Back to school at John O’Gaunt in Hungerford – a letter from the Head and a detailed list of FAQs

The following letter was sent to parents and carers of pupils at John O’Gaunt School in Hungerford on 10 June 2020.

Dear Parents and Carers,

As per my letter last week, following the Government’s guidance on allowing small groups of students in Y10 back into school from 15th June 2020, we have been working hard to ensure we are well prepared for students in these year groups to attend school for some time during Term 6 and we are now in a position to share details with you. There is much to take in and I am sorry for the very long communication, but please do take the time to read all of it carefully. I should also mention that there are likely to be further communications about this later this week.

We have set out a summary of the key information, attendance and travel arrangements below and then tried to anticipate the frequently asked questions that might arise. These are attached at the end of the letter along with a form to complete to update us of your contact details should you need to do so.

Summary

Please be aware that, whilst we are very much looking forward to welcoming Year 10 students to school,remote learning remains the main mode of education for all year groups, including for students in Year 10. Rather than lessons we are running sessions, although there are obvious similarities between the two. The face-to-face support we aim to provide in school, and under current government guidelines, is tosupplement this and provide time for us to assess progress, assist and support students with their work, provide catch-up support if required, provide wellbeing support and help students prepare for forthcoming work.

  • Students will attend school one day per week, on the same day each week according to which group (A to D) they are allocated
  • Students will be split into groups of no more than 15. We have chosen these groups already and will communicate to you separately which group they have been allocated to and therefore which day they will be expected to attend. We have thought carefully about these groups and done our best to consider transport bubbles, options subject and social and gender mix. It is however, a best fit scenario given the constraints we are working to
  • Students will have to adhere to strict social distancing rules and will stay in the same room in school for all their sessions – teachers will come to them
  • The timings of the day are 8.45am to 12.50pm. There are four 50 minute sessions in the day and a break where snacks will be available to purchase
  • Students will be asked to attend in a summer version of our uniform – please see further details below in the FAQs
  • Mobile phones remain forbidden on site. We will have administrative staff on site to assist your child if they need to contact you
  • During the first week, we will provide a safety briefing for all students and set out our expectations of their conduct
  • A copy of the timetable and further information about remote learning will be sent separately

Attendance

If you have requested that your child attends the Year 10 provision, we ask that you commit to ensuring that they do attend. There is no change for those students accessing the key worker provision (KWV). As before, this will be available all week for specific pupils, such as the children of key workers.

We are staggering the student’s return to school so that we can have staff on hand to help students adjust to the new procedures. In order to keep cohorts separate and avoid congestion, the times of the school day will also change.

If any of your children, or any members of your household living at home, have any coronavirus symptoms, please do not send any of your children to school. Instead, please contact the school office to keep us informed.

All absences relating to other illnesses should be reported to school in the usual way.

Children who are clinically extremely vulnerable because they have pre-existing medical conditions will have been sent a letter from the NHS advising them to shield; these children are not expected to attend school.

The parents of clinically vulnerable children i.e. those who are at a higher risk but not needing to shield, should seek medical advice to see if their children ought to be attending school.

Travelling to School

Where possible, children should walk or cycle to school or be dropped off; please try to avoid public transport. In order to reduce congestion, students should be brought to school by just one parent/carer. Families should not mix so please do not arrange for children from different families to travel together to school, either by foot or by car sharing. Where it is unavoidable for students to travel by bus, we have made arrangements and will publish the details later this week. Students should make sure that they adhere to the safety guidance set out by the public transport provider; for example adhering to social distancing rules both on the bus and at the bus stops.

Current government guidance states that face coverings are required for anyone travelling on public transport from 15th June 2020. Please be aware of this and ensure your child adheres to this if they are travelling this way. Further information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/face- coverings-to-become-mandatory-on-public-transport

Upon arrival at school, parents using cars should use the visitor car park and not at the front of school. All families/students need to queue outside the specified entrance points and maintain a two metre social distance. We will place marking outside the school to make this clear. If you are not staying with your child please explain that they now need to be able to queue and social distance as part of the new school rules.

Students will be allowed into school, one-by-one. We have staff on hand to show students where they will be learning and how they will be moving around school in line with the new rules and procedures.

Please do not assume that your child can just attend school if we have not received notification via the survey sent out last week and we do not have your latest contact details. We need to make sure we have allocated spaces/desks and staff. We cannot respond immediately to last minute attendance requests/expectations, and we will need five days’ notice if you want to send your child and have not requested aplace. If a student turns up without prior agreement with the school, they will be isolated and we will contact you to collect them immediately.

I understand completely that this information might make the school feel rather unwelcoming, but this is far from what we are aiming for. As you should expect, the safety of your children and our staff is of the utmost importance and we are not taking anything for granted. We are genuinely pleased that we will have some time with Year 10 students to provide this support, if only for a day each week at this stage. If the guidance changes, then we will of course adapt and communicate to you as soon as we can. As I stated above, we will be in touch separately to inform you of which group your child is in.

In the meantime, thank you for your ongoing patience and support. Please do continue to read through the FAQs and take account of the guidance issued by the Department for Education. Please do get in touch with the school at jogoffice@excalibur.org.uk if you have any further queries.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Hawthorne
Head of School

FAQs

Q – How will you manage the risk of any transmission of Covid-19?

A – We have conducted a comprehensive Risk Assessment which takes full account of all available guidance from government. Links to these documents are provided below.

Q – How will the provision be organised?

A – To ensure increased spacing, we have split class groups and your children may not be in their usual group. As per the timetable above, we have shortened the school day for Year 10 students and break times have also been staggered with the KWV provision to ensure mixing is kept to a minimum.

All entrances and exits to classrooms will be via separate doors, external as far as is possible. Internal movement around school has been restricted to just visits to the toilets and outside/the canteen at break time. Individual use of toilets will be permitted but controlled and students should observe a one-in-one-out approach.

We do not have times when children now gather in larger groups. Assemblies will happen at a social distance either in the hall or where the student sessions are based.

As the students have been split into smaller learning groups, they may be taught by a teacher to their usual one. If a teaching assistant is required to lead a group (such as due to absence of teaching staff), they will be working under the direction of a teacher who will be preparing and monitoring the work.

Q – How will you minimise the risk of person-to-person transmission?

A – Schools have been asked to base safety practices on a hierarchy of measures:

  • avoid contact with anyone with symptoms
  • frequent hand cleaning and good respiratory hygiene practices
  • regular cleaning of settings
  • The following measures summarize the main points from our Risk Assessment and will be in place to minimise risk:
    • Notices reminding staff, students and visitors of social distancing guidance
    • Installation of floor stickers to identify 2 metre distancing where needed
    • Installation of floor stickers & signage to direct one-way pedestrian flow through corridors and walkways as required
    • “Catch It, Bin It, Kill It” messages to be put up around school site
    • Additional tissues and bins installed
    • Students should bring personal water bottles these should be screw-top and able to be filled separately from the spout that comes into contact with the mouth, to be kept in their possession
    • Control measures in place in office/classroom to restrict and control access

Q – How will you manage arrival at school?

A – On entry to school, all students and staff will be asked to sanitise/wash their hands. A hygiene routine will be maintained throughout the school day. In addition, hand washing facilities/hand sanitisers have been installed or will be available across the site. In line with government guidance, we are not carrying out routine daily temperature checks.

The students will be taught safety rules and strong hygiene procedures as part of their work in school. Senior staff will monitor and support the health and safety practices of the school. The school will be spot cleaned during the day. There will be a thorough cleaning of the school at the end of each working day.

Q – What measures does the school have in place if a student or member of staff develops Covid-19 symptoms?

A – If the person is in school, the following measures will apply:

  • They will be immediately isolated – we have a space in school to enable this to happen
  • Full PPE provided to a socially distanced adult who will supervise the student or stay with the symptomatic adult. Parents will be asked to collect their child without delay
  • The government has now stated that COVID-19 tests will be available for children and families who display symptoms and we will urge parents to book a test as soon as possible
  • Until the results of this test are known, other students and staff can remain at school, provided they are adhering to social distancing and hygiene guidance and are not showing symptoms themselves
  • Parents will be asked to keep in touch with the school daily on the medical progress of an unwell child so that further action may be taken in school, if indeed necessary. Should the symptomatic student or staff member test positive for COVID-19, all the staff and students who had contact with that person will be informed and will need to isolate for 14 days. This is in line with NHS guidelines on test and trace.
  • The area of the school where the group were based will be deep cleaned before further use
  • It is possible in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19 that the school may need to shut in the event that multiple staff are isolating and this affects our ability to operate safely

If the child is at home, parents will be asked to keep the child at home for 14 days or until test is known to be negative. Similarly, members of staff will be asked to remain at home and to apply for a COVID-19 test.

Q – Will any of your current behaviour expectations change?

A – No. We will continue to expect the highest standards of behaviour. Sanctions will be enforced if any student behaves in a way that compromises the safety of staff or other students such as fake coughing, sneezing on others, non-compliance with social distancing or expectations for the safe running of the site. Members of SLT and other relevant staff will be available to support and clear expectations of student behaviour when on site will be shared with parents and carers before students return.

We are currently adding an addendum our behaviour policy and school rules to take account of the current climate. Parents will be alerted when the new rules and procedures are uploaded onto the school’s website.

Q – Will parents and carers be allowed on site?

A – No. Parents and carers will be informed that they should only come to the school to collect a child who may be unwell or to pick up or drop off their child outside the school site.

Q – What measures have you put in place to socially distance students?

A – The following measures will be in place in school:

  • Students will be taught in small groups with only one group attending per day. The same group will attend on the same day each week, with the same fellow students
  • These groups will stay together for the day and remain in one room during sessions. Students will not be moving from session to session
  • At break time each group will have access to their own separate outdoor space from the KWV provision students
  • Students will stay together in their group, outside weather permitting
  • Desks will be as far apart as possible – at least 2 metres
  • Year 10 and KWV students will be kept in separate areas, have separate toilets and separate breaks to ensure they do not mix
  • Staff will socially distance from students, including TAs who, depending on their availability, may be able to support SEND students accessing the KWV provision or Year 10 lessons

Q – How will lunchtimes work?

A – Year 10 students will not have a lunch break. Snacks will be available from the canteen during the mid-morning break. FSM students will be given a packed lunch as they depart at the end of the dayA – For KWV students, arrangements will continue as they have done previously. Staff will take responsibility for supervision for each of the groups over morning and lunchtime break periods.

Q – Will the children wear uniform?

A – Yes. All students on site will be required to wear summer uniform. Namely, trousers or skirt, shirt and smart black shoes. Blazers are not required but hoodies must not be worn in replacement of this. A smart dark coloured coat is acceptable. The usual expectation around the wearing of jewellery, hair styles and nail varnish etc. remain. We will be sensitive to family circumstances where this may be difficult but will be asking that everyone attends in uniform in order to set expectations high and expedite a sense of normality and a return to school routine. We remind you that you should label uniform, as lost property will be destroyed due to public health reasons. Staff will be required to attend in smart professional wear as per normal.

Q – Will temperatures be taken on arrival?

A – No, the Government does not recommend this at this point.

Q – Will the children or staff wear PPE?

A – No, the Government does not recommend this (unless anyone is taken ill with symptoms in which case an isolation room will be used, and PPE will be given to staff responsible for the child in question). In line with government guidance, masks are not needed by children or adults. Staff are unlikely to be wearing PPE (and have not been asked to do so) unless they are dealing with intimate care or a child who has become unwell during the school day.

Q – What equipment should students bring to school?

A – Students should bring their own stationery. This will need to be a couple of pens, pencils, a ruler, protractor, compass and sharpener only. The only hard resources that will be shared by teachers are paper worksheets that will be kept and taken home by students. Work should be submitted and marked as it is currently. Any books currently being used by students at home should be kept at home. Students will be provided with paper/an exercise book if needed, to work on at school. This will remain in school for the time being and any follow up work completed in a separate book at home.

Where personal care is concerned, parents need to follow normal procedures relating to personal hygiene and the washing of clothes following a day in school. Please avoid sending your children to school in uniform that cannot be machine washed.

Students are not permitted to bring mobile phones on site.

Q – Have you considered student wellbeing?

A – Yes. School will look and feel different to your children. Classrooms have been cleared as far as possible to allow for increased spacing. Students will be expected to adhere to new rules and procedures. These will restrict the movements and freedoms that are usually part of school life. Please reassure your child thatthese measures are necessary and are only in place for everyone’s safety.

During the first week of attendance, we have arranged for briefings for students and training for staff, this includes measures to address wellbeing issues and questions as well as ensure the best care is being provided for all. Wellbeing sessions will form a regular part of the timetable.

Q – How should parents communicate with school?

The school grounds are a parent-free zone. We are significantly restricting the number of visitors on site. Please make all contact with school either by telephone or email.

Q – What will happen if parents decide they do not want their child to return to school at this point?

A – Government guidance makes clear that no fines or other sanctions should be used by schools if families decide they do not feel sufficiently confident to send their children back to school at this time. However, we will, of course, expect children to continue to engage with remote learning from home.

Q – What will happen for those students not in school?

A – Remote learning remains the main mode of education for all year groups, including for students in Year 10. However, the work might not be set and monitored by your child’s usual teacher as we are having torework our timetables and rotas to allow for the provision in school.

 

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