Headteacher’s Blog – Week 35

Monday 15th June 2020

Welcome to the start of a new week, which sees our Year 10 students returning to school over the course of the week.

There were around 60 students in school today, all following the stringent social distancing measures we had put in place. The focus of this week is well-being with the aim for students:

  • to feel supported, safe and reassured
  • to understand the social distancing measures in place in school
  • to learn about plans for the remainder of this term 
  • to share experiences of lockdown and home learning
  • to ask any questions.

Here’s Mr Traynor’s account of the day with 10H:

It was brilliant to see the majority of 10H today in small groups at a time - groups of 8 felt very different to our usual 25. We spent time talking about experiences of home learning; both the positives and negatives. I was pleased that everyone was honest and it was good to reflect on what we can do to improve our motivation when learning from home and how to stay on top of our school work. I am going to inform Dr Holdsworth of the things people said have gone well and not so well. We discussed the changes to the school site and the upcoming Maths, English and Science sessions. It was good to hear about the new skills students are learning, I will be coming to Heidi S when I need some hand made jewellery for a gift and hope one day I will be treated to a delicacy from Will P's kitchen! Pupils asked a lot of sensible questions about Year 11, some of which we don't have the answers to yet and they were all keen to go away and look at post-16 options with the help of an extensive document provided by Mrs Flood. It was great to see positive attitudes and I am pleased to say that no one in 10H has fallen victim to a dodgy home hair cut!

Whilst Year 10 have been in school, similar conversations between students and form tutors in other year groups will be taking place this week via video conferencing or over the phone.

Following these well-being conversations, we will be shifting our focus to the academic progress students have made during lockdown and how teachers can support individuals. 

Remember, each Raising Standards Leader is available to respond to any queries you may have regarding your child’s experience of remote learning.

Tuesday 16th June 2020

Just look at what we do when we come together. This is England 2020”.

These were the words of premier league footballer Marcus Rashford on Twitter this evening, after the prime minister announced that the government would be funding free school meals for eligible students throughout the summer holidays.

That is good news indeed and the right news. Around 20% of our students are eligible for free school meals to support their families who may be facing financial hardship. As well as being eligible for a balanced meal each day, these students are a focus for us in other ways.

As a group, we want to ensure that their parent’s financial position is not a disadvantage to their academic success, we therefore monitor their attendance and progress regularly and put in place additional support to close any gap with their peers.

Now we are in lockdown, we have seen more families face financial hardship, perhaps through redundancy, unemployment or the fullough scheme. Rather than wait for the government’s FSM (free school meal) voucher scheme to become available online, we purchased hundreds of Asda vouchers and posted them out to these families so that they didn’t have to wait for the help they desperately needed.

On a similar note, rather than wait for the arrival of government funded devices to support remote learning, we will be issuing our own school devices so these children don’t fall further behind.

The Raising Standard’s Leader in each year group will also be identifying those children who need more support from their teachers during lockdown and looking at creative ways we can help them catch up.

At The Kingsway School, we are committed to our ethos ‘A posse ad Esse’ - turning potential into reality for every child, including those who are disadvantaged by poverty. 

I am proud of what a 22 year old young man from Wythenshawe has achieved today. I am also proud of the work we are doing and the work that is to come to support these children.

Wednesday 17th June 2020

As you may recall, a couple of weeks ago we promoted Cheadle FM as one of the latest community events to be launched.  Today we are excited to announce that Mr Williams, Raising Standards Leader, will be on the show this Friday.  Luke Blakeley, former Kingsway student and Youth Pastor at St Mary’s Church, will be hosting the show and Mr Williams will be sharing insights into life at Kingsway during lockdown and the school’s ongoing commitment to support students no matter what the circumstances.  We hope that you will support Cheadle FM and Mr Williams by tuning in Friday 19th June between 9am and 11am on 87.9FM.

Usually, this time of year we would be buzzing with the imminent arrival of a new year group, but for the Class of 2025 this has been a very different experience. Whilst we have not been able to have as much face to face contact as we would have liked, we have been creative in building the foundations of our relationships with our new (and some existing) families.  Mr Burton of ’Educating Yorkshire’ fame praised the students for their involvement in our ‘Be Awesome Go Big at The Kingsway School’ programme, which has seen students complete weekly lessons.

But today, we shared the disappointing news with these families, via their weekly newsletter, that the transition day planned for Thursday 2nd July would be very different and unable to take place physically in the school environment.  Not to despair though as we have been working hard and will be launching our virtual transition day, via our website and prospective Year 5 parents (Class of 2026) will also be able to access this information. The format will be very flexible to support those families, who may wish to experience it together and students who may or may not have returned to school.  As Headteacher, I will share my welcome and vision for the year group, with Mr Williams (Y7 RSL) conducting an assembly on ‘New Beginnings’.  There will also be guest appearances from the form tutors of this year group.  Other resources will include, a virtual tour and map of the school, sample pre-recorded lessons, a workbook from our EBACC subjects, and a Q&A panel with Mrs Lowe, Mr Williams and one of our Year 7 and Year 10 students.  Whilst we know this won’t replace the face to face experiences, it will still provide students with a clear insight into the school and build strong foundations on which they can start their 5 year Kingsway journey.

Finally, our face to face sessions with Year 10 students continue next week. From 22nd June to 9th July Year 10 students will be in school one day a week from 10am – 12pm for a Maths, English or a Science lesson.  Each week will focus on a different subject.  These face to face lessons will support the remote learning students complete at home.  Information is available on our website and each student has been sent an email to inform them of where to go on their allocated day. If you cannot access the information, please call our school reception - open from 8:30am to 3:00pm every week day to answer your calls (0161 428 7706).

Thursday 18th June 2020

On Thankful Thursday, I am thankful to our dedicated learning support team (or B11 as we know them!). Today our Learning Support Manager, Mr Oldham, shares his experience of school during COVID-19.

How Have Learning Support Assistants risen to the challenge of Lockdown and Home-Schooling?

The closure of the school in March is undoubtedly the most challenging and unique event in my 23 years at Kingsway. Usually, my day consists of managing my team of staff who support the SEND students in their learning and helping support some students myself. Suddenly, there was no lessons, no students and a remote team. The LSAs (Learning Support Assistants) all have a number of key students who they are expected to meet weekly; this process shifted online and throughout the school closure the team have been contacting their key students offering help with their home-learning. We sometimes even get a reply! We can check when students or parents access Class Charts and when there were gaps we have liaised with Form Tutors and Pastoral Staff.

The LSAs, along with the Resourced School staff, have been helping support the Key Worker provision on a daily basis. This has at least given us an element of normality. I have been running the rota, whilst trying to accommodate staff who have had to shield, staff who use public transport and staff who have their own children to home-educate. We are now also supporting the Y10 subject weeks. Needless to say, the spreadsheet got very complicated. However, no-one has complained and staff have been very flexible and adaptable.

The LSAs have also taken the chance to carry out a lot of online CPD (Continuous Professional Development), so far completing 466 CPD hours on a wide range of SEND and Pastoral topics. This is far and above what they were asked to do and I know the whole team are looking forward to returning to normality and putting these skills into practice.

Mr A Oldham
LSA Manager

Mrs Maxey (Assistant Headteacher) has sent out some information to parents about how Class Charts can be used to help school track the emotional wellbeing of your child.

A message from our School Business Manager, Mrs Heard:

Free School Meals Reminder

Further to the wonderful efforts by local lad Marcus Rashford in raising awareness about Free School Meals, I would like to urge any parent that is unsure if they qualify to register on our eligibility checker https://www.cloudforedu.org.uk/ofsm/sims. In most cases, you will get an instant reply. Those in receipt of free school meals will be able to claim food vouchers now and over the summer. This also unlocks extra money for school to help towards resources for disadvantaged families.

Our students are continuing to impress us with their commitments and dedication to their work and both Ms Hulance and Ms Bowers were particularly impressed with the extra TIF (Take It Further) work produced by Eliyah in 7S. Last week, History set several optional activities around Black Lives Matter. Eliyah not only completed every single one but bowled us over with the thought she had put into the question: what people,  that we currently do not study, would you like to see within our history curriculum?  Well done Eliyah.

We are also very very proud of Olivia-Rose in 7K who has been asked to train with the world athletes at Rising Stars. This will be preparation for her to join the world team when she comes of age next summer. To keep her on track and maintain her fitness levels, she is currently completing her virtual training every week.  We hope that she continues to build on this success and we will be supporting and following her every step of the way.

Friday 19th June 2020

Happy Friday everyone!

I thought I would share with you the experiences of our staff during the lockdown. Here’s an account from our School Business Manager, Mrs Heard.

A day in the life of a virtual school Business Manager:

My day starts early with a hot cup of coffee whilst I log into my emails - 45 new messages overnight! I read through and then begin to respond to queries. I am helping staff to place orders for materials in September, sorting out a Data Access Request, checking our catering invoices and a query about someone’s pension.

I start working on the first of the jobs on my “to do” list. Our Year 8 trip to Paris has been cancelled and I work with our finance officer Mrs Lockett and to develop a system to ensure the families receive their refunds quickly. Leaving Mrs Lockett to start to process the ParentPay refunds, I check up on where our travel insurance claim is up to.

My daughter stumbles out of bed so I grab us both some breakfast and we talk about her home schooling plan for today. I leave her with her sister’s laptop to get on with her assignments.

My next task is to review our guidance and risk assessments for COVID. Most of the work on this has already been done but Mr Knott has made a few small changes, which we discuss, working remotely on a google document that we can both edit “live”.

Mrs Earnshaw, our other finance officer, sends me a payment batch to authorise, using Adobe e-sign instead of the traditional signature. We talk about how we could continue this in the future, as it reduces movement around school by teachers.

I then continue to work on our budget for September 2020 onwards.  I need to make sure there is enough money in each cost centre pot to pay for energy, school supplies, free school meals, IT and building maintenance as well as the wages for all of our staff- around 160 people in total! When Mrs Lowe and I are happy with the figures I will send a report to governors and upload the figures to the DFE for approval.

This afternoon, I will meet with the rest of the Leadership Team as we do each week, to update one another on our progress. This week, some of our team has been working on a new virtual school strategy which I am very excited about. I will need to make sure our network manager Mr Humphreys has all the software and settings in place for any changes we make.

My professional development continues later, with a webinar by ASCL on school finance. I will need to find out if there are any changes to our income next year.

Finally, I am holding a remote meeting with Mr Cross, our facilities manager, who has been working really hard with his team to get the premises ready for reopening with signage and barriers, but we now need to plan what essential maintenance projects we need to get on with over the summer closedown. I will be encouraging him to take a few days’ annual leave first to re-energise!

And now off to check on how my daughter is getting on with her work…

Some news from Mrs Flood

Colleges are all extremely busy planning for the next academic year and what this will look like.  This is a new situation for them as well as our students who will be starting with them later this year.  College's  are actively trying to ensure they stay engaged with their future students via email and we continue to post information on the message boards which gives students lots of opportunities to find out more, have a virtual look around the campus and ask questions.

Year 10 students have also missed out on opportunities to visit colleges and as we don't know when this will change, we are also trying to encourage our year 10 students to actively engage and look at the college information we are posting on their message board.  Due to the cancellation of our Post 16 Evening, we have produced a booklet giving a brief introduction to our local colleges and their websites, which hopefully will enable our students to start researching and making some decisions - this has been emailed to all students.  We hope these measures will ease any worries/concerns a little.  Advice is still available to our students but in a more limited format to what we are familiar with.

Let Kingsway entertain you!

Come & join 'Lockdown with The Kingsway School's Performing Arts department. There are lots of events taking place over the next few weeks for your child to get involved in.  There is something for everyone!

The first event is The Kingsway School Performing Arts Fest 2020: An online Performing Arts Festival.  Pupils can submit a short film of them performing either dance, drama, verse and prose, singing or playing a musical instrument.  There are PA badges and certificates available for all entries and short clips of each performer will be put together as a montage for parents and carers to watch.  

Tutorials by dance professionals & friends The Kingsway School, Bryn and Rhona are available on google classroom.  Information and material to use are also posted there. Code c6ppa2o

Dance online workshop

Talking of Dance, Rhona will be holding an online Dance workshop on Monday 22nd June at 3pm on Google Meet. All welcome - code available from Miss McSheffrey 

Community Choir

For all our Kingsway staff and pupils - come and join the Lockdown Choir!! You don't have to be a great singer - we just need you to come and share in our community event!  Information on how to get involved coming soon

Speech and Drama

For the budding thespians:  join us for Lockdown Lamda. Fancy working on your use of voice or your other acting skills?  Want to help develop your oracy & literacy skills?  Join Miss McSheffrey and Mr Lawton for Lockdown Lamda sessions to start week beginning 29th June 2020.  Get in touch with Miss McSheffrey for a code to the Lamda Google Classroom

Playwrights

For the budding writers:  If you enjoy writing, send us your short monologues to j.mcsheffrey@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk. We want to make a writer's corner for people to read

Arts Award

Arts Award Bronze is a short course that young people from the age of 11 can participate in.  It celebrates achievement in the Arts.  We are lucky at Kingsway to have two teachers trained to deliver all the Arts Award courses.  This is something we will be introducing to Kingsway next academic year, however, there are some elements that interested pupils could be working on at home.  Please get in touch with j.mcsheffrey@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk if you would like your child to have more information.

Help from parents for Lockdown with the Professionals

We need your help Parents and Carers of The Kingsway School!  We want to inspire our young people and make them aware of all the various careers that come under the umbrella of the Creative and Media Industries.  If you work in this industry or have family and friends that do and can spare a little time, please get in touch with Miss McSheffrey at j.mcsheffrey@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk.  

Get practising this weekend! Have a good one,

Mrs Lowe


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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