Wednesday 18th March
Dear Parents and Carers
Following a very rapid decline yesterday, our staffing seems to have stabilised today. We have more than thirty teachers and a dozen support staff absent – an absolutely un-heard of number. All those people are either ill and self-isolating or very vulnerable because of a pre-existing condition.
I wanted to ensure that we could cater this week for the children of those parents that cannot afford to not be in work this week, either because they are on zero-hour contracts and need to work to feed their families or because they work in front line jobs keeping us all safe at the moment – in hospitals, supermarkets, pharmacies, primary school, the emergency services… I now know we can do that with a small amount of capacity to spare.
We are making unprecedented adjustments, such as limiting the number of toilets we have available to staff and students because of our severely restricted cleaning capacity. We have enough staff to keep the canteen open. We are supervising hand washing for everyone in the building twice a day. It seems to be working well.
We have made a conscious decision to prioritise safety first, with education a close second.
Because we have fewer students here than we thought we might have, and because staffing has stabilised for the time being, we are able to invite Year 11 back in tomorrow and, if things stay as they are, Friday. We have looked at the timetable and the staffing we expect to have available. We can offer a timetable similar to the normal one, with science, English and maths for everyone and options subjects mostly taught by subject specialist teachers. Where that isn’t possible we will offer supervised study instead. We will also have some time doing either sports or arts to help students stay cheerful during this very unusual time.
Those students in Year 11 who wish to come in tomorrow, I would be delighted to see you. You don’t have to - I stand by my offer to respect the right of any parent to keep their child away from school at the moment. Students in other year groups who need to be here, please continue to attend. Students in other years who can stay at home, please do that. We will meet in the canteen for an 8.40 start.
Breakfast club is on. Buses will run as usual. Please wear PE or other sports kit so we don’t have to worry about changing.
We have had some queries from parents about absence texts. While we are partially open we will continue to send those texts because although unlikely it is conceivable that a student might leave home saying that they are coming to school but go elsewhere. We need to be able to pick that up and let parents know that their children are not where they think they are. Please only reply to the absence text if you think your child has come to school but we text saying they have not arrived.
It has been heartening to see so many students are working from home today, accessing the work we have set on Go 4 Schools. Some of you have been in touch to ask for help logging in. We have set up a help line:
IT Direct Dial: 01440 702034
IT Email: ITRequests@samuelward.co.uk
A frequent question is about logging in. School computer logins and email passwords are synced. If you are unable to access please contact us at the helpline above for a password reset. Go4Schools (and many other third-party sites) allow students to reset their own passwords.
Please visit the website and use the "Forgot password" link. The IT support department have no access to GCSE POD, MathsWatch or Seneca systems. If you need help with those please contact the subject head of department or Mr Butterworth.
I’d like to thank you for your patience while we find ways to adapt to events as they happen. I realise that we as parents rely on schools to provide day to day stability but that is just not possible at the moment. I suppose we are not alone in having to change our plans from day to day. We are trying hard in challenging circumstances to keep our communication clear and timely. All I can promise going forward is that we will do our very best and keep that communication coming.
Thank you to you all for your ongoing support