12th March 2020

Coronavirus Update

Dear Parents and carers,

I thought it might be useful to update you on our contingency planning as the coronavirus situation unfolds.

As the government move towards the delay phase of their action plan, we face two possible scenarios. The first is that because the government may soon advise anyone with a fever or cough to self-isolate, we could find that we become very short staffed very quickly. If we do, we will attempt to keep the school open for Year 11 as long as we can. We will also invite Year 13 to attend as long as we have the teachers to deliver lessons to them – we have far fewer Year 13 specialists than we do GCSE teachers. Whether we can open will depend on whether we have enough staff to teach the students and keep the site safe, at least one trained safeguarding lead, members of the senior team and a skeleton office staff so that phone and other crucial admin systems can be kept working. We are also putting plans in place so that we can feed students with a reduced canteen staff and clean the school with a reduced cleaning staff.

The second scenario is that we are instructed by Public Health England to close. In that case the school will be closed to everyone. We will set work for all year groups through Go 4 Schools. That work is being prepared at the moment so that it is ready to go. For students in years 10 and 11, there will be work set through GCSE POD, maths watch and other online platforms to support their exam preparation. We will also provide packs of papers to take home. Depending on how long we might be required to close for, we hope to be able to put lessons on line taking Year 11 students through exam questions.

If the GCSE and A-Level exams are disrupted, the disruption will be national. The JCQ, the body responsible for overseeing all exams in the UK, are working on their contingency plans just as we are. When there is more information from them I’ll share it with you.

One short-term impact of the virus that we know about already is that a number of people who were going to come and help us to conduct mock-interviews with year 10 have understandably been asked by their employers not to come. I expect that the number of people pulling out will increase, so we have taken the decision to postpone that event until later in the year.

We have also decided that because the Year 9 Out to Work day is very likely to be impacted by restrictions in other workplaces, it would be better undertaken in the summer.

The trip to Bletchley Park next week will go ahead unless the venue tell us to cancel it.

There are a number of residential trips coming up, starting with Ypres on the 20th March.  As things stand, if the school is open and the government have not advised against travel to Belgium then it will go ahead. That situation may well change. We will continue to monitor the situation and risk assess as we do to ensure that no student or member of staff is placed at unnecessary risk.

Best wishes,

Andy Hunter