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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 19

Last week the Prime Minister announced that it will not be possible to resume face-to-face learning immediately after the February half-term and instead hopes it will be safe to commence the reopening of schools and colleges from Monday 8 March. This is disappointing news but we appreciate that the decision has been made in response to the national public health data and pressure on NHS capacity.

School will not be open for children of key workers or vulnerable students over half term. The local authority will be providing vouchers for students eligible for free school meals during half term. Our remote learning and in-school provision (for children of key workers or vulnerable students) will resume after half term.

We have everything crossed here at Kingsway for the roll-out of the vaccination programme, control of the spread of virus and a safe return for all students to school. We miss them!

The thanks and praise from parents in terms of the quality of our remote learning continue to flood our emails. Many thanks for the positive feedback - it is great to share with staff who are working hard to make sure that the education your child is receiving at home is as best as it can be. We continue to track students’ attendance to remote learning each lesson, and we currently stand at 89% attendance. We would like this to be higher, in line with good attendance to school at 95%+. Please make sure your child attends all their online lessons. You can track this using the Class Charts app.

Class Charts is our home/school communication system, which enables parents and carers to be informed of their child’s learning in real time. As mentioned above we have been using this to track remote attendance and you may have received notification of ‘non-attendance’ since January. This is one of our methods of tracking engagement with remote learning, which is a requirement by the DfE. Now that routines for attendance are fully in place, we are adding a new notification, one of ‘non participation in remote learning’. 

Student engagement is vital in ensuring teachers can monitor understanding and progress. In class a teacher will regularly invite students to respond to questions and complete work. Where a teacher has sought a response, or work is not completed, parents/carers will be notified via Class Charts, of non-participation, which will only be sent when the teacher has tried to engage the student and there has been no response following a warning. We are aware that there may be occasions when there are technical issues or other circumstances so this notification will not award demerits, or sanctions, but is an alert to inform home of the teacher concern about the engagement and progress in class. Raising Standards Leaders will also track this information. 

Both non attendance and non participation alerts will be used to inform Attitude to Learning Grades. If you have specific concerns about receiving a notification in the first instance you should email the teacher who has sent the notification. All staff emails are initial.surname@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk (e.g j.bloggs@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk). Staff will attempt to respond to your queries as soon as possible but please remember that most staff will be delivering live lessons throughout the school day. 

Over the next couple of weeks staff will be completing their half termly assessment milestones. Many of these will be completed via the Google Classroom but to ensure that parents and carers are fully informed teachers will record the date of the assessment, the format and the content on Class Charts. 

These assessments will provide staff with useful information to support, attainment grades but will be used diagnostically to identify gaps in learning, misconceptions and to support further progression by using the information in future planning and any intervention that may be required. As such it is vital that staff have sufficient time to mark these assessments and provide feedback.  These assessments may take a little longer than usual to mark, due to the constraints of online assessments and any additional replanning that may be required, so we are providing teachers with a small amount of additional time when they can provide remote independent learning, rather than live lessons. The effect upon your child’s learning will be minimised by all staff providing work in the relevant Google Classroom and students will be able to access these through the resources provided and with independent application of their learning to date. 

Carrying on regardless of COVID-19, last week we launched our Year 9 options information videos to support our Year 9 students and their families in making decisions about GCSE options. These videos can be found on our website.

We are hosting our annual SEND catch up meetings virtually. The aim is to make our SEND parents feel involved and up to date through a relaxed and informal platform. The Inclusion & Diversity team will be on hand to offer advice and support, whilst also providing families with an opportunity to network with other parents and share lockdown experiences.

Dates: (all times are 1pm-2pm)

  • Mon February 1st - Year 7 
  • Tues February 2nd - Year 8
  • Weds February 3rd - Year 9
  • Thurs February 4th - Year 10

We also held our virtual GCSE presentation evening for the Class of 2020, whose last day in school was 20th March 2020. They were robbed of their leavers’ assembly, prom and the opportunity to sit their GCSE exams. It was a pleasure to congratulate them on their success and resilience via our virtual event. I am so proud of this COVID generation who have gone onto further education, employment or training in another challenging climate. They are simply fabulous human beings!

In other news, our normal school Immunisation programme will continue as planned once schools are fully open. In the event that students are not back in school, the Local Authority has an outreach plan for immunisations. See the below letter for Year 9 parents.

We received some much welcomed news last week. Our Resourced Centre staff will be the first to receive the COVID vaccination. I hope this is the start of a wider roll-out to school staff before we return to full operation in the Spring.

Thank you to parents and students who are sharing photos of students home learning. Keep them coming. Here’s one from Beth C (Year 7) who made a berry-layered dessert in Mrs Knowles’ food lesson. Beth emailed her teacher Here is a photo of my Berry Layered Dessert from today's lesson. The lesson was lots of fun and I really enjoyed it! “

Here’s a photo of Bradley S (Year 9) making library lockdown cupcakes in Life Skills.

COVID-19 reminder

The DfE has asked schools to continue to record cases of COVID-19, even if students are studying at home and not attending our in-school provision. Please can you use our specific email address (covid@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk) to report any incidents of COVID-19. Further details are on our school website.

Please do not send your son or daughter to school if they have any COVID-19 symptoms. If you are unsure, then it is better to be on the side of caution.

Dates For Your Diary

Date Event
Thursday 4th February 2021 Year 9 Virtual Parents’ Evening - All afternoon lessons will not be live delivery (all years). Content and resources will be uploaded to Google Classroom for Period 4 & 5

Have a good week, and stay safe and well.


Mrs J. Lowe
Headteacher

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Consultation Regarding Replacement of Exams for Summer 2021

Consultation: Replacement of Exams for Summer 2021

Currently there is a consultation open regarding the replacement of exams for summer 2021. This consultation is aimed at getting views of different stakeholders in order to arrive at a system that is fair and robust. The reason for cancelling exams is because there is a general consensus that exams can not be held in a fair way due to differential learning loss across the country. The challenge now is to design a system that is based on a range of evidence in order to arrive at a final GCSE grade and ensure that there is a clear system for quality assurance and appeals.

The consultation raises many questions that are yet to be answered, but in this document we wanted to share with you what is being discussed and what happens next.

Who will be awarding GCSE grades now that there are no exams in the summer?

Exam grades will be awarded by the school based on a range of evidence. What this range of evidence is has not been specified and we will be expecting further guidance from the exam boards. There will be a system of quality assurance both internally and externally that will be in place to ensure that grades have been awarded in accordance with the criteria issued by the exam board. The details of this system of quality assurance is yet to be shared with school.

What evidence will be used to determine GCSE grades?

The consultation states that teachers assessments will be based on the standards that students are performing at. This is different to last year where teachers were asked to project what grade a student would achieve had they sat the exam and this was based on evidence teachers had collected. Given grades will be based on standards that students are performing at, it means that work students are currently doing as vital. The consultation states that teacher assessment could be based on evidence such as:

  • Formal tests and Mock examinations
  • Exam Board papers
  • Substantial candidate work

More guidance is required from exam boards regarding what schools are to use, how to use it and what ‘substantial candidate work’ actually means in order to arrive at a teacher assessment. We are currently unaware what can be used to reach teacher assessments therefore it is vital that students continue to do their best every day.

What are the Exam Board papers? 

The consultation is proposing that exam boards could provide papers, which would be marked by teachers to help inform their assessments but does not specify whether using materials will be mandatory or optional. As of yet there is no guidance on what, how and when materials will be used. Following the consultation we will adhere to the guidance given by the Exam Boards.

Will students be examined on the full course content?

The consultation states that teachers assessments will be based on the standards that students are performing at. Exam boards will focus on what grade students are ‘performing at’ rather than projected grades. The consultation suggests that teachers should assess students on the areas of content they have covered and can demonstrate their ability, while ensuring sufficient breadth of content coverage. This will support consideration of differential learning loss that needs to be taken into account when awarding grades. Following the consultation, it is hoped that Exam boards will release guidance on how to address differential learning loss. The course content for some modules in Vocational courses have been amended to reflect the loss of learning time.

When will teacher Assessments be submitted to the Exam Board?

Teachers will continue to gather evidence until the end of May/start of June. At the end of May/start of June teachers will be collating evidence and following Exam Board advice in order to award grades. We are hoping that leaving the opportunity for students to provide evidence as late as possible will motivate them to continue to work hard and engage in making progress. Working until the end of May will also provide extra time to address learning gaps.

What happens after Teacher assessments are submitted?

Once data has been submitted, internal quality assurance will take place mid June. No guidance has been given from Exam Boards regarding what this would look like. Once the window for internal quality assurance has taken place there will be a process for external quality assurance. No guidance has been given from Exam boards regarding what this will look like. Provisional results could be available early July when an Appeals Process will open. No details have been released from Exam Boards regarding what the Appeals process will look like.

What can my child do to have the best chance of achieving the grades they have the potential to achieve?

Assessment information is being collected until late in the academic year. Not only will this give students the opportunity to catch up with lost learning, but also provide increased learning time where students can demonstrate progress. Students need to know that the work that they are doing now will have an impact on their final grade. This should motivate them to engage in their learning. What has happened in previous exams/assessments may or may not be included in the evidence base when making final teacher assessments, so it is really important that students look ahead to what they can do now, rather than dwelling on what has already happened.

Assessment will be based on what has been taught and so recognises that students in different schools have had the opportunity to access more of the course than others. There will be a broad range of assessment taken into consideration when determining final grades, so there will be numerous opportunities for students to demonstrate that they have made progress.

The best advice for students is to attend live lessons, engage in their learning, take opportunities that departments are offering regarding revision and follow teacher advice on how to make improvements.

What happens next?

The Consultation ends Friday 29th January. Therefore, we do not expect a response to the information gathered until the end of February. Following the release of the consultation findings the Exam Boards will then work on providing schools with details about the next steps. 

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Class of 2020 – GCSE Presentation Evening

By now we would have hosted our glitzy GCSE Presentation Evening and presented GCSE certificates and special achievement awards to our Class of 2020.

It is one of our favourite calendar events as a school, providing the opportunity for staff and parents to come together to celebrate the fantastic achievements of our students. Clearly, the event could not go ahead in that format but, never to be defeated, we have put together a virtual presentation which can be found below.

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Headteacher’s Blog – Week 18

COVID-19 testing in school update

The Government has recently sent schools revised guidance on COVID-19 testing and the identification of close contacts. We will continue to operate our COVID-19 tests on Mondays and Thursdays, allowing students in school to have a test. Our staff will be tested twice a week. We do need to change our approach to identifying close contacts whilst we are operating our Key worker provision. In this provision students are allocated to a classroom for the day, and spend the 5 lessons with the same group of students in that classroom. Therefore, should a case of COVID-19 arise in a classroom, we will now treat all students in that classroom as close contacts. Our revised approach reflects the increased transmissibility of the new COVID-19 variant and the length of possible exposure. The Government has now stopped the 7 day serial testing which replaced the need to self-isolate, and therefore, close contacts will need to self-isolate for 10 days. During this time if the student develops symptoms then s/he will need to take a COVID-19 PCR test. Please can I remind you to use the dedicated COVID-19 email to report any cases of COVID-19 in your household, even if your child is not in school.

A polite reminder from our welfare team - In order to maintain school records and identify close contacts please can all student’s test results be sent to our COVID-19 email covid@kingsway.stockport.sch.uk

Parent voice 

Thank you to the almost 300 families who completed the Parent Voice questionnaire last week. Whilst it will take us some time to fully analyse the responses we have been blown away by the support and encouragement for our staff and remote offer to date. We are always reflective and will take on board suggestions where we can. Keep an eye on the school website over the next couple of weeks where we will share some responses to Frequently Asked Questions, and a ‘You Said, We Did’ evaluation.

Year 9 Options Process

Like many things, our Options process has gone virtual this year. All Year 9 students have been provided with lots of information in form time and to replace the Options Evening we have developed our Virtual Options webpage. Please take some time as a family to look at the department videos that have been created to provide you with some insight into all the subjects that are available.  Full details of the process are available in the Options booklet. We hope that these resources, along with the Parents' Evening on Thursday 4th February will support you in making these important decisions, but for anyone with specific questions there is also an online question facility. Please do reach out to the school if you or your son/daughter have any questions. We look forward to receiving your child’s completed Options Form by Monday 22nd February.

Careers

Mrs Flood, our Careers Advisor, has been working hard to keep all students up to date with information about colleges, apprenticeship programmes and continuing to hold her individual careers meetings with our students. Students are encouraged to check their year group noticeboard every day so they don’t miss vital information or their appointments. Raising Standards Leaders and staff members also regularly update the Parent noticeboard so it is worthwhile checking that on a regular basis.

Celebrations of achievement

We have been so impressed with the way our students have engaged with online lessons, and the standard of work has been amazing. We have tried to share samples of this in the school’s social media and the Raising Standards Leaders are also sharing year group ‘shout outs’ in their weekly messages. However, if you are particularly proud of your child’s learning don’t be shy, please do drop your RSL an email so we can all celebrate together as a community.

House and Year Group Competitions

Last week saw the introduction of a number of House Competitions. Miss Slater challenged students to get creative with photography; Mrs Bentham decided to test our baking skills; and Mrs Lucas has got inventive with her weekly Taskmaster challenges.

Well done to everyone who entered who will all be awarded House Merits but I was delighted to see the following submissions as overall winners.

I am also eagerly looking forward to seeing Year 8’s responses to Miss Hulance’s pet photography challenge, and Year 9s getting active with the Go Outdoors challenges. We will have some exciting news later this week with the launch of another challenge to test your fitness so keep an eye out on our social media and noticeboards.

Dates for your diary

Date Event
Wednesday 27th January 2021 Class of 2020 - Virtual Presentation Evening
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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Holocaust Memorial Day – 27th January 2021

We are marking Holocaust Memorial Day, 27th January, with an assembly that has been shared with all year groups.

This assembly gives the students the opportunity to remember the six million Jewish people who were systematically persecuted and murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust. Holocaust Memorial Day and the assembly also remember other groups of people who were persecuted and murdered by the Nazis including Roma and Sinti people, disabled people, gay people, Jehovah's Witnesses and many others. We also recognise that genocides that have continued to happen around the world since the Holocaust and we remember the men, women and children who have been murdered in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Sudan.

The assembly encourages students to challenge prejudice, discrimination and hatred in our own society.  We also mark this period of history in Year 9, where students have a series of lessons about the Holocaust.

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