It has been a very busy first half term and I feel incredibly proud of how quickly and confidently our staff and students have adapted to our new coronavirus safety systems and routines. The students are focussed in lessons and working really hard to make up for the time they lost in school due to lockdown.
A highlight of this half term has been seeing so many students step up to the challenge and push forward student leadership; whether that is applying for a new role, or taking an active lead on whole school initiatives like the red card to racism campaign linked to black history month.
I am very much looking forward to finding out which students have been successful in their leadership interviews after half term.
I am delighted that almost 70% of our students have signed up to the Chromebook scheme. They are already using these in their lessons to support their learning and hopefully it will have a big impact on home learning, too. Our teachers upload the resources for every lesson to Google Classroom meaning students can access and complete the work if they are self-isolating or shielding at home so they won’t fall behind with their learning. A lot of our INSET time this year is focussed on digital learning so I am confident that their use will become an embedded part of our practice as the year progresses. If your child qualifies for free school meals and would like to join the scheme, our next portal will open on 2nd November for one month. We are hopeful we can extend this last opportunity to all students but will confirm this after half term.
It is an achievement that we have made it to half term without a positive coronavirus case but I am sure you are aware the situation in the city is changing quickly. There has been a significant rise in the number of positive cases over the last few weeks and we are therefore being told to prepare ourselves for a very challenging November and December in schools. Added to this, we are moving into the winter months and the rain and cold is setting in. We are therefore adapting our protocols and risk assessment to reflect the need for the children to be inside more.
With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increasing in the City, please can I remind you not to send your child to school if they, or anyone in your household, are displaying any of the following symptoms: a new continuous cough, a high temperature and/or change in taste or smell. In this instance, please self-isolate, book a Covid-19 test promptly and inform us of the result as soon as you have it. If your child tests positive for coronavirus this weekend, or in the early part of next week, it is still vital that you contact us so we can identify any close contacts immediately to tell them to self-isolate.
We have made the decision that Year 11 will not sit their mock exams in November but will be sitting landmark assessments in their lessons with their teachers instead; this means we are able to safely accommodate the rest of the school in our large indoor spaces in their year group bubbles. Year 11 will sit their mock exams in March when we hope the weather will be better and they will have had more time back in school to thoroughly prepare. Although the government has made the decision that GCSE summer exams will go ahead as normal, we all know the situation can change very quickly and OFQUAL are beginning their consultation with schools next week about alternative contingency plans. Our Year 11 students are very aware that every lesson counts and we have all been impressed with the maturity and commitment to their learning they are showing during really uncertain times.
This half term, we asked students to come to school in their PE kit on the days they had PE lessons and a lot of our students have met the high standards expected with ease. Nevertheless, we have been monitoring the situation closely and have seen a change in the attitude to learning, particularly with upper school students, on the days they are not in their school uniform or correct PE kit. Therefore, from next half term, only students in Years 7 and 8, who have consistently demonstrated their ability to meet our high expectations in regards to kit, will wear their PE kit to school on the days they have PE. Students in Years 9, 10 and 11 will now come to school in their full school uniform and will follow the new coronavirus safety routines to change into their PE kit for their lesson in school. As with everything, we will review this as the term goes on and keep you fully informed of any changes.
I hope you have a wonderful, restful half term and I look forward to seeing more of you virtually soon.
No school should close in response to a suspected (or confirmed) COVID-19 case unless directed to do so by Public Health England.
The school has established a Google Classroom for students and a list of other online resources for use at home, in the event of students having to self isolate/school closure.
Please see attached article with suggestions on how to structure the days in the event of a school closure. We will keep you fully informed of any changes.
The Salvation Army can provide up to 3 food parcels without a voucher:
Haven Community centre, Lake Road, PO1 4HA: Tuesday 1-3pm, Friday 10am-12pm.
The DfE have also launched a new helpline to answer questions about COVID-19 related to education. Staff, parents and students can contact the helpline as follows:
24/3/20: The Universities of Oxford and Reading have put together a resource containing advice around supporting young people at a time when anxiety and worry will likely be high.
You can find the resource on the Emerging Minds website here:
Portsmouth School Nursing Service continues to provide non-emergency health related advice and support
eg. sleep, bedwetting, healthy weight, soiling, emotional health and wellbeing, additional and long term health conditions.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of your child’s health or development then please contact us by
Telephone –03001236629 or Text us on 07491163276
The advice can be found on the NSPCC website here: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/coronavirus-advice-suppport-children-families-parents/
You can find the latest updates on COVID-19 on the Government page here:
On the 9th March 2020, Public Health England updated their travel advice, recommending that anyone returning from Italy should self-isolate, even if you do not have any symptoms. If you do develop symptoms, call NHS 111.
The latest travel guidance can be found here:
Personal hygiene is the most important way we can tackle COVID-19, especially washing hands more; and the catch it, bin it, kill it strategy for those with coughs and sneezes.
Wash your hands more often for 20 seconds with soap and hot water.
In addition to handwashing before eating and after sneezing, both children and staff should also wash hands after using toilets and after travelling on public transport.
They have also released the following guidance for education settings:
You can read the advice given to schools by the Government on the link below, including more information about the Coronavirus which will hopefully help dispel some of the myths that are going around!