Tours and Open Evening

Headmaster’s Letter 11th September

Posted on 11th September 2020

Dear Parent,

Finally, we’re there! After approximately 160 days, we’re a School again after Year 8 and Year 9 returned this Monday. Some incredible work was undertaken by a lot of staff to try to keep students up to speed during the closure and there were many improvised selfless acts from the teaching and pastoral teams to look after students’ welfare. I also know that there were some frustrations with the remote learning and the barriers that this presented. We’re looking at these.

In the background, we’re putting together plans for either year group or whole school closure – if it comes. I’ll write to you about how this will work at the end of the month. Suffice it to say, we will be expecting consistent attendance and submission of work if lessons are taught remotely. Currently, we have a small number of students who are self-isolating, because someone in their family is symptomatic and are awaiting tests. These students are already accessing work via SharePoint. Their work will continue to be assessed using the assessment policy. In the event of a positive test, there is a protocol that schools follow.

On behalf of the track and trace system, only book a test if you or your child is symptomatic. Please do not book a test if someone in your household/ bubble is symptomatic or if you have had contact with a confirmed case. NHS track and trace will be in contact if they want you to self-isolate. To be symptomatic, you should have at least one of the three COVID-19 symptoms.

Similarly, please do not take a chance by sending your child in, even if they have the ‘murmurings’ of symptoms, particularly a cough. There is a degree of anxiety associated with the return to School and this will be exacerbated if the guidance is not observed. I appreciate and empathise with the frustration when a child or family member falls ill if you have to stay at home for 10 days (confirmed symptoms) or 14 days (living in a household) but this is the best way to ‘manage’ transmission as we move into this new phase of control.

Like you, I want schools to remain open for as long as possible.

Risk assessment

We phased in students’ return so we could test our systems.

As a result, we have made some changes to the way in which we have controlled traffic flow around the School, particularly in the Lindsey block where the building’s design means we cannot run a one-way system. To ensure that students continue to receive as much time as possible in core PE, we have looked at additional storage for bags. We have extended provision for A level Art, implementing control measures too.

I review the risk assessment every weekend and publish the latest version on the website every Monday morning. Amendments are in red for ease of reference. You can access the risk assessment on the Policies webpage. [link]

Please send me any questions or observations via the enquiries email above. I do respond by email or will sometimes call you. Your questions and my response are forwarded to Governors so that they can hold the School’s leadership team to account.

Special thanks to…

Our site and catering teams who have worked tirelessly to help implement some of the tweaks that have been introduced around the site and in the dining hall. Based upon current demand, all students that want a hot lunch in the dining hall can be accommodated. If students want a leisurely lunch, a pack lunch is the preferred option.

Rule of Six – starting from Monday

From Monday, additional controls are being introduced by the Government. Sixth Formers are being reminded about the need to ensure they are following the guidelines when they are off site, particularly if they visit Caistor shops. Students leaving the site need to ensure that they are not gathering in groups that are larger than six. I’ll be meeting with the Senior Prefect Team early next week to discuss a way that we can expand our onsite provision. It’s likely we will be asking students to return to School as soon as they have made a purchase in a shop if they are not intending to go home.

School buses

I sent out a reminder to all parents travelling on the buses about following face mask safety guidelines. This in turn, precipitated a few more emails from parents, pointing out that a small handful of students were not observing the very clear guidelines that are consistent on school and public transport. I am publishing a letter that I received from LCC which stresses the need for students to obey the guidelines to protect everyone.

Dear Colleague, 

We have been advised by transport operators that many pupils are removing face coverings upon, or not long after, boarding school transport. This is despite having them in place prior to boarding when queuing on the school grounds.

It is essential that pupils follow the recommendation to wear a face covering, wherever they are able to do so, for the duration of their trip on school transport vehicles. Our colleagues in Public Health have indicated that wearing a face covering, along with other preventative measures in place, will noticeably reduce a pupil’s need to self-isolate if they are travelling on a school transport vehicle where a peer subsequently tests positive for Covid-19. 

We ask for your support in reinforcing this message with all pupils, and their parents, travelling on school transport as we feel it is in everyone’s interest- not least in helping us all keep as many children as possible in school at this time.

We will support the providers and, by extension, students who are following the rules. Our Behaviour Policy was updated to enable School to remove any student from a bus whose behaviour puts others at risk by not following the COVID rules.

Safeguarding – Tik Tok

The press have reported that there are a series of suicide videos currently prominent on the social media platform Tik Tok and are advising users to be alert and report inappropriate content. Students were advised not to use the app until the content has been cleared via an announcement from form tutors this week. We encourage you to keep an open dialogue and a watchful eye on your child’s use of social media. Our school web site gives you further information on privacy and blocking for Tik Tok, https://www.caistorgrammar.com/uploads/2019/11/Tik-Tok-privacy-and-blocking-complete.pdf

Remote ‘enrichment’

One of the questions that students will be asked in job/ apprenticeship/ higher education interviews over the next few years is – What did you do during lockdown? The opportunity to pursue some independent study was one of the few benefits of that period in ‘exile’ from friends and extended family. This week I received a booklet outlining some incredible online lectures from Gresham College, which has been providing free public lectures since 1597. Lectures are on a variety of topics and ideal for any student who wants to extend their grasp of a subject – or who wants to look at something new. Topics include: Medicine, Astronomy, Film, IT, Music, Rhetoric and Religion. You or your child can sign up by putting ‘Gresham College’ into any search engine.

Congratulations

I’m glad to hear that some of our students are back to making their mark in activities beyond the School (So, in no particular order…).

Daisy Williams (Y10) had a clear run at Hickstead on her pony King, to make it through to the jump off. Sadly, a very small error on her part lowered a pole in the final, but she still took 3rd place in the 1m20 finals. It was a huge show for Daisy and King as they were up against some of the top adult riders in the country.

Tyla Harris’ (Y8) karting has gone from strength to strength as he resumes post lockdown. He now holds a National Karting License and has taken more wins over the Summer. Last weekend he completed the Grand slam at the Rowrah circuit in the Lake District with fastest times in every practice session, securing pole position with a 2.5 second lap gap between him and his other competitors. He won all his races, easily won the final, and had the fastest lap all weekend.

He has now enrolled in the British Kart Championship, which is a very big step for someone who only started racing last summer.

Enjoy your weekend,

Alistair Hopkins

Headmaster