September Opening
4th September 2020

Dear Families,

As promised, I am writing to you with a summary of the key details for the start of the academic year which commences next week. Much of the information about the opening of the school can be found in the “September 2020 Return to School” section of the website:

A reminder of the steps we are taking to reduce the risk of transmission

We still need to remain vigilant to control the spread of Covid-19. Here is a list of steps we are taking to reduce the risk of transmission:

  • We will be operating a year group “bubble” system and dramatically reducing the mixing of students in different year groups. Each year group will be provided with designated eating areas and outside spaces for break time. Please note that almost all break times will take place outside unless there is extreme weather so students should bring a suitable coat.
  • The Sixth Form will be considered as one bubble, though we will keep Years 12 and 13 separate where we can.
  • Students in key stage 3 will remain in class bubbles for almost all of their lessons. We will continue with the practice of placing students who join us in year 7 into mixed ability groupings. Students in years 8 and 9 will be arranged into attainment banded groups. These groups will be temporary until at least the half-term.
  • Our caterers will be selling a stripped-down packed lunch style “grab bag” which will be eaten in the designated year group areas. No cash will be used in school so payments will take place online. Details of the app system which requires students to pre-order their lunches have been emailed to Year 8 to 11 students (using their school email address) and posted to Year 7. Please contact the school if you have not received this information. Years 12 & 13 students will be able to make contactless purchases in the iCafé, as normal. There will inevitably be snags with this system in the first week. Please do not worry as we will ensure that no child will go hungry.
  • Students will need to come into school with the required equipment list to limit the exchange of items between youngsters.
  • 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.
  • Visitors will only be allowed to come onsite if they have a pre-booked meeting. If this is the case, please do not arrive any earlier than 5 minutes before the meeting.
  • Students will be expected to wash their hands regularly either using the many hand sanitiser stations around the school or with water and soap. Please can you ensure that your son/daughter also brings in their own bottles of hand sanitiser with them to school every day.
  • We will be implementing an enhanced cleaning regime which involves the frequent cleaning of frequently handled or used surfaces such as toilets, door handles, stair rails and computer keyboards.
  • As students move from one class to another, they will need to observe our one-way corridor system.
  • Students will need to wear non-vented face coverings during lesson changeover and instances where students need to queue with people from outside their year bubble e.g. toilet queues, waiting for transport, school buses, etc. They should not be worn in lessons. Please contact the relevant Head of Year if there are any medical reasons why your child should be exempt.
  • We will operate half-year group assemblies rather than whole school assemblies.
  • The school day has been slightly amended.

Exiting school at the end of the day

  • Please note the arrangements that we have in place for exiting the school site at the end of the day. These can be found on Page 6 of the Student Information Booklet. The block that your child is in during the last lesson of the day will dictate which exit they are to use.
  • Any students using the bus service should head straight to the Main Hall and wait in year group areas for loading on to their respective bus.

We anticipate that the front of the school will be very busy as more families use cars to drop off or collect their children. To reduce the possibility of an accident, please consider dropping off/picking up your child further away from school. This will greatly help in reducing traffic near the school.

During the first week back, we will be talking to students about how they can play their part by wiping down equipment after use.  Deep cleans will take place at the end of the day. We will also ensure that changing facilities are cleaned throughout the day.

Further information for different year groups

Every year group has a special student pack which has been produced for them. This contains important information such as details of eating spaces, the one-way system, uniform, etc. We will go over the key information with them on the first day back. You can access the booklets via our website on:

For year 7 students, we will be carrying out standardised reasoning assessments in the first two weeks of term. Please do not worry about these assessments. The assessments do not require any preparation or revision. They are used across the country and provide us information about reasoning rather than prior knowledge.

Freedom Technology Chromebooks and Bringing Your Own Device

For those who have ordered a Chromebook through the Freedom Technology Chromebook Offer, they are due to be delivered to school next week and will then be distributed to students.

If you already have a device that you would like to bring into school to use, please remember to read through the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy terms and conditions and complete, sign and return the agreement on Page 8 to the School Reception. The agreements will then be collated and access to the school network for the identified devices will be granted by our IT Team.

Term dates and the structure of the day

Our term dates remain unchanged. Please follow the link to find out what the term dates are:

In line with previous years, we will have a staggered start to the year:

  • Monday 7thSeptember – Years 7 and 13
  • Tuesday 8thSeptember – All year groups. Students will be in their tutor groups for the day re-socialising and learning about the new school systems.
  • Wednesday 9thSeptember – Normal timetable resumes.

The structure of the day and week remains largely the same although the day will be slightly shorter because of the reduced lunch period:

NB: Elective period – extended day for years 7 & 8. We will operate a virtual electives system for the first half-term but when things return back to normal, compulsory electives for years 7 & 8 will return between 2 and 3pm. Until that time, students will leave at 2pm on Thursdays.

How can parents/carers help?

We are extremely grateful for all you are doing to support us in helping your children. Please do reassure your son/daughter that we have got this, and they will be fine in school. There are some specific things which we would like you to help us with. Please can you:

  • Familiarise yourself with the symptoms of Covid-19. Refer to the latest government guidance so you know what to do. If your child has any symptoms, please do not send them into school and let us know immediately so we can alert Public Health England who will monitor the situation.
  • If your child can, please encourage them to walk or cycle to school. If that is not possible and you need to use a car, please consider dropping your child off a bit further away from school than you might normally do so in order to reduce traffic around the school site.
  • Please can you provide your child with their own hand sanitiser which can be used in school.
  • We will be talking to your child about the government advice of catch it, bin it kill it’. Please reinforce these messages at home.
  • Please ensure that your child comes to school with a face covering.
  • If they are taking a bus, make sure your child has a face covering and knows how to use it properly.
  • Encourage children to exercise physical distancing when they can.
  • If your child is especially vulnerable to the effects of the virus, please complete the survey which we have sent home and we will make contact with you so that we can put together a bespoke risk assessment.
  • Please also ensure that your child comes to school with the appropriate equipment. Please follow the link for the required equipment:
  • Please keep checking the FAQs section of our website which I will update on a weekly basis.
  • The Local Authority have written to parents who are provided with bus transport by Cheshire East. If any of their guidance is unclear, please contact us and we can look into things for you.
  • Please note that our expectations regarding uniform and appearance remain the same. Non-compliance will carry the usual sanctions i.e. detentions and removal from lessons for more serious transgressions. Given the amount of time that students have missed from school, please speak to your son/daughter about perfect uniform so that we do not have to apply these consequences.

I am conscious that the initiatives outlined above have been developed without 1300+ students on site. With this in mind, I realise that it is important in the first few weeks for us to observe, learn and refine our strategies. As a school we will need to be agile and respond quickly to issues as they arise.

We are very excited about next week and I am confident that the measures outlined above will keep our community safe.

Please do not hesitate to make contact with me directly if you have any questions or queries.

Yours sincerely,
Mr Emmanuel Botwe