Letter from Principal | 20 March 2020

Dear Parents/Carers,

You will probably have seen the updated guidance regarding the request to all schools to stay open from Monday 23 March for vulnerable children and the children of key workers. If one parent is a key worker, you are eligible to access this provision. However, it is also important to stress that this provision will not be normal school. This will be a form of child care and we will do the best we can with the resources we have. The advice is clear that as we are trying to contain the virus, minimal mixing and social isolation is the recommendation. So if children can safely stay at home, this is where they should be.

The list of key workers is quite long and includes those who have critical roles in: Health and social care, Education and childcare, Key public services, Local and national government, Food and other necessary goods, Public safety and national security, Transport, Utilities, communication and financial services. Full details can be found here.

Thank you to those who have already completed the survey here to tell us if you intend to send your child/children to our school.

If your child/children are coming into school, they should report to the auditorium by 9am. They do not need to wear school uniform; the canteen will be open to provide food and snacks. Students should bring with them work and activities to do, like a book to read. They should bring some trainers and sports kit if they would like to play some sport which may be a possibility. We will run some activities but will not be setting extra work for these students. They will have available the resources and tasks being set online.

I would like to again repeat what I said yesterday: the students in school these last few days have almost universally been amazing and a real credit to our community: sensible, pragmatic, supportive and positive. In particular, the Year 11s and Sixth Form students who effectively had their last day of normal school today were amazing and showed great kindness and resilience. Please do see our website for pictures. We were able to celebrate their last day to some extent.


The latest guidance, just released, is as follows:

‘This year’s summer exam series, including A levels, GCSEs and other qualifications, and all primary assessments, have been cancelled as we fight to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The Government’s priority is now to ensure affected students can move on as planned to the next stage of their lives, including going into employment, starting university, college or sixth form courses, or an apprenticeship in the autumn.

This means ensuring GCSE, A and AS level students are awarded a grade which fairly reflects the work that they have put in. There will also be an option to sit an exam early in the next academic year for students who wish to. Ofqual will develop and set out a process that will provide a calculated grade to each student which reflects their performance as fairly as possible, and will work with the exam boards to ensure this is consistently applied for all students. The exam boards will be asking teachers, who know their students well, to submit their judgement about the grade that they believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead.

To produce this, teachers will take into account a range of evidence and data including performance on mock exams and non-exam assessment – clear guidance on how to do this fairly and robustly will be provided to schools and colleges. The exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment, and use this information to produce a calculated grade for each student, which will be a best assessment of the work they have put in.

Ofqual and exam boards will be discussing with teachers’ representatives before finalising an approach, to ensure that it is as fair as possible. More information will be provided as soon as possible.

The aim is to provide these calculated grades to students before the end of July. In terms of a permanent record, the grades will be indistinguishable from those provided in other years. We will also aim to ensure that the distribution of grades follows a similar pattern to that in other years, so that this year’s students do not face a systematic disadvantage as a consequence of these extraordinary circumstances.’

We will let you know more as and when it becomes clear.

Best wishes

James O’Connell