School Closure Update – March 20th
20th March 2020
It is easy to become overwhelmed with the changing picture and speed of events. We have done our best to keep you up to date, but I find myself writing with yet more new information.
The Government is reacting to a crisis and is acting to keep people safe. In that context, the need of schools comes a little way down their list of priorities, and it is our job as adults and educators to lift our students and offer hope and support.
GCSE and A Level Exams
As you will know, the Secretary of State announced that exams in May and June are cancelled. I understand the devastation this has caused to many of our students, in part because of the uncertainty of what replaces them. It has been made clear that:
- Exams will not be rescheduled for a later date
- Grades will be awarded and published in August as intended
We spoke to both Year 11 and Year 13 students about this yesterday. Although teacher predictions will be used, it is likely that the system for awarding grades will be much more sophisticated than this. We have a lot of information about students already (for GCSE students, we have their Year 6 SAT results, and A Level students we have their GCSE results). Ofqual and awarding bodies will be able to project forward likely grades, take account of teacher predictions, and look at the performance of the school over the last couple of years. This will help them arrive at a grade. It has been announced too that there will be an appeals process.
My belief is that in most cases, students will be given the benefit of the doubt when there is any doubt. We will certainly be doing this for sixth form entry and the universities are highly likely to do the same. I don’t think that students will be unfairly treated through this process.
There is of course the psychological impact of not taking the exams and the feelings our students have that they have been unable to show what they can do. I hope that in time, students will come to accept this. It is important that students know that they are not defined by their GCSE and A Level grades. I want them to focus on what they have learnt; it is this which will help them progress, and this will stay with them all their lives. Those results have never been a measure of how they have grown and developed over the years with us and we are all incredibly proud of the fantastic young people they have become. I will be communicating directly with them over the coming few days to ensure that they know this.
Last Day for Year 11 and Year 13
This isn’t the final day any of us wanted for our students. We will rearrange the prom for both Year 11 and Year 13 and we hope to have a fabulous turnout when we do. We have told the students how proud we are of them and how much they have to look forward to. We are desperately sad that they will miss out on so many important rites of passage. We are working on a few things that we hope might go some small way to making up for this, more details will be communicated over the coming months.
The abrupt end of the year will take some digesting and our advice is that our Year 11 and 13 students have a complete break. This will seem strange as they had planned to work for another 3 months. I don’t think a long-term break from learning is healthy so after a well-earned rest, and after Easter, we suggest that:
- Year 11 students who are returning to Sixth Form, undertake preparation in their chosen courses through our on-line bridging booklets. This may be in addition to students completing coursework or other GCSE based work, but this will be confirmed in due course.
- Year 13 students undertake some on-line learning courses (MOOCs) in areas of interest, which will help them prepare for university life or work. This will help them to re-engage with academic study and will help them with the transition to the next stage of their lives. This may be in addition to students completing coursework or other A Level based work, but this will be confirmed in due course.
In both cases, we will send out information or work in due course. For those following vocational courses in Years 11 and 13, it is unclear how this will be accredited. Please follow any advice received from your teachers, but don’t worry!
Support for all students and families now we are closed
Once closed, our plan had always been to:
- Provide financial support to those entitled to free school meals
- Keep in regular touch with vulnerable students and families and those with special educational needs
- Provide home learning work for all students
Some families can expect regular ‘keep in touch’ phone calls over the period of closure from one of our pastoral team. Any parent may contact us during the period of closure for pastoral support. Please do this via email if at all possible, as the school switchboard will not be covered. You can email email@example.com and students can email their teachers directly, via their school email, should they have questions about their work.
From Monday, all students will be able to access their timetabled lessons through Microsoft Teams. Students have been shown how to use the software and have been given login details so they can access all the online resources they need to continue their learning.
In order to help students’ manage their time, the following ‘timetable’ will be in place. Their teachers will set their work on Microsoft Teams for the time they would have that subject on their normal timetable.
If you are having any issues with accessing work etc, please contact the support team via the link below. Please be patient with us, we will respond as quickly as we are able to. This is a new way of working for us all and staffing numbers are reduced at this time due to the outbreak. There will undoubtedly be teething issues as we move to virtual learning, these will reduce as we all become accustomed to working on Microsoft teams. Your patience is very much appreciated.
We appreciate that there will be circumstances where it is not possible to stick to a ‘routine’ but for many students (and adults) social isolation will be very challenging and having some sense of a routine to the day will help families to cope with this situation. Here is an example of how this might look:
8:00am – 8:30am
Wake up and Breakfast
8:30am – 8:45am
Listen to the day’s assembly on Twitter/Facebook/YouTube
8:45am – 9:45am
Period 1 lesson
9:45am – 10:45am
Period 2 lesson
10:45am – 11:00am
11:00am – 11:55am
Period 3 lesson
11:55am – 12:50pm
Period 4 lesson
12:50pm – 1:40pm
1:40pm – 2:35pm
Period 5 lesson
2:35pm – 3:30pm
Period 6 lesson
3:30pm – 4.30pm
TV/Gadget time/Listen to some music/Connect with friends on social media
School will be open for some students next week. We are open for those students whose parents are key workers, those with Education & Health Care Plans (EHCPs), those with social workers, and other vulnerable students. The Secretary of State stated that every child who can be safely cared for at home should be. This is an offer to some parents and there is no requirement that you have to send your child to school if you feel that they are safer at home.
Yesterday I sent a text to parents asking them to respond about key workers. For many of these students, they will be old enough to be left alone or there is another adult in the house to supervise them. We will try to contact all those in the groups identified above (if you haven’t yet got in touch, please do). Please do not turn up to school unless we have authorised you to do so.
For those students who do come in, the arrangements will be:
- 9:00am – 3:00pm
- The Eden Centre on our site will be open for authorised students from both schools within our Trust
- Pupils in receipt of free school meals have been provided with a voucher for a month therefore all children are required to bring a packed lunch
- There is no minibus service operating due to social distancing
- A small number of Senior Leaders will supervise students whilst they complete their home learning tasks that other students have been given
- Students will be required to wear school uniform
- Absence will be reported if parents have asked their child to attend
- Any child who behaves inappropriately during this time, parents/carers will be asked to collect them; we do not have the usual support mechanism in place to manage this in any other way.
Please contact the members of staff below if you have any queries regarding this provision:
Ms L Bruce – Assistant Headteacher
Mr G Pass – Assistant Headteacher
Ms C Bayley – Safeguarding and Inclusion Lead
Free School Meals
We have been working hard to ensure that our students who qualify for free school meals can access provision during this time. A voucher will be sent to you in the post that will cover the first two weeks of school closure. We will notify you of further measures as things progress. If you need additional help with food or meal planning, we are working in partnership with The Big Venture Centre which can be found at 17 Chesterton Road, Wolverhampton WV10 8SP. They have more information about their services on their Facebook page, which can be found by searching @venturecentre1.
Thank you again for all your patience and continued support during these difficult times. It will be a very sombre moment when we close our gates this afternoon. We have not faced a challenge on this scale before. We’ll get through it as Team Moreton and before long the corridors will once again be ringing with the sound of the children’s laughter and chatter. Until then, take care of yourselves, your families and your friends.