News

Headmaster's Weekly Update to Parents
20/07/2020

Dear Parent,

I am now in a position to share some more of our plans to ensure the safe reopening of St Christopher’s to all pupils in September.

The 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.

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

Whilst we have made good progress in planning for a number of eventualities we are aware of how quickly things can change and so this guidance should be seen as conditional at this stage. I will let you know during the summer break of if there are any significant alterations in our plans.

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.

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 (inc. Year 11)

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.

School Uniform

Full school uniform, including PE kit, will be required. We anticipate that more pupils will spend time outside during break and lunchtime 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.

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.

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

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

School Transport

We understand that arrangements for school dedicated transport continue to be a cause for concern for a number of parents. It is our current understanding that LCC will notify you directly with final plans nearer to the start of term. Mr O’Doherty is the senior member of staff with responsibility for school transport and he can be contacted through School Synergy if other avenues fail.

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

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 and U6 - Sixth Form

Having sanitised or washed their hands on arrival all pupils will go directly to their classroom base. 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 will continue to work 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.

Collective Worship

It is with sadness that we will have to limit the organisation of large scale 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.

Breaks and Lunch

Lunch will continue to be provided although the choice is likely to 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. At present there are no plans to offer food at breakfast or break-time.

Extra-curricular Activities

Pupils will continue to be offered a range of experiences and opportunities outside the classroom, although it may take a little longer than usual to get these underway. Year bubbles will of course have to be maintained but we are thinking creatively about how we can best provide for pupils’ interests and talents.

School Reports

A note of clarification: all parents have received at least one school report during this year and almost all have had the opportunity to attend a parents’ evening. Two year groups have been in receipt of both progress and full written reports.

I made the decision early during the lockdown period to suspend the issuing of reports where assessing progress and measuring an approach to learning was dependent solely on work completed at home. Our pupils have worked in a range of conditions and circumstances beyond our control. Some have been fortunate enough to have access to their own computer and gained from parents who have provided help and support. Other pupils have however been unable to work because they are poorly or having to look after someone who is, some have had limited or no access to technology. It would have been both unfair and unreliable to assess children given this range of experiences. Our task in September will be to assess pupils on their return and plan for timely and targeted intervention and support in order to address any gaps in learning.

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye…

This year we bid a fond farewell to Miss Deady (Art), Mr Whittaker and Mr English (both Mathematics), Mrs Kewin (English lead practitioner), Mrs Parkinson (Head of PSHE and teacher of Geography) and Mrs Wareham (Head of MFL).

We thank them all for their dedication to our pupils and for their often unstinting and generous work for the school.

And finally

When I spoke to the staff earlier this week I described September as the greatest challenge faced by the school in the last sixty years. This wasn’t intended as hyperbole but rather a reminder of the scale of having to rethink so much of what we do and take for granted. We all consider it to be a privilege to work at St Christopher’s and we are confident that with your support and with the understanding and cooperation of the pupils, that we will succeed and who knows we may even find new and better ways of educating children.


‘That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leave does not wither – whatever they do prospers.

PSALM 1 v.3 (our Foundation Scripture)


With my best wishes,

RD Jones

Headmaster