Secretary of State for Education Announcement on January return to education

Yesterday afternoon the Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, announced he will push back the staggered return for secondary schools by an additional week. The arrangements below are based on the latest government guidance; however, they may be subject to change.

The Spring term begins on Tuesday 5th January. In that week we will only provide face-to-face education in school for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers. All other students must remain at home and access their learning remotely for that week.

During the second week of term, beginning on 11th January, we will welcome back students in Year 11 and Year 13 only and they will follow their normal timetable. All other students must remain at home and continue to access their learning remotely for that second week of term. All students are currently expected to return to school for face-to-face education from 18th January. Parents and carers will be receiving separate information from Ms Nichols, regarding remote learning.

Vocational exams scheduled for the first week of January will go ahead as planned. Those students in Years 10 and Year 12 who have vocational examinations in Sport and Health & Social Care are currently still required to attend at given times during the week. A separate email providing the date and times of these sessions is being sent to parents/carers prior to them taking place.

Students who fall into any of the following categories will be expected in school in the first week of January:

  • Children of Critical Workers
  • Children with an EHCP (Education Health Care Plan)
  • Children with social worker involvement
  • Vulnerable students

In order to enable us to plan coverage for Critical workers’ children ONLY (we have the other groups’ information), it is imperative that only parents/carers of students who are Critical Workers complete the survey below as soon as possible:
*If you have already completed this form for your child(ren) there is no need to do so again*

For these young people we will be running supervised study of work that has been set for all learners.

Parents and carers of children who are in receipt of free school meals in Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 will have already received an email detailing the provision of Free School Meals during the period staggered return. Following the announcement made yesterday this email will also be sent to parents/carers of students in Years 11 and 13 on Monday 4th January. We ask that parents and carers complete the link within that email to enable provision to be made available.

If you have any concerns regarding computing facilities or internet access, we are here to help, but please contact your child’s head of year by email, so that we can try to find a solution as soon as possible.

Asymptomatic Testing
It was first announced that secondary schools would be rolling out asymptomatic testing using lateral flow tests on Wednesday 16th December. We continue to receive new and changing information about how this will operate. It is our intention to engage fully with this programme. Students taking part will swab themselves under supervision, and consent will be required before testing takes place. We will send out further information about this next week.

As part of our planning we are interested in hearing from members of our school community who would be able to support our testing programme in a voluntary or paid capacity; support from anyone with experience of lateral flow tests and/or with a portable DBS certificate would be particularly appreciated. Please contact to let us know your details, your suitability to this role and your availability to support our testing programme. We will be back in contact with you in due course on receipt of further information.

I know that after a difficult and challenging year with coronavirus, this latest announcement will cause further disruption particularly for those of you with children in younger year groups who need supervision. However, with Covid cases at a record high and a new variant of the virus spreading at a faster rate, the new plans will help to keep our community safe which has always been our top priority. As ever, we rely on the support of parents and students.

Please ensure you observe the Tier 4 restrictions, which mean that you must minimise time spent outside your home and must not meet socially with others. Whilst some of what is being asked is not easy, in the run up to students returning to school it is essential that we all play our part to keep everybody safe.

Thank you as ever for your cooperation.

Matt Robertson