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Headteacher Update

Please read the latest update from Headteacher Mrs Dixon.

Dear Parents and Carers

I thought I would write to keep in touch and update you about various matters which we have been addressing this week, and to try to answer some of the queries you have raised.

First of all can I thank you for the many supportive emails we have received and for your kind words about our staff, in particular regarding the work that they have provided.

Free School Meals (FSM) E-Vouchers

We have been trying to verify the email addresses of all of our families entitled to FSM, as we will very shortly be able to provide e-vouchers, which can be used at all of the major supermarkets. If you are entitled to free school meals will you please check your emails and, either respond to the email we have sent this week or, if you have not heard from us, contact school as a matter of urgency so that we can update our records and send you the relevant details?

Expectations around how much work to complete

Several parents have asked about how much work we expect our students to complete, and for how long do we envisage the work will last.

This is a tricky one to answer; some students will happily follow their normal school timetable and spend 5 hours studying, whilst for others this may be too demanding.

If you are running out of work, please let the relevant Head of Department know (** see the details at the end of this letter) and more resources will be provided.

Having discussed this with my colleagues we think that there is a balance to be struck between covering enough work to keep on top of the subject, and having time to do some physical exercise as well as keeping mentally healthy.

As a guide we offer the following advice;

Years 7-9

3.5 hours of formal learning a day to include some Maths, English and Science.

Years 10 and 12

As you will be sitting formal exams in 2021 you should try to follow the timetable you have at school and spend from 3.5- 5 hours a day on your GCSE/A level subjects

Plus (for example)

  •          Board games which encourage general knowledge, literacy and numeracy.
  •          Physical exercise – the Joe Wicks ‘PE with Joe’ YouTube broadcast is highly recommended.
  •          Watching quiz shows on TV and writing down the questions and answers.
  •          Watching documentaries.

Years 11 and 13

We are still awaiting further details regarding the way in which qualifications will be awarded, and as soon as we know more I will let you know.

One thing that has been stated is that if students are unhappy with the grade awarded they will be able to appeal, and if they wish to take a formal assessment then they will be able to do so. It is worth noting that the grades awarded by your teacher may not be the grade you ultimately receive.

However, there are no details explaining what this will look like and how and when it will be offered.

The following is an extract from the most recent DfE guidance:-

The coronavirus outbreak is expected to continue having a significant impact on the education system, and the country, for months to come. Therefore exams have been cancelled now to give pupils, parents, and teachers certainty, and enable schools and colleges to focus on supporting vulnerable children and the children of key workers.

What will happen to those who have already done some non-exam assessment?

  •          The calculated grade process will take into account a range of evidence including, for example, non-exam assessment and mock results, and the approach will be standardised between schools and colleges. Ofqual is working urgently with the exam boards to set out proposals for how this process will work and will be talking to teachers’ representatives before finalising an approach, to ensure that the approach taken is as fair as possible.

How will you address the fact that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to have their grades under-predicted?

  •          We are not awarding students their predicted grades. Ofqual, the independent qualifications regulator, will develop a fair and robust process that takes into account a broad range of evidence, including teacher assessment and prior attainment. Ofqual will make every effort to ensure that the process agreed does not disadvantage any particular group of students.
  •          Pupils who do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance will have the opportunity to sit an exam, as soon as is reasonably possible after schools and colleges open again.

Will all students get their predicted grade?

  •          No, we know that simply using predicted grades would not be fair to all students. The calculated grade will take into account teachers’ assessment of the likely grade as well as other factors such as prior attainment, so students’ final grades will not necessarily reflect their predicted grades.

Will schools be using mock exam results as a barometer for results – and is this fair on students as they did not know at the time these would be used as their final mark?

  •          Mock exam results will be one of the pieces of evidence that will be taken into account in this process, alongside other factors. Ofqual will ensure schools are provided with clear guidance on how to do this fairly and robustly.

Will the past performance of the school be taken into account when devising the calculated grade?

  •          Ofqual will consider carefully how to ensure the process is as fair as possible, which is likely to include considering measures that reflect how much progress a student would have been likely to have made at the school they are attending.

Is this an entirely new system?

  •          Exam boards have experience of using moderated teacher assessment to award grades to a number of students, such as those who fall ill immediately before an exam. Ofqual will draw on this experience when developing the process to be used this year.

How will schools/colleges cope with the burden of putting on an atypical exam season?

  •          We recognise that exams are a stressful time for schools and colleges. We will set out in due course the steps we will be taking to minimise this burden.

Will universities/colleges/sixth forms accept these calculated grades?

  •          The calculated grades awarded will be formal grades, with the same status as grades awarded in any other year.
  •          University representatives have already confirmed that they expect universities to be flexible and do all they can to support students and ensure they can progress to higher education.

What if I am unhappy with my grade?

  •          We will work closely with Ofqual and awarding organisations to ensure candidates are awarded a fair grade that recognises the work they have put in. If a student does not believe the correct process has been followed in their case they will be able to appeal on that basis. In addition, if they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam, as soon as is reasonably possible after schools and colleges open again. Students will also have the option to sit their exams in summer 2021.
  •          We recognise that some students may feel disappointed that they have not been able to sit their exams. If they do not feel their calculated grade reflects their performance, they will have the opportunity to sit an exam, as soon as is reasonably possible after schools and colleges open again. Students will also have the option to sit their exams in summer 2021.

Consequently we are recommending that year 11 and 13 students continue to revise for their exams, so that they are in the best position to sit the revised assessments later in the year should they choose to do so, and they are not disadvantaged.

Subject specific queries

If you have any concerns with the work from a particular subject then please email the Head of Department directly in order to receive further guidance. ** Their email address is their surname, then their first initial, followed by

Alternatively you can use fao the subject leader and your enquiry will be forwarded on to them.

I do hope that you are all safe and well and coping with these very surreal times.

Rest assured that we are here to support you with your child’s education and we will also be open over the Easter holidays, providing childcare for our Key Workers’ children.

Sending my very best wishes,

Paula Dixon