Dear Parents and Carers,
I wonder if, like me, when it was announced last week that schools would be closed until at least half term, you had a sense of ‘here we go again’ and the feeling of weary inevitability of life repeating itself which the film ‘Groundhog Day’ captured so beautifully. However, we are in a very different place from last year. Thanks to the investment in chrome books and all the training which has gone on since March, we could immediately transition to online learning, offering a full timetable. The teachers are to be congratulated on rising again to the challenge of remote classes, especially when some of them have to cope with family commitments. The change in this respect from last year could hardly be greater.
What we have had to relearn, is that being online all day is physically and mentally exhausting and we therefore need to alter our provision a little. Thank you to those who filled out the survey about how things are going. As a result of the feedback we have received from parents, students and teachers, we are introducing the following changes with effect from Monday 18th:
- Lessons will be shortened by 10 minutes to allow for a proper break
- Y7 and Y8 will now have their break at 11.15 am so that P3 is no longer a split lesson
- We will no longer have a daily form time to give longer for lunch
- P7 will finish at 3.20 pm for everyone
- Lessons on Fridays will now revert to the usual long Friday timings, with lessons ending after period 5a
- The PE department will be providing suggestions on ways to increase physical activity in the extension classroom
- The Assistant Heads for Pastoral Support will be setting out plans to improve pastoral, counselling and well-being support for students who require it. The plans will be communicated to you in due course
- We will be issuing further training and guidance to teachers on the best kind of pedagogy and the setting and marking of homework to ensure students are well-provided for and not overwhelmed. We have just bought into a G Suite upgrade which means that teachers will soon be able to create breakout rooms to facilitate independent, paired and group learning online. More details about this will be provided in due course. Please note that there will be no live lessons period 7 this coming Monday (2.45 pm) to enable teachers to attend training on these areas. Work for students will be uploaded to Google Classroom instead. We are confident that the benefit of this staff training on your children’s education will be very worthwhile.
We await the outcome of the consultation on the proposals about the alternatives to examinations. Once we know what the plans are, we will of course communicate them to you.
The key principles set out by Ofqual are as follows:
What evidence will be used?
- Awarding of grades will be based on teacher assessment
- A breadth of evidence should inform teachers’ judgements
- Assessment will be based on what students have learnt, not necessarily the full course – but there will need to be good enough coverage of the curriculum
- Externally set tasks or short papers (seen by Ofqual to be fairer and more consistent) may be provided, in order that teachers can draw on this resource to support their assessments of students (note not externally marked)
- Ofqual will consult on whether to ‘require or recommend’ the use of the externally set tasks or papers
- Students should continue with any non-exam assessment where possible
- Students should be taught for as long as possible (so they have every opportunity to catch up.)
- A teacher’s final judgement on a student’s grade ought to be as late as possible in the academic year (to maximise remaining teaching time and ensure students are motivated and engaged)
Support, training and Quality Assurance
- Training and guidance will support teachers to reach their assessment of a student’s deserved grade
- Schools and colleges should undertake quality assurance of their teachers’ assessments
- External checks / Exam boards quality assurance processes in place to support fairness and consistency
- This quality assurance will be sampling only
- Changes to grades as a result of the external quality assurance process should be the exception (as per review of marking)
- There will be provision for students to request a review and appeal their grade
- There should be a clear and accessible route for private candidates to be assessed and receive a grade
- Apart from a few exceptions, all with written exams scheduled in February and March (including BTECs) will not go ahead
- Similar principles to GCSE and A level in terms of assessment
Wishing you all a very good Shabbos.
Mrs K Brice
Headteacher – Girls