next steps. 

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