News

Headmaster's Update for Parents: School Reopening
28/08/2020

Dear Parent,

We are ready and raring to go!

I am pleased to be able to share our final plans and preparations for the safe reopening of school next week.

There have been many things with which I have had cause to disagree with the government during the summer break but a determination to get back to school is one overarching objective that receives my support. It is indeed a moral as well as an educational imperative that we reopen this school at the earliest possible opportunity. Our foundation scripture (Psalm 1, v.1-3) promises that all will ‘prosper’ and for that to happen we need to be together as a community, to live and learn and to feel safe and secure.

Our plans are informed by government guidance on the full opening of schools, advice from various local and national bodies, and from our knowledge of this particular school. A copy of our Risk Assessment for reopening is available on the school website here.

Plans have been underpinned by some simple principles:

  • Developing a sense of personal and collective responsibility in order to keep our school safe
  • Keeping the operation of our school as normal and recognisable as possible
  • Getting off to a positive start and one which can be sustained for some time
  • Supporting pupils who may be struggling

We understand that our pupils will be experiencing a range of emotions at this time. I expect that we will run the full gamut, ranging from those who are confident and eager to those with legitimate worries and concerns. We want to be in a position to help them all and you can assist us by taking the time to run through this guidance ahead of next week’s return. You may wish to complement the school’s approach by visiting gov.uk/backtoschool for further information and practical guidance.


1. GETTING READY

a) School Uniform

Full school uniform, including PE kit, will be required. All pupils will spend greater amounts of time outside during break and lunchtime than they have been used to and so a school jumper in addition to the blazer would be a sensible option. An outdoor coat (plain navy-blue or black coat with no large logos or badges) will be essential wear.

All pupils/students will be required to bring a suitable face mask to school. This should be seen as an integral part of school uniform.

Girls are reminded that skirts should be worn on the waist and at knee length, and boys of the need for standard cut charcoal grey trousers.

We are aware that haircuts have taken many forms over the last few months and so it is worth restating our requirement that hair for boys should be no shorter than a number 2 razor cut and no longer than collar length. Tram lines or patterns cut with a razor are not allowed. Any hair colours/highlights should be natural shades or combination of shades.

b) Face Masks

In-line with government guidance and in light of the most recent medical evidence from the World Health Organisation, all members of the school community will be required to wear a face covering in shared indoor areas. Students/pupils travelling to school on a bus (school service or public) will be required to wear a face mask whilst travelling. Face coverings will not be required in the classroom or outside during break or lunch.

Face coverings should be of one plain colour (ideally either navy blue or dark green – our school colours). Masks with logos or decoration will not be allowed.

A small number of masks will be kept in school for emergency use only. The responsibility for providing masks lies with the pupil (parent).

We are aware that face masks can present their own challenges and so all pupils will receive guidance on their first day back on the correct wearing and handling of face coverings. We also appreciate that a small number of pupils may be medically exempt from wearing a face covering. If this applies, please contact your Head of Year via School Synergy in order to discuss your requirements.

The need to wear face coverings is currently a government requirement given Hyndburn’s lockdown restrictions, however I anticipate that we will continue with our approach when the restrictions are lifted.

c) Equipment

It will be more important than ever for all pupils to have the correct equipment in school at all times. Pupils will not be allowed to borrow equipment and teachers will be discouraged from providing replacements. Daily requirements will include:

  • Reading book
  • Two black or blue ink writing pens
  • HB pencil, sharpener and eraser
  • 30cm ruler
  • Scientific calculator
  • Highlighter pen
  • Coloured pencil crayons
  • Glue stick
  • School appropriate scissors
  • Pencil case
  • Hand sized bottle of sanitiser

Weekly requirements for most pupils will include an apron for Technology and an apron or over shirt for Art.

All equipment should be carried in a suitable bag (not a fashion bag) and accompanied by school books for the appropriate day.

There will be no need to bring PE kit or work completed during the lockdown period on the first school day.


2. WEEK 1 AND BEYOND

a) Attendance

Requirements for pupil attendance will return to normal from the beginning of the new term. We pride ourselves on being the best attended secondary school in Lancashire and we look to this continuing during 2020-21. Absence reporting and monitoring systems will also return to normal. Please use School Synergy to contact the appropriate head of year if there is anything you would like to discuss about your child’s return to school.


b) September Opening

  • Wednesday 2nd September - Year groups 7, 10 and L6
  • Thursday 3rd September - Year groups 7, 8, 9, 10, L6 and U6
  • Friday 4th September - ALL year groups

School opening hours will remain as present with no staggered starts or finishes although pupils will be required and directed to use separate year group entrances/exits.

Please note that in order to maintain a safe school site we request that visitors are kept to essential persons and by appointment only.


c) Transport

We anticipate that a greater number of pupils will be dropped off at school than usual. If you are planning to use your car please use the full length of Queens Road West in order to minimise serious congestion.

All pupils should walk directly to their designated school entrance on arrival and must not congregate on the pavement or around the school gates. School staff will be on hand to guide and direct during the first weeks.

Pupils are currently discouraged from using public transport and are encouraged to walk or cycle to school wherever possible.

School Dedicated Transport

I am grateful to Mr O’Doherty for working with LCC to agree the following guidelines for use on designated school buses.

  • Pupils should make every effort to maintain social distancing whilst waiting at the bus stop
  • Hands should be washed/sanitised before boarding the bus
  • Seats should be occupied in year group order with sixth form/Year 11 at the rear of the bus and Year 7 towards the front.
  • All pupil at all times will be required to wear a face mask. There will be no eating or drinking allowed and shouting is forbidden
  • Pupils will be required to show their valid pass/season ticket or pay the exact fare
  • A record of pupils who have paid a fare will be taken daily in an effort to support Test and Trace. Pupils should use the same service in morning and afternoon on any given day
  • At the end of the school day pupils from Year 11 and sixth form students will make their way directly onto the buses once they have been dismissed by a teacher. Years 7 to 10 will line up on the school yard in a designated queue for their bus

Travel prefects and Safer Travel have been asked to monitor these guidelines and to alert senior staff to any misdemeanours or failures to follow instructions.


d) Entering the School Site

Year groups will access the school site via different entrances and will wait in a designated outside area. At 8.45am heads of year and assistant heads of year, with the support of form teachers, will supervise pupils as they line up in tutor group order, to be dismissed into the building a form at a time, applying hand sanitiser as they enter.

 Year

 7

 8

 9

 10

 11

 12 and 13

 Entry to school site

Side gate to Cocker courtyard

Cemetery wall

Main entrance

Side sixth form

Cemetery wall

Sixth form entrance

 Entry to school building

Via covered way to MFL corridor

Rear Science door

Via Blue Corridor to Veranda courtyard

Coates building

Side Science door

As above


e) Year Bubbles

Each year group in the main school will be organised and treated as a discrete ‘bubble’, occupying their own part of the school site. The sixth form (L6 and U6) will form their own combined bubble and will be taught exclusively in the sixth form building.

  • Year 7 -  Languages and Cocker Building
  • Year 8 - Humanities zone
  • Year 9 - Maths zone
  • Year 10 - Science zone and Coates Building
  • Year 11 - Science zone and Coates building
  • L6 & U6 - Sixth form

Each year group has been assigned a suite of classrooms in which most lessons will be taught, including some for years 7, 8 and 9 that would normally be delivered in a specialist room such as for music and art. Teachers have been working hard during the summer break to ensure that the taught curriculum is appropriate and that pupils continue to experience a range of teaching techniques and styles. Years 8 and 9 will be organised and taught in their current general set, with year 7 initially staying together as a form group. Years 10 and 11 will have a greater proportion of lessons taught in specialist rooms as we work hard to support them through their GCSE studies.

In all cases movement and contact between year groups will be kept to a minimum and staff will be encouraged to maintain the 2 metre rule when interacting with children. We acknowledge that zoning is not perfect but it does offer us with a workable compromise to minimise risk and maximise education.

Please click here to view the site plan and zoned areas.


f) Break

Currently there are no plans to provide food and drink at break time. We know that many pupils will want to take advantage of refuelling before lunch and ask that you provide any snack or drink at this time. Please follow our well established guidelines for healthy and ecologically sound food and drink.

These arrangements, as with all other procedures and protocols, will be reviewed regularly.


g) Lunch

Lunch will continue to be provided although the choice will be limited given the difficulties associated with serving plated meals and the limited availability of seating space. Pupils will have a greater selection of take-away type food such as paninis, soup, chicken burgers, fruit pots etc. Sixth form students will continue to be offered the privilege of leaving the school site at lunchtime.


h) Assembly and Collective Worship

It is with sadness that we will have to limit the organisation of multi-year acts of collective worship. Pupils will have an assembly on one day per week with the rest of the days spent in class with acts of worship overseen by form teachers who will be provided with high quality resources and lead the class in prayer. Each week will continue to have a dedicated theme and we are hopeful that we will be in a position to offer form and year services of Holy Communion before too long.


i) Extra-curricular Activities

There will be no extra-curricular activities or school clubs offered during the first two weeks of term as we all work together to implement so many new approaches and ways of operating. It is our intention however that these will be up and running towards the end of September.


3. PUBLIC EXAMINATION RESULTS

A brief message of congratulations to the Class of 2020, years 11 and 13, who received their examination results earlier this month. You can’t fail to have noticed the national furore over the release of results – a fiasco but one we managed to navigate our way through, allowing the vast majority of students to leave St Christopher’s with qualifications fitting of their ability and potential. I am grateful to the support of the local MP for Hyndburn, Sara Britcliffe (former pupil), for her support in sharing my concerns about the initial release of grades with government ministers.

Results at both GCSE and A-level were strong, with record numbers securing a clean sweep of the highest grades. For the first time in a number of years we were able to secure places at both Oxford and Cambridge.

We wish all our former students well on whatever adventures they are about to embark.


I acknowledge the length of this Update and accept that there is a lot here to comprehend and act upon. Thank you for your support and the role that you will play in ensuring that the new academic year begins at a cracking pace and with everyone playing their part. There of course be challenges, many of which will only become apparent once we are fully operational, but we are confident that with the necessary flexibility and pragmatism that we can make a great success of it.

With my best wishes,
RD Jones
Headmaster