Coronavirus: School Closure & Key Workers
Thursday 19 March 2020. School closure and provision for key workers.
Message from Chiquita Henson, Headteacher.
I commend our pupils on the way in which they received the news about school closures and in particular Year 11 with the news about their examinations. I have been impressed by their understanding and readiness to work with us so that their learning can continue. We are all being challenged to achieve more than we first thought possible and trying to show true British spirit by keeping calm and carrying on! I had the privilege of covering two Key Stage 4 classes today and while there was some uncertainty, pupils were focused and many were naturally excited about a new way of learning.
We all want to support our pupils in Year 11 and we encourage them to engage with us and complete the assignments their teachers set them to the very best of their ability, so that in the event of grades being awarded based on teacher assessments we have strong and secure evidence to support our professional judgements.
Click here for message from Ms Henson to our Year 11s...
'Thank you for coming in – this shows your commitment to the school and your learning. We appreciate how you may be feeling. We and your class teachers are feeling the same and are concerned for you all. We are all in this together. The best we can do is keep calm and carry on. We all share your feelings – you and your teachers have worked hard to achieve the goals you need to meet to progress onto the next stage. You are valued and important to us. We care about your futures.
While we had been preparing for a school closure we were astounded by the PM’s decision to suspend all public exams. We imagine that like thousands of GCSE candidates across the country you will have very mixed emotions. Unfortunately we know as little as you do and as soon as we know more we will tell you.
Whatever you have heard or read on the news or in social media it is speculation. For example, within 10 minutes over breakfast this morning I heard there may be standardised tests for all 16-17 year olds in September, or grades awarded based on teacher assessments, or online exams in English and Maths in the summer. The truth is at present nobody knows.
Gavin Williamson, Secretary of State for Education, in the House of Commons said yesterday that all candidates will receive the ‘proper recognition they deserve’ and that ‘no child will be unfairly penalised’. I am holding on to this and therefore it is your time to shine. Nothing you have already learnt and achieved has been wasted. We urge you to continue – it is important that you all continue to work and learn with us to ensure you have secure foundations that will enable you to succeed next year. You will need a broad knowledge and understanding of the world around all of us.
We all need to look beyond COVID-19. Now, more than at any time in your lives you have a choice. You must continue to work and learn with us. We are here to support you and you can talk to any of us about your concerns. You could also be trailblazers and leave a legacy that moves teaching and learning at Deer Park well into the 21st Century. We encourage you to join us and we are grateful to those of you who have already made a commitment and helped us move towards building our virtual classrooms.
We plan to award our own school certificates. These will recognise your achievements and give credit for resilience, resourcefulness and independent learning. These are all attributes colleges, universities and employers look for in young people.
I look forward to seeing you embrace new challenges and seize the opportunities ahead. I wish you good luck.’
As you are aware, the school will be closed for the majority of our pupils from Monday 23 March 2020 and we will be providing work for them to do at home. Alongside the virtual provision we are making for them which we will continue to develop, we are now also planning to be partially open for children of key workers and others identified by the government who would benefit from the continuity of attending school.
We are committed to inclusion and our moral imperative is to reach out and support families, and others in the wider community, in these unprecedented times to ensure that those who need it can access the services they may need.
The government has yet to define who they are identifying as ‘key workers’, but we believe it may include NHS staff, emergency services, delivery drivers and people working in education. We are awaiting further guidance from the government on this.
It would assist our planning and ensure that we have sufficient staffing to cover the level of interest, if we know how many pupils may be attending school next week, and also who might be interested in this provision continuing over the Easter holidays too. Therefore, if you think that your job is likely to fall into the category of ‘key worker’, and you would like your child to attend school next week or over Easter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your child(ren)'s name. We will then email you a booking form to provide us with additional information.
We will be contacting parents of pupils entitled to Free School Meals directly about the provision we are making for Free School Meals from next week.
Thank you again for your ongoing support and understanding. We hope you and your families are able to stay well and if in isolation you are all able to take the opportunity to engage in some family learning, in addition to catching up on plenty of reading!
You may find some of these links useful:
Cirencester Deer Park School
Official Coronavirus Advice