This time last year, I naively hoped that we would be starting the next academic year with COVID cases behind us. Unfortunately, that was not the case - with a difficult Autumn term, particularly for our year 11 students.
We started 2021 in another lockdown and were relieved to return to school in March with some semblance of routine and rhythm to our days. Our year 11 cohort reached the end of their secondary school education, just as news of a new Delta variant was in the media.
Unfortunately, it seems that we will end this academic year managing reported positive cases of COVID under the existing government regulations. Since July, we have had around 20 reported cases which have had a significant impact on the numbers of students and staff required to self-isolate due to being identified close contacts. Last week was particularly challenging with around 50% of Years 7, 8 and 10 isolating. We therefore made the difficult decision to teach all of year 7 & 8 remotely on Thursday and Friday with a view to break the transmission of the new variant and to provide a quality remote learning experience to both year groups and have now implemented a new plan for Years 9 and 10 for remote learning for the rest of this academic year. Whilst this is an unplanned and sad end to the year, it is the right decision to ensure everyone’s safety and our ability to maintain a high standard of education.
Please be reassured, that we continue to insist on mask wearing in school. Please make sure your child brings a mask to school every day, the numbers we have had to give to students each day is eye-watering. We are also maintaining bubbles in the canteen and at breaks. We continue to provide testing kits for staff and students, though our records show that the number of students testing is much less than the number of kits provided. Please supervise your child when they are testing to ensure it is carried out and properly recorded. We are also in regular contact with the local authority and Public health team to keep them informed of patterns of reported cases. The feedback we have received confirms that as a school we are doing everything we can, appropriately following the guidance and safeguarding our school and community.
A plea to all our families is to help us to keep our school and community safe from any further cases of COVID in this final stretch.
You will be aware that Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, has given schools guidance on what we may need to do to safely start next academic year. This involves all students being tested in school prior to their return, with a second test in school 3-5 days later. We await further updates during the summer, and will keep our website updated. Based on the recent guidance, our current plans are as follows:
Wednesday 1st September 2021
- Staff INSET Day
- Year 11 students come into school for their first COVID test (form groups will be given a specific time to attend)
Thursday 2nd September 2021
- Staff INSET Day
- Year 7 and Year 10 students come into school for their first COVID test (form groups will be given a specific time to attend)
Friday 3rd September 2021
- Year 11 students return to school 8:30am
- Year 7 students return to school 8:30am
- Year 8 and Year 9 students come into school for their first COVID test (form groups will be given a specific time to attend)
Monday 6th September 2021
- All students return at 8:30am
- Year 11 and Year 8 students will receive their second test
Tuesday 7th September 2021
- Year 7 and Year 10 students will receive their second test
Wednesday 8th September 2021
- Year 9 students will receive their second test
The latest government announcement has suggested that current restrictions will be relaxed by the time we return to school for the next academic year. The guidance is still subject to change, and should be treated with caution, but currently their guidance indicates that in September we will be able to remove the need for bubbles allowing the curriculum and extracurricular activities to return to normal. People with COVID-19 will need to self-isolate but the identification of close contacts will rest with Public Health services. This is expected to be significantly less disruptive than the current arrangements. Anybody with symptoms will still be expected to remain at home.
Our COVID-19 prevention measures will focus on ensuring people with symptoms do not enter school; cleaning routines, including the use of hand sanitizers and hand washing; and ensuring ventilation in school. Public Health England may direct a school to implement more extensive measures, including wearing face masks. The expectation is that any additional measures will be similar to those previously applied during the year.
However, there are some changes to our school routines that we plan to keep for the benefit of our school community. These include:
- Access to the canteen to be year group specific
- Designated areas for outdoor and indoor play at break times
- One way systems in busy areas of the school
We also plan to move to remote Parents’ Evenings as the feedback from parents was really positive. No more queues, parking issues or other parents listening in on your 1:1 with your child’s teacher. The only downside is the need to talk succinctly and quickly - a challenge for some of our teachers! If you have any comments about this planned change, please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wearing a uniform or following a professional dress code is a requirement for the vast majority of careers. Whether a nurse’s uniform or a mechanic’s overalls, we all follow a professional dress code. This is the same for our students - they are all expected to wear a uniform which supports their learning and proudly identifies them as a member of The Kingsway School.
There are no exceptions to the uniform code that parents sign up to when they apply for a place for their child in our school. Please use the summer holiday to ensure your child is Kingsway ready. All the information you need is on our website (parent section). Here’s a reminder:
Shoes: Plain, formal, black leather shoes only. No sport branded footwear is allowed, including Nike Airforce trainers.
PE kit: In September, all students will get changed for PE in the school changing rooms. Students are to arrive at school in their full school uniform, not in PE kit. This include
Jewellery: No jewellery may be worn, this includes earrings and other piercings. Please do not allow your child to get a piercing over the summer which cannot be removed by September. We do not allow plasters over new piercings – students will be asked to remove all piercings.
Make-up: Nail varnish and false nails (including gels and acrylics) are not permitted, neither are false eyelashes. Please do not allow your child to have false eyelashes fitted over the summer if they cannot be removed by September.
Outerwear: A waterproof outdoor coat is recommended. Hoodies are not allowed and will be removed.
Haircuts: Hair should be kept tidy with a sensible style and length. Extreme haircuts are not permissible, e.g. unnatural hair colour (including red) and shaved heads less than grade 2 or patterned. Please do not allow your child to have an extreme hair cut prior to their return to school in September.
Mobile phones: Mobile devices, including headphones (Air pods) and Smart Watches are not allowed in school.
Over the last 2 weeks a group of year 10 students have been enjoying personal tutoring from a post graduate student at Leeds University via the Brilliant Club. They have been learning about what it was like going to school in early modern England circa 1500 - 1650. All the students then completed a mock dissertation and we're proud to announce all students received a 2:1 which certainly sets them up well for their future studies and aspirations. Due to COVID restrictions there won't be a graduation ceremony as in previous years but we will certainly be celebrating the students' success in school. Well done to Jimmy, Dakota, Poppy, Bayaan, Daisy, Nika, Aneesa, Lucia, Alicia and Jennifer.
Our head students are meeting with the area manager for catering this week to discuss the in-school provision. In response to feedback we will be introducing a selection of premium sandwiches which we hope will increase the choices available to students. There will still be our meal deal main course on offer and this will be rebranded with new open packaging to add appeal. Dishes include Lebanese street food, home-made curry and the popular roast chicken dinner. We will send out details of the menu for September as soon as possible and we would encourage all of our students to give these a try, although we know that pizza is still ever popular and there are no plans to remove it! The meal deal price will be increased by 4p to £2.18 which still represents great value as it includes a home bake and a bottle of water.
Finally, we say goodbye this week to staff who are leaving us for new adventures - whether that is a new job or the joys of retirement. We wish them all well for the future and thank them for their commitment to every child’s education at The Kingsway School.
- Miss Wildgoose (Teacher of PE)
- Mme James (Teacher of MFL)
- Mrs Greenwood (Teacher of MFL)
- Mr Whitham (Head of Technology)
- Miss Halligan (Teacher of English)
- Miss Ives (Pastoral Head of Year)
- Mrs Archer (Resource centre Teaching Assistant)
- Miss Forber (Teacher of Art)
- Miss Stendall (Teacher of Art)
We also give our best wishes to Mrs Maxey who has been seconded next year to lead The Pendlebury Centre, a referral unit for pupils who struggle with social, emotional and mental health.
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