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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 34

Monday 8th June 2020

I'm sure many of you have seen some of the heart-breaking scenes on the news this past week, and your children may have a number of questions in response to the violence and unrest in America, and recent global protests. The tragic death of George Floyd has caused many of us to stop and think carefully about the kind of country we want to live in, the kind of communities we are trying to build and the kind of people we want to be.

Our Kingsway community celebrates its rich diversity which includes people from a wide variety of social, cultural, racial, religious and economic backgrounds. We believe this diversity makes us stronger as a community and enriches the experience of our students. We believe education should build bridges not walls. At Kingsway everyone really does matter.

Our school motto is a ‘posse ad esse’ - from the possible to the actual, or turning potential into reality. Our hope is that students at The Kingsway are not just on a journey which looks towards academic success but one which also contributes to the development of character and community. Over the past few years our Kingsway curriculum has been undergoing significant re-design to embed diversity further into the fabric of the school; whether that be through our Powerful Knowledge activities, our Cultural Capital and Lifeskills lessons, or at a subject level in, for example, History and English, even the diversity of books in our library. Through our school curriculum and culture I am confident in saying that our students are educated and guided to being respectful, kind, tolerant human beings who make a positive difference in our community and the wider world..

This newsletter has been shared with all year groups via their Raising Standard Leaders and might help your families process some of the current events and understand how we can work together to create a more just and tolerant world. Although we can feel small and powerless at times like these remember that only you have the ability to impact your little corner of the world.

We have posted a message to families on our website, with regards to our expectations and concessions to our uniform in light of COVID-19 and Government recommendations. Should there be any changes these will be clearly communicated but if there are any families who are experiencing any difficulties we urge you to contact your child’s pastoral team who will be able to give you further guidance and support.

Tuesday 9th June 2020

We had 16 students in school today supported by our team of teaching and support staff.

Whilst the key worker provision was going on, school leaders and premises staff were working hard to make sure that school is ready for the wider opening to Year 10 students from next week. We are aware of the media attention locally around the R number, with some greater manchester authorities choosing not to open until they feel it is safe to do so. We have received today the following information from Stockport local authority:

  • The number of cases, hospital admissions and deaths in Stockport remain low and are declining.
  • In the last two weeks, based on PHE data of the number of new cases, Stockport’s position was a rate of 6.8 per 100,000 in the previous 14 days, which is below the Greater Manchester position of 16.8 per 100,000 and below the national rate of 9.2 per 100,000

We will continue to be vigilant and watch the local landscape, but currently our plans for wider opening remain the same. I appreciate these are uncertain times for our students and their families and aim to keep you well informed of any developments or changes to our plans.

Our website contains all the latest information including a list of FAQs based on parent queries, which we will constantly keep up to date.

Teachers are continuing to review the remote learning offer and ways in which we can ensure that we minimise any disadvantage to our children caused by the Coronavirus outbreak. Heads of departments are looking at ways to make the learning experience at home more engaging and interactive. We continue to encourage your child to communicate with their teachers and form tutors via email. Here’s some guidance you can share with your child on how to send emails.

When sending an email to your teacher it should be in a semi formal format.

Some useful guidelines are:

  • Ensure that your picture/user name/title is appropriate and formal. No nicknames should be used or pictures which could be interpreted as offensive.
  • Opening line: Good Morning/afternoon, Hello Mr/Mrs/Miss
  • Content of question/response: Don't use abbreviations/text speak/slang.
  • End with: Thankyou, looking forward to hearing from you, from, and then your name. 

Wednesday 10th June 2020

All students should receive a well-being call/communication from their form tutor next week. For Years 7, 8 and 9 this will be either a phone call or a google meet set up by their Form Tutor.

For Year 10, this will be a face to face meeting in school in groups of 8 on the following days:

Date \ Room F2 F9 F16
Monday 15th June 10T 10H 10E
Tuesday 16th June 10K 10I 10N
Wednesday 17th June 10G 10W 10S
Thursday 18th June 10A 10Y 10C

Parents have received an email with this information and form tutors have emailed students today with their appointment times.

Students will need to wear the modified school uniform - school trousers/skirt and school shirt/blouse. These sessions will be used to provide support for students and to give more information about the subject days that will follow this half term.

I have picked up via social media that some parents are disappointed that their child’s initial face to face meeting is for 45 minutes that week and focussing on their pastoral care initially. I can honestly say that these decisions we are making at school are not to disappoint parents, but are to manage best the safety and well-being of our students and their teachers.  I can understand parents’ eagerness for their child to access some subject specialist content as quickly as possible, and we are keen for that to happen too. If you have any specific concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly (j.lowe@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk). 

Whilst it is a busy time for school leaders, I will always endeavor to get back to you. In an ideal world, I would much rather have the opportunity to respond directly than pick up via social media angst.

We are genuinely looking forward to seeing more students back in school next week. Our staff are ready and waiting and our premises are prepped for the safe welcome of our young people. Thank you to the support from one of our parents and PTA chair, Shaun Holdham, whose company Drytac, kindly provided our COVID-19 signage. Many thanks Shaun.

Thursday 11th June 2020

We are so pleased with how a majority of our students are engaging with their remote learning. We know there are lots of barriers and this can make learning extra challenging. However a number of teachers of Year 7 have identified some of the students who are regularly going above and beyond on a day by day basis.  

The Raising Standards Leaders have been celebrating students on a weekly basis as part of their weekly celebrations which are shared every Friday on the school platform but Ms Hulance (Y7 RSL) has asked me to make a special mention to the following students for their exceptional effort and engagement with learning.  Well done to:  Oscar M; Harry W-F; Darcey K; Sam C; Zach K; and Harry S. You really are showing resilience, dedication and commitment to your studies.  Bravo, to our home learning heroes!

Year 7 Celebration Assembly

Year 8 Celebration Assembly

Year 9 Celebration Assembly

We now know that we will not be seeing Year 7, 8 and 9 back in school this academic year, with the exception of those who are children of key workers. We are sad to know we won’t be seeing them for a few more months, but understand the importance of keeping students and teachers safe and helping keep down the rate of spread of the virus.

However, our plans to open to Year 10 next week are going ahead and Mr Knott, Deputy Headteacher, has produced a video for Year 10 students showing them the changes to the school premises and the social distancing measures they will need to adhere to. You can view the video below:

Just to clarify for parents who are sending their children into school from next week, the basic uniform requirement is white shirt and school trousers/skirt - no branding necessary. Students are also asked to bring in their own equipment (pen, pencil, ruler and calculator) and exercise books if they wish to use them - paper will be provided. If you have any questions regarding the return to school for Year 10, please refer to the FAQs on our school website or get in touch with your child’s form tutor, Dr Holdsworth or Mr Knott.

Friday 12th June 2020

Happy Friday to our families. A short update from me today.

Next week sees the start of students returning to school, though only a few at a time over the course of the week. Nonetheless, I am delighted and excited to see our young people - we have missed them!

By the end of next week, all students in years 7 to 10 should have received some direct contact from their form tutor. This will initially focus on how school can support them in their lockdown experience. Future conversations will look at where we can help those who have fallen behind, catch up.

Cheadle FM 87.9 is a new community radio station that was set up to bring local people together during lockdown. Mr Williams has recorded an interview for a show that Luke Blakeley is hosting around how life as a teacher has changed during lockdown. The show will air on Friday 19th June between 9am and 11am. Please tune in!

 


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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ParentPay & Canteen Update

Dear Parents/Carers of Key workers,

If your child is in school from next week (15th June) can you please ensure their ParentPay account is topped up if they wish to purchase food and drinks from the canteen. During the first stage of lockdown, food and snacks have been provided free of charge as a goodwill gesture, however as we start to see increased numbers into school we will need to revert back to a paid facility. The canteen will slowly move towards increasing the food offer but will remain a limited service until fully reopened.

Due to the COVID-19 risk assessment cash will not be accepted in school therefore we encourage you to log in to ParentPay as soon as possible to add funds. Support is available via the school website if you have forgotten your login details. Alternatively, students can bring in a packed lunch to school.

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COVID-19 Uniform Update

Dear Parents and carers,

We are writing to reassure families that we are sympathetic to issues that some parents have raised with us with regards to returning to school in uniform.  As many of you will be aware current government recommendations about uniform are to come to school with daily laundered clothing. We have been working on trying to strike an acceptable balance - as we know many students will already have their uniform and we are expected to consult with the uniform suppliers 12 months before we make any changes; but we are also aware of the financial pressure that many of our families may find themselves in due to COVID-19

Our school uniform and preference would be to maintain the current uniform standards and expectation but because of the reasons outlined above at this unprecedented time we are making a COVID-19 exemption to uniform as follows:

With the following concessions of the blazer, tie, and the PE top, all other clothing can be non-branded as long as they follow the same design principles and closely match existing uniform e.g. a navy pleated skirt, v-necked navy jumper, white knee length sports socks and navy sports shorts.

With regards to the daily wearing of a blazer we will make further decisions about this closer to the time, in line with government guidance, but if these are required to be worn they should be branded as per the normal uniform policy. Any change to this will be clearly communicated in advance of students return to school.

We believe that asking students to return in uniform is important as the students will identify themselves as part of the Kingsway community, be ready to learn, and will eliminate issues with inappropriate dress or additional financial pressures to wear the latest trends or designer labels. Emotionally it will maintain the status quo as much as normal and ease the return to school by minimising significant change.

As we return to normal the expectation would be that the students would move back to the published uniform policy.

As with any other year if a family is finding any financial difficulty in providing their child with a school uniform, they are urged to contact the school directly so we can discuss further.

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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 33

Monday 1st June 2020

Welcome back to our families - I trust you all had a lovely half term. How fantastic was the weather?

I can’t believe we are in June and it has been 11 weeks since we had ‘normal’ service in school. It has really flown by. 

There has been a lot of activity over the half term by the government, local council, school unions and school leaders with regards to when and how schools should open. Whilst I am finding a rhythm now to my days of virtual meetings - I am looking forward to Kingsway re-opening and getting back to the business of providing a good quality education for our children.

However, we can only do that when it is safe for everyone - students, staff and their families. Over the past few weeks, key staff have been carrying out a risk assessment and action planning for the planned return of some Year 10 students from 15th June 2020. We will be sharing our plans with parents in the coming days.

For those students in Years 7 to 9, it looks like a return to school for them before September is unlikely and so we are looking at how we can improve the remote learning that will be taking place this half term - including some 1:1 or small group contact with their form tutor.

We are continuing to provide provision for Key worker children and today they enjoyed a sun soaked day in school. Students checked that they have completed their remote learning and then went to burn some energy in the Sports Hall by playing badminton or basketball or choosing the Cardio suite.  Back in the classrooms, students completed subject quizzes and some additional maths tasks on ratios. Brains were tested by completing a triangle puzzle using mathematical antonyms and synonyms.

Students were very respectful while they completed a current affairs activity on equal rights and black rights movements. They watched a video about Emmett Till and wrote a biography. A discussion took place into the very sad and emotive issues that are being reported in the news, linking their learning to real experiences. Finally, the day ended on the field studying the cardiovascular system and testing heart rates and breathing rates.

With the easing of lockdown restrictions and a number of adults returning to work, we have seen an increase in our Key worker provision. Please can we ask that all parents and carers have booked a place for their children who meet the criteria. This is crucial for us to apply the safety measures with regards to social distancing but also the correct staff to pupil ratios. Students who are not booked on to the system, which is done on a week-by-week basis may not be able to be accommodated. Students need to be mindful that they are unlikely to be socialising with their friends and that school will look and feel different to usual. However, expectations around behaviours and standards, such as following staff instructions, appropriate dress and no mobile phones are still maintained.

Finally, a reminder that the RSLs are setting daily challenges on the student pages of Frog, which is accessible via the school website. There are some interesting activities that will stretch and challenge all students, but some exciting competitions as well. Students are encouraged to check these daily and to inform their tutors and RSLs of their progress. This supplements the learning from the new remote learning timetables that are active from today.  If you have any queries about accessing the work or your child’s engagement please let your year group RSL know.

Key Stage 3 form tutors will also be rolling out a programme of wellbeing phone calls/conference calls over the next few weeks to check how your child is doing and any issues that may have arisen. Please encourage your child to engage fully with this conversations and we can’t wait to hear from everyone again.

Tuesday 2nd June 2020

Another beautiful day in lockdown!

School leaders have been meeting to discuss the many challenges and opportunities in the widening of our school opening later this month. We have been considering how we can best support the quarter population of Year 10 students with their well-being and their academic progress, all in a safe environment.

Our school will certainly look differently this summer, not just with the small numbers of children and staff, but physically with markings, posters and hygiene stations. But whatever the changes, our priority is that any return to school is safe for all and of benefit to our students. We will be sharing more details with Year 10 students and families by the end of this week. Today, parents will have received a questionnaire to help us take account of your views.

Heads of our core departments (Maths, English and Science) have started to think about what the provision for Y10 students might look like in school and how their short time in the classroom will help students complete their remote learning with more confidence in these areas… more information about this will be with you in due course. 

Finally, in school, we are now trying to transition our ever growing cohort of key worker children into a much more academic routine. It is important that they have more time to access the remote learning so they can complete the curriculum their teachers have set for them with the support of staff in school.  In spite of this, Mrs Jones managed to take the students outside for an art lesson so that they could soak up the last of this week’s sun, whilst doing some nature drawing.  They also managed to keep up the routine of doing reading and physical activity to break the day up. 

Wednesday 3rd June 2020

A quick mid-week update from me.

Thank you to all Year 10 parents who have completed the online form regarding their intention to send their children into school from the 15th June. Your quick response is helpful for our planning.

Our school’s senior leaders have met again today to discuss our plans for Year 10 students’ return to school. We will be sending out a ‘Loom’ before the end of this week to parents to talk through our plans on how we will be keeping your child safe and how we will be supporting their full time return to school.

If you’d have asked me three months ago about Zoom, Loom, Hangouts and Teams - I’d have looked at you blankly. This technology is now part of our daily routine in school. The ‘Loom’ presentation will be a simple slideshow narrated by our Deputy Headteacher, Mr Knott. All you will need is internet access.

We continue to value the feedback from parents of students in all year groups with respect to your child’s experience of remote learning as well as how we can further support them. If you would like any further support or have any queries, please do not hesitate to get in touch via their Raising Standards’ Leader (RSL).

Remember there are daily updates from each Raising Standards Leader on the parent noticeboard on Kingsway Online as well as on the noticeboard for students.Finally, I have attached a letter from Stockport’s Director of Public Health England for your information along with a link to the latest newsletter from Stockport’s Youth Council.

Thursday 4th June 2020

Today we had 8 students in school joined by Miss West, Mrs Lucas, Mrs Watson, Miss Hunt, Mrs Hulance, Mrs Jones and Mrs Bradbury-Cheetham.

We were really impressed by the students’ hard work and focus in completing subject work set on Class Charts.

As well as completing some quizzes, students took part in a typing competition.  Brandon was the quickest of the students but no one could beat Mrs Lucas with a typing speed of 4 seconds for the whole alphabet!

Students took part in a basketball match in the sports hall later in the afternoon, socially distanced of course!

Also in school today were Mrs Guess and the Year 11 team to hand out yearbooks and hoodies to the class of 2020. It was lovely to see some of our Year 11 students back in school. There were some questions about the prom raised but at this stage, with no clear indication of when large social gatherings will be allowed, we have sadly informed them that their Prom has been cancelled. Once lockdown measures have been fully released, and if there remains an appetite for a formal gathering, the year team will consider ways in which we can appropriately celebrate the successes of this year group.

The premises team were also in school hard at work, preparing for our wider opening from 15th June 2020. For Year 10, this first week will be a 1:1 session with their form tutor to ‘check in’ on their well being and see how they have been managing during lockdown and what support school can provide to help them feel settled in their gradual return to school.

In the following three weeks, Year 10 students will be required to attend, a quarter at a time - one day per week. Each week will have a different focus with subject specialists delivering lessons in Maths, English and Science to small groups of no more than 8 students so that we conform with government social distancing guidance.

More detailed information for Year 10 parents will follow ensuring parents and students are fully informed of what to expect and feel confident about their return to school.

Friday 5th June 2020

Thank you to Mr Knott, Miss Heard, Miss Burrows, Mr Atherton, Mr Duffy, Mrs Bartle and Mr Oldham who supported the 4 key worker students in school today.

Year 10 return to school

Year 10 parents should have received a text message with a link to a presentation from Mr Knott, giving some further detail to our plans for the school’s wider opening to some year 10 students from 15th June 2020. The non-audio presentation can be found here.

Literacy Ambassadors

In order to continue to promote literacy and provide students with leadership roles within the department, the English department set out a plan to appoint Literacy Ambassadors to be involved in a number of literacy initiatives that are starting in September. These include: mentoring/tutoring students; leading literacy projects; contributing to whole school literacy proposals. Prior to half term, we invited all students with a passion for helping others and driving literacy forward to apply for the post. We were absolutely delighted to see a multitude of students wanting to be involved in this opportunity. Students were provided with formal application forms, asking them why they would be suitable for the role and asking them to provide any supporting evidence - all very professional! All applicants rose to this challenge and showed a clear passion for reading, improving literacy across the school and helping others. It was very hard to narrow down our applicants to the positions we had available. We are absolutely delighted to announce our newly appointed Literacy Ambassadors for September 2020:

  • Zach K in Year 7
  • Emma B in Year 8
  • Ruby W in Year 9
  • Alex W in Year 9
  • Charlie L in Year 9

We could not be prouder!

Poet Laureate

"Poetry is music written for the human voice" - Maya Angelou

Part of the role of a Poet Laureate is to contribute to significant occasions in the UK through poetry and The Kingsway School decided we wanted our significant occasions to be commemorated and celebrated with wonderful poetry too. Prior to half term, we invited all students with a passion for poetry to apply for the role of Kingsway Poet Laureate. Students were provided with a formal application form, asking them why they wanted to be Poet Laureate and asking them to submit an original poem for consideration. All applications and poems that were submitted were fantastic, highlighting current issues, personal and poignant messages, and bringing words to life. It was a truly difficult decision to elect just one Poet Laureate but we are delighted to announce that our first Kingsway Poet Laureate for 2020-2021 is:

Malaika M in Year 8

Her submitted poem, entitled 'Why not peace'?, is powerful and pertinent to the current situation we find ourselves in and she has already been given her first "assignment".

We are excited to see how our future celebrations and events are commemorated by her wonderful poetry.

Duke of Edinburgh

We received a lovely email from the Duke of Edinburgh Award office today, thanking us for our continued support of the DofE charity. “In the midst of uncertainty, our DofE Leaders and Participants continue to set a precedent, a shining beacon for our communities to look to for inspiration. We would like to take this opportunity to firstly congratulate you and your participants, whilst also thanking you for your continued hard work, motivation and dedication to our Charity’s core values. ”

Paris Trip Update 

Finally, as you know, we have been waiting for our trip to be cancelled by PGL in order to try and acquire refunds for the deposits we've paid. On Monday we received confirmation from PGL that as government advice on travel has not been lifted, our trip has been officially cancelled from their end. We are incredibly disappointed to say that despite this, they are refusing to refund deposits.  We realise that many families may have financial concerns at this time and therefore the school is going to provide refunds to our parents/carers and claim the money back from the school's insurance. We are confident that we can reclaim all the money paid so far. 

We are currently working with ParentPay in order to make this happen as soon as possible. We will be in touch again when we have details of the date on which you should expect a full refund of all payments made towards the trip. 

Thank you so much to those families affected  for your patience whilst we have been sorting this. 

Have a lovely weekend,


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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Wellbeing Conversations

Over the next couple of weeks Form Tutors will be contacting all students on a rolling programme. This may be via a phone call or through Google Meet.

Tutors will be asking students how work is going and if there is anything they can do to help them as well as catching up and seeing how everyone is. Any queries should be directed to Form Tutors or Raising Standard Leaders.  A code of conduct has been sent to students via Class Charts and both parents and students should take a couple of minutes to read over this if they are accessing Google Meet. The code of conduct is also available below.

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