News - Sixth Form

Headmaster's Update for Parents: 26 February 2021

Dear Parent,

Thank you for your ongoing support.

It is now almost twelve months since my first COVID related Update and, God willing, this is likely to be one of the last. What a relief that we are on the road to recovery! Please take a moment or two to read this Update, paying particular attention to the detailed information related to our plans for the safe return of pupils to face-to-face education.

Return to School

I am delighted to inform you that pupils and students will return to full school attendance on a phased return from Monday 8th March.

  • Monday 8th March - Years 10, 11, 12 and 13
  • Tuesday 9th March - As above plus years 8 and 9
  • Wednesday 10th March - As above plus year 7

Our plans for the opening of school to all pupils continue to be informed by three 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
  • Supporting pupils who may be struggling

In practice this means that pupils will return to a school organised in much the same way as we managed during the autumn term with a system of controls in place informed by government advice and with a view to preventing the spread of coronavirus infection and effectively managing any outbreak. Pupils will be required to sanitise their hands periodically through the day, cleaning schedules enhanced, classrooms well ventilated and desks arranged in such a way as to maintain social distancing. Lessons will continue to be taught in class bubbles with larger year group bubbles allowed to mix outside and at distance during break and lunchtime.

Face Masks

All pupils must continue to bring a suitable face mask to school. These will be worn on school transport, on corridors and for the first time in the classroom. Face coverings will not be required outside for PE lessons or 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. The responsibility for providing masks lies with the pupil (parent).

We appreciate that a small number of pupils may be medically exempt from wearing a face covering. This only applies to those who:

  • cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical impairment or disability, illness or mental health difficulties
  • speak to or provide help to someone who relies on lip reading, clear sound or facial expression to communicate

Please contact Mrs Parkinson via School Synergy if your son/daughter falls into this category. This formal notification applies in all cases, including those where an exemption was granted in the autumn term.

Asymptomatic Testing

The government has asked schools to lead the roll-out of regular rapid testing for coronavirus. These tests will support the return of face-to-face education by helping to identify pupils who are infectious but do not have any COVID symptoms. The Lateral Flow Devices which will be used for the tests have received regulatory approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for self-use.

Pupils will take coronavirus tests as they return to school. After an initial programme of three in- school tests, each 3 to 5 days apart, pupils will then be provided with two rapid tests to use each week at home under your supervision. Testing at school will mean that pupils will be supervised whilst swabbing to make sure that they are doing it correctly and will be able to complete further tests at home. Pupils will be able to access classroom teaching following their first negative test.

Testing is voluntary and is dependent on you giving your consent. If you wish your child to have the three tests please complete the online form (Consent Form Link) before 5pm on Thursday 4th March.

How the tests work

Those taking the test will be supervised by trained staff. The lateral flow tests are quick and easy to undertake, using a swab of the nose and throat. Results will be available around half an hour from testing. We will inform the pupil of a positive test result as well as parents. Tests are free of charge.

What if my child tests positive?

If a pupil tests positive on a lateral flow device, they will be informed immediately and will need to take a further ‘PCR test’ at a local testing centre, to confirm the result. This should be on the same day or as soon as possible afterwards. During the time while waiting for the PCR result they will need to self-isolate. If the PCR test returns a positive result they will have to continue to self-isolate and follow the guidance from NHS Test and Trace.

What if my child develops symptoms?

The school’s testing programme at school is for people with no symptoms. If your child develops symptoms at any time (including a high temperature; a new, continuous cough; or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste) they must immediately self-isolate, and book a test by calling 119 or visiting

Pupils not undergoing testing will be able to attend school, however, we would encourage everyone to participate in the asymptomatic testing programme to help break transmission links by identifying those who may be carrying the virus unknowingly.

Centre Assessed Grades

If your child is studying in either year 11 or 13 you will have been paying particular attention to this week’s announcement from Ofqual about the awarding of GCSE and A-level grades. Now that we are a little clearer about the parameters within which we will have to operate we can move to finalising our approach to centre assessed grades. We are encouraged to learn that the government accepts that teachers are in the best position to assess levels of achievement and I offer my assurances that grades will be arrived at in a manner which is professional, promotes integrity and consistency, and ensures that pupils are able to progress to their next stage of education, training or employment. I hope to be in a position to elaborate further on this important and pressing topic in the coming days.

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.

R D Jones