Posted on 15th May 2020
When School closed on March 20, a little under two months ago now, I thought optimistically that by this point in mid-May, we would be back. I have not updated my online calendar and so every day, something will ‘ping’ into view that reminds me of the life that we led before everything was put on hold. (This Wednesday just gone would have been our open evening; today would have been Year 13’s final day before study leave.) Sunday’s announcement from the Prime Minister and further details that followed on Monday confirmed my disappointment that we would have to delay our return until September (hopefully).
As I had thought that we would be back after half term, our remote learning was built around this return date. Our current approach to remote lessons has been effective but we are now at the point where we are going to offer students the opportunity to take part in seminars via Microsoft Teams (a part of the Office 365 suite of applications) or Zoom.
A timetable is being constructed over the next week. It will be sent to students before we finish for half-term on May 22. Parents will receive a timetable too. Different subjects suit different styles of lessons and different teachers will work in different ways. Some will use audio, some will use messaging facilities, some might even use video. You will understand that broadband speeds will play a role here. Lessons will supplement the work that has been sent out in that two-week block. If students study the information beforehand, they will be better prepared to participate in the sessions. In Years 7, 8 and 9, the 30-minute lessons could make up part of their hour work for that week set by the teacher. We are looking at ways of sending out a record of the seminar for students who cannot attend.
In addition, this Monday, students in Year 9 will start their GCSE courses. (Year 10 is normally the formal start of their GCSE courses as we are committed to delivering a broad curriculum until the end of Year 9.) Work will continue to be sent out in two-week blocks. As half-term falls midway in the two-week block, it might be the case that the first week’s work for Year 9 is an introduction to some GCSE concepts or skills. To ensure continuity in core subjects (Maths, English and the Sciences), students will keep their Year 9 teacher. There will be no change to students’ form tutors or the Head of Section until the end of the year.
Finally, there is an important letter for parents of Year 10 and Year 12 students about the evolving offer for face to face contact in School with teachers to supplement the remote lessons that are taking place. A survey will be sent out over the weekend after parents have read the draft of the health and safety guidance which will be attached to today’s letter. Further work is required to construct a timetable before we can commit to a specific start date. Beyond that, I want to have reassurance that everyone who opts to participate will be safe. Student and staff safety will be at the forefront of what we do and offer.
Mrs Watson, our independent careers advisor, has published her May careers newsletter this week. The flexibility that remote learning offers means that this is an ideal opportunity to explore a host of careers. I encourage you and your children to look at it – a great deal of work goes into this. The newsletter is attached to this letter. As a starting point to discussions, you may wish to download this e-book from ‘Success at School’ careers advisors. Click here if you would like to access it.
Miss Julia Randle
Today is Miss Randle’s final day as our PE Technician. She will start a new job with Lincolnshire Police as an administrator. Miss Randle’s ambition is to join the Police so this is a tremendous opportunity for her to take a step towards her goal. Miss Randle was a student here until September 2018, and took a year out teaching English in Thailand. (I can remember her remote interview via Skype from her school – a prescient experience based on where we are now.) During her time with us, she has made a significant upon the school, taking a leading role in supporting our boys’ and girls’ sports. The excellent PE display board is symptomatic of her dedication. We are currently looking to appoint her successor so if you know of anyone who would like to apply, please direct them to our vacancies page on the school website where they can download details. The role tends to suit either a post-A level or a post-degree student keen to train as a PE teacher.
I held a Q&A on Twitter a week ago on Thursday. I hope that those that took part found it useful. I certainly did. It enabled me to reflect on parents’ concerns about a possible re-opening, the shape of the Year 10 and Year 12 curriculum as we go into the summer months and the measures that would be implemented in School if we were to re-open. There was a good discussion about PPE. (I only made three typos too!) I’ll repeat this again next Thursday (May 21) between 7pm and 8pm. The School Twitter account is @Caistor_GS if you’d like to participate or observe from the sidelines.
I hope you have a safe weekend,