Update from Principal | 8 April 2020


Dear Parents/Carers,

I know that many of you are working or looking after others but I do hope that you are able to enjoy something of Easter in these strange and challenging times. Looking ahead to next term, we do not yet know when schools will re-open but it seems extremely likely that we will continue to be closed for at least the first few weeks of the summer term.

Remote School

This means that we will continue to set work remotely for the majority of students. Tuesday 14 April is a staff training day and we will be working on our curriculum development plans as a staff body, all be it working remotely online from our homes. The term recommences on Wednesday 15 April and we will be continuing to use Class Charts as the first point of contact for students. We will shortly be sending out further guidance and tips on how students can engage with this work and how you as parents/carers can best support.

If you or your child/children are struggling with software or accessing work, please go to our IT Support page here. This page contains links to support you and an email address to contact for direct support during the working day.

Everyone’s access to IT, a broadband connection and other resources vary and we recognise that there are no simple options and answers to remote learning. We also recognise that some families may not have a laptop, PC or tablet to use at home. Unfortunately, our resources are also limited but we do have a few laptops to lend out. If you would like to request one of these, please send an email to joab.forte@teignmouth.devon.sch.uk, titled ‘Laptop request’, stating:
Your name:
Your child/children’s name(s):
‘I confirm that I have no laptop, PC or tablet at home for my son/daughter to work on’.

We will collate all requests and look to issue what we have available as fairly as we can. It may be that your broadband speed or resources make online learning impossible. If you need to request that a pack of work is sent home on a weekly basis as you have no/limited computer access, please send an email to: samantha.atkinson@teignmouth.devon.sch.uk, titled ‘Work Resources’. The relevant work will be printed and will need to be collected from School Reception on a weekly basis.

What is crucial is that students continue the habit of learning and do some work each (school) day for 3-4 hours a day. We recommend that this is broken up with a morning and afternoon session. They should also continue to take exercise daily and we recommend that 30 minutes per day is an absolute minimum. Our PE team have sent out advice on exercise but there are a number of online activities and personalities currently streaming on a daily basis. Students should also take the opportunity to read for at least 30 minutes a day – before bed time is ideal – and they should socially connect with friends. We actually want students to use social media (responsibly)! Forgive me for telling you what I’m sure you already know but, as much as you can, try to build some routine, structure and mixed activities into your children’s days.

We will be sending out a weekly newsletter to students as well as one to you as parents, and we are looking to share online assemblies each week as well.

Mental health and well being

One of many concerns for us all is young people’s mental health and well-being in this period of isolation. This is why the simple advice above about building in structure and routine into our days at home is important. It is natural and understandable for students to feel anxious but we are aware that some are struggling. Students may need someone to talk to and confide in now, more than ever. We recommend an external organisation called Kooth which specialises in advising young people online. Your children have all been emailed this information to their school emails, but you can find a link to this here. If you are worried about your son/daughter and would like to request our direct support, please do email your child’s Head of Year and also email: welfare@teignmouth.devon.sch.uk

Free School Meals

You may have heard that the government have recently announced a scheme to provide families of children eligible to receive free school meals (FSM) with a voucher for £15 a week which can be used to buy food in several supermarket chains. If you are currently in receipt of FSM and would like to receive this support, please could you send an email to joab.forte@teignmouth.devon.sch.uk, titled ‘FSM Voucher’, stating:
Your name:
Your child/children’s name(s):
We will look to get this set up as soon as we can.

School for Key Worker and Vulnerable Children

The government advice continues to be that the vast majority of children should remain at home and practice social isolation where possible. Our school will be open for those key worker and vulnerable children who need this provision. If you fall into this category, it would be helpful if you could let us know which days your child/children need to be looked after. Please could you follow the link to book them in here.

Health and safety in school

We have been looking over our procedures carefully and all staff and students coming to school are expected to follow our new Coronavirus guidelines. These can be viewed here.

Summer 2020 Exam results

I shared with Year 11-13 students and their parents the latest update from the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) last Friday. In the next few weeks we will be sent further guidance and details but we will be asked to submit a predicted grade and to rank each student within each subject in order that they can be awarded their exam grades this summer. We will do this as fairly, objectively and carefully as is possible and I must stress that we are forbidden from discussing our entries to Ofqual with students or parents. It is for this reason that we have not sent out Year 11 reports and will not be doing so now as this data could be misleading at this time. Thank you for your understanding.

Some students and their parents have been asking about leaving ceremonies and events such as the prom. It is very much our intention to fully celebrate and recognise our students leaving in Years 11-13 when we can, and to reschedule the Prom when we are able to.

I do hope you are keeping well and positive. Thank you for your support.

Best wishes

James O’Connell