Principal’s update – 21st September

Dear Parents/ Carers,

It is good to be able to write to you with (finally) our full student body back in school.  Now that we have had a full week back, it is also great to report how positively, maturely and enthusiastically almost all of our students have returned to school.  There has been much speculation and concern in recent months about the effect of the lockdown on young people.  It is still early days but I think many of our students display far more adaptability and resilience than we may sometimes give them credit for.  There are of course challenges and some have faced real adversities, but there are also many positives to focus on.  It has been fantastic to have the school busy and working fairly normally with keen, well-behaved and happy students learning in our classrooms again.

Our attendance so far this term has been good – as good as normal if not even better.  We have had seventeen students and a member of staff go home or stay at home due to the possibility of Covid symptoms and four of these have since received negative results.  In schools further north the number of students and staff isolating are much higher and, even in Devon, I know of secondary schools with over 50 members of the community isolating already.  Please try not to be too alarmed as we will continue to be cautious but pragmatic.  If we were to receive any information that a member of our community has a positive test, we will be taking advice direct from Public Health England and I will let you know immediately.  Similarly, if we develop a real concern that we may have an outbreak in our community we will take action and alert you immediately.

At the end of this letter is a hopefully simple and clear flow chart outlining the procedure if you have a concern about your child.  If you are contacted by ‘Test and Trace’ or have a positive case in your household, please let us know by contacting Student Services immediately.

Please forgive me if any of the following sounds bossy.  I would be grateful if you could pass on the below important reminders to your sons and daughters as we get stuck in to the term:

Safe behaviour: crossing roads, transport and getting to school

  • I’ve had three members of the public contact me already this term. Please remind your children to cross roads carefully and sensibly on their way to and from school.  Far too many are predictably focussed on their mobile phones, as they leave school in particular.  Outside the main gate, students must use the footbridge to cross Exeter Road.
  • As per the Covid guidance, please remind your son/daughter of the importance of wearing a mask if they are on public transport. There has been mention of students not wearing them on trains as they must.
  • Please, parents/carers, do not park irresponsibly or illegally on the road when picking up your son/daughter. I do appreciate it may be harder than ever to find a parking space on Exeter Road as more people are collecting children themselves for obvious reasons at the moment.  However, the steep, narrow road of Exeter Street isn’t suitable for cars stopping and residents have complained of cars blocking the pavement.  I suggest that parking higher up Exeter Road is always possible and your son/daughter won’t be harmed by having to walk further uphill!  Thank you for your assistance with this.


Routines in school

Avoiding crowding

Please ask your children not to arrive in school before 8.30 in the morning.  We are working to avoid students gathering, particularly inside, and mixing across year groups.  They may not be allowed into school and their tutor rooms until 8.40, much as we do appreciate and value them being early!

Meal times

Reminder that we are only serving food in break 1.  We will continue to evaluate this but students have done really well in adapting to all of the new timings, staggered breaks and new procedures.

Masks and sanitising

The vast majority of students are doing really well with sanitising and the new systems.  The most important, safety measure they can take is frequent and thorough hand washing.  Please ensure that your son/daughter does have a mask as they need this to go through the canteen now where there could be an increased risk of contamination.  We are not insisting on masks in corridors at this stage but we will continue to evaluate this and it is an escalatory precaution we may take if the rates of infection in our area increase.


  • Uniform has been pretty good considering the challenges many of you would have experienced in getting uniform (sorry for this).
  • A reminder that facial piercings, including eyebrows and nose piercings, are not allowed. It has been a bit frustrating that a few students have chosen to have one of these piercings just before the start of term.
  • For PE, we made a decision to allow our students to wear plain hoodies/coat and track suit bottoms to school over their PE kit on the days they have PE as we are unable to use the changing rooms.
  • In PE lessons, we continue to follow the school PE kit policy which is that only the blue TCS hoodie can be worn as we want to maintain our usual high standards of kit in PE. We have TCS hoodies in stock if you do want to buy one at this stage.  As we are restricted to having to do pretty much all our PE lessons outdoors at present, we may have to do some lessons if it is drizzling as we do not have the indoor option.  Students will be able to wear a waterproof coat during their lesson when it is raining lightly so we can ensure the lessons can go ahead. In this case, we will allow any plain waterproof coat to be worn in the PE lesson.

Finally, I’m sure that you are very aware of the continuing speculation about what will happen and recent discussion of a ‘circuit breaker’, whatever they may come to mean.  We will continue to monitor the situation closely and are doing our utmost to keep school operating as normally as is safely possible.  Should one or more year groups have to be sent home, we will immediately commence with our online and remote learning plan.  Details of this and our commitment to our students in this eventuality are contained after the flow chart below.  Let’s hope that this isn’t required, but if it is, we will make the best of it!  A separate letter will be going out shortly to parents/carers of our Year 11 students about our plans to support them in this critical year.


Best wishes,

James O’Connell








Online and Remote Learning Expectations for Students


We need to be prepared for the possibility of further ‘lockdowns’ in the academic year 2020-21 which could result in specific year groups or all students at TCS Exeter Road having to work and learn from home.  The following guidance aims to clarify our promise and offer as a school and what we will expect of students in these circumstances.


What will online learning look like?

  • If one or a few students are sent home, work will continue to be set on Class Charts by their class teacher.
  • If a whole year group or the whole school is sent home, students will be guided to Class Charts initially where they will then be reminded to use the Google Classroom
  • For whole year groups sent home or the whole school in lockdown, students will receive live lessons each week from their own teacher. These may take a variety of forms including live/streamed lessons and audio/video accompanied power points or YouTube videos.
  • Students may be asked to participate in a lesson, watch a teacher model the way in which they complete a task or attend a feedback session where students can ask questions and seek advice.
  • Clear instructions on how to access these lessons will be put on Class Charts initially to remind students that all work will now be set on Google Classrooms during a potential lockdown.


How often will your child receive online lessons?

  • Students will receive at least one lesson a week in all subjects and two lessons a week in core subjects including English, Maths and Science.
  • Students will receive these lessons during one of their usual timetabled lessons. This will prevent clashes with other subjects whilst maintaining a similar routine to what students are already used to at school.

For example: Johnny has Maths on a Monday lesson 2, Tuesday lesson 4 and Friday lesson 5. Johnny’s Maths teacher decides to run their live lessons on a Tuesday lesson 4 and Friday lesson 5.


How will students access the learning and receive feedback?

  • If a year group of students or the whole school are forced to work from home due to a potential lockdown, students’ work will be set on Google Classroom – not on Class Charts.
  • This means that all resources, live lessons and feedback can take place on one platform.
  • Feedback may take different forms depending on the work set and/ or the subject. Feedback may include some of the following:
  • personal comments attached to the work submitted on Google Classroom
  • WWW/EBI comments
  • voice recordings
  • verbal feedback given during a live lesson
  • automated scores on tests such as Seneca, Ezy Education and Sparx


How will TCS stay in touch?

  • Students will continue to have their assemblies once a week provided by their HoY using Google Classrooms.
  • Students will have a tutor session once a week with their form tutor using Google Classroom (the day will be set by the form tutor).
  • Each tutor will make contact home once a fortnight alternating between phone and email to stay in touch.


What do I do if I have questions about my child’s learning?

  • The best thing you can do is contact your child’s teacher(s). They will be able to give you specific information with regards to their subject.
  • If you wish to contact your child’s teachers directly then follow this link which will take you to the staff list and their email addresses
  • To log on to Google Classroom, students should use their school email address e.g. Their password will be exactly the same as their Class Charts log on.




Please note the following safety measures which are in place to protect your children and our staff when using online platforms:

  • To log on to Google Classroom, students must use their school email address (see above). This helps teachers to identify those logging in as students from the school.
  • Live and/or streamed content will be recorded for safeguarding purposes. Having content recorded also means that recordings can be downloaded by students to watch at a time which suits them if they are unable to access content live that day.
  • We strongly suggest that students should not enable their webcams when joining sessions. If they do, parents should be aware that you are consenting to your child’s image being recorded as part of the lesson.
  • Students can only enter Google Meetings using their student ID/ email.
  • When attending the Google Meeting, please ensure students are in a communal living space (sitting room, kitchen, dining room, etc).
  • Please ensure students are dressed appropriately if they are choosing to turn on their camera.


Please do get in touch if you have any questions by contacting Lea Carpenter (