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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 17

Finding our flow

As I write this week’s blog, I feel more positive and confident about the week ahead, as I feel that I am settling into a calmer ‘flow’ rather than the frantic, reactive, survival mode I have been in for the past few weeks.

I hope that for those of you home schooling you are finding your own flow at home.

In school, we continue to provide a supervised provision for vulnerable and children of critical workers. This provision is to be used only if there is no other alternative. Where we can, we must all follow the advice to "Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives"

Our in-school provision will prioritise our most vulnerable children and children of critical workers in Years 7 to 10, where no other child care arrangements can be made. The booking form will be open until 12:00 noon on a Wednesday to book places for the week ahead. However, in order to ensure student and staff safety on site and protect the quality of the remote learning, places are limited and the form will be taken down if places are filled sooner. At this stage, we have met requests for places, and thank our families for following the guidance and keeping their children at home.

The routine for students in school is the same as at home; they follow their school timetable, sat at a computer engaging in the live lessons being delivered by our teachers. Our expectations of exemplary behaviour continue as does the requirement for students to be in full school uniform.

One difference for our students and staff in school is that we are offered weekly LFD testing for COVID. We have all settled into the flow of this routine and are pleased we are doing what we can to keep our school and community safe from asymptomatic cases of the virus.

Working from home can present a challenge, not least because of the change in environment. Our staff are also having to set up remote classrooms from their homes to ensure an organised, distraction free environment, as you can see from these photos shared by Mrs Bradbury-Cheetham. Thank you to all our staff who are continually adapting to ensure the highest standard of remote learning is provided to all our students at this time.

Missing Equipment Requests

Our students are working so diligently, many are now reaching the end of their exercise books. The use of exercise books and good presentation are regarded as an indication of the pride students have in their work, as such we would prefer students not to complete their work on random pieces of paper, but want to make sure that students do not make unnecessary journeys to collect these from school. To overcome this barrier we have created a Request Missing Equipment form which students and parents are encouraged to complete so that we can post out the necessary equipment to enable students to continue to access learning activities and take pride in their work. Please use the above link to log your requests.

Changes To Lesson Times

Following feedback from staff, pupils and parents we have been looking at ways to reduce screen time to prevent eye strain, fatigue but also to encourage motivation and physical activity throughout the day. As such you will see a very small change to the length of lessons, which will be reducing from 60 minutes to 50 minutes. Staff will gradually work on this change over the course of week. From the week commencing Monday 25th January all lessons will follow this new temporary time change:

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday Wednesday
8:30 - 8:50 Tutor Time 8:30 - 9:10
8:55 - 9:45 Period 1 9:15 - 10:05
10:00 - 10:50 Period 2 10:20 - 11:10
10:50 - 11:25 Break 1 11:10 - 11:35
11:25 - 12:15 Period 3 11:35 - 12:25
12:15 - 13:00 Break 2 12:25 - 13:00
13:00 - 13:50 Period 4 13:00 - 13:50
14:05 - 14:55 Period 5 14:05 - 14:55

It will be even more important that your child joins their lesson promptly and ready to begin learning.

Maths

The Maths Department have shared personalised feedback with all Year 11 students following their PPEs in December. They have asked us to remind you that year 11 students are expected to have completed independent study, based on their target areas in preparation for their retest on Wednesday 20th January.

Key Stage 3 Mathematics students are also being kept busy by being set 20 minutes homework each week on Times Tables Rock Stars. Not only will this aid their timetables and numeracy skills, but forms will also take part in Battle of the Bands, where they will get to compete to be the best form in the year.

For students who are wanting to challenge themselves, don’t forget about the following additional resources that can be accessed any time:

Please make sure you follow our social media pages for daily tips on effective remote learning.

Parent Voice

We have received some fantastic feedback from parents/carers and students on our current remote learning offer. We are not complacent, and would like to work collaboratively with parents to improve the system where needed, and remove any remaining barriers. With that in mind I would like to invite all parents and carers to complete the Parent Voice on Remote Learning. Please complete one form for each of your children. We hope that this will provide you with a platform to let us know how remote learning is going for your child and for us to be able to respond. The form will remain open until next Monday. We will then collate the information and see what we can do to ensure your child remains engaged, safe and enjoying school during this remote learning period. Many thanks in advance.

DfE and Ofqual Consultation on Summer 2021 exams

Friday evening saw the release on the much anticipated consultation on this summer’s examination proposals. The DfE and Ofqual are inviting all students, parents and teachers to express their views on the alternative arrangements for GCSEs, AS and A Level students. Following the consultation, Gavin Wiliamson will share the ways in which he wishes students to be assessed by teachers and how he wishes for teachers’ assessment to determine the student’s grade. Ofqual will then respond and put in place the arrangements in which it will regulate the exam boards.

Free School Meals Update 

This week, we will be moving onto the Government's national voucher scheme to continue to support our families whose children are eligible for free school meals. Eligible families should have received a link to a form asking you to register for the scheme and to provide us with a working email address. Once you have done this, we will upload your details to the online portal and you will receive an email containing en e-Code directly from Edenred by Friday 22nd January 2020.

If your e-Code does not come through, firstly, check your spam/junk mail and/or trash folder. If it still hasn’t arrived by Monday 25th January 2021, please contact Miss Stansfield at l.stansfield@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk to ensure that we have your correct email address. If necessary, we can resend the e-Code.

Whilst there are a number of supermarkets contributing to the school’s FSM voucher scheme, last week Marks and Spencers said that they would contribute an extra £5 if the school voucher was redeemed via their website, alongside a weekly planner to help prepare five simple, nutritious breakfasts and lunches. The Kingsway School is also sharing daily recipes which are nutritional, healthy and budget-friendly.

Finally, we love receiving emails from students and parents sharing examples of the fantastic work that is being completed in the home school. Please keep them coming. Here’s some examples, keep them coming!

Dates for your diary

Date Event
Wednesday 20th January 2021 Year 11 Maths Retests
Thursday 4th February 2021 Year 9 Virtual Parents’ Evening

Have a good week, and stay safe and well.


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 16

Never a dull moment!

Well, what a busy week the first week of 2021 turned out to be.

Whilst our teachers were delivering quality remote education from their homes, we opened our school for vulnerable and children of critical workers. This in-school provision provides a supervised classroom where students log onto their remote education and join their classmates who are learning from their homes.

We have used our allocation of devices from the Department for Education, as well school Chrome books, to ensure that every student has a digital device so they can access remote learning from home. If you need help with your child accessing or using their device, support with mobile data, or a camera/microphone so they can interact in each lesson, please contact your child’s RSL in the first instance.

We understand the demands that remote learning places on families and the home, to support this we have devised a Parents Guide. We hope you find this useful. We will continue to share information and support but please do let us know how you are finding it and celebrate the successes with us too. Please make sure that you follow our social media pages to keep up to date with daily tips to support remote learning, and ensure that you have downloaded the Class Charts app so that you can track attendance, progress and homework for your child.

We have noticed that many students are reluctant to turn their cameras on during their live lessons. This makes teaching in an interactive manner difficult. Along with independent tasks to provide time for screen breaks, during their lessons, teachers will also be including activities that require all students to turn on their cameras. Please make sure your child has a camera and has it turned on when the teacher asks them to do so. We want to address the social interaction they are missing from their classmates as well as filling gaps in knowledge.

Remote learning can present many challenges but it is fabulous to see the efforts that the students and staff are going to. Ms Guess has been providing a cook-along session with her Year 10. This week they made homemade shepherd’s pie and next week, upside-down pineapple pudding is on the menu!

We are also very excited and proud that our Year 8 girls will represent The Kingsway School in a virtual national competition. Cyberfirst is a competition run by GCHQ and we are delighted that Aminah M, Elizabeth F, Hannah P, Jwan A, Laiba C, Lucy A, Lucy W, Mary R, Thea G and Patrycja K will form three teams for the first round during the week commencing 25th January. The girls were nominated by their Maths teachers because they are logical problem solvers. This week they have been given training videos to keep them busy at home! We wish them all the best and will keep you up to date with their progress.

The government advice is that where possible we should be staying at home and where possible parents should be keeping their children at home. Our in-school offer prioritises those children who are vulnerable and school is the best place for them to learn, as well as the children of parents and carers whose work is critical to the battle against the spread of the virus. 

Those parents who are eligible and need placement can book our in-school provision no later than 3pm on the Wednesday before the week ahead. In order to deliver a safe and effective offer in school and protect the quality of the provision being delivered at home, places in school will be limited on a daily basis. Please do not be offended if we ask for evidence of your critical worker role in order to prioritise a place for your child.

Developing skills was not unique to our students last week, with Year 11 teachers venturing into the realm of remote parents’ evening. For some of our more verbal colleagues it, having a strict five minute slot presented a challenge but the reality was a huge success with positive feedback from staff and students alike.

Mrs Evans hopes the technology will work as she embarks on her first virtual Parents Evening.

We intend for our future parents’ evening events to operate in the same way and will be in touch with our Year 9 families shortly about the upcoming options information evening and parents’ evening later this month.

If you’d have told me a year ago that we would be turning a school space into a mass testing site, operated by school staff, I’d have thought you were kidding me! But in another Kingsway first, last week we did just that. Eleven staff donned their PPE and after completing the relevant training, began testing our staff and students who were in school. By the end of the week, over 80 staff and students had been tested successfully - this is helping those of us who are still working in school stay safe and also protecting the families of those children who are still attending school.  More information will follow shortly about the testing of the whole school community on their return to school.

In other news

We wish the best of luck to the Year 11 students sitting their OCR National examinations in Sport Studies and Health & Social Care this week.

Mrs Rouse is continuing her literacy intervention remotely to help students improve their reading skills so they can fully access their curriculum. If you have any concerns about your child’s literacy skills, email Mrs Rouse k.rouse@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk

Mrs Nay our Anti-Bullying coordinator led a poster competition before Christmas. Our resource centre students took part in the competition and were all winners. Well done guys! Here they are with their certificates. See their winning entries here!

As well being great advocates for anti-bullying, our resource centre students also celebrated success last term - all passing their AQA assessment in Skills for Life. Here they are with their well deserved exam certificates.

Finally, the recent media headlines included ‘Parents turn tables on Williamson’ in response to the Secretary of State for Education’s message to parents to complain to Ofsted if they are dissatisfied with their child’s remote learning offer. #Ofsted began trending on Twitter with thousands of parents praising the response of their schools to the pandemic to Ofsted. I was overjoyed to hear that some of our parents have joined the band of supportive parents. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. If you want to join the movement, you can email enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk or complete Ofsted’s Parent View. 

This situation is not ideal for staff or students, but we are all doing our best and I am glad that this is being brought to the attention of our nation’s leaders.

Have a good week, and stay safe and well.


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 14

We wish you a merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all our families.

As we reach the end of a very long, extraordinary and demanding term, I would like to thank my amazing staff at The Kingsway School who have been incredible over the past 15 weeks.

Children only get one shot at their secondary education and team Kingsway have made sure that in spite of the challenges faced by COVID, we have provided both learning and care either remotely or face to face (at a safe distance of course!).

End and start of term arrangements

There has been more media coverage of schools in the past few days, particularly with respect to the arrangements for the end of term. Until we receive guidance to the contrary, we are keeping to our original plan - school will close at noon on Friday 18th December 2020. Full school uniform is expected throughout the final week of term. Students are to return at 8:30am on Tuesday 5th January 2020.

COVID update

I am delighted to report that in the last few weeks, we have seen a dramatic fall in the number of positive cases of COVID-19 in our community, and with it less disruption to learning in school. Hopefully this trend will continue, although we are anticipating a spike in cases following the Christmas period and do not want to be complacent. Our intention is for next term to retain the Year Bubbles and Year group zones to reduce the risk of transmission in school. However, we will be reviewing our COVID model in light of the changing environment to see when we can return to a more traditional organisation in school. Where we have noticed some benefits of the current arrangements we will endeavour to retain these in any timetable changes in February.

Contact Tracing Over Christmas

We will be maintaining our close contact tracing systems until the 23rd December. Please report any positive tests ofCOVID-19 to our dedicated email address covid@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk  and provide details of:

  • Student name
  • Year group
  • Test result – please send a picture of the NHS test result
  • Date when symptoms first appeared
  • Date when student was last in school
  • Friends/social group that are close contacts

From Saturday 19th to Wednesday 23rd December, we will be monitoring the dedicated COVID email (covid@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk) by 3pm each day. Families will be contacted later that afternoon, by email, if they have been identified as a close contact of a positive case. If you have changed your contact details, (including email and mobile phone) please make sure you have informed the school.

Face coverings

There are no changes to the guidance on wearing a face covering in schools. Staff and students must wear face covering in communal areas and may choose to wear one in the classroom. Students are checked on their way into school each morning, and we have seen a rise in the number of students who are forgetting to bring in a mask. Please make sure your child has a reusable mask in the new year and a spare - put it on their list to Santa!

Christmas Charity

Scrooge is certainly not a word you can associate with the staff and students at The Kingsway School. On Friday both students and staff celebrated Christmas Jumper Day, and whilst the final total is still being counted, at the time of writing the blog we have raised an amazing £749.04 for Save the Children.

But our Christmas spirit has not stopped there and we have been amazed with the generosity and wonderful donations that have been made to local food banks. These are just a couple of snaps of the food boxes as each form brought them to the collection point.

Year 10 donations
Year 7 donations
7K showing the K stands for kindness

Year 11 Parents’ Evening

Our virtual Year 11 Parents’ Evening is on Thursday 7th January, between 5pm and 8pm. The current COVID pandemic means that face to face appointments will not be possible. Therefore, we have introduced a new intuitive and easy to use online Parents’ Evening system. This allows parents to select their own appointment times with teachers. In addition, the system allows parents to attend Parents’ Evening appointments via video call. 

Dates for your diary

Date Event
Monday 14th December Year 11 return to normal timetable following PPEs
Wednesday 16th December Christmas meal
Friday 18th December School breaks up for students at noon
Monday 4th January INSET Day
Tuesday 5th January Students return to school at 8:30am

Have a good week, and stay safe and well.


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 13

The lights of Broadway

Today I had the pleasure of seeing our Year 11 and Year 8 students ‘shine’ on Broadway.

In Science, students were learning about the law of reflection, looking at different sound waves. Here is Mille D showing her beautiful work on superposition.

In Drama, groups of students created a short scene which shows how bullying can start using body language, space, facial expression and volume as demonstrated here by some girls from Miss McQuiston’s 8I class.

In English, 8S (below) were skim-reading Hunger Games to recap their knowledge of verbs, adjectives, pronouns and adverbs.

In PE, the Year 8's have been utilising the skills they have learned through Year 7 and Year 8 to perform in a doubles table tennis match. The beginning of the lesson was used to refine their skills in the basic table tennis shots and incorporated one of our PE core values of "persist" as students needed to identify basic shots they struggle with and practice them in partners. The main body of the lesson was then used to learn and enforce the differing rules between singles table tennis and doubles table tennis. Students then used our PE core values of "lead" "challenge" and "respect" to participate and umpire in The Kingsway Doubles Table Tennis Championship. Well done to Oscar M, Jamil K, Max B and Finn R who all ended up at the top table at the end of the tournament.

In our Resource Centre, Year 9 students Millie, Jack and Gabriella were having an English lesson with Mrs Archer, studying Romeo & Juliet. There were very animated discussions around Elizabethan attitudes to women and arranged marriages. The students’ summary today was, "This passionate, powerful play is about love at first sight and it shows us that in this world love can conquer all"

Elsewhere, the Year 7 & 8 resourced students were doing a maths assessment (what a way to start their week!).

...Key Stage 4 resourced students were getting to grips with ‘A Christmas Carol’

Mrs Burgess and her team certainly had all our resourced students working hard and setting the pace for the rest of their week. The resourced centre team are also collecting for Chelwood Foodbank - Mrs Burgess said that the resourced parents have been really generous.

My last visit of the morning on Broadway was to the Year 11 Chemistry exam. Miss Linnecor and Mr Weil have been really impressed with the year group, who have been brilliant during their PPE exams last week. Despite having a challenging start to the academic year, the year group have shown great resilience and maturity preparing for and sitting these exams. I’m sure Christmas can’t come soon enough for them. Well done Year 11 and keep up the good work!

BBC

We’ve always known our students are stars in the making and this week we had the opportunity to share this beyond our local community.

In October, we were approached by the BBC as a location for an episode in a CBBC production called ‘Sparks’. The series was created to focus on a range of issues that young people today may face.

As part of this, a number of our students were asked to be back-ground extras. Our Year 9 students relished this opportunity and we are delighted to share with you the final programme.

The students were incredibly professional and patient and were described by the crew as “fantastic.” Many of them said that it has sparked their wider interests in TV and film and made them aware of other roles including acting and technical support.

Why not take a look at our future stars.

Christmas Jumper Day

On Friday we are looking forward to being able to celebrate the festive season whilst donating to a worthy cause.  Every year, the staff take part in Christmas Jumper Day.

This annual event has previously been organised by Mrs Halfpenny, one of our RSIAs in the Resource Base. As you may be aware, we were all devastated this year by her sudden passing.  We made the decision to continue this tradition, as we are sure that this is something that she would approve of, but to extend the opportunity wider to include our students, many of whom knew Mrs Halfpenny.

As such on Friday 11th December, students will be able to wear one item of festive clothing. This could be a jumper, hat, socks etc.,  This item should be worn alongside the usual school uniform and in return we would ask students to make a small donation to the Save the Children charity.

We hope that each form will contribute to their House fundraising competition and that overall we will be able to make a significant donation to vulnerable children.

Year 11 Virtual Parents Evening

Last week we sent a message to Year 11 parents about the new system we are introducing in January to conduct our Parents Evenings virtually. Please ensure that you have read the instructions about making appointments and joining on the evening.

Dates For Your Diary

Date Event
Monday 14th December Year 11 return to normal timetable following PPEs
Wednesday 16th December Christmas meal
Friday 18th December School breaks up for students at noon
Monday 4th January INSET Day
Tuesday 5th January Students return to school at 8:30am

Have a good week, and stay safe and well.


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 12

SEND Week of Action
This week, the Inclusion and Diversity Department launched a ‘week of action’ each day staff were able to access video or audio recordings by students with a range of additional needs. Their bravery and courage in speaking about their experiences to help our staff continue to provide tailored support was touching. We also heard from some of our parents who were eager to share tips and advice about how best to support their child. Throughout the week, staff were also able to learn new strategies and were given further information about a range of special educational needs and disabilities. Our thanks go out to everyone who participated and who helped organise this wonderful event.

Isolation Pen-pal scheme
Last week we wrote that Mrs Jones, our Community Mentor, has instigated an exciting new project for our students to reach out to some of our community who may be feeling increasingly isolated during the pandemic. I was delighted to see so many of our students offering letters and reaching out to people that they wanted to support. There are still a few days left to get your letters in and then we will be sending these out. We’ll keep you posted about how these are received by our recipients. 

Year 11
The Year PPEs began at the end of last week and continue until Friday 11th December. For the first time, all Year 11 students are sitting these exams in the same hall. When students are not in exams, their normal lessons are running virtually except during Period 3, or when the vast majority of the Year group are in an exam. 

We have made contingency plans should students be affected by the need to self-isolate. In the first instance, whenever possible maths and English exams will be repeated within the blank exam slots in students’ timetables. Results from these catch-up exams will need to be treated with caution because the papers will already have been seen by the rest of the Year group. A further significant contingency is a second season of PPEs planned for February, hopefully when the COVID environment will be quite different. These details will be available in the new term.

During this term, we have been developing and implementing our plans to support students to make up lost learning. Enrollment on these schemes is targeted at those students most affected by enforced isolation and subsequently encountering difficulties in making up the resulting lost learning. Interventions have been underway during this term including extra staffing in maths, English and Science to provide additional teaching in lessons, and/or during the school day. 

We have commissioned the Government’s programmes for tutor support in maths and science. These begin in January and will deliver ten virtual tutor sessions for groups of three students. One condition of these schemes is that they must take place in school. Priority will be given to those students most affected by having to self-isolate and struggling to make up their learning.

Our Year 11 Virtual Revision Classroom has been created, with teachers uploading a variety of materials to support learning, including pre-recorded videos. Also, a series of catch-up revision sessions are running on the following days:

Mondays History, Geography, MFL & Science
Tuesdays English
Wednesdays Maths
Thursdays Other Options Subjects

Further support from subjects has been through the purchase of subject apps and revision guides.

We are also working with other agencies to provide additional support for our students. These details will be released when confirmed.

Safeguarding update
In recent days, we have had two boys from other schools enter our Foxland site and deliberately set off the fire alarm. They appear to be gaining access via a residential property adjoining the field and it is possible that they have received help from some individuals in our school. This is very concerning and we are working closely with the police to apprehend the individuals. Any student involved will be putting their place at our school in jeopardy. We have increased security in the area and it has necessitated an adjustment to our COVID protocols which allowed Year 10 convenient access to one of the towers.

Public Health England Meeting
We had a very positive COVID-19 meeting this week with the Registrar for Public Health. This meeting was at our request following the increase in school cases at the start of half term and we wanted to know what further actions we could take to protect our community. The Registrar fully endorsed the processes we had implemented and complimented the school on the efficacy of our approach. Within our local COVID-19 context, he estimated we might have anticipated more cases than we have actually experienced. We continually review our practice to try and ensure the least disruption as possible whilst keeping people safe.

Christmas is coming...
December is arriving this week and after the events this year, I’m certain that we all deserve some festive cheer so we have planned a number of events throughout the last few weeks of school. 

The first event will be 11th December, where all students will be permitted to wear one item related to Christmas in return for a small donation to Save the Children. Some examples of suggested items could be a Christmas jumper or tie, a Santa hat, a pair of festive socks. 

Our charitable spirit will be continuing through our form Christmas hampers that will all be donated to local food banks. If you can offer any food or treats to support families in need over Christmas, these will be gratefully received and go a long way to helping us produce over 40 hampers.

To help spread the festive cheer, Caterlink will also be providing students with the opportunity to tuck into their roast turkey early by serving Christmas lunch. A full menu will be shared with students next week.

Throughout the last week, Raising Standards Leaders will be sharing celebrations and achievements with their year groups and on the last day of school there will be an extended form time period 3 and an early close at noon. All buses have been notified so that students can get home safely. Please note that there will be no food service on this last day due to the early departure, please ensure your child brings a snack and a drink if they wish.

Dates For Your Diary

Date Event
Monday 14th December Year 11 return to normal timetable following PPEs
Friday 18th December School breaks up for students at noon
Monday 4th January INSET Day
Tuesday 5th January Students return to school at 8:30am

Have a good week, and stay safe and well.


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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