This is an important update on the current situation from Mr Knowles
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Message to Yr7, 8, 9 and 10 students from Mr Knowles – 10th June 2020
- Hello everyone.
- This message is being recorded on Wednesday 10th June 2020 and is intended for all Hetton School students in Years 7, 8, 9 and 10, plus parents of those students.
- The situation we have all been in over the past few months has been one that none of us could have foreseen, and it has led to so much pain, loss and sacrifice. My thoughts go out to anyone who has lost loved ones during this pandemic that has caused upheaval in our lives.
- The last time that I spoke to many of you was in school assembly prior to our closure for lockdown and that feels like a long, long time ago.
- In this message I intend to lay out key information for students and parents and talk about what the future may hold for us in September.
- Although we remain closed, key workers and the parents or carers of vulnerable students can contact us if they have no alternative to sending their children into school the following week. We currently have nobody doing this. Please see our website and blog for more details.
B. Year 10
- Firstly, I want to speak to our fantastic Year 10 students (but it will be useful for everyone to listen in).
- We know that you will be worried at the moment, partly because we reminded you so many times about how important these years are in your education. This is true, but please try not to be concerned. We are doing all we can to support you through this difficult period and I need you to trust that by continuing to study hard using the work you are set online, that you will be back on track before too long.
- So, what should you be doing right now…
- Firstly, you have been asked to make a decision about which non-core option you wish to drop if possible. This is to put time back into your core subjects and will help the adjustments needed to make up for the lost time in school over the past few months.
- Secondly, and crucially, you should be accessing ClassCharts every day to see the work that has been set by your teachers. More and more lessons are being delivered online (via Zoom with full safety precautions). These are linked to within your ClassCharts classes, and can be accessed by any device with an internet connection.
- Thirdly, stay up to date. Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education (who visited us earlier in the year), yesterday announced that Year 11 exams will take place next summer and so you must work hard to not fall behind in your studies. You will be back in September, and we won’t let you down.
- To support you in all this, from next week (that’s 15th June), we will be setting up online learning conversations for small groups of students and your class teachers. Through ClassCharts, you will receive a link to a Zoom meeting from your class teacher. This can be accessed on the web, but ideally you would have downloaded the Zoom app in advance. In the conversation, you will be joined by up to eight others from your class. Your teacher will check on how you have been doing, talk through the most crucial work you should be doing and suggest ways you can work independently to stay up to date ahead of a return in September.
- These learning conversations, together with the extensive work set on ClassCharts and phone calls from your tutor, will be in-place of any physical face-to-face sessions. The governors and I agree that the risks to students, your families, staff and the wider community that are associated with returning at the moment are too high. Especially when we can support you in such a comprehensive manner through virtual sessions and distanced pastoral support.
- In the survey I sent to parents a couple of weeks ago we had 72 out of 93 parents respond with over 60% saying that they would not send their child into school before the summer holidays. I am comfortable with parents making that decision, but I would stress that these Zoom learning conversations and the work on ClassCharts is the alternative – it is not optional.
- I don’t want students to worry about the Zoom sessions. They have security measures implemented and you don’t even need to have your video on (although we would like to see you smiling faces!) You could even set up a virtual background (useful for those of you that haven’t tidied your bedroom since lockdown began). Please use the messaging service on ClassCharts if you have any issues or questions.
C. Home Learning
- Talking of ClassCharts, I want to stress to students in all years about the importance of home learning. So many of you and your parents have been doing an amazing job of working from home, but we know it is tough going, and not like being in school.
- This is why keeping to a routine using ClassCharts is so crucial. The likelihood is that even in September, we will not all be back in school at the same time. If any form of social distancing is in place, then we physically can’t fit you all in and don’t have enough staff. Therefore, don’t see using ClassCharts and accessing Zoom lessons as a temporary measure – it may be with us for some time. Your ability to study independently and organize yourself has never been more important.
- Your teachers are working incredibly hard to support you via ClassCharts and are developing new skills themselves in doing so. They are monitoring what you hand in every day and although we don’t want to threaten to use sanctions for not keeping up to date, there are lots of rewards on offer for those that do. Teachers have been giving feedback to those who have submitted work online (whether through uploaded documents or photos of handwritten work).
- Just think of how hard we work you when you are in school, push yourself to the same level when working from home. Remember the Learn to Achieve messages we always repeat: In the long-term effort beats talent every time; don’t be afraid to make mistakes, but learn from them; seek feedback to improve; and be resilient (we are all facing that test right now!)
- You may feel overwhelmed by the amount of work on ClassCharts, but don’t worry about it, just get organized and ask for help. As far as possible get up as early as you would on a ‘normal’ school day, get dressed, eat something healthy and start work by 9.10am Follow your normal timetable, give yourself break and lunchtime and build in exercise breaks.
- Most importantly, if you need help don’t be afraid to ask. Use the new messenger feature on ClassCharts and be honest when your tutor calls to check how you are doing.
- To help all students and parents we have put a new section on the student page of the school website. This contains guidance on all aspects of home learning.
- Lastly on home learning, well done to all the students who have achieved WOW point awards. Staff are still issuing points for all work submitted, based on the engagement, effort shown and resilience demonstrated.
- It is important during closure that you stay safe.
- We have shared messages with you prior to closure about staying safe especially online and continue to share messages through our social media platforms.
- Lockdown is challenging and for some of you there are added challenges due to family circumstances. We are there to support you if you need it.
- Tutors and the pastoral team are contacting all of you during lockdown. We have enjoyed talking to many families and finding about how things are going in lockdown. If you haven’t had a call it may be because the number we have on our system to contact you on has changed. Email or call us with updates. During our calls let us know if you need additional support and we can help.
- There are also websites where you can go for help and support or we can direct you to more personal support. If you feel you are at risk of harm it is important you let a trusted adult know, report issues to the websites shared prior to closure or contact the police if it is serious.
- Take care of yourselves and stay safe
E. Year 9
- A quick message for our Year 9 students and your parents about options.
- We are working hard to make sure that our options process runs as well as possible despite lockdown. I know that you all received a booklet with info on each subject you will take or can choose in Year 10. We are doing our best to make sure that all students receive their first choices, but as I speak some returns are overdue. Tutors are calling to chase this up, but it is a complex process and we need your choices as soon as possible.
- If your first choices are not possible then we will call you, but despite the lockdown staff recruitment has gone well and there will be an additional two teachers with us in September (in Humanities and Art and Design).
- I need to stress though that in core subjects you had already started your path to GCSEs before lockdown and so keeping up to date with work on ClassCharts is crucial for you to make a great start in September.
- I hope that you have been able to keep up to date with all the messages we have been putting out on our social media pages. We post on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, whilst ensuring that all our key messages get copied to ClassCharts for younger students.
- There have been lots of challenges posted in the last two weeks. We have had Miss Ruddell’s art and baking challenges, ones from English and Media, Quizzes from Mr Hutchinson, guess the teacher from the baby photo, and lots more.
- Many of you have also already had a go at the challenges on the new Hetton PE Facebook page, and through all these options you can earn WOW points or even the chance to win Amazon vouchers.
- I’m sure everyone of you is wondering what school will be like in September, but at present, I’m not entirely sure myself. We are developing a range of solutions to the issues, so that we prepare in the best way possible, but I am sure that you will be back at school for at least the majority of your week. I am also sure that it will look different to what we were used to prior to lockdown.
- The Department for Education and the Local Authority are providing guidance, and we will take on board everything that is necessary to work in your best interests. You will always be at the centre of our decisions.
- Finally, and on a personal note, I have been a teacher or Headteacher for 23 year, and I could never have foreseen the situation we find ourselves in. The last few months have been tough because we have all missed you. Hetton School is all about helping you to become the best that you can be, so not being with you day-to-day to support and challenge you has felt hard.
- We are all adjusting and learning new ways to work and live, but it will be how resilient we are, that will determine our success in coming back stronger. We are, and will always be, committed to you as individuals.
- Take care and stay safe.