The purpose of this section is to try to give you some answers and reassurance about planning for September. To be totally frank with you, I do not have all the answers right now but I will do my best to help explain things to the best of my ability. This is an ever-changing picture, so you’ll have to forgive me if some things appear unclear at this stage. Where I don’t know, I will simply say so.
Each week, I will answer some FAQs which have been posed to me in the last few days. I will keep these on the website and add to them as we go along. If you want to send me a question, please e-mail me directly at email@example.com. I will usually answer within 24 hours so if I have not, it may be that your e-mail correspondence is being blocked from the school system. In that case, please call and leave a message on the school phone: 01625 610220.
FAQs – part 1
Will school be returning to normal in September?
The government has stated that it is their intention for all students to return to school in September. We will be spending the next few days looking very closely at the guidance on school opening. Whilst we are planning to open the school to all students with a full curriculum offer, it is likely that quite a few things will be different. This is not an exhaustive list and I will release full details of plans before the end of the academic year:
- A different structure to the school day.
- Limited the mixing of students from different year groups whilst in school e.g. staggering of lunch and break times.
- Students will need to come into school with the required equipment list to limit the exchange of items between youngsters.
- Extensive measures will be taken around the school to promote hygiene.
- Extra-curricular activities will be kept to a minimum for the foreseeable future.
- Our electives programme will largely take place virtually for at least the first half-term.
- Large gatherings such as open evenings and whole school assemblies will not take place during the first term. We will need to change how we do large events.
- We will limit the number of outside visitors allowed to come to the school.
Because of the requirements to limit the mixing of students, this will affect our setting arrangements. We will continue with the practice of placing students who join us in year 7 into mixed ability groupings. It is likely that students in years 8 and 9 will be arranged into attainment banded groups. These groups will be temporary until at least the half-term. Please do not worry about the groupings at this stage.
We will use the first half-term to look at where students are up to in their learning and then we plan to formally set students in the second half of the autumn term. Each subject will plan a curriculum which is designed to enable every student to catch up on missed learning.
We will stagger the start to the academic year for each year group so that they get used to resocialisation. You will be informed of the exact details of this before the end of the summer term.
We have also planned an extensive Personal Development curriculum to support students re-integration back into school life. All staff will be trained in spotting signs of distress and supporting students reconnecting with school life.
My child has exams at the end of the year, how will they be able to catch up?
Year 13 students have been given an additional period on their timetable for each A-level subject and we have added an extra class in year 11 for Maths to reduce class sizes. Throughout the year there will be additional classes which students must attend to support them in their preparation for exams. It is crucial that your child attends these sessions. The key thing is to ensure that students’ attendance is as high as possible so they do not miss out on high quality teaching.
How are you planning to ensure that you can cope with the effects of covid?
Organisationally we have been planning for a range of scenarios. I anticipate that in the new academic year we may have to manage partial or full school closures as well as deal with staff or students who may be off school for some time owing to self-isolation. This is why we are updating our Bring Your Own Device policy (BYOD) as well as launching a laptop purchase initiative. This will mean that students should be able to continue to access good quality learning if we have to deal with a localised lockdown or if staff or students are absent. We will be sending home a letter about our laptop initiative very shortly.
Will there be reports this year?
We will only be sending home written reports for years 10 and 12. As you might expect given the present situation, the report structure has been adapted to take into consideration the fact that there has been very little face-to-face contact between students and teaching staff. Taking this into consideration, please note:
- We will not be issuing prediction grades (PPGs) at this point as we feel that this would not be accurate given the pause in face-to-face teaching. Instead, we will be providing bespoke feedback to give guidance to students about how they can make positive progress.
- There is a genuine possibility of a second lockdown and further disruption to teaching so it may be the case that we will yet again be required to issue Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) for this academic year group. Therefore, we will need to run a formal set of assessments in each subject in the Autumn term. This will be in the first half-term and we will report on this to parents. In addition, should social distancing rules allow, we will plan for a parents evening during this time.
- If public exams do take place next year, we anticipate that they will take place later than normal to give students more time to prepare. Across the year we will put on additional sessions for students which they will have to attend.
For all other year groups, we will delay reporting until next term when we have had the opportunity to see the students face-to-face.
What about year 7 transition?
We have invested a great deal of time in creating a virtual transition programme for the rising year 7. This has included virtual online tutor meetings, assemblies and videos to help youngsters prepare for school. If you want to find out more about the transition programme then please visit: http://www.tytheringtonschool.co.uk/transition-to-tytherington-school/
You’ve mentioned that there will be extensive building work to improve the school site throughout the year. What will be the impact of this?
We are very fortunate to have secured nearly £1 million from the government to upgrade the heating in the main block and replace our ageing windows. In addition, we are also working on a project to increase the number of classrooms around the school site. The covid-19 outbreak has meant that contractors have had to delay this work and it cannot be carried out over the summer as originally planned. We are working closely with our contractors to plan the most appropriate time for this work to take place. This will mean that there will be some room changes from time-to-time but we believe that this is manageable and we will give staff and students ample notice of when these changes will be taking place. In the long run, the building work will be of great benefit to the young people.
My child studies a practical subject for GCSE/A-Level and I’m worried about how they will be able to complete the practical elements of the course.
Ofqual, the exams regulator, are currently putting together proposals in relation to how these subjects will be examined. There may be some changes to the nature of the assessment but they have asked Headteachers to reassure families that they will do all they can to ensure that these practical components remain in the syllabus and are rewarded.
My child cannot submit any work on FireFly.
We are often finding that this is because students are logged onto their parent’s account and not their own. Parent accounts do not offer the functionality of submitting work as it should be the student that is doing it. Please follow the guidance in this document so that your child logs into FireFly properly. If you have any further issues, please contact us at Tytherington School, via firstname.lastname@example.org
What about Free School Meals?
We will issue electronic vouchers for families which will last over the summer. Year 11 and 13 students are included in this initiative. Letters will be sent to families affected in the next few days.
I’ve heard that students will not be in school full-time in September. Is this true?
Students will be in school on a full-time for five days a week. We will still keep our earlier finish on Thursdays and Electives will be run virtually for the first half-term. We will be making a slight adjustment to the finish time at school but I will let you know about confirmed details in the week commencing Monday 20th July.
I’ve heard that schools will be forcing students to drop GCSE subjects. Will you be doing this at Tytherington?
No. We believe that students should continue with the full suite of subjects and will discourage students from dropping any GCSEs. Heads of Department have been working hard to ensure that our delivery enables students to catch-up. In addition to this, Ofqual (the exams regulator) are likely to make some adaptions to exams which takes into account the interruption to teaching time for our current years 10 and 12.
Some specific questions about Sixth Form
What support is in place for Year 12 who are applying for University?
Year 12 have weekly virtual assemblies and form periods to support them with the completion of their UCAS application remotely. Information and guidance is published each week in the KS5 Firefly bulletin. Students have been encouraged to ‘attend’ virtual open days and have been given support resources by the 6th form team.
A parent information video and guidance are being prepared to inform and support the post 18 application process.
What support is in place for Year 12 who are planning to apply for apprenticeships and employment after Year 13?
We will continue to work with the Macclesfield Pledge to support students with this. Students can join the Employment Readiness Programme (ERP) to gain specialist support. Students have completed a survey to indicate if they are applying for these roles.
What are the Year 12 enrolment arrangements?
Before the end of term, full details of the Sixth Form enrolment process will be published via the website and sent to all applicants. Enrolment is open from GCSE results day and is available online. There will also be opportunities to book Zoom consultations with a member of the Sixth form team. Members of the 6th form team will be onsite during GCSE results day to help and support students and parents with transition questions.
How are year 11 being prepared for their transition to the Sixth Form?
Details of subject bridging programmes have been published and are accessible via the Sixth Form area of the website. These are to support students to prepare for the academic ‘step-up’ to A-Level study. These need to have been completed by the start of term. In addition, an induction programme will start in September to help students make the social and academic transition to the sixth form.
If I am unhappy with the results I receive in the summer, will I be able to sit the exam at another time?
The government have announced that if students are unhappy with the GCSE and A-Level grades they receive in the summer, they can sit an exam in the subject in the autumn term. As soon as we know more with regards to when and what the exact appeals arrangements are, we will let you know.
What I don’t yet know but will report to you on in the next two weeks
- Finalised details of transport arrangements