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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 7

When is a classroom not a classroom?

When it’s your bedroom or living room or kitchen table!

With more students self-isolating for various reasons, the classroom can be very different for each child. When we asked year 10 on their return where their learning took place, we had many different responses. My advice is to have a clear space at home for school work, whether isolating or just for homework/revision at the end of the day. It needs to be a space away from distractions (e.g. TV, X box etc.) and a tidy space - a cluttered desk can cause a cluttered mind.

I know when I am working at home in the evening or at the weekend, I need to make sure I have done my housework chores first. I then light a candle with a calming aroma and get my head down to working.

One year 10 example of great learning from home is Charlie L: “Yesterday, I completed 1 of the activities from the English remote learning, 2 hours of maths revision, watched 2 x 20 minute biology videos as revision for the test that I was meant to take part in that day and planning for my spanish writing exam”. Here are some examples of Charlie’s work:


How fabulous is this… Leland H in 8C has his very own Kingsway mask! I see an opening in the market…

The following information has been provided by the local authority for families living in Stockport:

  • We advise against all social contact with people from outside your home. Up to six people from different households can legally meet – maintaining social distance - in parks, but not in homes and gardens.
  • Picking children up from school who aren’t in your household is social contact, and isn’t allowed unless you have formed a childcare bubble.
  • A childcare bubble is where someone in one household can provide informal (meaning unpaid and unregistered) childcare to a child aged 13 or under in another household. This must occur on an exclusive basis – always the same two households, and never more than two households.
  • If people don’t follow these rules, it increases the chance that they, their children, and potentially their class or year group bubble at school will need to self-isolate at home for up to two weeks.

Does your child have Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities? If so, you may be interested in the public consultation which was launched on Friday 9th October, closing on Friday 4th December 2020. This consultation follows a 6 month review of the Dedicated School’s Grant (DSG) - the £32 Million that Stockport spends on SEND provision.

A stakeholder video can be accessed here:
https://video.stockport.gov.uk/secret/64447169/c51c068bd2abd4f4291ddf04f85e9556

To have your say on the future of SEND provision and view the consultation, visit:
https://consultation.stockport.gov.uk/policy-performance-and-reform/dedicated-schools-grant-high-needs-funding-consult/

In addition to the online public consultation currently being undertaken by Stockport MBC on the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) Review, the council are also running a number of focus groups to understand individuals’ perspectives on the recommendations that have been put forward. These will be taking place online via Zoom:

  • Parents and carers of a child who is accessing SEND Support - 18th November 2020 at 19:15 - 20:30. This focus group will be facilitated by PACTs (Parent and Carers Together Stockport) and Stockport Council.
  • Parents and carers of a child who has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) - 18th November 2020 at 10:30 This focus group will be facilitated by Qa Research, an independent market and social research organisation, on behalf of Stockport Council.

If you would like to take part in a focus group, please email your name, email and phone number and indicate which workshop you would like to take part in to DSG@stockport.gov.uk

The council are also offering support for families with remote learning:

Venue: Stockport College

Course Length: 5 weeks

Date/Time: Thursday 5th November to 3rd December

Description
Everything we do today involves using a computer. This course is particularly relevant to the current situation with Covid-19 which has meant that many services, including education, has moved on-line.

If you would like to improve your computer skills so you can support your child’s learning
on-line then this short course is for you.

The course covers a number of topics including:

- Using computers (identifying and solving basic technical problems)
- Communicating online
- How to use online software e.g. Microsoft Teams/Zoom
- Staying safe on-line
- Useful websites to help support learning

Sessions are delivered by an experienced tutor in a very supportive environment.

Cost
There is no charge but you are expected to attend all five sessions. Social distancing will be in place and learners will need to follow appropriate health & safety guidelines as advised at enrolment.

 

On our return after half term, The Kingsway School will have transferred from Abney Trust to Education Learning Trust. This transfer means that we will be part of a collaboration of local schools working together to bring about improved outcomes and educational experience for all our students. There will be no noticeable differences for our parents, carers and students - our school day, uniform, staffing and governors will remain the same. Behind the scenes, our staff will be working in teams to develop their practice for the benefit of your children. I look forward to sharing with you some examples of this partnership working in the coming months.

Finally, as half term approaches, please make sure you all stay safe and well. The current lockdown rules will impact on how you will relax or spend time with your friends and family - nonetheless, I hope you all have a really lovely week.


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 6

Let’s be rainbows!

There have been some spectacular rainbows over the past week with the weather we have been having. Each time I see a rainbow, I am reminded of the words of American poet Maya Angelou: “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud”.

Leading a school during the Coronavirus pandemic feels like there is a grey cloud over me most of the time. Each day, I dread the call that we have another positive case and have to make decisions, which seem to please no one. Students want to be in school. Parents want their children in school. Teachers want their students in school. But we must also make every effort to avoid further transmission of the disease to keep our school community safe and well.

Thankfully, there are many people who are my rainbows.

On a particularly cloudy day, I decided to ditch the paperwork needing my attention, and instead walk around the Year 10 lessons taking place. I was so impressed with the engagement of every single student in their lessons - all working hard and soaking up their learning.

Mr Williams shared some rainbows last week in the form of Year 7 budding artists in 7C selected by Ms Whadcock-Jones.

I have also been really grateful to those parents who have taken the trouble to send me an email thanking me for the communication from the school in these challenging times. Here’s just a flavour of the rainbows on a gloomy day:

“I just wanted to say thank you for the way Kingsway School is handling everything at what is a really difficult time for everyone. I'm sure the current situation is a logistical nightmare for you all but the regular updates are really helpful, & I appreciate the steps that are being taken to keep our children safe. I, along with many other parents, are obviously worried about our children in year 11 who are in their final year & face an uncertain future with regards to GCSE exams & job prospects but I have confidence that we will be kept informed every step of the way so thank you for that. I hope the staff & their families are all safe & well.”

“I just wanted to say thanks to you and all of your staff for the work you're doing to keep students and families safe and minimise disruption to learning. It is a massive undertaking in a school of this size, but the communication between home and school, and the online work have been excellent. I can only imagine what a nightmare it must be for you, so thanks again.”

“I just wanted to add how impressed we have been with communication from the school throughout the induction process and how much Oliver is enjoying Kingsway so far. We are so glad we chose Kingsway for him and appreciate all your hard work and dedication.”

“The communications we received from the school were fantastic, in what must have been difficult circumstances. We have been kept informed throughout and I can happily say the one day of homeschooling we took part in was also brilliant. Thank you for looking after my daughter and her friends so well - it really does put my mind at rest whilst the rest of the world is losing theirs!”

Please keep these messages coming - I share them with our teachers and support staff to remind them of what a great job they are doing. Your positive feedback really does help staff morale at a time when grey clouds are all too frequent.

Talking of which - last but not least - the staff at The Kingsway School are my array of rainbows. They are all working so hard to provide a safe and inspiring learning environment for your children. Rushing from one classroom to another every hour, ready to shift from face to face lessons to virtual teaching and all with a smile on their face.

You can meet many of them in our first ever virtual open evening. Even if you don’t have a child in primary school, it is worth a look at what is really great about Kingsway.

As I write this blog, I am responding to the latest report of a positive case in Year 10. Again, we find ourselves putting our plan into action. Year 10 students will need to isolate at home whilst we go through the process of identifying close contacts.

We know that parents will be disappointed that their year 10 children are back learning from home. We hope that the majority will be back in school shortly.

COVID is certainly making its mark on our normal school routines. We have noticed a particular impact on our attendance data. Not surprising you might think! However, COVID related absences apart, we have also noticed an increase in non-COVID related absences. Previously, students with sniffles would have been sent into school, whereas now parents are choosing to keep them at home.

If you think your child is well enough to be in school, and they are not displaying any of the COVID symptoms, it is better for them to be in school to receive the education that they need. I appreciate this is a difficult call to make as parents; if you would like any guidance on whether your child should be in school, please get in touch with their pastoral head of year or our attendance officer Miss Stansfied - l.stansfield@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk

Looking forward to a week of rainbows (without the clouds!).

Have a lovely week,


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 5

If… only!

In respect of National Poetry Day last week, I am going to share with you one of my favourite poems by the inimitable Rudyard Kipland.

If you can keep your head when all about you

   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

   But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

   Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,

   And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;

   If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with triumph and disaster

   And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

   Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,

   And stoop and build ’em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

   And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

   And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

   To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

   Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

   Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;

   If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—

   Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

I think it’s fair to say that I am only just ‘keeping my head about me’!

Last week was another COVID rollercoaster - on Tuesday we believed we had a reported case in Year 8, only to be re-informed within an hour of sending students home, that this was not the case. I know that some parents will be worried about this confusion, or angry even. We are all working hard to get it as right as we can, as quickly as we can. I am sorry for any angst caused to you or your children by them leaving the premises half an hour earlier than planned under the impression they would not be back the next day. The good news is they were all back in the next day - enjoying their learning. As Tuesday rolled over into Wednesday and Thursday, we had a sense of normality again with Year 10 and 11 returning from self-isolation.

All of our amazing students, back in their classrooms, diligently working, listening, learning. It was so lovely to see them all - we really do miss them.

And then we hit Friday - another unique situation for us where this time we were informed before break, that a Year 7 student had tested positive for COVID-19. We wish this student all the best in their recovery.

We took a different approach with these, our youngest students and waited for parental permission to allow them to leave school at 11:10am that day. It was really helpful that the vast majority of parents received and replied to our text message so we knew what we were dealing with in school. The Year 7s were just brilliant. They were calm, sensible and quite happy to patiently wait for their safe time to leave. We have advised Year 7 parents that we will be working on our tracing system to enable as many Year 7 students as possible to return to school early this week.

Tracing students’ close contacts via seating plans helps us to identify those students who should be self-isolating and in turn those who can return to school. This process also involves a conversation with the student who has tested positive to identify any other close contacts such as those they may have encountered walking to/from school, during break or in the canteen. We hope that we will have identified this small group early next week and will be able to communicate to Year 7 parents if their child is able to return to school or needs to continue to self-isolate.

Whilst at home, all students should log into Google classroom for an 8:30am session with their form tutor. All their lessons should then follow their normal timetable either delivered live by the teacher or uploaded onto their Google classroom.

It was such a shame that our ‘full’ school didn’t last longer - but it seems that this is a new norm for us all, and we are likely to see other year groups isolating, for a much smaller time, whilst we identify close contacts.

So after a week of triumph and disaster, as you can imagine, the weekend was a welcome friend!

Until Saturday! Another positive case reported via our COVID-19 email - covid@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk.

Again, our thoughts go to the Year 11 student and their family. With any reported case, we must report to the Public Health England Protection team who provide us with their guidance on the steps that our school should take. Once we have this information, as with Year 7, we will work diligently to identify the close contacts so that other Year 11 students can return to school as soon as possible.

According to the Manchester Evening News this weekend, Kingsway is one of many schools located in a ‘hot spot’ area for COVID cases: “Stockport's COVID-19 hotspots clustered in the west of borough - nobody knows why”. Whilst the numbers in our area are nowhere near as high as other Manchester boroughs and there is no link to schools re-opening, we must continue to be vigilant and aware of the virus in our daily lives. Please help us help our community by making sure your child has a clean face covering for school each day, has hand sanitizer (or uses the ones provided in school) and most importantly do not send your child into school if they are displaying any of the COVID symptoms (fever, cough, loss of taste/smell).

It is also critical that parents notify us immediately if a student, or anyone in your household tests positive for COVID-19. Similarly if your child has symptoms and the outcome of the test is negative. If you are reporting a positive case, please inform us of the name and form of any siblings in our school. Thank you for your cooperation with this.

Finally, and off the COVID agenda, we have our first ever Virtual Open Evening this week taking place on Wednesday 7th October 2020. Please see our website for more information and enjoy the show!

If... I can dream… would I dream of an end of this COVID chaos? I would certainly dream of a happy, healthy, safe future for all my loved ones and my staff and students at Kingsway. Happy dreaming everyone.

Have a lovely week,


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 4

Fabulous first four weeks!

So we have completed the first fabulous four weeks, during which time we have sadly had three reported cases of COVID-19 (two Year 10 and one year 11). It was not so fabulous having to ask these students to isolate at home when they were just getting back into the routine of school.

We are looking forward to having them back next week (Year 10 Wednesday, Year 11 Thursday) and seeing their lovely faces - behind a mask of course! Whilst they have been isolating, they have been following their normal timetable delivered to their home via their teachers remotely. Staff in school have worked hard this week to make sure that all students are able to access our remote learning offer - providing devices and dongles where needed.

Mr Williams shared with me a beautiful piece of RE work completed by Rebecca I in Year 9 during our summer lockdown:

The first four weeks haven’t been perfect - but they have certainly had some fabulous moments. On Friday afternoon - last lesson of the day - I popped around our year bubble and captured some great learning:

7K Computing lesson with Mrs Bull.  Sam: “We are learning how to stay safe online via E-safety. Bullies can hide behind their computer screen.”

7T Maths lesson with Mr Lomax. Ashton: “We are learning how to calculate with decimals and money using a multiplication magic square.”

7I Geography lesson with Miss Horsey. Ben: “We are learning about Biomes - places with different climates and animals”.  Amaar: “There are 6 main Biomes including the Coral Reef and Rainforest”.

7H Maths lesson with Mr Singh. Harrison: “We are learning to multiply and divide by powers of ten e.g 85 x 10^2 is 8500.” Isaac: “ 85 x 10^-1 is 8.5”

7E Maths lesson with Mrs Beattie.  Kaya: “We are doing an assessment on decimals.” Raphael: “it’s about arithmetic reasoning.”

7S Art lesson with Miss Forber. Maryam: “We are doing visual drawings learning how to draw different patterns and textures so we can draw live animals.”

7W History lesson with Mr Cook. Luca:  “We are learning about significant figures from History like Julius Cesar and Cleopatra.” Heidi: “They are important because they changed the way people thought about things”.

7C ICT lesson with Miss Brennan.  Zara: “We are learning about cyber bullying. It’s not very nice. We don’t want any child to bully another because it affects them a lot.”

7Y Technology lesson with Mr Whittam. India: “We are learning about different types of wood - hardwood and soft wood” Noah: “We will be using it to make little toys or key rings”.

7A Maths lesson with Miss Burrows. Yusuf: “We are multiplying integers using different methods.“ Jayenna: “I worked out 86 x 34 is 2924.”

7G & 7N PE lesson with Miss Wildgoose and Mrs Nakielska (playing diamond cricket). Imogen: “Miss throws the ball and you have to catch it and throw at the stumps to get someone out.”

Mrs Clarke was also really impressed with Tom B in 7N who sent in this lovely photo he took during a trip to Wales. Mrs Clarke had set a Fungi challenge for the work the class are doing on Ecosystems.

Well done to all our year 7 students who have settled into the life of a Kingsway student brilliantly!

As you are well aware by now,  in order to keep our students safe and reduce the risk transmission of the virus, students are staying in their zones for their lessons and instead staff are moving from room to room, zone to zone, campus to campus so that all students are taught by their specialist teacher. This means that there are a few moments at lesson changeover where students need to patiently wait for their next teacher to arrive. During this time, we have asked students to silently read - promoting an ethos of reading for pleasure. A reading book (or optional revision material for KS4 students) is a compulsory item of school equipment for each student. Please help us by making sure your child has a reading book packed every day. Thank you.

Can I please also ask you to remind your child they will need a suitable, waterproof outdoor coat (and possibly umbrella) for when the weather deteriorates as we move into winter. This is more important than ever as students are not allowed in the building until 8:15am each morning and unless the weather is pouring down, we will be expecting them to play outside at break time.

Staff are on duty at the year group entrances every morning making sure that students have sanitised their hands and have their mask on. I was surprised and disappointed to read a social media post last week criticising some of our students for not wearing their masks on the number 11 bus. If your child catches the bus or train to school, please remind them of the rule and importance of wearing a mask to keep themselves safe.

We sincerely hope that we will have no further confirmed cases on COVID-19 in our school community. However, in the event that your child receives a positive test result, we will need to know straight away. Please can you email our dedicated email address: covid@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk 

Please include the following information in your email:

  • Name of child
  • Year group and form
  • Date on which they started to show symptoms
  • Last date that they were in school
  • Name of any siblings who attend Kingsway (and their form/s)
  • Last date when siblings attended school

You do not need to email us at this address if you are sending your child for a test. We just need to know if this test is confirmed as positive.

Public Health England have produced a letter for schools to distribute to parents, which explains when a person requires a Coronavirus test and what the symptoms of Coronavirus are. The Department have asked us to share this letter amongst parents at school. The intention of the letter is to help prevent children being taken out of school unnecessarily and answer some of the questions parents may have around testing.

Seeing our young people everyday, we are amazed at their continued resilience and their maturity with regards to the current situation.  We are also mindful that this is a very testing time for them, as such we were delighted to be approached by the BBC to be used as a location shoot for a short commissioned series for CBBC.  The series, ‘Teen Monologues’ will focus on individual young people and how the issues of lockdown and the pandemic have affected them.  We are excited that on Tuesday 29th September, a small filming team will be present on Foxland site, working with a handful of our Year 9 students as supporting actors. The BBC have very strict regulations in which to adhere to and they will also be in a contained area, not circulating with the larger school population.  Their COVID compliance team have worked closely with ourselves and Stockport LA and all precautions have been taken.  We are excited to see both our students and building on the small screen very soon!

Next week we would have held one of the highlights on our school calendar, that of our Open Evening.  This really is a fantastic event but due to the current situation, we will be going virtual for this year.  Our webpage will be released on Wednesday 7th October.

We understand that the decision that prospective families face when choosing their secondary school is not to be taken lightly, we were therefore over the moon with the response to our article in the Manchester Evening News, last week.  If you have not yet had the opportunity to have a read please find the link below:

Finally, we have received loads of really lovely emails from parents thanking teachers and staff for their efforts during what can only be described as ‘stressful’ times for us all. Here’s a few I wanted to share with you, but please keep them coming. Your words of gratitude are really appreciated and the fuel to keep our motors running!

  • “Just a note to say we and Ben have found the online live learning brilliant and working really well , many thanks.”
  • “Just wanted to say how well the on-line y10 lessons are going. Charlie is very positive about them every day when I get home and is really motivated by them. Thanks for all your hard work.”
  • “Just wanted to say how impressed I have been with the online learning provision. Harry has been engaging well and getting himself up each morning and ready to go by 8-30am.  He has been able to use the remote learning sites with ease and although it isn’t an ideal way for long term learning it seems to be successful for the duration needed. Really pleased with how well Harry has adapted to it over the last few days.”
  • “Just wanted to let you know on both a parent level and governor level how impressed I am with how staff and students have responded to the yr10 and 11 lockdowns. The online lessons and work that has been set for Georgie has been great,. I felt teachers/staff members need a massive big thank you and well done.”

Have a lovely week,


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 3

A good battle plan that you act on today can be better than a perfect one tomorrow”  - George S Patton Jr.

We are battle-plan ready at Kingsway for any eventuality in the coming weeks and months. As you will no doubt be aware, we had a confirmed case of COVID-19 amongst our student population last week. We are sending our best wishes to the student and their family for a speedy recovery.

The news, received on Wednesday, had us putting our battle plan in operation. This involved us sending all our Year 10 students home to self-isolate and getting staff ready to deliver a timetable of live lessons from Monday that follow each child’s timetable as closely as possible.

We very much hope that we have no more cases and our Year 10 bubble safely return to school on Wednesday 30th September 2020.

The measures we have taken in school mean that where we receive news of a confirmed case, we can keep all other year groups in school and give them the education they need. However, we have noticed an increase in the numbers of students across the school who are now self-isolating. The work for these students will be set on their google classroom so they can keep abreast of the learning of their peers back in school.

If you have any queries about the work that your child is completing whilst isolating at home, please get in touch with their form tutor or Raising Standards’ Leader.

What to do if someone has symptoms of COVID-19

The common symptoms of COVID-19 are a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of taste or smell.

If a student, or person in your household develops symptoms of COVID-19, then the student must not come to school for 10 days from the onset of symptoms. Phone the school absence line and leave the details so that we can record the absence appropriately. You should follow Public Health England’s guidance for households with a possible infection. You will need to arrange for a test and inform school immediately of the result. If the test is negative, the student can return to school when they have not displayed the symptoms for 2 days. If the test is positive, the school will follow the guidance from the DfE and local Health Protection team, and your household will have to follow the government guidance and self-isolate.

Transition Diary 2 - by Meadow King, Year 7 student

“We’ve had loads of new interesting lessons some of us have never done before. With 5 subjects a day, ranging from food tech to drama , we get loads of merits and currently I’m top of my form with 70 of them. 

I’ve met loads of new people who I talk to at break and it also feels nice when you meet someone with the same interests as you. I sit beside the same person every lesson except for  PE and I’ve learned loads of interesting things about them. 

All of my form are really nice and supportive and I’m looking forward to spending the next few years with everyone at Kingsway.”

Virtual Parent Information Evening

The beginning of the year is always a busy time, and this one has certainly been no exception. Last week would have been the annual Parent Information Evening for each year group, but like all events we had to look at innovative ways to keep you up to date and maintain effective communication with home. As such, our Raising Standards Leaders produced a year group video which includes: Ms Woodyer’s update on attendance and Free School Meals; Mr Wilson’s guide to our communication system and my own whole school message and update on our Coronavirus measures. Whilst we know that this never replaces face-to-face communication, we hope that this video, along with the year group FAQ sheet will help you as parents support both your child and the school, navigate the new systems and protocols, keeping up as up to date as possible in this ever-changing situation.

These videos are now fully available on the school website, but should you have any further questions we encourage you to contact your child’s Raising Standards Leader (RSL):

Virtual Parent Information Evening

Finally, are you interested in taking a more active role in the life of our school? We are looking for parents or members of our local community to join our governing board. If you are interested, please email Mrs Puce for an information pack.

Have a lovely week,


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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