Update from Principal | 29 June 2020

Dear parents/carers,

We have now had nearly all of the Year 10 and 12 students who are able to come to school back in for teaching sessions and it has been wonderful to have more students in school, and a greater sense of normality.  It is still deeply frustrating not to have all years back in some shape or form.  It is a strange state of affairs when you’re allowed to go to the pub but not to school.  There was a time when I would have thought that a blessing, but not anymore.

Years 7-9 students and their parents will shortly receive a letter giving them an appointment time for a one-to-one meeting for each student with a tutor to discuss their well-being and learning progress.  We did this with the Year 10 and 12 students and found the meetings really useful.  It is only a start and one meeting, but it will help students to re-connect with their learning and school, and staff to know how they have coped, as we look forward to September and (hopefully) a proper re-start.  We as staff have gained a lot from the meetings and look forward to these.  We hope very much to gain some guidance from the Department for Education about September and our ‘re-opening’ this week.

You will hopefully be aware of our increased provision in terms of remote learning.  We now have many more live and recorded ‘real’ lessons with direct teacher contact, including question and answer opportunities.  We have tried to stagger these, mindful of the fact that many households have more than one child trying to access a single device simultaneously, so we’ve looked to run a number of sessions on separate days for each year group.  However, we are aware that there have been clashes and some confusion and frustration.  Thank you for your feedback and patience.  We have adjusted the timetable and an updated version and outline can be found here.

We are very aware that things may have been very strange if not difficult for Year 13 and 11 students these last three months.  Results days will still be on the original, planned dates – 13 August for Year 13 and 20 August for Year 11.  We may well still have to control some form of social distancing on these days, but we are looking forward to them and aim to invite students to collect their results and see us.   We will have contingency plans in place to send the results out by email if we have to, but we are really hoping to see these students in school and to be able to advise, support and celebrate with them.

The arrangements for Year 10 next week (w/c 29 June) remain largely the same. Students are invited into school on the same day and times as previously sent out and will have an opportunity to continue to build on the important welfare work that they started with their tutor.  This will be followed by either an English or maths session.  Following the latest government advice, we are also delighted to be able to extend our Year 10 provision for the final two weeks of term (w/c 6 July and w/c 13 July).  During this period students will attend a third session which will be either science or careers, dependent on week.  Social pods and staggered starts will remain the same.

Finish times for these extended sessions are highlighted below.

Pod A students: 9.00am until 12.15pm

Pod B students: 10.30am until 13.35pm

Pod C students: 12.00pm until 15.15pm

We will be issuing reports for students in the final week of the summer term, as per our calendar and normal arrangements.  However, we have made the decision to report just on Independent Learning and Attitude to Learning to provide parents and carers with some feedback on how students have been progressing during the school closure period.  We appreciate that some of our students have experienced a whole range of challenges working from home and may not have been able to submit work that has been completed.  It would not be fair or right to try and grade students’ current working level, let alone predict their future grades at present.  We will get this information to you in the Autumn term when we are hopefully able to have more face to face contact with our students and accurately assess where they are.  If you have any concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact your son/daughter’s teacher.  Email addresses can be found on our school website here.  If you have any questions then please email Mrs Atkinson (samantha.atkinson@teignmouth.devon.sch.uk).

Finally, one excitement in school this last week has been the repeated sightings of a family of deer who seem to have taken up residence in our school grounds.  With the lack of human traffic, the wildlife is emerging and our regular group of children currently attending school have been granted the opportunity to go deer stalking, armed with cameras rather than rifles I hasten to add.  On the O’Connell home front, the drama of the week has been ‘haircut-gate’.  My own haircuts are a quick and simple event for obvious reasons.  No-one else in the house has had a haircut for three months and it’s been getting a bit desperate.  Number 2 son has begun to look like our prime minister on a bad hair day and this weekend necessitated action.  Strangely, though not particularly vain, he doesn’t trust me with clippers but we finally cornered him this Saturday and pinned him down whilst I dealt with the undergrowth on top of his head.  I’m quite proud of the artistic effect I think I achieved but he says he’s not leaving the house for at least two weeks.  As we’re out of coke and low on biscuits and chocolate, I doubt he’ll last a fortnight!

Best wishes,

James O’Connell