COVID-19 Updates

Day 49 – Monday, 26th May 2020

Over the weekend, the Prime Minister set out the government’s expectation that “secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges will also provide face-to-face contact for Year 10, Year 12 and equivalent 16-19 further education students to help them prepare for exams next year. It is expected this will begin from 15 June, with around a quarter of these secondary students in at any point.”

Parent/carers and students will be advised of the school’s revised plans to facilitate this, with communication being sent after half-term, before 5th June 2020. Clearly, as importantly, we need to ensure continuity of education, as best we can, for the large number of students who will not be able to return to school until September. 

Meanwhile, we continue to open for the children of critical workers and other eligible students during the holiday period. 

Day 45 – Friday, 22nd May 2020

Half-term is finally here although you could be forgiven for not noticing as school and home life is so different. At this time of year, we would normally be in the middle of examinations, planning for Y6 transition, sports day and activities week. Instead we now enter Week 8 of term-time school closure, except for critical worker and other eligible families.

As you know from recent correspondence sent to parents/carers, following the Prime Minister’s announcement to partially reopen schools from 1 June, we are planning a cautious and measured approach to this for our Year 10 and Year 12 students.

Although we are all desperate to have more children back in school, we will only reopen when the time is right and when risk assessments and safety plans have been finalised and implemented. Following the next update from the government (which is due to take place on 28 May) and subsequent guidance, there will need to be at least a week’s additional planning and preparation before we are able to reopen the school further. Therefore, the very earliest date from which we will be able to reopen for the whole of Year 10 is 8 June, with the likelihood of a delay beyond this a realistic possibility dependent on the advice and guidance provided. Year 12 would return at a date after this.

Once again, we are grateful as a staff body for all that our parents/carers are doing to support distance learning and maintain study habits. We hope the examples on Firefly this week give you a feel for the quality of what is being produced. We could easily have shown you so much more.

Day 42 – Tuesday, 19th May 2020

Anyone wishing to apply for free school meals can make an application online on the Hampshire County Council website.

This will allow the school’s finance team to arrange vouchers for you during the current period of school closure. 

Day 40 – Friday, 15th May 2020

It is eight weeks since schools and colleges were asked to close their doors by the Prime Minister. As you are aware, we are cautiously planning for the return of some students before the summer vacation, while most will not return until September 2020.

The DfE yesterday issued further advice for primary schools containing the following paragraph: –

From 1 June at the earliest, secondary schools will also be asked to provide some face-to-face support for pupils in year 10 and year 12 facing exams next year to supplement their remote education. We will be working with sector representatives over the coming week to develop models of how this could operate, and this will be published along with further guidance for secondary schools shortly.

Clearly nobody expects the whole education system to be turned on suddenly come 1st June. The complexity and logistics of maintaining online learning for the majority and face-to-face supplementary education are considerable. Suffice to say for the moment – do not expect normality when children return. To give a few examples, students will not be in large classes, nor will there be breaks and lunchtimes when everyone can socialise together.  Although we are cautious, it is important to know that staff at The Arnewood School are missing students and teaching.  We are concerned that children do not fall behind.  

Thank you to those who have responded to the recent Community Engagement Survey on Firefly. Parental, student and staff views are very helpful in assisting our planning to determine a clear rationale on which we will reopen to Y10 and Y12. We shall issue clear directions to parents and students when we are able but with the promise of further guidance to secondary schools shortly, this will not be before half-term.  Until comprehensive risk assessments, curriculum planning, and staff preparation can be undertaken, please continue with the excellent work students are doing online.

Thank you for your incredible continued support during these challenging times.

Day 36 – Monday, 11th May 2020

Yesterday, the Prime Minister addressed the nation on coronavirus. The Prime Minister announced that from 1st June at the earliest, primary pupils may be able to begin going back into school in stages, beginning with Reception, Y1 and Y6. The government’s ambition is that secondary pupils facing exams next year will get some time with their teachers before the summer holidays. This by implication suggests that for most secondary students they will not return until September at the earliest.

In school we hear this information at the same time as the rest of the UK. The education sector is not given any advance warning whatsoever about what the Prime Minister will announce. We therefore appreciate your understanding and patience to the fact that it takes time to formulate a strategic response that includes as a priority, the welfare of student and staff. We shall continue to take the advice offered by the Department for Education and Public Health England in our decision making.

However, you will be aware that The Arnewood School, like many providers, has stayed open since lock down began, with teachers and children of key workers at the school on every school day as well as over the Easter holidays.  This has allowed us to practice social distancing within the classrooms and corridors of the school. This experience will help us to make plans for allowing more students to safely return to the school whenever that might be.

In the meantime, we shall continue to set work online for students via Firefly. In one small change, we shall from this week, set work on Friday for the following week. This is in order to help give those parents/carers now also returning to work, the opportunity to plan learning with their children over the weekend. For Y11 students this can include the transition to sixth form material which is already on Firefly.

Finally, we would like to thank all those parents and carers who are so clearly helping their child to remain a resilient learner. We all knew this was going to be more difficult as time progressed but from our analysis we know that many students are using Firefly regularly and effectively to learn from home. We do not underestimate how difficult this is for some households and it is refreshing to see such a commitment to learning which will reduce the knowledge gap for when we are all back in school again together.

Day 33 – Wednesday, 6th May 2020

Schools and colleges have received an update on the awarding of vocational qualifications. The key phrase that will be of importance to students is …

“We do not expect learners to complete any formal BTEC Assignment Briefs for BTEC Level 3 Nationals, BTEC Level 1 and 2 Firsts and Tech Awards between mid-March and July.  Instead, teachers will be asked to use a range of evidence to provide a centre assessed grade that will inform a Pearson calculation of grades for any missing BTEC Assignment Briefs for all students in Yr 10 through to Yr 13 that were due to be assessed during this time.”

This is taken from a Pearson’s letter addressed to students/parents/carers.

https://www.pearson.com/uk/learners/fe-and-college-students/supporting-fe-students-parents-covid-19.html

On a general point about the awarding of all grades at KS4 and post 16 it is worth noting the use of the word “calculated”. To be clear then, the grades submitted by the school will not be the final grades. Examination boards will use “additional information” to complete the calculation and then award grades. There is a sense that some pupils/parents may be misled into thinking the final grade will effectively be determined by schools. The proposals set out that schools are providing information which the boards will use alongside data they hold to “calculate” the final grade.

The backstop that is being proposed by OfQUAL is that students who are unhappy with the grades they are awarded will ultimately be able to resit the qualification at a sitting in the new year.  Hopefully this will not be necessary as students find they are content with the grade received in August.

Day 30 – Friday, 1st May 2020

Two weeks on from the Easter vacation and a week before the next government review of social distancing, thank you to all parents/carers who are helping us to maintain a focus on learning. We are aware that many of you share our concern that as time passes, students who are closest to their exams are missing valuable opportunities. It is important we do what we can to mitigate this and avoid additional pressure on children in the interim. With this in mind, sixth form transition materials are being made available for Year 11 students so they can get ahead.

You maybe interested to know that, behind the scenes, considerable discussion and scrutiny of assessment grades has been happening. This process is ongoing as teachers and heads of department attribute grades to GCSE, AS, A Level, and other qualifications to be awarded this August. Teams have been using virtual meetings to have, in instances, extended discussion about grades and rankings. We are taking full account of information including quantitative and qualitative factors, for example mock grades, coursework, prior assessment and participation practical activities. There is nothing arbitrary or superficial about the professional judgement which is being made.

While there is much speculation in the national media about schools reopening, we are still to receive guidance from the government on their strategy to ensure schools can safely function without undue risk. Many of you will have heard the Prime Minister speaking on Thursday afternoon. It is clear, although we are “past the peak”, he is cautious not to risk a second spike in infections. The Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson, has stated schools, when they return, will do so on a phased basis with adequate notice. We will continue to provide education on site for children of critical workers and others permitted by government guidance. Hopefully it will not be too long before greater numbers can attend but this can only be when the risks are acceptable. In the meantime children should continue to remain at home wherever it is safe to do so.

Day 25 – Friday, 24th April 2020

Hopefully the work being set this week has been more manageable for students and parents. Work for next week will be labelled “Week 4” and  should contain the name of the subject setting the task. A reminder that work for this week needs to be submitted by Monday and students need to confirm they have completed the task on Firefly. 

We will archive tasks every two weeks in order to keep Firefly dashboards tidy and so students are not left with a seemingly never ending list of work.

Day 23 – Wednesday, 22nd April 2020

A few further updates for sixth form students this morning.

Year 12

  • Each class teacher will set one task on Firefly per week for students to complete. Students should be able to complete these tasks within 2-4 hours.
  • This should continue until the specification content for Year 12 is completed.
  • Subjects will then set work to revise year 12 content or to prepare students for Year 13.

This is also a good opportunity to research the next stage of your education be it University/Apprenticeship/Employment with training or potential gap year.

  • UK university search is a free live Webinar on Wednesdays every week at 12pm starting on 29th April until 27th May. The topics for each session are; Choosing a University, Applying for University, Student Finance, Taking an Apprenticeship and Life at University. All will be presented by university and company representatives ready to answer your students’ questions and provide expert advice. See full details here.
  • Researching university – many universities are offering virtual tours with webinars, look on the individual university websites for more details.  The UCAS website itself is being updated daily with lots of good research, and should provide a good starting point.
    • University and college virtual open days on ucas.com.
    • The chance to speak to current undergraduates through Unibuddy on ucas.com – those who have already experienced student life and the courses your students are applying for.
  • Ready from next Monday 27th April is a Vimeo channel on university and revision. This is a really excellent resource that you should definitely have a look at.  All you have to do is hit this link https://vimeo.com/showcase/7004113 and enter the password netsixth12
  • Other useful websites are https://www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship https://www.careerpilot.org.uk/

Year 13/14

A Level and BTEC classes will no longer be set work, except in the case of a few A Level subjects where they are completing the specification.  Please can you now focus your attention on the ‘next step’ of your education, apprenticeship or employment.

  • This week the Government confirmed that A level/BTEC results day will be on Thursday 13th August.
  • UCAS have taken the decision that there will be only one undergraduate decision deadline for applicants that have received all of their decisions from universities and colleges by 4 June. They will need to reply to any offers by 18:00 (UK time) on 18 June this is later than originally planned.  Students should have been notified via email by UCAS.

As your attention turns to what next, below are some helpful starting points: –  

  • UK university search is a free live Webinar on Wednesdays every week at 12pm starting on 29th April until 27th May. The topics for each session are; Student Finance, Taking an Apprenticeship and Life at University. All will be presented by university and company representatives ready to answer your students’ questions and provide expert advice. See full details here.
  • Newly created for you is a vimeo channel on University preparation and revision. This is a really excellent resource that you should definitely have a look at.  All you have to do is hit this link https://vimeo.com/showcase/7004113 and enter the password netsixth13 . Working alongside this is a quiz, I’ll put one out a week, and the first one is on university finance. All you have to do is click the googleform link
  • Googleform – click here
  • Other useful websites are https://www.gov.uk/apply-apprenticeship https://www.careerpilot.org.uk/

Day 21 – Monday, 20th April 2020

Welcome back to the Summer Term. We have been listening to the feedback received on the work set on Firefly since the national closure. Like you, we are learning the best way to cope with the challenges of remote learning from home. With this in mind, the format we shall be adopting for this half-term is set out below: –

For Years 7-10

  • Each subject will set one task on Firefly per week (except Science) for students to complete. Students should be able to complete these tasks within one hour, except for English and Maths which may take longer. At GCSE level this is each subject that students have an exam in.  
  • Science tasks on Firefly will be more regular and include some video content. They will typically take 30 minutes.
  • Teachers of PSHE classes will not set work although occasional whole year group tasks will be set.
  • Each task will be written in plain language with simple step by step instructions, up to a maximum of 5 steps.  An optional extension task may be added.
  • The task title will include the subject name and the week that it is to be completed in this format: for example, “Week 3 work for History” (the week 20-24th April is week 3 of the virtual school). The deadline will be set for the following Monday.
  • Students should aim to work for up to an hour on 3 different subjects of their choosing per day. Please try to study a range of subjects and do not neglect English, maths and science.
  • Students are also encouraged to read for 30 minutes per day and to complete two 30-minute sessions of exercise per week too.

For Year 11

  • Work will continue to be set as above until the course specification is complete. Once complete, class teachers will not set additional work.
  • From the beginning of May, subject groups will be set up on Firefly for students who have opted to stay in the Sixth Form. Subjects will then set transition work for year 11 students to complete to help prepare for the start of their post-16 courses. Further information will follow in due course.

For Year 12

  • Each class teacher will set one task on Firefly per week for students to complete. Students should be able to complete these tasks within 2-4 hours. 
  • This should continue until the specification content for Year 12 is completed.
  • Subjects will then set work to revise year 12 content or to prepare students for Year 13.

For Year 13

  • A Level courses have now finished. Students will be directed towards focusing on their next steps by Mr Colman and Sixth Form staff.

Further updates will be published periodically on this page.