Update from Principal James O’Connell | 18 May 2020

Dear Parents/Carers,

As per my last update and as I’m sure you’re aware, the next stage for schools and education has been published and we have been busy considering the new guidelines.  The expectation is that primary aged children of specific year groups will return to their primary schools on 1 June 2020 and some potential ‘face to face’ support for Year 10 and Year 12 students will begin as soon as possible.  Unfortunately, the lack of clarity and the absence of detailed guidance is making it difficult for schools to plan for the potential return of more students into school.  Some of the noises, in the press and on social media, on every side of the debate also haven’t been helpful.

You as parents and our whole community have been an excellent support for the school and I think we have worked well together.  I am determined that we will continue working in this manner – together, even as the situation becomes more complex.  Our approach will be one of caution and will be based on the needs and context of our community.  We want our students back in school, but in a manner that does not compromise the safety of students, staff and the families of both groups.  We are completing comprehensive risk assessments and these will remain live documents and will be adapted to what will be a changing situation as the science and our response nationally develops.

Below is the provisional plan as things stand.  These plans may well be adapted in light of a changing situation nationally or locally with the virus, and in response to future government guidance.  In making these plans, the first priority will be safety and the second will be the continuing education and support of our students.  I’m aware that you as parents and carers will have a considerable range of opinions, which will partly be shaped by your own situations.  Some of you are shielding people who are in the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ or ‘clinically vulnerable’ groups, or your own children fall into one of these groups in some cases.  We are therefore mindful that we will not have all Year 10 and 12 students able or prepared to attend school, and the same is true with staff.  As per the government guidance, there are no penalties or sanctions for students not attending school in the current circumstances.


It is therefore really important that all Year 10 and 12 parents/carers please complete a very simple survey about your intentions as things stand.  I do appreciate that it may be difficult to know for sure what you/your child will do at this stage, but please do let us know your ‘best guess’ as things stand, and what you can of your context and factors in the comment question at the end of the survey.  This information is essential because it will enable us to put more meat on our plans.  The surveys (one for each year group) are here:

Year 10: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=Hiwzz8D4KUifGHZ6Hu0oyfLBNj-IxB1Nti3roIoyu-NUNFhPUjZINUhRQVRMNTEzQklYVzc1TEg3NS4u

Year 12: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=Hiwzz8D4KUifGHZ6Hu0oyfLBNj-IxB1Nti3roIoyu-NUMlBEQ1lITFlIV0FaSlY0TDVaRUZRRVBLOC4u

Plans for students on site and continued learning

We are presuming that a number of Year 10 and 12 students won’t be able or prepared to come into school.   We also know that there will be a number of staff who can’t be in school.  We also need to continue the remote online learning for Years 7, 8 and 9, as well as any Year 10 students at home.   This means that our primary means of enabling learning and covering some curriculum content will remain online provision for years 7-10 for the remainder of the summer term. 

We do look forward to hopefully welcoming a large number of year 10 and 12 students back onto the school site as follows:

Week beginning Mon 8 June:  Phase 1

  • A learning review day for Year 12 students
  • A learning review day for Year 10 students

These days will consist of one-to-one, socially distanced meetings between a member of staff and each available student.  The meetings will be carefully controlled to avoid people mixing and will enable staff to check on the welfare of students, explore how they’ve been coping with the online learning and answer questions.

Week commencing Mon 15 June:  Phase 2

  • Mon-Wed: Small, socially distanced groups of Year 10 students will come into school for sessions with a teacher to visit key learning and participate in advice and welfare sessions. These sessions will complement the online learning.
  • Thu-Fri: Year 12 lessons will be timetabled so that, as far as possible, Year 12s receive at least one lesson a week in their subject(s) delivered by one of their usual teachers. These sessions will enable teachers to re-visit and check on the online learning.

Phase 3 will be dependent on how the situation develops.  Of course, we are hoping to have more students back in school, eventually in their ‘normal’ groups.  We are already looking ahead to September and beginning to plan how we might need to run school then.

Control measures

These measures will be adapted and adjusted to the numbers of students and staff in school, and how we proceed.  The following is just a brief outline:

  • Staggered arrival and departure to school
  • Sanitisation stations for all arriving in school (staff and pupils)
  • One way system (with signage) around the school
  • Adapted timetable to limit movement time and mixing
  • Alternative locations where required for lessons in order to minimise social contact and enforce 2m distancing as far as possible
  • Clear rules and protocols for all, in and out of lessons; those who do not adhere will be sent home
  • Disinfecting of each used space following each session

May half term – week beginning 25 May 2020

We will not be setting work for students during this week. We will, as we have been since we ‘closed’, be open for emergency child care for vulnerable children and those whose parents are key workers between Tue 26-Fri 29 May.  If you need to book your child into the holiday provision, it is essential that you complete this ‘Half term provision booking form’.

Please email this direct to me: james.oconnell@teignmouth.devon.sch.uk by the end of the day this Wednesday 20 May.


For full up to date details on all the wellbeing and safeguarding support available, please see the information under the School Closure Quick Links menu, (top of the menu on our website):  https://www.teignmouthsecondary.co.uk/parents/safeguarding-child-protection-inclusion-well-being/

There are some new links here, in particular some useful links and materials provided by CAHMS about mental health.

Our pastoral team, including tutors and Heads of Year, are still available to support you and your children as they would be in school.  They will continue to make contact with families through email, telephone and on other platforms.  (Please note that calls to landline or mobile numbers will come from a withheld number).

Positive feedback

Thank you for the positive feedback we are getting from many students and parents about specific teachers or support staff who are helping you.  This is gratefully received.  It is national ‘Thank a Teacher Day’ on 20 May.  If you or your son/daughter feel you would like to take part in this and perhaps send a nomination, further details are here:


In summary

Finally, I really do want to thank you for your support over the last two months. I do appreciate that your current views will cover the full range of the spectrum from anxiety about the way ahead and life ‘opening up’ to frustration that we all don’t just ‘get on with it’.  I’m very aware that financial factors are only increasing in their size and urgency, as well as those around health.  We are aware and sympathetic.  Speaking as a parent of boys in Year 10 and 12, I can empathise with many of your concerns.  My sons will be going back into school when they can.  I am not without some concerns myself, perhaps particularly as the reasons for my no.2 son expressing excitement about getting back to school involved the possibility of getting a burger in the canteen and playing football with his friends.  I’m not sure which concerns me more – his lack of awareness of the current realities or his priorities generally!  For those interested, our resident interloper at home, ‘Mickey Mouse, escapologist extraordinaire’ continues to evade capture.

Best wishes

James O’Connell



Latest government advice



Q&A and guidance from Government about recent announcements on potential reopening of schools

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/closure-of-educational-settings-information-for-parents- and-carers/reopening-schools-and-other-educational-settings-from-1-june?utm_medium=email&utm_so urce=govdelivery


Department for Education Coronavirus helpline

The Department for Education coronavirus helpline is available to answer questions about COVID-19 relating to education and children’s social care.
Phone: 0800 046 8687
Email: DfE.coronavirushelpline@education.gov.uk
8am to 6pm – Monday to Friday; 10am to 4pm Saturday to Sunday