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Greenshaw High School

Headteacher's Letters

An update from Mr House, Headteacher.

Working collaboratively as part of the Greenshaw Learning Trust: Friday 6th May 2022 

As we complete our third week of term it has been good to see so many things return, very closely, to normal. Levels of staff absence have been minimal, meaning that cover lessons have been very infrequent. On some days this week there have only been one or two lessons needing cover per period. Given that there may be over seventy lessons each period of the day this has been a remarkable change. It has meant that there have been no occasions of classes being merged in the school hall, and indeed little need to even consider this.

We still have a handful of students choosing to face cover, which I remain sympathetic to in the short term, although this is reducing as the term progresses. We do still ask students to sanitise their hands on their arrival at school as this has general benefits in reducing transmission of any form of viral illness. So the general direction feels positive, and long may this continue.

Students of the week

Congratulations to the following individuals and tutor groups for their consistent effort and high standards. These students are amongst our most impressive young people – well done to all.

 

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Student of the week

Athesaya

Denuka

Sivakami

Samuel

Joshua

Tutor group of the week

7TEV

8JHG

9GCA

10NWL

11DRL

Working in a multi academy trust

As the founder school of the Greenshaw Learning Trust, we continue to work with colleagues in other schools as well as a number that are centrally employed to support all schools. With 21 schools in our ‘MAT’ (primary and secondary), there are increasing opportunities for us to share with others as well as learn from each other. As an example today, Greenshaw High School hosted the recruitment of a science lead who will support the science staff across all of the schools from September and there are already subject leads in maths, English and modern foreign languages. While some of the operations of the MAT are less obvious to students (financial and operational), I am confident that some of the work will directly benefit our youngsters. Where relevant, I will share these areas with families over the coming months.

At the end of our second four-day week of the last three, I wish Eid Mubarak for those of you that celebrated this week, hoping that the ending of the holy month of Ramadan was a happy family time.

All the best for the coming weekend. 

Nick House, Headteacher


An absolute focus from our learners: Friday 29th April 2022 (3.00pm)

I had an absolute pleasure in seeing our Year 10 students this week in their art GCSE courses. I visited the fashion students who are making garments using thrown away materials. Their ‘junk’ theme saw them using discarded plastics, as well as using their designs to give strong messages about the environment and how many modern societies use their waste materials.

I went across the corridor in the art and technology faculty to see the 3D design students carefully cutting out scaled templates of buildings, from their own sketches. They were then using glue guns to make the flat boards into three-dimensional structures.

There are a couple of images here of the students’ work, but this only begins to do justice to the learners’ absolute focus, quality of produced work and the levels of passion for their work that they displayed. They were students starting their GCSE coursework, but it absolutely felt like I was in A Level sessions for both subjects.

Congratulations to our stars

Well done to all of those students below for setting themselves the highest standards. These young people are similar to those in Year 10 I saw in art, and they do this in all subjects all the time. Meeting our star students every Friday afternoon is one of the many highlights of my week.

 

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Student of the week

Daniel

Matilde

Afraz

Alfie

Sawyer

Tutor group of the week

7KSN

8SRM

9GCA

10BWL

11DRL

Open mornings 

Families may remember that many moons ago I had invited parents and carers to come into school and walk around with me, going into lessons and touring the school. In the various ebbs and flows of Covid this has ceased, but we still have the contact details of the approximately sixty families who expressed an interest. We will get back in touch with you next week, hopefully we will be able to meet in larger groups and offer all of you a visit before half term.

After that I will invite any more families that would like to come in to start a new round of ‘open mornings’ so, if you would like to, please hold on for a couple of weeks and we will put out an invite to anyone that hasn’t found time to see our school at work before and who would now like to.

Homework

I am pleased to announce the launch of our ‘Homework Data Dashboard’, which will give you regular updates on the status of your child’s homework. We know that homework completed on time and to a high standard is a key feature of our successful students and something we include in the ‘Student of the Week’ awards. Homework not only consolidates and extends understanding, but it also helps students develop independent study skills that will benefit them throughout their education and even after. 

I would encourage all families to check the dashboard on a regular basis and to follow up with their young people when/if homework has not been completed. You can view this by going to Frog > Homework > Homework Reports. Homework information will be available each Friday for the next two weeks and then we hope to report it on a daily basis thereafter. Finally, in the last half term we are hoping to report completion information on each GCSE written tasks. If you have any issues logging on to Frog, then there is a help page on our website that helps you log on and gives you all the guidance needed. Go to www.greenshaw.co.uk/frog for any support.

School closure Friday, 1st July 2022

You may be aware that there is an additional bank holiday coming up for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. This is on Friday 3rd June, which falls in the existing half term break for schools. Schools have been instructed to have an additional closure to mark this significant national event and have the flexibility to take it at any time they choose. Some schools have already taken it, but I was insistent that we would have as few school closures as possible that might disrupt the chances of our Year 11 and Year 13 students preparing for public exams following all of the disruptions of Covid. So I have chosen a day almost immediately after the exam season. I hope that this much notice enables families to plan for it and I will remind you of this date again over the next few weeks.

Ironically, we are approaching a bank holiday this weekend, so I hope you have a restful few days and that many of you have an additional non-working day.

Student sporting achievement

I would like to congratulate Lucy, in Year 10, who has won a silver medal in Portugal for competing in the Adult European Climbing Championship, what an amazing achievement. Lucy continues to train with the G.B. National Squad and we wish her good luck in her forthcoming competitions.

Wishing you all the best.

Nick House, Headteacher


A fantastic start to the term: Friday 22nd April 2022 (3.00pm)

A fantastic first few days back – longer days and high student attendance, hopefully putting some of the travails of last term into the past. We did run an evacuation this afternoon, following some food burning in a food technology classroom. Although this has been a short week, there are three headlines I want to share with families. 

Fundraising for the people of Ukraine

Thank you to those families who supported their youngsters in raising money for the International Red Cross appeal to support the people of Ukraine. After the donations of items, we focused on raising funds and will transfer £789.14 to the appeal following cake sales, wearing trainers in school and donations at the Year 11 drama showcase. We continue to stand with the people of Ukraine and will continue to support them over the coming term.

Year 7 students’ turn to learn about careers

I wrote to families in Year 7 earlier this week about creating accounts for the website ‘Unifrog’. This website has some amazing content, here is a link to some of the content that any of us can access without logging into our student's account.

It was great hearing Mrs Sone, our careers advisor, speaking with Year 7 and 8 in careers lessons about the information they could find and how students create their own profiles. I would urge all Year 7 families to check that their youngster has created an account and started their career pathway. 

Are you interested in becoming a teacher?

It is really important that we continue to recruit and train the next group of teachers. We are currently fully staffed for all subjects other than computer science, but it is essential we continue to make sure there is a supply line of teachers. Teaching is an enjoyable and highly rewarding career and in Sutton we have our own SCITT (School-centred Initial Teacher Training). This means training and school placements happen in Sutton and lead to qualified teacher status within a year. Moreover, the Sutton training centre, based at Glenthorne High School, was rated as ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted and commended for its level of support of trainees. 

The SCITT is holding two webinars for anyone who is considering a career in teaching. The webinars are open to anyone in the local area who is interested, so please feel free to forward the email on as you wish. Both webinars will cover the same information including the routes into training and an opportunity to meet current trainees and recently qualified teachers and further information is available at www.suttonteach.org.uk. The two sessions will be on:

  • April 26th, 12.30pm – 1.30pm
  • May 5th, 6.00pm – 7.00pm

Register for them at https://forms.office.com/r/AZQzae0AyY if you are interested.

At the end of a four day week, we do not have student and tutor groups of the week, but will make those awards next week.

In the meantime here’s looking forward to a sunny springtime weekend.

Nick House, Headteacher


Anything but a typical term: Friday 1st April (3.00pm)

School terms have a familiar and repeatable rhythm. The spring term, typically, is one where we sit mock exams, anticipate possible snow closure for a couple of days and as the days lengthen all of us start to feel the positivity of the turn of winter and the beckoning of summer. However, this spring term has been anything but typical.

I am really sorry that we have had to have some year groups learning at home on occasion. Please be assured that we have only done this as a last resort. I am really sorry that we have had to merge classes in the school halls, with multiple groups studying at the same time. As before, we only do this when we do not have sufficient spare teachers to cover each class. 

Last Friday afternoon I taught 85 students from Year 8 and Year 7 at the same time. Their behaviour was impeccable, listening attentively and then producing a piece of persuasive writing. Imagine that. Last lesson of the week, Friday afternoon, being in a class of 85 and still being entirely focused. Two things have stood out for me this term – and the first has been how your children, our students, have remained positive and upbeat despite the staffing challenges that we have endured from January.

The second thing that I will take away this term is the way our school community responded to the events in Ukraine. To see the generosity of our families and students making huge amounts of donations that then got shipped across to families, on the same continent as us, filled our school reception for several days in a row. Sixth Form students organised the various items, batched them together and packed them into staff cars ready for daily drop offs at the distribution centre. In the most awful of circumstances, students, families, Sixth Form students and staff came together to help others which in turn strengthened our community. 

Similarly, this week, your young people have been incredibly generous in donating over 400 Easter eggs (main picture) to our end of term appeal. These are being distributed today around a range of local groups including Sutton Night Watch, Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children, Reigate and Banstead Women’s Aid and nearby care homes. Thank you all for making contributions to either or both of these appeals. In doing so we take care of others and also model for our young people how to take responsibility for the wider community.

Students of the week/term

For the last time this term, here are the students we celebrate as being excellent. Particularly well done to the students of the term – fantastic commitment throughout every week. Congratulations to these individuals and groups.

 

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Student of the week

Christian

Liyana

Sivakami

Rebecca

Randima

Tutor Group of the week

7ERD

8JHG

9ZHY

10BWL

11DRL

Student of the term

Amogh

Adil

Neil

Harvey

Devina

Tutor Group of the term

7KSN

8JHG

9ZCT

10NWL

11DRL

Staff leaving

We say farewell to Mr Higgins today, our Head of Year 9. This is his thirteenth year at Greenshaw during which time he has supported all year groups from Year 7 to Year 11, and before then been involved with all four of the Houses. Mr Higgins has also been a great teacher of PE and manager of a wide range of sports teams. From the start of next term, Miss Walters will be the Head of Year 9.

I would also like to thank Mr Burgess in the drama department. He has taught drama and PSHE, as well as supporting our work around anti-racism. Mr Burgess has supported our student-led activities in this area and leaves having made a distinctive contribution to the school’s character. We wish both colleagues all the very best in their next roles.  

Understanding big ideas

Yesterday afternoon I met with Sahana, Om and Rosie to look at their brilliant homework on our curriculum called the ‘Big Ideas that Shaped the World’. Every Wednesday, students in Years 7 to 9 have an input in their afternoon registration that focuses on ideas that do not always neatly fit into a curriculum subject. For example, Year 7 learned about monasticism, while Year 9 have thought about the impact on us of consumerism. 

Meeting the students, I was blown away by how they talked about their understanding. None of these students have started their full GCSE courses yet, but discussing architecture and man-made climate change was humbling. I am pretty certain that I would not have been able to sustain these conversations at a similar age. I include some images from their books here to give you a sense of the depth of their thinking. 

At the end of a very unusual spring term, I think it is important to finish with our students. The standards they set are high, despite the challenges around them. It would be understandable for our young people to waver in their commitment to learning and school but in the vast, vast majority of cases they continue steadfastly. I wish our students a really relaxing holiday. For those in Years 11 and 13 they will want to revise and focus their attentions on the upcoming exams, but for all I hope they return refreshed and ready for the summer term.  

Wishing our students and you, their wider families, all the very best.

Nick House, Headteacher


Some great moments this week: Friday 25th March (3.00pm)

Whether watching Year 7 preparing fruit crumble (apple and various other flavours) or hearing Year 8’s creative writing, there have been some great moments this week. On the sports field, a 1-1 draw for our boys' Year 9 football team against Harris Academy Sutton was a creditable result.

Staff have completed a huge amount of marking for all of the GCSE and A Level scripts completed in the mock exams, and we have started to share the results with the students in Year 11 and 13. It was Year 11’s turn yesterday as all students received their numerical score over the several papers they sat in each subject, alongside a predicted grade for them this summer.

I have said before, the attitude and commitment of our students in these two year groups has been fantastic. Despite the interruptions of the last two years, they have remained focused and committed, in many ways in spite of the challenges they have faced. Mr Johnson for Year 11 and Ms Buchanan for Year 13 will be in touch to explain how we can support these students as they approach the home straight. There will be an information evening for Year 11 in the first week back after the Easter holidays.

Well done to our stars

Top work by the students below for maintaining their commitment, focus and sense of drive. These students have shown they have kept going over the last few weeks – well done to all of them.

 

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

 

Student of the week

Athesaya

Prithvi

Isabella

Baylee

Hannah

Tutor group of the week

7DM

8ARG

9DC

10MCW

11DRL

Covid this week

Numbers of students reporting positive test results have declined slightly this week and our attendance has picked up. However, Covid numbers continue to persist, for students but also teachers. This has led to some merged classes over the last week, where classes have been taught in combinations of two or three groups at times. At other times, staff have taught additional lessons beyond their allocation to make sure we haven’t had to consider any year group learning from home over the last fortnight. Hopefully, as we head into the final week, staff Covid rates mean we can continue uninterrupted into the school holiday fortnight.

For families interested in vaccination for their child, the final COVID-19 Pop Up Vaccination Clinic for children and young people is being held this Saturday, 26th March from 10am - 4pm at Cheam High School.

Parents are able to book an appointment online, call the team direct on 0208 614 5306 or just walk in. A flier is attached here providing further details including a clickable link for direct booking.

Child Q

Some families may be aware of the deeply troubling events that happened to a school girl in a Hackney school. I would like to assure all Greenshaw families that we have excellent relationships with Sutton police and something like what happened there would not be permitted here. It is the responsibility of school staff to safeguard our young people at all times.

I do not normally like to close our Friday letter with such a serious matter but it is important that families have absolute confidence in us.

Wishing you all peaceful weekends.

Nick House, Headteacher


Enjoy the spring sunshine: 18th March (3.00pm)

The end of a slightly more ‘normal’ week today, helped by beautiful sunshine for the last two days after the strange sand-infused skies of Wednesday. Covid numbers remain significant in a couple of year groups and I thank parents for being aware of the symptoms and not sending their youngsters into school and arranging for tests. We are currently in a phase of staff returning to work in higher numbers than those needing to isolate, but I will not tempt fate by predicting anything about the future.

As mentioned last week there will be a COVID-19 Pop Up Vaccination Clinic being held for children and young people this Saturday, 19th March at Carshalton Boys Sports College between 10.00am to 4.00pm. Parents can either walk in or book an appointment online here.

Additional bank holiday, Friday 1st July

This is several months away, but our school will be closed on Friday 1st July. There are additional national bank holidays for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee that fall in the summer half term. Schools have been asked to close for an additional day as an act of recognition for Queen Elizabeth’s extraordinary life of service. The timing of this day is at the discretion of schools. I did not want to put an additional closure before our Year 11 and Year 13 students have sat their exams, so have put one at the end of the first full week after public exams have been completed. This date is on the school website and I will remind parents of it nearer the time as well.

Congratulations to our stars

Well done to all of those students below for maintaining their commitment, focus and sense of drive. These students have demonstrated that they keep a clear sight of their motivation and purpose – well done to all.

 

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Student of the week

Lucy

Raphael

Sana

Daniella

Aburvan

Tutor group of the week

7KSN

8NGD

9GCA

10BWL

11TF

Would you like to teach?

You may be aware that the national figures for SCITT (School-Centred Initial Teacher Training) recruitment are significantly down. The SCITT programme is a teacher-training course, based in Sutton, that enables trainees to undertake training within a school environment, rather than signing up with a university or college. It does lead to Qualified Teacher Status, and has equal status as a way of entering the profession. If you are interested, I have attached a flyer here with information regarding an open event taking place on Thursday 31st March. 

Supporting Ukraine

Following the week of donations of clothing and foods last week, our focus has turned to fund raising for those suffering in Ukraine. There was a popular cake sale at break today, that raised over £150, and we are planning a ‘wear your trainers to school’ for £1, for which students will wear a yellow and blue wristband. Details of this will be advertised on Frog to students and I will share this with families next week. Importantly, students continue to approach me with ideas about fundraising and we continue to make all of our contributions to the International Red Cross appeal for Ukraine. We also continue to discuss the situation with our students, keeping them informed in what we hope is a measured way.

Wishing you all the best for a restful weekend. 

Nick House, Headteacher


So much to report: Friday 11th March (3.30pm)

Sometimes a week in school feels like just one thing. Maybe bad weather dominates, or exams take over and that week feels like it has a single theme. This last week has seen so many important events that it does not have any single feel. Here is a selection of them in what is a slightly longer letter than some other weeks.

Supporting the people of Ukraine

Watching the appalling events unfolding for the citizens of Ukraine has been very troubling. As a school we have taken a twin track approach. The first is to educate, so that our students understand the history of the region and the current situation. We hope students will understand the gravity of the situation while not being misinformed by social media or partially informed student conversation.

Our second approach is to create a sense of agency. A really important thing for us all, is knowing that we can make a difference. For so many families to make donations this week, Sixth Form students to sort and bag up the contributions, and staff to fill their cars, dropping off the items after school each day definitely gave us a sense of action. Thank you all for this, I know there will be further things that we will want to do in the future to support the people of Ukraine.

Helping Year 8 and 9 plan their pathways

On Wednesday evening we spoke with families of students in Years 8 and 9 about their futures. We spoke about how they should be starting to plan their pathways, alongside the careers lessons they are receiving in school. For students in Year 9 in particular, these decisions start to open up some doors for the future and we will continue to be in contact with families in these two year groups.

Continuing our work on anti-racism

I had one of my proudest moments as a member of Greenshaw High School this morning. Students in Year 8 have been reading David Olusoga’s book Black and British over the last few weeks. I went into tutor bases to see them meet with our anti-racism ambassadors (students in Year 11) to reflect on questions such as “What has this book taught you about history and different people’s perspectives?”. To hear students in Year 8 speak so thoughtfully and capably was extraordinary, well beyond their years. The collective ambition of young people, in different year groups, to mould a better future was a striking moment.

Covid update

With all of the other news pressures, there appears to be less focus on the latest Covid events. However, the cases are rising at speed. From Monday to Thursday, the national cases have risen about 40% – from around 40,000 on Monday to over 71,000 yesterday. We have seen the numbers of cases in our students increase and also had more staff out, some returning but then another group needing to isolate.

Although the Covid regulations have changed to ‘guidance’ from legal requirement, it still asks positive cases to isolate for five days and return on day 10, or earlier if the person has two negative Covid lateral flow test results. Our experience has been that these negative test results do not happen, so staff are generally not available for work for the full ten day cycle.

Sadly today we have 15 staff out, the majority with Covid, and we were unable to cover all classes. Thank you for the support of Year 10 families in your youngsters learning remotely today. This is only ever done as a last resort, after we have merged classes together in halls and we have no other option.

Covid vaccination

Given how the most recent Covid variant appears to be having some traction, families might be interested in vaccination for their child. There will be two sites holding Covid-19 Pop Up Vaccination Clinics over the coming weeks:

  • Saturday 19th March at Carshalton Boys Sports College
  • Sunday 20th March at Wimbledon College

Parents can book an appointment online or call the team directly on 0208 614 5306. I have attached the flier here with a clickable link for direct booking. I hope this might be of help to any Greenshaw family or youngster, making vaccination easier.

Congratulations to our stars

As every week, congratulations to the students listed below for maintaining their commitment, focus and sense of drive. These students, in all circumstances, have demonstrated that they keep a clear sight of their motivation and purpose – well done to all.

 

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Student of the week

Jeremiah

Iliana

Rhushil

Sajivan

Tracey

Tutor group of the week

7TEV

8JHG

9ZCT

10NWL

11MMB

Wishing you all the very best for a peaceful weekend.

Nick House, Headteacher


Being safe and well is as important as ever: Friday 4th March (3.00pm)

I hope all families are safe and well. That is something I have said often over the last two years, during the pandemic. Now, many of us will be concerned about the events in Ukraine: being safe and well is as important as ever. 

This afternoon I spoke to students about the most recent situation in Ukraine. I factually updated them about the impact the war is having on families and children, as well as explaining why other European armies are not engaged in the conflict. Having a clearer understanding of any situation can help reduce our feelings of stress and I hope this made some difference. 

Another important factor in how well we respond to troubling news is to feel involved and relevant, rather than powerless. We currently have staff and students planning our Greenshaw response to the situation in Ukraine, specifically how we might respond to the needs of the displaced people.

Already this week, students in Year 7 have been contributing baby food, socks, nappies and cereal bars to be transported over to Ukraine when we drop the collection off this week. Thank you so much for your support. This morning I have met students coming in with more supplies of vital items. The image below shows some of your very kind donations.

We will continue to do these activities, and more, so students can see a way of making a difference. The school will message separately about this with a list of helpful items that we might donate.

I know from experience that our young people fall into separate categories in how they react to difficult news stories. Some appear unconcerned, at least on the surface, while others can be significantly affected. If your child/ren does express emotions or worry about this situation, this link has some practical advice, both for families at home and adults in schools.

Congratulations to our stars

Yesterday morning was an absolute pleasure walking around school. Looking at redrawn global maps in Year 8 geography (representing international inequalities in literacy or water supply), seeing Year 7 consume The Odyssey, Year 9 focusing on their practice booklets in maths, and Year 10 and 12 conducting biology practicals, there was an evident thirst for learning at the moment. You may also have noted however that I did not mention Year 11 and Year 13.

Those two year groups have spent the last fortnight in and out of their mock exams, lining up in both rain and sun before completing extended papers. For both year groups, these exams represent the longest and most sustained sets of exams they have ever sat in the context of the pandemic’s disruption to schools. However, the focus and commitment both year groups have shown has been superb. 

Teachers have started marking the papers and will be able to start feeding back scores (marks on each paper) to students, but it will take a further week or more to translate these scores into GCSE number grades or A Level letter grades. When this process is completed we will share those grades with families as well as the students.

As every week, congratulations to the students listed below for maintaining their commitment, focus and sense of drive. I am constantly impressed by how our young people maintain their clarity and sense of purpose – well done to all.

 

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Student of the week

George

Rishi

Usayd

Aiden

Edan

Tutor group of the week

7KSN

8NGD

9ZCT

10NWL

11MMB

 

So today marks the end of a complicated week, particularly internationally. For those of you directly affected please know that we are consciously talking about Ukraine and thinking about Ukraine, as well as making contributions to those affected. Wishing you all the very best for a peaceful weekend.

Nick House, Headteacher


A brilliant start to mock exams: Friday 25th February (3.00pm)

Wishing a happy Friday to all of you at the end of a whirlwind week, sometimes literally. Fortunately the storms seem to have abated, at least in the short term, and our school did not suffer any significant damage from our friends Dudley, Eunice or Franklin. Yesterday’s combination of heavy rain, hail showers and occasional sun made for an interesting day of lunchtime and breaks for the students but our week has continued unaffected.

Particularly impressive this week has been the effort of Year 11 and Year 13 students starting their mock exams. Given that both year groups have had little experience of formal exams over the last few years they have been brilliant. Seeing them complete long extended papers with focus, writing throughout their allocated time, has been very impressive.

For families of students in Years 11 and 13, teachers are currently marking the first papers and will be able to share the marks students have achieved as soon as the marking is done. Similarly, they will be sharing feedback about each paper when they have been marked. Teachers will not be able to share final grades until a little later in the term. Most subjects have more than one paper, so the final grade will not be ready to be shared with students and families for another couple of weeks. The Year 11 and 13 teams will contact you with more detail.

Congratulations to our stars

Well done to all of those students below for maintaining their commitment, focus and sense of drive. 

 

Year 7

 

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Student of the week

 

Abbie

Katie

Neil

Justin

Randima

Tutor group of the week

 

7KSN

8ARG

9ZCT

10LP

11DRL

Covid changes

At the start of the week changes to how the country was expected to move into the next phase, called by some ‘living with Covid’ were outlined. Interestingly, attendance data for school pupils across the country did improve over the last few weeks before half term. Although this signals some positive signs, I know that reducing the supply of free testing kits and no longer asking for twice weekly testing may cause concern for some.

We have a small group of students that continue to wear face coverings, through choice. This will continue to be acceptable in the next phase. We also continue to focus on hand cleaning and ventilation as previously, which happily are good health measures anyway.

Covid vaccination

For any families interested in the vaccination for their child, there will be a Covid-19 Pop Up Vaccination Clinic on Sunday, 27th February at Tooting and Mitcham Football Club, Imperial Fields, Bishopsford Road, Morden, SM4 6BF.

Parents will be able to book an appointment online or call the team on 0208 614 5306.  I have attached the flier here, which includes a clickable link for direct booking. I hope this might be of help to any Greenshaw family or youngster, making vaccination easier.

Talking to our students about Ukraine

Yesterday morning I had already scheduled a whole school assembly to talk to students in Years 7 to 10 about restarting the term and our expectations, while Year 11 and Year 13 were busy in their exams. A number of form tutors told me that their students were asking questions about the situation in Ukraine and so I used the opening few minutes of the assembly to share a couple of maps of Europe and explain about organisations like NATO to give students an informed sense of the current situation. It is essential that young people have a clear understanding of complex situations like this, and we will continue to make sure students have factual and accurate information. 

I know that we have families in our school that are indirectly linked to these events, and also have some families and staff members who have direct links with the affected areas. In each Friday letter I wish all of our school community a restful weekend, and do so again. For those of you affected by the current situation in Ukraine we also offer our thoughts and support.                                                     

Nick House, Headteacher


Thank you to all Greenshaw families: Friday 11th February (2.00pm)

Summer 2022 public exams: update

I am sure that many parents of children in Years 11 and 13 will know that the exam boards released ‘advance information’ about the exams to be sat this summer. The idea was that the exam boards, recognising the disruption this year’s exam students had experienced, would give extra guidance about the content of this year’s exam papers.

On Monday, the exam boards did release the information on schedule, but the details varied between subjects. In some subjects the details made significant changes and for many the ‘advance information’ was helpful.

Where the changes are significant, our teachers have adapted the mock papers to be sat after half term. In the majority of cases, however, the mock papers that had been drafted in school remain appropriate and are good to be used as planned. 

What will be important will be the feedback our students receive, especially if they have prepared fully for their papers. I hope all students in these two year groups spend decent amounts of time this week preparing for their exams, alongside good sleep, exercise and some time away from books and screens. The mock exams start on Monday 21st February.

Congratulations to our stars

I finish every week meeting at 3pm with our students of the week. For me this is an absolute privilege as I get to hear about favourite subjects, pieces of work that the students are really proud of and celebrate their great achievements. Well done to the individuals, and the tutor groups listed here. What a great end to the half term.

 

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Student of the week

Sophia

Ali

Aroush

Jaden

Caitlin

Tutor group of the week

7TEV

8LJN

9ZCT

10NWL

11KA

Gallery of Excellence

The most recent gallery can be found here. It's really fantastic to see some of the excellent work that students have produced at school and at home during remote learning.

Covid updates (various)

On Wednesday it was announced that Covid restrictions may be removed altogether at the end of this month. The implications of this will need to be considered, but we will look at that over the next week. Over this week, Covid student absences have been at about 1.5% - which is not insignificant but lower than at any point this term. Some students do continue to wear face coverings, which will remain acceptable at the start of next term because it does show that some of our students remain aware of the presence of the Covid virus.

When we return after half term, the same regulations remain in place: if a student is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms they should self isolate and test. These symptoms remain a new persistent cough, a high temperature (hot to touch on chest or back) and a change to the sense of smell or taste.

For any families interested in vaccination for their children, there will be two sites holding Covid-19 pop up vaccination clinics during the half term week. These are:

Parents will be able to book an appointment online or call the team on 0208 614 5306. I have attached the fliers to the links above – they have a clickable link for direct booking. I hope this might be of help to any Greenshaw family or youngster, making vaccination easier.

Open mornings - back on

We have not been able to host the parent visits over the last six weeks, but going forwards I really hope to get these back up and running. After the half term break we will be in touch with those families that, before Christmas, told us they wanted to visit the school at work and hope we can get back to the things we want to do in normal times.

I would like to sign off for this half term with an expression of thanks to all Greenshaw families. Your appreciation of what has been a very tough half term has made running the school, sometimes with significant student and staff absence, really helpful. I hope all students have a restful and safe half term… it has certainly been earned this February.

Nick House, Headteacher


Above and beyond; despite the challenges (Friday 4th February 2022, 3.00pm)

Thank you for your ongoing support in what has been the toughest week since we returned in January. We have, sadly, had to ask students in Year 9 and then Year 8 to study from home for two days each this week. I have written to you throughout this half term to let you know that we have been covering classes, and sometimes merging classes in dining halls in a concerted effort to keep all students in school.

This week, we have had over 20 teaching staff absent on several days and we were simply not able to staff the classrooms, even with merged groups and staff teaching beyond their allocation. Reassuringly, the Covid numbers amongst students have dropped significantly and our attendance has returned to above national average. Last week the national average attendance rate was 88.9% and for the first four days of this week Greenshaw attendance has been 92.6%. The majority of our staff Covid related absences have come from family connections. Most typically, the children of staff members have returned positive tests, then several days later teachers report Covid symptoms and then test positive.

Here are the principles of our current approach to remote education. Firstly, we will only ever do this as a last resort. We will have tried all other options. Secondly, where we do need to do this we will ask students in a year group to learn from home two days at a time. This is to create certainty for students and families, rather than giving daily notice to different year groups. We are not able to give significant advance notice because we are doing this as a last resort. I will always rehearse every option to prevent remote learning. 

We have, as always, been impressed by the resilience and commitment of our pupils. Here is a sample of the work submitted, but it is only a small selection of the many hundred excellent pieces of learning. You will see that the lessons have followed the exact pattern of in school lessons. They start with a quiz, retrieving knowledge from previous lessons, and then move on to today’s content. Here are three examples completed over the last few days, including just this morning.

Congratulations to our stars

The names and tutor groups below are from the week beginning 24th January as we want all recognition points and homework records for the full week to be taken into account. So, despite some students learning off site this week we still have a full roster of achievement.

 

Year 7

 

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Student of the week

 

Veronica

Alicia

Aaron

Samini

Charlotte

Tutor group of the week

 

7SAT

8JHG

9ZCT

10NWL

11KA

Additional Covid vaccination for teenagers in Sutton

This Saturday there will be a pop up Covid vaccination site at Harris Academy Sutton, located at the south end of Sutton next to the Royal Marsden Hospital. I have attached the flier here that has a clickable link in it for direct booking. I hope this might be of help to any Greenshaw family or youngster, making vaccination easier.

As we go into the last week of half term, on one hand I am really disappointed that we have not been able to get through the whole six weeks without interruption. At the same time I am very proud of both the efforts of staff, going above and beyond, in keeping students in school despite huge challenges and the work produced by our students in Years 8 and 9 this week.

I wish you all restful weekends and really hope that next week goes smoothly

Nick House, Headteacher


A week of significant change (Friday 28th January, 3.00pm)

Another Friday, another week of significant change. Quite a few students have chosen to retain their face coverings over the last few days, despite there being no requirement to wear them. Some feel safer doing so, some are in the habit of doing so. For either reason we will continue to allow this over the coming weeks. 

What does not change is the hard work of our students, despite the challenge of Covid absence and interruptions. Congratulations to our students and tutor groups of the week, listed below.

 

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Student of the week

 

Kithush

Oliver

Daniel

Evangeline

Calum

Tutor group of the week

 

7TDL

8LJN

9ZCT

10NWL

11DRL

The Big Ideas that Shaped the World, Years 7-9

One of the things that makes Greenshaw very unusual is our commitment to developing all of our learners’ understanding of why the world around us is the way it is today. The ‘Big Ideas that Shaped the World’ (also known as ‘BITS’) covers topics as varied as propaganda, concepts such as beauty, fate and luxury as well as modern constructs like the welfare state. We teach these Big Ideas chronologically, through the six eras below.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/v6YRr4mkIP3VTPaVLnMpN5qQDJ4EaBjMcwL8MnBfAffeMJ77NiLqsL2O2dHzG41vyf9CKTzYfz6C5oK1HM1g1vdrfX-eF1UiVaAd5Kw55k-hTAL8rYs_WAKJ-03kqMSL6C6ASbHg

The purpose of our BITS course is to enable students to think back through history, apply ideas to the present and even project how they might change into the future. Interestingly, we recently looked at antibiotics and the development, from ancient medicine onwards, of humans’ ability to fight off illness and design cures. 

At the end of last term I met three students that had thought very deeply about these ideas. Hearing Rhushil (Y9) discuss quantum mechanics, Muhammed (Y8) discuss free market economics and Hadi (Y7) reflecting on the perils and benefits of national identity over human identity, was extraordinary. You would not be surprised to learn that I listened more than spoke during most of the conversation! As an English teacher I was happy to be schooled about relativity and geopolitics. The fact that these are being talked about and written on every week by our youngest three year groups is something I am very proud of.

Working around staff absence

There continue to be a number of staff unwell and Covid isolating. We have not had to consider sending year groups home, but have had to merge some classes. With the daily national Covid rate still hovering around 100,000, it looks like this may continue to be the case until at least half term.

One of the benefits of ongoing staff absence has been the range of different classes I have covered over the last three weeks. I have taught a fair few Year 11 English Literature lessons, enjoying the knowledge our students have about Macbeth and An Inspector Calls, despite the interruptions they have suffered. I have loved teaching drama to 7DBL and 7ERD in the studio this week. Wherever we can, we are making sure our students can have typical learning experiences rather than simple cover lessons. Thank you for your understanding where this is not possible.

Wishing you all restful weekends.

Nick House, Headteacher


Reminder of change to face mask requirements: 26th January (3.00pm)

Good afternoon. I wanted to confirm what, I fervently hope, is the last change over the coming months in schools’ efforts to combat transmission of the Covid-19 virus. As of tomorrow, Thursday 27th January, there will be no requirement from the Department for Education for secondary aged pupils to wear face coverings in school, either in classrooms or communal areas such as corridors or dinner queues.

We will allow pupils to continue to wear face covering should they choose to over the coming weeks. Pupils may feel reassured by keeping their masks on, in either classrooms or communal areas, and we will permit this. The masks do need to be worn properly however: if a young person wears a mask around their chin we would ask them to remove it. That would not be keeping themselves, or others, safe in any way. 

As I wrote on Friday the DfE is still requiring that schools maintain good hand hygiene so we will ask that pupils sanitise their hands on arrival and when entering dining areas. Hand sanitiser will continue to be made available in all classrooms. 

In addition, while ventilation remains a need the DfE have moderated their requirements to now include the idea that there is a balance between the need for permanently open windows and ‘maintaining a comfortable temperature’. Therefore coats are no longer permitted in classrooms, with the exception of a couple of identified rooms that remain colder than I would want.

Even this afternoon, for the final time it is compulsory, our pupils have been assiduously wearing their face covering in corridors and lunch queues as I have moved around the site. For the small group of pupils that have a medical exemption they wear their lanyards clearly. What our pupils have shown throughout this time of face covering is respect for one another and an absolute sense of responsibility. I will remember the maturity they have shown in this phase for a long time. 

Wishing you all the very best.


Covid update for Greenshaw: 21st January (3.00pm)

At the end of a week of change, I am delighted to start with a constant: congratulations to some of our students that have done really well. The majority of this week’s letter is focused on the Covid-19 changes, but I am delighted to start by celebrating the students and tutor groups below.

Students of the week

  Year 7 Year 8 Year 9 Year 10 Year 11
Student of the week Ralph Darcey Abielash Millie Tyiam
Tutor group of the week 7TEV 8ARG 9ZCT 10NWL 11MSY

COVID-19: What has changed

Here is a brief summary of what has been announced by the government in the last 48 hours. It may be helpful to have this all in one place, rather than the various news sources we all pick this up from. We apply the Department for Education guidance and here are the most recent changes.

Face covering – in classrooms: This is no longer a requirement. Heads of Year visited each of their classes during registration yesterday morning explaining this to their year groups. Students are permitted to keep a face covering in classrooms if they feel safer doing so.

Face covering – in communal areas: This will no longer be a requirement in secondary schools from Thursday 27th January. This means that by the second half of next week, students will not be required to bring a face covering into school. Should any young person feel safer wearing a face mask we will of course permit that, whether just in communal areas or in classrooms as well.

Hand hygiene: The most recent DfE guidance, published yesterday, states schools “should continue to ensure that pupils clean their hands regularly…. with soap and water or hand santisiter.” As headteacher (and a parent!) I am very happy that secondary aged pupils are encouraged to regularly wash their hands. Here we will apply ‘regularly’ by asking pupils to use the sanitiser we supply on arrival and on entry to the dining halls. In addition, sanitiser is available in each classroom and I see students using this regularly.

Ventilation: While airflow around classrooms remains important the DfE have updated the guidance, stating: “You should balance the need for increased ventilation while maintaining a comfortable temperature.” Windows will be opened at points during the day and classroom doors remain open throughout but windows no longer need to remain open all day long. This should definitely improve the environment for learning and means that coats will not be needed in classrooms from Monday.

Covid-19: What has not changed

Symptoms: If a student has symptoms (high temperature, new continuous cough or change to sense of smell or taste) they should still not come into school. This is a link to the NHS website that advises what to do next.

Returning after Covid: Children may return to school after a confirmed Covid positive case if they have a negative lateral flow test on days 5 and 6. The tests do need to be 24 hours apart, so a student shouldn’t test on one evening and the next morning. The two tests should be a full day apart. If a test is positive we keep going: two negative tests on any consecutive days after day 5 means a child can return to school. From day 10 any isolation can end, regardless of any follow up test results.

As I will never tire of letting you know, Greenshaw children are resilient and impressive. They have all continued wearing face masks, as requested, in corridors and communal spaces. Many have chosen to keep them on in lessons. For some this is through the feeling of protection it affords for others it may be a force of habit that reduces over the coming days. However, our students are learning in classrooms – and PE spaces – as always, working hard and trying their best. Wishing you all the best for restful weekends.

Nick House, Headteacher


A steady return: 14th January (3.00pm) 

I hope you are all well at the end of our first full week back after the holidays. There are no students of the week today as we add up the points to the end of today, Friday, to nominate our students and tutor groups of the first week back. So watch this space next week… 

Just this morning, I saw Year 11 students concentrating on their literature preparation, a Year 8 group intently focused in the drama studio and a Year 10 class speaking in fluent Spanish. If this is any reflection there will be many candidates for ‘students of the week’ when we close the books this afternoon. 

The impact of Covid on school this week 

As the week has gone on we have had a steady return of students that had previously been isolating. There was a significant group staying home at the same time, either from the testing run in school on the first day back or because families tested at home before term started. The number of students isolating from last week has dropped to almost half by today and classrooms feel full and increasingly normal. 

We continue to manage the challenges around staff absence. At points, we have grouped some classes together in the dining hall and colleagues have covered repeatedly for one another. Where staff have been well enough to work, but required to isolate, they have taught lessons online. Learning to master the video technology we have all used over the last two years has certainly been a skill profitably gained! 

If your young people come home saying they have had missing teachers this week, then I am afraid that may well be the case. Please be assured however that our students’ experience is our prime focus: in the parts of the day that I am not covering for Covid absence and walking through corridors and classrooms, things remain remarkably unchanged. 

Coats may remain worn next week 

We have eight boilers serving the various parts of the site with local heating controls in the respective buildings. Some of our classrooms are warm, or should I say borderline hot, while all are comfortable. Despite this, I am glad that in the current cold snap we have permitted coats to be worn and this will continue next week until the temperature consistently lifts. With windows open and frost on the ground I want students to think entirely about their learning, not be distracted by other issues. Actually, in most classrooms few students are choosing to wear coats, but I think it is a sensible option in the short term to ensure 100% focus. 

As I wrote previously this term, we will only ever send students home if there is no other option. As the national Covid-19 numbers start to decrease I hope that will also afford us better staffing levels and I absolutely hope that we will not need to turn to that option. Wishing you all restful and safe weekends, here’s hoping for an even better one next week. 

Nick House, Headteacher 


Winter Wonderland: Friday 7th January (12.30pm)

At the end of a shorter first week  we do not have official ‘pupils of the week’ but that does not suggest that the term hasn't started well. Attendance has been strong, notwithstanding those pupils that have had to remain at home as they recover from Covid related absence, and things feel surprisingly normal around school.

It has been chilly, particularly on Thursday morning. We received a consignment of new table tennis tables over the holidays (that had been ordered over six months ago and delayed in their delivery, but that’s another story) and they were covered in frost on the first full day of term. Most of the classrooms are nicely warm but pupils have the choice of wearing coats indoors, with the open windows, and this will remain in place for next week as well.

What did strike me on Thursday was how seamlessly pupils returned to their routines of learning. To be asked to wear face coverings in the classroom is definitely a change but never underestimate the power of young people to be adaptable and flexible. Indeed children often display this more easily than those of us of older years (maybe we’re more entrenched in our habits than our young people?) and the school has returned smoothly to learning.

The next steps

Clearly nobody knows the future but I think whole school closures, directed by the government, are not imminent. We continue to have significant staff absences but are covering these to make lessons work as seamlessly as possible. We have two of our dining spaces with teaching screens to allow us to merge groups as needed. This was something we had already done last term, ensuring year groups did not need to be sent home in the weeks before Christmas.

It is not impossible that we might need to ask year groups to work remotely from home and we have plans in place for this that we are firming up. However, it would only be a last resort and I will seek - wherever possible - to let families know if it feels this might be imminent.

This week we have covered for absent colleagues through the efforts of our existing staff and not had to merge classes. I will continue to prevail on colleague’s support and find ways around if at all possible: we always want to keep all of our pupils learning, and in the school buildings.

Update: vaccination of children aged 12 to 15

There has been a significant investment in testing centres in Sutton and the local area and I know that families have been able to source vaccinations beyond what was hosted in school last term. The NHS booking system is available online for any young person over the age of 12 and there will be a second wave of in school vaccinations, offered by the School Age Immunisation Service (SAIS). When they contact us we will communicate with families of pupils in that age bracket and let you know what would be available on our site.

Can you support local schools?

I did write last term about our position in a wider group of schools, the Greenshaw Learning Trust (GLT). We are delighted to collaborate with over 20 other schools beyond Greenshaw High School. The GLT is always looking for people who could be school governors, not just in our school but others nearby. It is particularly helpful if the person has a link to Greenshaw High School or younger siblings in a primary school and as you are reading this you are highly likely to be in at least one of those groups. If you are interested in having a sense of what being a governor is like please let us know at info@greenshaw.co.uk and we will be in touch.

So it is a bit of a waiting game at present in schools, as it is in many other sectors this week Greenshaw has returned well, focused and positive and I have all my fingers firmly crossed that this will continue over the coming weeks. The simplest way to know if this is the case is if I only need to write to you on each Friday with celebrations of great pupils and the achievements from that week. Wishing you all the best for a restful weekend.

Mr House, Headteacher


Back to school: Remember, it's Week 2 this week

(Wednesday 5th January, 3.00pm)

Just a brief update this afternoon so that you are up to speed on what has happened over the last 24 hours. This feels like a phase where I may need to do more frequent updates than just one every Friday – apologies if this feels like too much information at times.

Today’s Covid testing – thank you

There was such strong support with today’s lateral flow testing at school. We had over thirty staff running 12 testing bays and had well over a thousand pupils tested in five hours. The testing has identified a small number of students with positive Covid test results whose families have been contacted.

Thank you also to those families who did a test at home with their young person as a precaution before attending school today. That did identify another handful of Covid positive pupils, without any symptoms, who then correctly did not come into school at all.

That has all been really supportive and means we go into tomorrow as safely as we can for the coming term.

Change to Covid regulations following a positive test result

The Department for Education has clarified the message it sent out on Sunday. Students that have had a positive PCR test can return on the seventh day, if they have had negative lateral flow test results at home on days six and seven and do not have a temperature. This means students would need to test in the morning before school on days six and seven and does mean one day fewer out of school.

Drop in temperature… of the weather kind!

The temperature is firmly in the low single digits for the rest of this week, so students can choose to keep their coats on this Thursday and Friday in lessons, given the requirement for windows to be open. Generally, I think this gives mixed messages but returning to school in 5 or 6 degrees with windows open is not great for learning. We will review this after the weekend.

Would your child like to be part of the school chess club?

On a more ‘normal’ note I contacted a national chess organisation last term and have arranged for one of their coaches to come in every Tuesday after school. We would need to make sure that there are Covid measures in place to make this safe but if you are interested in your child taking part then please let us know at info@greenshaw.co.uk. Please tell us your child’s name and whether they have had any experience or are a beginner chess player, either is fine. I cannot guarantee spaces for everyone but would like to know what the level of interest is, and we will take it from there.

Finally, it is Week 2 this week, so make sure your child/ren has packed the right books and equipment for Week 2 lessons. We are all really looking forwards to getting lessons underway for all students from tomorrow. All the best.

Nick House, Headteacher


Welcome to 2022: An update on the opening of term this week

Tuesday 4th January (11.30am)

I hope that you had a good family break and had some relaxing downtime over the recent holiday period. As ever, things have a habit of changing over school holidays and here are the main changes:

  • Students that have had Covid19 in the last 90 days are now recommended to complete lateral flow testing.
  • Students with a positive PCR test result can return to school after seven days, with continued testing.
  • Face masks have been reintroduced into secondary classrooms, not just ‘communal’ areas.

Testing for Covid-19 in school: Wednesday 5th January

The testing schedule remains the same as we published last term and can be downloaded below. For students in Years 11 and 13 we are ‘fast tracking’ them, so they can complete a Covid test and then, with a negative result, get straight into lessons tomorrow morning.

Students in other year groups should attend at the allocated time, entering school via the main entrance. Students in Years 7 to 10 who are only attending school for their Covid test do not need to wear school uniform tomorrow (Wednesday 5th January).

INSET day - Tuesday 4th January  – school is closed to students, as planned.

Wednesday 5th January – Students to arrive at their allocated time via the main entrance and line up in tutor groups. Students in Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 will be dismissed straight after testing.

You can download the testing schedule with the exact timings for each year group here.

Facemasks in secondary school classrooms

These have been reintroduced as part of the approach to keeping schools open for all students. While there are some downsides to this it is definitely a lesser issue than schools being closed. The government have committed to a review at the end of January and we will all be watching this closely.

Returning to school seven days after a positive test

Students who have had a positive PCR test result but do not have a temperature may return to school on the eighth day, rather than the previous period of ten days. Assuming the student is well enough to return to school, and they have negative results from lateral flow tests taken on day 6 and day 7, they may return to school on day 8. If you are in any doubt, please contact us and we will do our best to explain the Health and Department for Education guidance.

What the next few weeks are all about is keeping schools open for all students. It is not impossible that we may have to consider remote learning for some years if staff absence gets to the rates that are being speculated about in the media. However, we would always do this as a last resort, so I hope that the combination of testing tomorrow, alongside the face masks/hand hygiene/ventilation and the support of families we will get through this phase.

Upwards and onwards, and we wish you all the very best from Greenshaw for a positive 2022.                                                

Nick House, Headteacher


Thank you and well done – to our families, students and staff: Friday 17th December 2021

I am deliberately splitting this last Friday letter of 2021 into two parts. The first is about our school, the second half a Covid update. Walking around school this week you simply would not know what a tough year it has been. I have been accompanied for three days by small groups of parents of our students to witness students’ great focus.

Thank you to the families who have held their confidence in our school during this incredibly difficult year of 2021. Thank you to the staff who have gone above and beyond, in a time of unparalleled pressure.

Above all, well done to our students who have done their families and staff proud: a world of testing, masks and wondering about Covid symptoms is more than matched on a daily basis by our students’ work ethic and curiosity, their absolutely evident sense of community and fun. Nothing gives me more hope for 2022 than our young people. This is exemplified by the students below and each of these tutor groups. Keeping going right up until the end of term can get tougher, so well done to all of these students who have shown grit and determination.

Stars of the Week

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Eleanthi

Janielle

Anya

Angelita

Abid

7TDL

8LJN

9ZCT

10NWL

11DRL

In addition we have our Stars of the Term, both individual pupils and tutor groups. An even bigger well done (if possible!) to these fantastic students.

Stars of the Term

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Sahana

Amber

Freya

Daniella

Moshope

7TEV

8LJN

9ZCT

10NWL

11DRL

Could you support local schools?

We are proud to be part of a wider group of schools (the Greenshaw Learning Trust, or GLT) and we work with other schools beyond Greenshaw. The GLT is always looking for people who could be governors, not just in our school but others nearby. It is particularly helpful if the person has a link to Greenshaw High School or younger siblings in a primary school.

If you would like to find out more about being a governor, please contact Sarah Richards at info@greenshaw.co.uk. If you would like to attend an initial governor meeting, this would not be taken as a definite commitment but that you would like to find out more about being a governor.

Next term plans - and don’t forget we come back in Week 2!

Secondary schools have been asked to run another round of testing for Covid-19 when students return in January. We have become familiar with the processes and are able to conclude this within one day, meaning all students can return to school as quickly as possible.

Students in Years 11 and 13 have the least time between now and their GCSEs and A Level assessments in the summer. These two years will have as little disruption to their learning as possible in class at the start of term, combining their testing with normal lessons. Please see the details below of the first days back after the holiday period.

Tuesday 4th January

INSET day (as planned – no change)

School is closed to students

Wednesday 5th January

Students to arrive at their allocated time via Gate 6 and line up in their Tutor Groups in the Main Playground. Students in Years 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 will be dismissed straight after testing.

 

 

Thursday 6th January

All year groups in school (normal day)

Obviously, these are the plans for January as it currently stands. We know things are changing at present, but I hope fervently that we will be able to return in the first week of January exactly as we finish: hard working and positive. 

I hope all of our Greenshaw families manage some rest time over the coming days and that we are all able to spend time with family and friends. We have all earned that over the last twelve months.

Wishing you all the very, very best.

Nick House, Headteacher


Greenshaw at the heart of the community: Friday 10th December 2021 (4.30pm)

Congratulations to the students below and those tutor groups. You’ve had brilliant weeks and I am very proud of your efforts in school and homework. Top work.

Stars of the week

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Ella

Bella

Razaak

Jerusan

Edward

7TEV

8LJN

9ALP

10NWL

11MMB

Greenshaw at the heart of the community

Our whole school assembly yesterday was about the importance of community. We talked about how connecting with others is good for the community and also good for our wellbeing individually. Over the last week here are just some of the things our pupils have done for others:

  • Year 7 groups have made Christmas cards for our local neighbours.
  • Year 8 have made Christmas cards for residents of local care homes.
  • Year 11 students have written messages into each of these hundreds of cards.
  • Year 11 students have visited a local care home as part of their Christmas celebration and performed some of the dance from last week’s show.
  • Year 10 students are completing a sponsored walk, a staff vs students netball match and a bake sale to raise money for Cancer Research, Children in Need and Diabetes UK.
  • The Sixth Form charity committee raised money today for the three charities Save the Children, A21 and St Raphael’s Hospice.
  • Students across all years have collected items to fill shoe boxes (with food and toiletries) for those less fortunate and unwanted toys for children’s centres.

As we approach the darkest and at some times the gloomiest time of year it has been brilliant to see how our young people are bringing light to others. One of the residents of the care home was so thrilled to receive a Christmas card, saying it was the first she had received for years. These acts of kindness make a huge difference to others and also shines more hope into each person who gives. 

What does the Covid-19 Plan B mean for schools?

The announcement on Wednesday, including an instruction to work from home for those who can, has made little real change to life at schools. We continue to face cover in communal areas, but not classrooms or outdoors.  Sanitiser bottles remain in every classroom and our cleaning team have increased their cleaning rotas of frequent touch points around the site (door handles and stair rails).

Things can change in an individual school, or local area, depending on the instructions of local health agencies. However, with a week of term left I absolutely hope there is no substantive change to the students’ learning which has been closer to normal this term than at any other time over the last twenty months.

One announcement that has been made by the Department for Education is that secondary schools should test their students before they return to school after the Christmas break. We will share more details of this next week but in principle it will look something like this:

Tuesday 4th January

INSET day (as planned - no change)

Wednesday 5th January

Year 11 - AM Reg / Periods 1-3 / Covid testing straight from P3 /  home 

Year 13 - AM Reg / Periods 1-4 /  Covid testing straight from P4 /  home

Other years - Covid testing (schedule to follow) / home

Thursday 6th January

All year groups in school - normal day

How to relocate your child’s lost property

A final reminder: unnamed lost property is collected and placed into a store in the playground which is open at every break and lunchtime. If you are chasing up missing clothing do check with your child whether they have looked in the lost property store.

Last day of term

School continues until Friday 17th December when we have a half day. The end of the day varies for different year groups and is:

  • 12:25 pm – Year 7, 8
  • 12:30 pm – Year 9, 10, 11

Until then, I wish you restful weekends, probably occupied with Christmas preparations.

All the best.                                                  

Nick House, Headteacher


Amazing dancers: Friday 3rd Dceember (3.00pm)

I have referenced Covid-19 during Friday letters this term and also managed to make more space for our learning, our sports and our students. This week we continue to balance both. So let’s start by celebrating our star students. Well done to each of the individuals and classes below – you’ve been brilliant.

Stars of the week

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Cameron

Charlotte

Lewis

Elizabeth

Matthew

7DM

8DED

9ZCT

10BWL

11ST

Protecting ourselves in school

Face coverings have landed well at Greenshaw. We cover our faces in the corridors, dining queues and the Sixth Form study areas but not in classrooms or outside spaces. On Monday, I explained to the whole school how viruses mutate and how the names for the variations of the virus (taken from the Greek alphabet) are selected. I think it is important that our young people understand why things have altered recently – I think this is central to them willingly making changes. 

Students have been totally supportive, following the new Department for Education requirements. Very occasionally students forget their mask when walking back into a building. They are quick to correct it and already students are doing this nearly automatically.  

We continue to ask students to sanitise their hands when they arrive at school and when entering the dining halls. We have maintained sanitiser bottles in every classroom and our cleaning team have increased their cleaning rotas of frequent touch points around the site such as door handles and stair rails.

If you think your child has Covid-19

Our attendance has remained high, in fact it is the highest of any secondary schools in our multi academy trust. I hope this reflects that families feel confident in the way we continue to manage the dangers associated with Covid-19.

However, it is essential that if your child has any of the symptoms associated with Covid (high temperature on chest or back, loss of taste or smell or a new persistent cough) then please keep them at home. You will then need to book a PCR test, details of which are here.

Dance performance

Last night was an amazing occasion when we held our first performance in school for nearly two years. Thank you to the families who wore masks and sat in their own ‘family bubbles’ – having an audience makes it a performance not just a practice. Well done to all the students from all year groups for making it such a celebration event. We have missed these moments and it was so good to hear audience applause and cheers in person.

How to relocate your child’s lost property

If, like me, you’ve sent a teenager to school with items of clothing that they have lost – often within days of buying it for them – here are the details of what to do next. If the item is named, then we will return it to the year team, who will then return it to the student.

However, if it is unnamed then we collect it in one of our stores in the playground (pictured left) and this is open at every break and lunchtime. If you are chasing up missing clothing, do check with your child whether they have looked in the lost property store. As you can see from these photographs, there are a number of lost items in there, just awaiting collection.

Wishing you all the best.                                              

Nick House, Headteacher


Sporting highlights: Friday 26th November (3.30pm)

Let’s start our Friday letter with huge congratulations to the students and tutor groups below. Well done to these brilliant young people. 

Star students of the week

 Year 7 

Year 8 

Year 9 

Year 10 

Year 11 

Ralph 

Alessandro 

Leah 

Flynn 

Hope 

Star tutor groups of the week

 Year 7 

Year 8 

Year 9 

Year 10 

Year 11 

7TEV 

8ARG 

9ZCT 

10LBR 

11AG 

Heating news 

We have spent this first week of a prolonged cold snap checking the heating in all of our classrooms. We have had heating engineers restart a boiler in the sports hall block and altered the timing of our heating. Normally we time it to stop before lunch as the residual heat is sufficient for the rest of the day but we are running it into the afternoon so all classrooms can be fully comfortable throughout the day. 

This is really important as we are maintaining our protection against Covid-19 in ventilating rooms through having classroom doors and windows open. However, in the current weather we have closed external doors into buildings and leaving the heating on for longer should be sufficient. We will continue to monitor the situation and update as needed. 

Sporting highlights 

Although Covid remains among the community, one of the absolute joys of this term has been the full return of competitive sport. We have seen teamwork, camaraderie and pure sense of fun that comes from competition... and along the way we have had some pretty stellar results. Here is a summary of some of them and the PE department will do a fuller summary at the end of the term. 

Football 

  • U16 girls: Through to the quarter-final of the Surrey cup after beating Cheam High School 4-0. 
  • U14 girls: Won each of their first three league games, scoring fourteen goals. Also through to the quarter-final of the Sutton Schools cup. 
  • U13 girls (pictured): Progressed to the quarter-final of the annual AFC Wimbledon tournament, losing to the eventual winners. 
  • Year 11 boys: Won their Surrey cup game on penalties, and are also into the quarter-final of the Sutton Schools cup. 
  • Year 8 boys: Won three of their four league games and progressed to the last 16 of the Surrey cup. Well done Josh who has scored seven goals in four games. 

Basketball 

  • Year 10: Three wins out of three, beating Rutlish, Glenthorne and Grey Court. Congratulations to Ogbe for being Player of one Match and starting the season so well. 
  • Year 8: An excellent result this week, beating Carshalton Boys Sports College 49-23. Well done to joint captains Kyler and Janielle for their excellent leadership skills. 

Cross country 
Well done to all who represented Greenshaw in the recent Sutton wide cross country race. A particular well done to the following who finished in a qualifying position to represent Sutton in the Surrey championships: Libby (Year 7), Shantae, Mohamed, Toby (all in Year 9) and Ekow (Year 10). 

And last of all – a climbing superstar 
A massive well done to Lucy in Year 10. She has competed at elite levels since she started here back in 2018, always training with total dedication. Following a brilliant fifth place in the world championships in Russia this August she has now become British champion for her age group, just last weekend. Huge congratulations from all of us here at Greenshaw. 

We also have students that have left us very recently now making their way in professional sport. Charlotte Wardlaw (aged 18) was signed by Chelsea FC and has just scored her first – brilliant – goal while on loan at Liverpool FC. Jack Wells Morrison (aged 17) has signed a contract with Crystal Palace FC and been selected for the England under 18 side. So for the students currently in our school, these are role models of how efforts now can translate to exciting futures. 

Wishing you all the best. 

Nixk House, Headteacher


Great examples of learning: Friday 19th November (3.00pm)

Before my updates for this week, a big congratulations to these students and tutor groups below. I have seen so many star students all week, but a special well done to these.

Star students of the week

Year 7

Ahmed

Year 8

Ioana

Year 9

Alan

Year 10

Mahinor

Year 11

Moshope

Star tutor groups of the week

Year 7

7KSN

Year 8

8DED

Year 9

9KHL

Year 10

10LP

Year 11

11MMB

Great examples of learning in our school

One of the absolute privileges of being headteacher is being able to walk around the school, dropping into lessons at will. Very occasionally I pick up the odd rogue piece of litter on my wandering, but far more often I am able to just reflect on the hard work and commitment of our staff and students. Here are a few samples from this last week.

In their food technology lessons, students have been making Cornish pasties (left). I honestly think that the quality of the finish is GCSE standard, although I haven't tasted these yet. The pasties in this picture have been made and baked by twelve year olds!

In art, Year 7 students were exploring the big ideas of shape, line and colour. Many of the students were so absorbed in their collages and drawing that a number didn't even realise I’d come into the room. This example (right) is a sketch is by Manuel in 7SAT. 

Drawing doesn’t just happen in art, but also technical subjects like science. This page is taken from a Year 9 student's book. This page is well presented and carefully drawn and is typical of others in Year 9. Pictured left is a book by Lacie in 9ABS.

Some forms of learning that photographs can’t do justice to. Year 10 students yesterday afternoon, the final period of Thursday, were writing with absolute industry up and down the English corridor. Not a student off task, every room so focused. I walk downstairs to a Year 11 maths lesson where students are working through practice GCSE questions, guided by the teacher, then taking their turn. No drift evident from any student. I walk into Spanish and a brilliant Year 8 class are all practising their spoken language aloud, every student.

Covid catch up

The first fortnight after half term has continued to see smaller Covid numbers at school than we experienced in October. Thank you to all families for continuing to not send students into school with any Covid symptoms. This week the vaccinations were facilitated by the NHS for the students of families that had chosen for their young person to have the jab in school.

I have been asked by the London Borough of Sutton to let families know that there was an online presentation about Covid-19 for parents and others about the vaccination programme. If you would like to know more about this it is available here. In the meantime, I wish you all the very best for restful weekends. 

Nick House, Headteacher


Greenshaw Remembers: Friday 12th November (12.00pm)

Well, what a quick week that has been. With Year 10 parents’ evening last night and Year 11 having mock exams in English, maths and science, the last five days have sped past. Congratulations to the students and tutor groups below that have had the best week in terms of achievement points, attendance and homework completion. Well done to all.

Students of the week

Year 7

Scarlett

Year 8

Alex

Year 9

Mayooraprian

Year 10

Millie

Year 11

Sophia

Tutor groups of the week

7EML

8ECP

9GCA

10BWL

11DRL

Our Remembrance assembly

We used one of the learns from Covid times, how to use online meeting software, to conduct a whole school Remembrance assembly right across our school on Thursday morning. Using Google Meet and our digital screens in every classroom, I was able to talk to the entire school at the same time. This was followed by a two minute silence across our whole site. This was observed impeccably – the sounds of bird song and traffic in the background were the only noises, as over 1,500 people stopped to reflect and remember.

I talked about the sacrifices made in the two world wars, as well as many other occasions. I was particularly proud that our Head Student, Valentin, read Laura Mucha’s poem We Remember to our students and staff. It was very moving to hear a young person read to the school and Valentin set absolutely the right tone in his recognition and respect.

Covid-19 update

As I wrote to you before, there was a significant increase of the Covid virus in Sutton, and across many parts of England, in the weeks leading up to half term. The numbers have dropped since, but still remain at a significant level.

Please help us by ensuring that if your child has any of the three main Covid symptoms (a new persistent cough, high temperature on the chest or back or loss of taste or smell) they should remain at home and have a PCR test booked.

We continue to keep windows and classroom doors open. This means that students should be wearing their school jumpers and if they wish to wear a t-shirt beneath their school shirt, or even a sports base layer, that is absolutely acceptable. As long as it is not visible (which it shouldn’t be, beneath a shirt collar and full length shirt) this is a very sensible adaptation that should see students able to focus on their learning.

Students have returned to school brilliantly, with attendance being at 95% so far this week, which is well ahead of national numbers. It is really important that we safeguard this by keeping the whole school safe. Wishing you and your family a very restful weekend.

Mr House, Headteacher


Close to normal: Thursday 4th November (1.00pm)

I hope your child (or children) has had a good half term break and is ready to return to school on Monday 8th November. School will operate as we did in the first half term, but there is one minor adjustment to the opening time. The various school gates will open five minutes later, at 8:15am. The time students need to be in registration remains at 8:25am, so there is no material change to the school day. 

Last half term was as close to normal as we have experienced over the last eighteen months, although there was an increase in Covid numbers, both in Sutton and nationally from the start of October. For Greenshaw to remain ‘normal’ we need to continue doing the things we did last half term.

How families can help

Please keep your child at home if they have any of the three main Covid symptoms: a new continuous cough; high temperature on chest or back; and loss of taste or smell. If a child has any of these symptoms obtain a PCR test.

Even if no symptoms are present, please ask your child to take the lateral flow test supplied by the NHS on a Wednesday and Sunday night.

Please note: there are some spare kits available in school reception, feel free to pop in to pick one up or click on this link https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests to arrange for kits to be delivered directly to your home.

How school will help

  • We continue to ask students to sanitise their hands on arrival at school, before eating and have sanitiser in every classroom.
  • We continue to pass on NHS materials that we are supplied with, such as lateral flow testing kits.
  • We continue to remind students about good hygiene measures, such as catching sneezes in a tissue and washing hands afterwards.

As the national and local Covid numbers started to rise, several parents asked whether schools would be sharing details of students in classes who had a positive test, as they had done last year. From the end of last summer term the onus for ‘track and trace’ fell to the NHS rather than schools. This, along with the fact that students were no longer required to isolate if they came into contact with a Covid positive case means that the situation this school year is very different. 

So my hope is that we can continue to operate absolutely normally next half term, without any restrictions. Thank you for your support in doing all you can to make this happen

Nick House, Headteacher


Marking Black History Month: Friday 22nd October (9.30am)

In what feels like the blink of an eye this first half term has come and gone. There has been so much to be proud of including the ways students have returned to ‘normal’ secondary school, their efforts across the curriculum and with independent learning. What is important to note is their fantastic rates of attendance, at least 3% ahead of national secondary attendance figures. While their attitude has been consistent the classroom activities have been rich and varied. From smells of pasties wafting down the main corridor to the sounds of students saying the same word in many different ways (‘spaghetti’ in an angry voice, a quiet voice, a sad voice – in a drama lesson) walking around our school has been a pleasure this term. 

Of the many, many things I would identify is the students’ efforts to mark Black History Month. 

There have been lessons on Black icons, individuals from science, literature, philosophy and every other subject who have made a huge contribution to its development. Beyond the classroom we also have run a range of additional activities, one of which was students designing a mural on the glass of our green bridge.

When the sun catches the different colours of ‘Esther’s Bridge’, inspired by the works of the artist Esther Mahlangu it brings alive our students’ efforts to bring to life the South African’s creativity in our school. 

Achievers of the week

Congratulations to the students and tutor groups of this last week before half term. For students to absolutely maintain their focus on homework, effort in class and excellent attendance is a thing of pride so well done to each of these classes and individuals. Bravo!

Tutor groups of the week

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

7LOR

8LJN

9ZHY

10MCW

11DRL

Students of the week

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Emily

Charlie

Freya

Edward

Lauren

Covid update

For the first time since September, this last week has seen a significant rise in the number of Greenshaw students that have contracted Covid not able to attend school. There have also been some staff that have been unable to attend work as they combat the illness. This is consistent with other schools across Sutton and Greater London, in both primary and secondary phases. 

Cases are rising nationally and some in healthcare and the media have expressed concerns about this. My instinct is that there will be no imminent change for schools, with half term now offering the relief of a ‘firebreak’ across the country for school aged children. Despite staff absence rising, we have covered all classes, occasionally with more than one class being taught together in the school hall because I am absolutely committed to safely keeping all children in school.

I will write to families towards the end of the break with some pointers about the next half term and what we can all do to protect our school community. I hope that all of our students and staff who have contracted Covid are able to use the two week half term to fully recover.

Vaccination

We have confirmed that there will be a date towards the end of November that NHS teams will be able to offer vaccinations at school. Given that this will be at least four weeks away families might want to know that the NHS is offering two other ways for young people aged 12 to 15 to be vaccinated. 

Walk in vaccination for 12-15 year olds is available on Friday 22nd October. This website has specific clinic details: 

https://swlondonccg.nhs.uk/covid/where-can-you-get-vaccinated/vaccination-walk-in-clinics/ 

Booked vaccinations for 12-15 year olds are available in both half term weeks, from Saturday 23rd October. Bookings can be made online here: 

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/

Tours of the school

We have shown around just under 400 people over the last month, mainly children in Year 6 and their families. We have done this in small groups, never lingering around staff or students for any extended period. However, as previously mentioned I do want our existing families to understand how the school operates and get a sense of our typical lessons and classrooms. We will, as previously, restrict the numbers to safely sized groups but if you would like to join us after half term, please let us know at info@greenshaw.co.uk.

So wishing all the best for a half term break of rest. For students in Year 11 they will want to spend some time on maths, English and science revision, but I hope all return rested and well. Wishing you all the very best.

Nick House, Headteacher


Planning for future careers (Friday 15th October (4.00pm)

Excellence this week

Congratulations to these groups and individuals below. Combining their attendance, their merit points and homework completion rates these are the tutor groups and individual students of the week. Well done to all.

Tutor groups of the week

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

7KSN

8LJN

9ZHY

10NWL

11MSY

Students of the week

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Sahana

Hayden

Mala

Heidi

Ana-Marie

Lesson visits for families next half term

We have continued to welcome small groups of families of students in Year 6 to our school over the last few weeks. This will conclude at half term, as parents and carers will have had to complete their primary school preferences by the time we return from half term.

What always strikes me when seeing the school through the lens of a visitor is how many things we can take for granted that families understand about schools. For example, how at Greenshaw we use mini-whiteboards in each lesson or how assessment is carried out.

After half term, we will run school tours for families of students already in our school. After all, it is hugely important that you are able to come and see the work in action. If you are interested in visiting our classrooms and seeing typical lessons please send an e-mail to info@greenshaw.co.uk. If we can get a sense of numbers we will then plan which day, or days, to set up. Obviously we will restrict the numbers in any group, but we will do as much as possible to accommodate as many families as possible.

Covid-19 vaccination update

We continue to receive messages from the NHS about when their vaccination team will be with us. The latest update is that this won’t be before half term. You will appreciate that the NHS is mobilising a significant project and as soon as they confirm details we will contact families directly.

Planning for future careers

This week’s assembly was presented by two ex-students. Josh, who now works in government and Hannah who is a research scientist. They spoke to all students about the importance of focusing on learning throughout secondary school, from Year 7 onwards, as well as starting to research about possible work pathways.

Next week there will be a homework task for all students set over the half term break. More details will be shared with you next week – exciting times! In the meantime, I wish you all restful weekends with one week left until the half term break.

Nick House, Headteacher


Parents' evenings starting online: Friday 8th October (3.00pm)

You might be aware that we did not run a traditional Open Evening last month as I was committed to keeping our students and staff, as well as the wider community, safe from any form of major Covid-19 outbreak. This was a tough decision as all of us would want to visit the prospective schools of our youngsters. So, over the last week and a half we have been running tours for prospective families of students in Year 6. These have been in smaller groups, often run by two members of staff and not remaining in classrooms for any extended period of time.

Walking around the whole school has been an absolute pleasure, especially when I see the school through the eyes of a visitor. Greenshaw has been focused and calm and the visiting family groups have been so impressed. A few years ago, before the pandemic, we offered opportunities for families of our current students to also walk around school and understand some of the things that our children experience day to day. The tours for Year 6 students and families are continuing for the next week but when they are finished we will be inviting current parents into school to walk around and see typical lessons with us. I will put the details in one of the next Friday letters, so keep an eye out if you would be interested.

Our excellent students this week

Every seven days, we add up all of our students’ efforts, taking into account attendance, merit points and rates of homework engagement. Congratulations to the groups below. Congratulations also to the individual students listed who are the very best in each year group of the last week. Well done all!

 

Tutor Groups of the Week

 

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

7DM

8DED

9ALP

10BWL

11DRL

One of the last things I did on Friday was to meet with the five students of last week. It is an absolute pleasure to meet such ambitious and highly motivated young people and a brilliant way for me to round off the week. I am really looking forward to seeing this group of students below today. 

 

Pupils of the Week

 

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Monti

Matilde

Midhat

Edward

Chiara

Parents’ evenings, starting online

As we get further into the school year parents’ evenings will soon be underway, with Year 13 students starting next Thursday, 14th October. Last year we used online parents’ evening software and, unexpectedly, it turned out to have quite a few advantages. In a survey parents said that they felt their conversations were more discrete online and that teachers and parents stuck to their timings far better. Parents also said they appreciated the flexibility of dialling in from home or work.

If I’m honest I hadn't anticipated gains from this system. There were some parents who felt otherwise, but these views were in a significant minority. For the first term at least we will continue with the online format for parents’ evenings and continue to reflect whether they are always suitable.

Covid-19: update about vaccination and testing

We are awaiting details from the NHS of arrangements for the vaccination they are offering to 12 to 15 year olds. When the date is confirmed we will contact you so that families are aware of which day it is happening. In the meantime please follow this link if you wish to register your interest.

Today, students will be issued with a further set of lateral flow test kits, again supplied by the NHS. Each box contains seven test kits, so this will take students into the half term holiday. Please check your child’s school bag this afternoon for the blue and white NHS badged box. 

I am looking forward to the time when parental conversations do not have to consider Covid. However, the impact it is having on our school, compared to this time last year, is significantly reduced. Attendance at Greenshaw is about 4% higher than national equivalent figures and I am very grateful for the support of families in keeping their children in school whenever they are well.

I hope you all have restful weekends and that our students return on Monday in the same huge numbers they have this week.

Wishing you all the best.

Nick House, Headteacher


Developing careers: Friday 1st October (3.00pm)

Well, what a start to Friday morning that was. Deluges of rain and night-time darkness at just the worst time of the day as students started to arrive. We opened the main doors and the dining hall to allow students in ahead of normal time. We have allowed students to wear PE kit - if they had a PE lesson today and kit had remained dry in sports bags. We have supplied spare uniform where we can but we can’t carry enough for all students. We had turned the heating on earlier this week to run the systems for the first time this year, so the radiators have been draped with wet coats in classrooms during the morning.

Normally I would be urging families and students to make sure coats are worn to school in the autumn but the vast majority of students were wearing coats today. This morning’s weather was so fierce for 30 minutes or so that many students were wet when they arrived in school. I hope they have dried out during the day and rest up over the weekend. I type this to you while wearing damp shoes and socks myself having been on Grennell Road from 8am…

Awards for this week 

Congratulations to our five champion tutor groups. Combining attendance rates, merit points and homework completion these are our highest achieving classes of this week.

 

Tutor Groups of the Week

 

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

7DM

8DED

9ZCT

10LP

11MMB

One of the last things I did on Friday was to meet with the five students of last week. It is an absolute pleasure to meet such ambitious and highly motivated young people and a brilliant way for me to round off the week. I am really looking forward to seeing this group of pupils below today. 

 

Pupils of the Week

 

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Georgia

Nafissa

Zaynab

Okatakyie

Millie

Developing careers

There will be a number of events for all year groups over the coming three weeks that encourage students to think about their next steps. On Thursday this week Year 12 students were involved in a careers day that saw visitors from the BBC, Goldman Sachs, KPMG, NHS, Rolls Royce and others talk about the various entry points into their companies.

I had a great conversation with a Year 12 student who had learned lots about the various ways to get into a career in midwifery, both undergraduate and otherwise. Another student told Miss Larkin (Head of Sixth Form) “It was helpful to hear from apprentices who are only a few years ahead of me in their chosen field, and also to hear about graduate entry routes and work experience opportunities. It was a positive experience and nice to have the chance to interact directly with people working in the city.” 

Before half term, all students will receive careers information, including an assembly with Mrs Sone, our dedicated Careers Advisor, as well as access to our online careers software.

Extreme weather conditions and climate change

We had our second whole school assembly on this topic this week, presented by Mr McMillan (Head of Geography) and Mrs Carran (teacher of science and teacher in charge of the Eco Council). Between last week’s presentation and this, students were asked to submit their thoughts on Frog. These were varied and impressively detailed, including questions such as: 

  • Can we reverse the impacts of climate change?
  • When did the world get hotter and hotter (what time period)?
  • How does deforestation affect climate change?
  • How do we not know this is part of a natural cycle? 

These assemblies have shared important information with all of our students. They have also re-energised our Eco Council, which like many other parts of the school had its operations restricted over the last eighteen months. They are keen to play a leading part in the development of not just our school’s work but also that of the wider Greenshaw Learning Trust. Given that there are 22 schools that are part of our trust now, this could have real impact. Watch this space for updates over the coming months.

So, other than the huge downpour this morning, this has been another great week at Greenshaw. The last two days we have run limited open mornings for prospective parents and walking around the whole school with groups of visitors I feel very proud of our students and staff. After the October half term, I will be offering the same opportunity to parents of students currently in our school, something we did a couple of years ago that I know was appreciated by families. In the meantime, I hope you all have restful weekends and dodge the next of the heavy downpours.

Wishing you all a restful weekend.

Nick House, Headteacher


Celebrating excellence: Friday 24th September (2.30pm)

As I wrote last week, we have a Friday routine for recognising the ‘Tutor Group of the Week’. This is decided by taking into account excellent attendance, merit points and homework completion rates. Now that we are firmly into the routines of our new school year we are able to announce our first tutor groups of the week for September (cue drum roll!) and they are listed below. Congratulations to each member of these classes – every student made a contribution by being part of the most excellent class last week.

 

Tutor Groups of the Week (w/b 20th September)

 

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

7LOR

8SMY

9ZHY

10BWL

11DRL

In addition, within each year group we identify the individual student with the highest combination of attendance, merit points and homework completion. To be the best in the whole year group is an amazing achievement so congratulations to the students below.

 

Students of the Week (w/b 20th September)

 

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Amogh

Ami Marie

Lucy

Natasha

Anthony

This week’s assembly theme: extreme weather events

I am absolutely committed to making sure that our classroom curriculum gives our students as much as possible to make them informed and engaged citizens. Sometimes there is a need for information sharing beyond traditional lessons and that is where assemblies can play a role. An example of something I wanted pupils to know more about is the extreme weather events we have witnessed over the last year, both their increased frequency and also the increased severity.

Yesterday we held a whole school assembly in which every young person in our school, from Year 7 to Year 13, learned in detail about this. The assembly was led by Mrs Carran, who explained the data over time that points to climate change and explained about some of the drivers from a scientific point of view. This was followed by Mr McMillan, who shared some of the extreme weather that has been witnessed across the world over the last year.

Next week in our assembly we will look at how this is affecting the United Kingdom specifically.

Vaccination against Covid-19 in schools

You may have seen on the national news that vaccination for children aged between 12 and 15 is starting in some regions. As of the time of writing this letter I have not received the details of what the health service is offering in Sutton but will share this with parents as soon as I do. In the meantime I would ask that families continue to use the lateral flow test kits (in the blue and white NHS badged boxes) and that if a student has symptoms (loss of taste or smell; new persistent cough; hot to touch on back or chest) they should stay at home and seek a PCR test. The NHS website here continues to provide the most up to date information.

Wishing you all a restful weekend.

Nick House, Headteacher


Finding the rhythm: Friday 17th September (3.45pm)

Things are definitely finding their rhythm in school as we end our second full week back. Students are more confidently locating their various classrooms and getting into their routines. This afternoon was a pleasure walking around school, seeing Year 11 practising a GCSE question about the Human Development Index with Mr Bock, Year 10 considering a maths problem with Mrs Blackham and a Year 7 class all speaking Spanish at the same time with Mrs Sayarh. These are just three examples of the many that I visited. There was a palpable sense of focus and you would not have known that it was the last lesson on a Friday afternoon 

Open evening – last night

We made the decision to hold our open evening online this year. This was a difficult decision, but open evening at Greenshaw is a hugely busy event, often with over two thousand visitors. I was not prepared to put our students, staff and the wider community at risk from any inadvertent transmission of the Covid-19 virus.  

I know that this will have been a frustration for some, including younger siblings of current students in your families that might have wanted to look around. However, safety has to be the driving force behind our decisions. For those of you interested, all the information is available on our website here, including a number of videos.  I would definitely recommend listening to our Head Student, Valentin, at the start of the Headteacher’s talk and our two Year 10 students (Roshaan and Kaiya, above) who talk so eloquently. If you want to hear them speak, they feature at 6 minutes 30 seconds. 

Recognising excellence – our awards start next week

From next week we will start to have the information on how students are doing, to start rewarding excellence. At the end of each week we have a ‘Student of the Week’ in each of the five lower school years, combining excellent attendance, homework completion and the achievement points (similar to ‘merits’) gained by a student. There will also be a ‘Tutor Group of the Week’ that adds up all the points gained by a class and averages them out. Look to next Friday’s letter for the first announcements of the term.

Before then, I hope that all families have a relaxing weekend.

Wishing you all the very best.

Nick House, Headteacher


What a great week! – Friday 10th September 2021 (3/00pm)

What a great week! To have all of our students back was brilliant after the disruptions of the isolation protocols that made the end of the summer term so disjointed. Staff have relished being back in their subject classrooms and students (from a number of year groups) are beginning to re-learn their way around school and understand where different subjects are based.

The main point of frustration was the significant heat at the start of the week. This would have been more welcome in the summer holidays and our new Year 7 students spent the hottest day undertaking team building activities, pre-booked with an external company. As these students from 7SAT showed, they all kept going brilliantly, just with even more regular filling up of water bottles in the searing heat.

Covid update

Now that secondary schools have been allowed to move away from the ‘bubbles’ there are fewer restrictions in schools. I would not want any family to think that schools are not still very aware of the Covid-19 virus. At Greenshaw we still have a number of measures in place. These include:

  • Hand hygiene: we ask every student and staff member to sanitise when entering the building and coming to break and lunch. In addition, hand sanitiser dispensers are in every classroom.
  • Ventilation: all rooms have windows and doors open to aid airflow through the school with the aim of dispersing any airborne virus.
  • Home testing: these kits continue to be supplied by the NHS, via schools, to all secondary aged pupils. All students in our school have received one of the blue NHS badged boxes this week containing seven tests. These are for use twice a week (Sunday and Wednesday evenings) and we will dispatch a follow up box at the end of the month.
  • Detecting symptoms: Most importantly, no student should come to school if they have Covid symptoms. The symptoms are: high temperature (hot to touch on chest or back); new continuous cough; loss or change to the sense of smell or taste. If any of these symptoms are present then a pupil should have a PCR test, arranged with the NHS. The details are here.

There are some students that feel safer wearing face covering. This is absolutely acceptable if it helps students (and their families) feel confident to be in school and continue their attendance. If a student were to persistently wear a face covering around their chin or neck then we would, of course, ask them to remove it.

I may need to mention the pandemic, and our response to it, from time to time in the weekly letter. But I will also ensure that the focus is also around learning and our students. What has struck me has been their upbeat mood. From our newest joiners in Year 7, to our oldest students in Year 13, I am greeted with smiles and positivity around the school. The excitement of new books and folders, as well as coming into many classrooms for the first time, has made for a great first week back.

I hope you all have great weekends, in the company of slightly fatigued but happy children.

Wishing you all the very best.

Nick House, Headteacher


Essential information for the start of term

I hope that you have had some form of family break over the last six weeks, despite the challenges of travel and British summer weather. The purpose of this letter is to give families the essential information about what is happening next week. Should you have any of this content not be clear please contact the school office who should be able to answer most queries.

What are schools doing this year about Covid-19?

The Department for Education have asked that schools operate as normally as possible. While we have the ability to step up protective measures these are three areas that schools have been asked to implement from September.

  1. Secondary schools should organise two lateral flow tests for students returning to school for the new academic year.
  2. Ensure good hand hygiene.
  3. Keep classroom doors and windows open to aid ventilation.

There is no requirement for students to be restricted to ‘bubbles’ as previously, nor for students under the age of 18 years and 6 months to isolate if they make contact with a positive Covid-19 case. There is also no requirement for staff or students to face cover. These measures might be reviewed if the prevalence of the Coronavirus shifts over the coming months, but as we return to school things should feel more normal than at any point over the last year and a half.

How will the lateral flow testing work?

Organising the Covid testing for all students from Years 7 to 13 is something we have run before, so we can get this concluded efficiently and disrupt learning as little as possible. We know that most of our new students in Year 7 may not have experienced these tests before, so have allowed longer for us to support them. For older students, this is an experience they are familiar with.

Please note that any student that has had a PCR positive test result in the last 90 days should not take a lateral flow test. This is because there would continue to be some residual viral load, meaning that this would be likely to give a positive result as a consequence of earlier infection. 

When does my child need to be ready for school next week?

The Covid testing does make the start of term a little unusual, so please see the information below. All students should arrive at school, at the times and the numbered gates below.

If students are in Years 7 to 11 they should be in full school uniform, without any holiday time jewellery or make up. This will enable the groups of students due to have school photographs to look smart as well as enabling us to support students with any uniform issues.

Friday 3rd September

Year Group

Arrival time

Arrival gate

Activities

Departure time

Year 7

08:10-08:20

6

First lateral flow test, school photographs, tour of the school and extended form time

12:00

Year 8

13:25

6

First lateral flow test, leave school

14:35

Year 9

09:25

5

First lateral flow test, school photographs, leave school

10:45

Year 10

14:25

3

First lateral flow test, leave school

15:35

Year 11

10:45

3

First lateral flow test, school photographs, leave school

12:15

Year 12

09:50-10:00

2

First lateral flow test, school photographs, tour of the school and extended form time

12:45

Year 13

12:40

2

First lateral flow test, leave school

13:15

Monday 6th September

Year Group

Arrival time

Arrival gate

Activities

Departure time

Year 7

08:10-08:20

6

Second lateral flow test, receive timetable for the new term and extended form time

12:00

Year 8

13:25

6

Second lateral flow test, familiarisation with the school site and receive timetables for the new term

15:00

Year 9

09:25

5

Second lateral flow test and receive timetables for the new term

10:30

Year 10

14:25

3

Second lateral flow test and receive timetables for the new term

15:35

Year 11

10:55

3

Second lateral flow test and receive timetables for the new term

11:55

Year 12

11:55

2

Second lateral flow test and receive timetables for the new term

12:35

Year 13

12:40

2

Second lateral flow test and receive timetables for the new term

13:20

I hope this gives you the information needed for the first few days and enable you to support your children in returning to school as smoothly as possible. As I said earlier, if you have any queries, just phone the school office and they will do their very best to help. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the longer bank holiday weekend – we are really looking forward to seeing our students return later on next week.

Wishing you all the very best.

Nick House, Headteacher


End of term: Tuesday 20th July (12.30pm)

The end of term is here. It is time for schools across the country to pause and reflect.

Like you, I absolutely hope that the vaccination programme has broken the link between Covid-19 infections and any subsequent hospitalisation. Also like many of you, I am uncertain about what the coming weeks will bring as the country starts to make the most recent adjustments to our national Covid plan.

What I am utterly convinced by is the positivity of our school. Despite the challenges, trials and sadly losses some of us have experienced in the last sixteen months there remain so many beacons of hope shining among our young people.

Last week hundreds of messages from our students and staff were extended directly to the black England footballers that had been targeted with vile racist abuse, offering our love and appreciation as a school. (A brief video is here).

Yesterday, I talked at length to a quite amazing lower school student who told me about why failure doesn’t need to be a permanent setback and how she remains positive, despite whatever challenges are presented.

This morning Year 8 students ran around furiously as part of our games morning. Despite the broiling sun, games of basketball, netball, table tennis and rounders were being played super competitively and refereed by staff and Sixth Form sports leaders. The sounds of laughter and contest rebounded among our children and acted as a reminder of the positives, even under the pressures of the last sixteen months.

Although today brings a very difficult chapter to a close I feel certain that our young people will continue to bring hope to the future, whatever shape it takes in September.

Staying safe over the summer

I hope that students have a restful break but I know that support with mental health and wellbeing can be necessary regardless of term dates. Mrs Wallace, our Safeguarding Lead, has written to all families today with details of services students can access throughout the holidays. Each of our students has a dedicated section on their Frog account that gives details of a range of support they can access. In addition, the end of term newsletter that will be published tomorrow also gives details of points of support. 

Start of next term 

The Department for Education has decided that the next school year should start with lateral flow tests for students, undertaken in schools. In doing this, secondary schools are trying to prevent known Covid-19 cases entering the school community. However, running this testing programme does make for some changes to our start of term.

All Greenshaw students will need to attend school for a part of Friday 3rd September and Monday 6th September. The precise timings will be posted on our school website in late August and we will text families to let them know when these are available online.

Friday 3rd September 

Children in Year 7 and Year 12 will spend a half day with us, starting the process of new students getting to know our school. These students will take a lateral flow Covid test as well as portrait photograph. All Year 7 students should attend school in full Greenshaw uniform. 

Students in Years 8, 9, 10, 11 and 13 will be invited in for a short part of this day. They will receive their timetables and take a lateral flow Covid test. Other than students in Year 13, all students should attend in full school uniform. Students in Years 9 and 11 will have a portrait photograph taken.

Monday 6th September

Students in Year 7 and Year 12 will again spend a half day with us and have their second lateral flow Covid-19 test.

All other students will have their second lateral flow Covid-19 test during a short visit to the site. 

Tuesday 7th September

School will start for all students in all year groups for a full day. Students will be able to access school from 8:10am onwards. 

So this brings the school year to a close. Thank you all for your unwavering support and trust in the school in the toughest of times. I hope students rest well and relax over the summer weeks and feel confident that families will be absolutely delighted to return your children to us in September. Wishing you all the very best.

Nick House, Headteacher


September plans: Friday 16th July (5.00pm)

Thank you to those parents and carers who offered to act as a focus group earlier this year. We discussed the various Department for Education (DfE) plans for schools from September and it was really helpful to understand families’ thoughts. As well as these plans we also discussed several other areas that we will take into account next year. The details of the first section below were talked through with families.

September plans

There will be no bubbles from September. This means that students of all year groups will move to different parts of the school, experiencing specialist teaching spaces such as science labs, technology workshops, the drama studio and art and music rooms.

The DfE have directed that there is no need for face covering in schools but we will allow students to wear face coverings if they feel safer doing so. I must stress that each of these statements is currently the case and the DfE might instruct schools to operate differently if the national health situation changes. 

Unlike at present, students in schools in England will not need to isolate if they are a contact with a confirmed Covid positive case unless NHS Track and Trace make contact.

There have been some things we have adopted this year that we will be retaining. These include:

  • Having separate gates for different year groups has definitely been a good thing. Students in each year group will continue to enter by a specific gate where they will be greeted by their Head of Year and Deputy Head of Year.
  • Having fewer year groups at break at any one time, has been great as it has meant that there is far more space in the playgrounds and dining halls for all students.
  • Keeping your hands clean is a good thing. We will continue to ask students to clean hands as they come into school, after break and lunch and before they take food in a dining hall. 

Testing in September to keep schools safe

It has been announced that schools should offer lateral flow testing for all students before they return from the summer. I welcome this as a measure that is intended to make schools as safe as possible when students come back from the summer holiday. There needs to be a gap between the two tests, so these will take place on Friday 3rd and Monday 6th September. I will write to you with the exact timing and details at the end of the holidays.

Congratulations to...

A huge well done to Zuzanna and Juanita, our students of the week and congratulations to 7NGD and 8ZCT who are the tutor groups of this week, based on their attendance, achievements and homework completion.

When students complete excellent work they receive a signature from their subject teacher. Given the interruptions to schools this year, it was great to meet Lily and Mayooraprian who have reached 50 signatures this school year – a truly fantastic achievement! Listening to both talk about their love of maths, art, geography and history was an inspiring way to start my Friday.

Free school meals continue over the summer holidays

London Borough of Sutton will continue to fund free school meals throughout the summer. As in previous school holidays, we will set up the transfer of the value of free school meals by the Wonde system. We will make one payment on 19th July to cover the whole summer break period from 21st July to 31st August. There is no need for families to do anything additional and we will contact them at the end of term.

New applications for free school meals

We are very aware that the last year and a half have been financially tough for many families. If your circumstances change over the coming weeks you may be eligible to receive Free School Meals and funding for your child’s school through the Pupil Premium. You apply via Sutton Council as your child attends a Sutton school, even If you live out of the borough. To find out if you are eligible you can apply via the following link:

https://www.sutton.gov.uk/info/200521/benefits/1288/free_school_meals_and_pupil_premium

We finish term at 12:30 on Tuesday 20th July. On the last morning of term, Year 8 will sign off this year with a games morning which will see all of them taking part in a range of different sports. Last week’s Sports Day, run for Years 7 and 10, was a brilliant event at the David Weir arena full of participation and fun. There were some superb efforts with 1,500 metre runs where students showed their stamina as well as throwback events such as egg and spoon races and beanbag balancing. I hope that Year 8 enjoy their sports morning on the last day of term just as much.

Nick House, Headteacher


Emerging arrangements for September

You may be aware that in amongst the many announcements from the government this week there has been some clarity about arrangements for schools from September. The current policy of asking schools to isolate students who are ‘contacts’ (i.e. they have been seated near Covid positive students but are currently not exhibiting any symptoms, and may not go on to develop Covid themselves) will cease. I know this will be a relief to the many of you whose children have missed time in school this term.

The idea of students staying within restricted ‘bubbles’ has also been dropped. This means that we are currently planning for students to be more mobile, like normal years, and move to specialist teaching spaces for each subject. There were additional parts we had not anticipated, such as schools hosting Covid testing again at the start of September. This will take some planning, so I will write to families when we have greater clarity, particularly around the timing of the two tests and the interval required between them. However, please be assured we will, as we did in March, be aiming to get as many students safely back into school after the summer as quickly as possible.

There have been some unexpected ‘wins’ from our Covid arrangements this year that we will retain. For example, each year group has entered the site via a different gate and been greeted by their Head and Deputy Head of Year. This has been great for students to see their key staff each day and we are currently modelling how we can retain features such as this. Broadly though, September looks like it might be much closer to normal for students than this very strange year in school.

Celebrating achievement is really important

With all of the challenges that this year has posed, we have made a deliberate attempt to ensure that we celebrate achievement. This year of all years has presented issues, so for all of our students that have maintained their commitment and efforts I think it is important that we recognise their positive choices. I know that when we recognise achievement, effort and great attendance this builds a virtuous cycle of self-esteem and positive self-image, so we continue to look for as many ways to recognise excellence wherever possible.

Congratulations to our students of the week, Rosie in Year 7 and Ella in Year 8.  Both students have gathered many achievement points, across a range of different subjects, as well as attending school very regularly. It was also great when talking with Rosie and her form tutor to learn what a positive community contribution she makes every day. Well done to all in 7RBK and 8THN who are the tutor groups of the week, combining all the efforts of the students collectively.

We are making plans for a celebration event on the last Monday of term for our hardest working students in Years 7 to 10. The details are being finalised and we want this to be a surprise, but will confirm with the families of these students when it happens. This follows the celebration lunches that were given to students in Years 7 and 8 already this half term.

Maximising sporting involvement

Today has seen Sports Day at the David Weir arena. With schools expected to maintain bubbles currently we had to make choices about which year groups could attend the event at the athletics track. This was really difficult, but we selected Year 7 (because they’ve had the least varied experience in the classroom this year) and Year 10 (because they will have completed Year 11 by this time next year). However, Year 9 have had a games morning on site this week and Year 8 will have theirs (postponed because of heavy rain that left puddles all across our PE spaces) on the last day of term. We are all holding our breath that this awful summer of weather is kind to us and Year 8 can get involved in the way that all other students have on that last day of term.

I know that there may be another sporting event on the minds of most families and students this weekend. I hope that we are all basking in glory by the end of the game, hopefully not after 11 o’clock and the trials of a penalty shootout. I can confirm that there are also many school staff hoping that it is ‘coming home’.

Have a relaxing weekend, at least until 8.00pm on Sunday when tension levels might start to rise.           

Nick House, Headteacher


Much to celebrate: Friday 2nd July (3.00pm)

Families might be picking up from the media that the Department for Education is beginning to drop hints about how the next school year will look. Although we absolutely have not been hit as hard as many other schools, the level of students isolating across the country is making education and family life really difficult. However, exactly what the plans will look like in September remains unclear even though we only have weeks left. 

As of the time of writing this letter schools do not have guidance for the next school year, but I will be contacting those families who offered to work with us a few weeks ago to act as a sounding board around some of the possible options. We will continue to update you as and when we receive the necessary information.

Pupils of the week: Emma (Year 7) and Mayooraprian (Year 8)

Congratulations to Emma and Mayooraprian who were our students of the week for their consistent effort and high level of achievement points. It really is a highlight that every Friday I get to celebrate with students making brilliant levels of effort and then hearing about their achievements. For Emma, it was great to hear about her enjoyment of maths and drama, while with Mayooraprian, it was lovely to hear about his geography learning and the current unit on volcanoes.

Tutor groups of the week: 7LJN and 8KW

Well done to students in 7LJN and 8KWB who were the best tutor groups in the last week. This award comes from a combination of their achievement points and their attendance records. Congratulations to all members of Ms Jane’s and Miss Webber-Aucutt’s group – this has been a great week for both classes.

Raising money for Fazeel

You will remember that Fazeel, our amazingly resilient student who has the skin condition of Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) wrote to families last Friday. Here is a follow up from him one week later.

“I want to say a massive, massive thank you to everyone who has donated to this life changing cause so far. We have gone from 24% of my target raised to 86% in just one week, kindness which I could have never imagined. I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone as it really means a lot to me, whether it's donating or showing kindness on my YouTube video (specially made to explain where your donations are going).  I know some people, after reading the letter, had it in their heart to donate, but hadn't had the opportunity to, which is why I am providing the link to the JustGiving page once more, also the link to the YouTube video. The deadline to donate is Sunday, so if you want to, or want to again, please do to help me reach my goal of £1,500 and check out my videos to see my story. Thank you everyone once again.”

Year 12 careers event

This Wednesday our Year 12 students met up with more than 40 former Greenshaw students who spoke about their career journeys. These ranged from pathways in medicine, the civil service, and even rocket science. Students watched employability presentations from Investin and MS Independent who gave their recommendations to our students in how to break into competitive industries. The morning finished with a talk from a former LSE undergraduate admissions officer on how to make their UCAS personal statement stand out.

We are very proud of how our Year 12 students engaged in talking positively with our guest speakers. We are also delighted that our young people had the opportunity to meet with so many ex-students who keep their links with our school.

Pupil Premium

London Borough of Sutton will continue to fund free school meals throughout the summer. As in previous school holidays we will set up the transfer of the value of free school meals by the Wonde system. We will make one payment on 19th July to cover the whole summer break period from 21st July to 31st August. There is no need for families to do anything additional and we will contact them at the end of term.

We are very aware that the last year and a half have been financially tough for many families. If your circumstances change over the coming weeks you may be eligible to receive Free School Meals and funding for your child’s school through the Pupil Premium.  You apply via Sutton Council as your child attends a Sutton school, even If you live out of the borough.  To find out if you are eligible you can apply via the following link:

https://www.sutton.gov.uk/info/200521/benefits/1288/free_school_meals_and_pupil_premium

In the meantime I hope you all have a good weekend… if you are following the football let’s hope England continue into the tournament after their game on Saturday night.

Nick House, Headteacher


A sense of enthusiasm: Friday 25th June (3.00pm)

Welcome to Year 6

This week has been one of hope. Last night I met with many, many families of children in Year 6 who will be joining us in September. Although we were restricted to having our ‘Welcome Evening’ online there was a tangible sense of positivity and enthusiasm. I was able to share with these families how Year 7 students had been working in science labs and the drama studio this week, and into the art rooms and keyboard studio. While this should not be some form of breakthrough in this strangest of years it has been and it was great to share with next years’ students.

Internal exams have finished

Our Year 12 students have sat their first A Level exam since starting their courses in September and have been brilliant in their confidence and upbeat approach. We completed our exams with Year 10 last week, but there were a number of students forced to miss their exams through isolation and they have completed them this week and caught up.

Celebrating achievement

This morning I met with our Students of the Week, Denuka and Amelia, to hear of their achievements. I also met with a student from each of 7SRM and 8ZCT to present them with their Tutor Group of the Week certificate and all of these conversations affirm what we have known all year: that young people are amazingly resilient and that the potential for the good is unlimited.

Supporting a remarkable student

I was approached by a member of Year 9 earlier this week. Fazeel has a significant illness, despite which he attends school and remains upbeat and utterly positive. He is an active fund raiser for research into the condition of Epidermolysis Bullosa (or EB) and asked whether he could use this weekly letter to ask families for your support. I think when you read this you will see why we are so keen to support him as a school.

Hi, my name is Fazeel and I’m a student in year 9. I have a rare skin condition called EB (Epidermolysis Bullosa) or as people like to call it Butterfly Skin as our skin is as fragile as a butterfly's wing. EB is a group of genetic skin conditions that cause the skin to blister and tear at the slightest touch. Any knock or friction will cause our skin to wound and will require bandages. These bandages have to be changed every day and can take as long as six hours and is extremely painful. We have to take strong painkillers that have side effects such as drowsiness, sickness and many more. Furthermore, sometimes pain still isn’t controlled.

Though I have a motto to ‘Never Give Up’, no matter how hard or painful things get, Never Ever Give Up! I am someone who strives for success and doesn’t let this condition stop him. I always try, no matter what. Whether it’s trying karate or always trying my best no matter what the situation. I love to raise awareness for my condition and I even have a YouTube channel. Please take a look at the short film I have made with the pharmacy, which also explains where the funds raised will be going to. The link is here. I believe because this condition is so rare raising awareness will lead to people knowing about it and people will not only donate towards a cure but also not stare and have so many questions to ask me. 

DEBRA is the national charity that funds research and healthcare to support individuals and families affected by EB. DEBRA helps me in everything I need whether that’s of course funding for the research of a cure for this life-changing, painful condition, providing care and support to improve the quality of life for individuals and families living with EB or giving me a fun life, even with this terrible condition. Here is the link to my JustGiving page to raise vital money for research. As a DEBRA ambassador, please kindly donate as much as you can. Sharing the link would be great as sharing it could also help raise a lot of money, even if you can’t donate. Thank you.

Fazeel is an extraordinary young man and a beacon of hope in our community. Of course, choosing to donate is an entirely personal matter for any family, but his hope is that even by you reading this letter he will have educated more people about the condition of EB.

Wishing you all restful weekends.

Nick House, Headteacher


Hope and positivity: Friday 18th June (3.30pm)

Well what a week that has been. Monday saw soaring temperatures that rose further on Wednesday. Then this morning the heavens opened just as school began, seeing students wading through puddles on the pavements and local roads as they battled up to school.

We even had the extraordinary situation this morning of students requesting plimsolls, which are normally reserved only for students whose school shoes have worn out, rather than wearing their trainers in school. Today students were asking for plimsolls to replace their black leather school shoes as their shoes were soaking wet from the walk into school. This has certainly been a year of challenge but this was a great and unpredictable moment!

Covid-19 update

At the end of a fortnight of school since half term, we have not been affected too substantially by Covid cases in school, despite the overall increases in some parts of the country. However, it has been so supportive where families have contacted us to confirm a positive result (either from an initial lateral flow test, or from an immediate PCR test). Please do continue to contact us with this information, as it will enable us to remain as secure as possible over the coming weeks, which in turn keeps as many students in school as possible.

We will dispatch the next set of lateral flow self tests at the end of next week. In the meantime if families want to access lateral flow tests directly from the NHS, they can do so by clicking on the following link - https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests

Internal exams, this week and next

It has been the students of Year 10 who have completed internal exams this week, in the heat and the wet of the various days. They have been superb, with a large number of the students arriving before school starts to revise and prepare with us. When in the exam hall, students have worked really hard and taken it seriously – a very positive start to their GCSE year. Next week will be the equivalent for Year 12, where they take papers in each of their A Level subjects.

I want to be absolutely clear what these exams are for. I have talked to Year 10 students in the sports hall before their papers that these exams are to help us plan what we need to teach the students for the rest of this year and into next school year. We know that learners in all years have missed content, and for students in Year 10 and 12 they may not all be able to perform highly on all of these tests. We do need to know how well they have understood areas we taught remotely and what we need to do next as a school.

Plans for the next few weeks

With Year 11 and Year 13 students off site, now we have greater flexibility over rooming. This means that we can keep students within their bubbles while giving them greater movement. My first priority will be for students in Year 7 who have never experienced the range of learning that secondary schools can offer. We have been planning this week to find ways to get them into practical science laboratories and hopefully other spaces like the drama studio. We will ensure cleaning after use, reducing the chance of any Covid-19 transmission.

We will be running some form of sports day in July, but in line with Department for Education guidance bubbles have to be maintained so we would not be able to have all year groups present at the track. We will try to ensure that the various opportunities we have over the next few weeks are distributed around several year groups. We could, for example, have two year groups at the track but they would need to be using it at different times and using different equipment (relay batons, shot putts, javelins and so on) or items that have been cleaned down.

The purpose of sharing this information is not to give families a close level of detail of all aspects of the next few weeks. However, it is important that you know we are exploring any possibility to improve the experience for students in this toughest of years now we have more flexibility across the site. This has not been what we would have wanted for any of our youngsters and where we can adapt it safely we absolutely will.

So, despite this persistent rain there are reasons in school for hope and positivity. Wishing you all the best for a very enjoyable weekend.

Nick House, Headteacher


Covid-19 update: Friday 11th June (3.00pm)

Many of you will be aware that there is an increase in the prevalence of Covid-19 virus nationally. While the current highest levels are in parts of the north west of England, there remains the risk that the virus could affect our students’ experience of this last half term, in an already significantly disrupted year.

We have worked hard to have students in school for as many days as possible this year. We reduced the duration of half term in October and returned on the first day that schools were allowed to fully open up in March.

To ensure this remains the case, whenever possible please support all of us (students, staff and families). There are two key actions that will absolutely help us to keep school open.

  1. Continue to ensure your child uses the self-testing kits each Wednesday and Sunday. These have been supplied to families by the NHS, either sourced from school or ordered directly by following this link: https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests
  2. Do not send your child to school if you know that they have had contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case.

Teacher Assessed Grades are completed
I want to thank all families for your support. Having early closure of school for this week has allowed staff to complete the process of assessing the work of our students in Year 11 and Year 13. As a school we will be submitting nearly 4,000 grades at GCSE and A Level, which hopefully gives all families a sense of the scale of the activity. The teacher assessed grades are holistic judgments, but a portion of these decisions come from the 12,000 pieces of assessment work that our students have completed over the last seven weeks.

Schools have been asked to undertake work that in normal years would be undertaken by paid examiners and subject teams in exam boards, not in school. It has been so helpful to have the additional space and time this week to ensure our students get the grades they deserve in the most difficult of years. Thank you.

Historical artwork hung in school
As a school we have started to think about how we recognise, and record for future years, the extraordinary challenges of the global health crisis. We asked students and staff members to design postcards that each felt reflected their feelings and experience of the pandemic. We have taken all of these pieces of artwork to combine them into a single expression of our community’s feelings and placed it near the main entrance to school (pictured). This will be visible to all students who enter through the main doors and all those that go to the dining or assembly halls.

The art project signifies the respect we hold for all those that have been affected by the pandemic as well as the experience of hundreds of members of our school. I hope that when greater numbers of visitors are able to be in the school buildings you will have a chance to appreciate it in person. You can find out more about the postcard project here.

Wishing you all the best for a sunny and restful weekend.

Nick House, Headteacher


Many, many reasons to celebrate: Friday 28th May (3.45pm)

Today sees the end of a very tough half term for us: both students and staff. Teachers having to move from building to building, taking lesson resources with them, and having their movements within classrooms restricted to the front of the room. None of this is in any blueprint of the best elements of secondary education. Students, especially in lower years, remaining in the same room (and the same seat) for several hours in a row, not being able to access the full range of learning spaces has been significant. Students spending large parts of the day with faces covered for most of the last eight weeks has been an additional trial.

Despite all of this, staff have been phenomenal. Their commitment to adapting to the new way of working has been extraordinary.

Students have been so resilient, in the face of so much challenge. We have had many more students in our school than the national average, with levels of attendance at Greenshaw being several per cent ahead of attendance across the country.

It was brilliant yesterday morning to meet students from Miss Roger’s class (7ARG) and Miss Weber-Aucutt’s class (8KWB), who received awards for Tutor Group of the Week last week. In amongst the obvious challenges there remain many, many reasons to celebrate.

Looking forwards

It is difficult to predict the guidelines schools will be asked to adopt next school year. There is a range of views on the current position: vaccinations are rolling out at a fantastic rate, but some Covid-19 variants might present new issues. In the light of this, we are planning for a range of scenarios next half term. When Year 11 and Year 13 students leave we have the possibility of more flexibility on rooming and would love to give some of our students more access to specialist rooms, such as science labs. This would be particularly important for our youngest students and we have already started to see what we can safely accommodate.

We will always be guided by health update and guidance from the Department for Education, as we have done throughout the last fifteen months. We may not be able to do everything we would want but we definitely hope to continue to develop students’ learning experience by the end of the year.

Change to the school day, for week beginning 7th June

A reminder of student dismissal times for the first week back after half term are below. This is to allow staff to decide the teacher assessed grades for GCSE and A Level students.

 

Dismissal time

Year 7

1.15 pm

Year 8

1.15 pm

Year 9

1.25 pm

Year 10

1.25 pm

Year 11

Monday 1.10pm and Tuesday 2.00pm

Year 12

1.10 pm

Year 13

After completion of daily assessments

 

Mental health and wellbeing information on Frog

Information to support your child’s emotional health and wellbeing throughout the summer period is available on Frog for students to access. The numbers, email addresses and website are free to use and we recommend contacting someone if they are feeling worried about how they feel, need advice or someone to talk to.

In the meantime, I hope that students and staff have a restful week away from school. Wishing you all the best for a weekend of sunshine.

Nick House, Headteacher


Moments of learning that inspire: Friday 21st May (4.00pm)

One of the joys of working in a school is that there are always moments of learning that inspire. On Wednesday I really enjoyed hearing 7ARG all talking in fluent French, confidently constructing sentences and using advanced vocabulary. On Monday I saw some brilliant fashion work from 7LJN. Despite not being able to access the art rooms or technology workshops, they had measured out and cut fabric, stitched together and created some striking footwear. I can’t include photographs of every one but here are a few from Year 7 to give you a sense of the quality of the work. As the week progressed, I have stumbled across a Year 10 discussion in English literature about the function of the dramatic monologue, a Year 11 class considering the difference between the disciplines of pure mathematics and applied statistics and Year 9 sociologists considering the causes of crime.

Despite the bubble restrictions, all of these subjects are being delivered across the full range of the curriculum and the quality of the engagement, and of course the learning, remains undimmed. I hope that some day soon we will be able to return to parental tours to see the school at work.

Change to the school day, for week beginning 7th June

Our Year 11 and Year 13 students are on the final straight. They will complete their assessments with us from Monday 7th June and schools are tasked with deciding upon the final ‘Teacher Assessed Grades’. During the first week back after half term we are going to complete the grading of GCSE and A Levels for all of our students in each of their subjects. The processes of standardisation, marking and moderation have been rigorously applied and we will turn the outcomes of this into proposed grades.

We have done everything possible to make these grades as accurate as possible, giving the focus and attention the students’ qualifications deserve. Some schools in our multi academy trust are calling an additional INSET day, but I am conscious that students have already missed so much school over the last year and a half. I do think that staff need the space to fully consider the grades, so we will be closing school early throughout that week. As we did when we first returned in March, we will teach the normal periods 1 to 4 and then students will leave. Those students entitled to free school meals will have their accounts credited by their morning break, but we will not serve lunch after period 4.

I hope that families appreciate just how important it is for us to get the decision making around final grades absolutely right, even for those that do not have children in Years 11 or 13. I also hope that creating additional time without calling a further INSET day is a way that we can work around this hopefully unique situation.

The timings for the week are below.

 

Dismissal time

Year 7

1:15 pm

Year 8

1:15 pm

Year 9

1:25 pm

Year 10

1:25 pm

Year 11

Monday 1:10 pm and Tuesday 2:00 pm

Year 12

1:10 pm

Year 13

After completion of daily assessments

Inspire Partnership

Inspire is the drug and alcohol service for Sutton, delivered by Cranstoun in partnership with South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust and Sutton GP services. The service offers advice, support, treatment and recovery for anyone experiencing alcohol and drug problems in the London Borough of Sutton. You can download a leaflet with more information about their services here.

Parental survey

Thank you to the hundreds of you who have already found the time to complete what is a brief online form, the link for which is here. If you were minded to take part, but din't find the time last week, we will keep it open until the end of term – next Friday. Please also consider letting us know if you would be willing to give a little time to act as a focus group after half term, by e-mailing us at info@greenshaw.co.uk.

I know that staff and students are starting to feel a little fatigued as we approach half term in what is known as, despite the dreadful weather, the summer term. However, please ensure that your child continues to attend for all five days next week and then we can take a well deserved break. In the meantime, I wish you all a very restful weekend.

All the best.

Nick House, Headteacher


Changes to face coverings in schools: Friday 14th May (12.30pm)

I hope you are well and I wish Eid Mubarak to all families celebrating this week. In central government, as you will be fully aware, there have been significant announcements, but at school things have been progressing as normal. The second of the three mini-assessments for our GCSE and A Level students this summer has been completed, seeing the students one step further towards their qualifications. Students of all year groups continue to navigate the strange school world of ‘bubbles’, regular hand cleaning and mask wearing really well. Since we returned in March, there has been no attempt by any student to avoid any of the protective measures and I have been utterly impressed by our students’ maturity and sense of collective responsibility. Where this is changing next week, the details are below.

Alteration to face coverings in secondary schools

The Prime Minister announced that from Monday 17th May, the next stage of COVID-19 changes would happen across the country, as planned. For secondary schools the Department for Education (DfE) has changed the guidance, specifically on face coverings.

  • Students are no longer recommended to wear face coverings in classrooms.
  • Students are no longer recommended to wear face coverings in communal areas (such as corridors and lunch queues).
  • School students using public transport would be required to continue to wear face coverings, so those students will need to keep a mask or similar in a sealed bag.
  • It is recommended that adults in schools continue to face cover in communal areas where social distancing is not possible (corridors).

It is important to note that no other elements of the guidance for schools has changed. At Greenshaw, we will continue to keep year groups of students in ‘bubbles’ so we are able to trace back any contacts with Covid-19 in school, should they arise. We will also maintain our focus on hand hygiene with students sanitising hands on arrival at school and frequently during the day. Classroom windows and doors will be left open to ensure good ventilation.

While the situation nationally continues to improve, there is the potential for setbacks, particularly from variants of the virus. The DfE has reminded schools that this position on face covering would be reviewed and revisited as needed.

In the current climate, if students wish to continue to wear masks this would be allowed. We are all building up our confidence in ‘normal’ interaction and movements, and I am very sensitive to this. So if you would want your child to continue wearing a mask in school, that is absolutely fine.

Reading project – getting students’ views

You will know that at the start of each day students in Years 7, 8 and 9 take part in our tutor reading programme. Before Covid-19, this involved the form tutor reading a novel in tutor time in the mornings. Since then, we have moved the programme online with the book displayed on the screen as it was read to the students, who were either at home or more recently, back in the classroom.

As part of our evaluation of the tutor reading programme, we will be asking all students to complete a questionnaire about their opinions on the programme, as well as observing sessions. Mrs King, Assistant Headteacher, is currently completing a Master’s Degree in Education and would like to include this data in her research. Any child’s name would not be used in any part of this study, and the school’s name would also be omitted. You will be able to withdraw your consent for this data to be used at any point before the results are submitted. All study data will be destroyed after the work is submitted.

If you do not consent to this data being used, please can I ask you to email info@greenshaw.co.uk, stating your child’s name and tutor group and saying that you do not consent. If you are happy to consent, then you do not need to take any action.

Getting parents’ views

As a parent I was recently asked to complete a survey for one of my child’s schools. Filling this in felt quite odd, as I was asked questions about areas that I was not always sure I knew enough about, but I felt heartened that I was being considered. I had held back on something similar at Greenshaw as I was unsure what point of the year things would feel ‘normal enough’ to run the kind of feedback activity that reflected anything other than the current unusual situation.

Rather than waiting, I will send a link to a parental survey early next week that follows an Ofsted set of questions. I will also leave a blank space at the end for parents to include anything that is not covered by a review that was written for more conventional times. I hope you can find the time to complete the survey and, in the meantime, I hope you all have restful weekends. Wishing you all the very best.

Nick House, Headteacher


A commitment and focus on learning: Friday 7th May (4.30pm) 

This has been a briefer week in school, but we have been just as busy in a four day week as ever! On each day there are things I see at Greenshaw that make me proud of the school we have. One example would be that we have increasingly large numbers of students in Year 10 and Year 11 coming in early to study before lessons start. Despite the interruption of the pandemic, it is clear that our students are absolutely committed to doing well and continuing to focus on their learning.

Knowing what our students learn

I know that a number of you followed the link I put in last week’s letter about what we teach. If you didn’t have a chance I’ve repeated the link here, so please take a few minutes to take a look. It explains about our curriculum principles (the importance of powerful knowledge, developing language skills and taking responsibility). It also gives outlines for all subject areas.

Sometimes websites struggle to do justice to what goes on in the classroom, so I thought I’d share what our youngest students were up to first thing yesterday morning. Our Year 7 students were following our ‘re-connecting curriculum’ designed to enable our youngest students to settle smoothly back into school following the lockdown. Form tutors were explaining about changes of mood and how this is normal as well as something to be conscious of. The Year 8 tutor team were teaching about learning and the difference between long term memory (things we have properly learned and find easy to recall) and short term memory (items we learned for the first time yesterday, but we can’t recall a day later). As a parent I felt that both of these sessions, in different ways, were really important to our students’ understanding of themselves.

Clubs and societies are increasing in number

With the restrictions around the pandemic, we were not able to run all the clubs and societies in the way we had done previously. While lunchtimes remain a struggle to schedule clubs, we are able to make more available after school. The PE department are increasingly offering netball, football and basketball on different afternoons in addition there is geography club, graphics club, drama rehearsal, food club, music production and an increasing range of activities. I hope that by half term we will be able to share a schedule of the various opportunities for different students in different year groups.

Lateral flow tests are being distributed to students

All of our students have been given the familiar white and blue NHS badged packs with lateral flow test kits in. Although there are now a number of places that lateral flow tests can be sourced we have been supplied with sufficient to take students up to the May half term. We will continue to dispatch these to students when each cycle of tests is completed. The next significant announcement is scheduled for 17th May, so I will let families know if there are any changes that affect schools.

Help us save money – please download the My Frog app

Most families will now know that the word ‘Frog’ refers to our website for students, staff and families at Greenshaw. If families use Frog they can access many different forms of information about their child including copies of school reports, attendance information and achievement data. Importantly, if families use this we can use it as a free messaging service rather than our current reliance on paid for text messages. This would save the school thousands of pounds each year if all families moved over to it.

If you have not done so already, please activate your parent Frog account. It is quick and easy to do. All you need is the email address that the school holds on record for you.  If you have already created an account, then ensure you have downloaded the MyFrog app and signed in. Below, are two links which will support you on this:

Creating your Frog account: https://www.greenshaw.co.uk/information/school-life/home-learning/parent-dashboard

Setting up and using the MyFrog app:
https://www.greenshaw.co.uk/information/school-life/home-learning/myfrog-app

If you have trouble logging in, it could be because we do not have your most recent email and mobile phone number on record. Please email info@greenshaw.co.uk to update your details.

Thank you in advance for doing this. Accessing Frog does open a window onto your child’s school experience… as well as allowing us to spend money on things that directly impact on our students. Wishing you restful weekends: given various family weekend plans I sincerely hope that the forecast for Saturday is wrong.                                        

Nick House, Headteacher


Focusing on our core purpose: Friday 30th April (3.30pm)

Well the last fortnight has certainly flown by! Returning in the sun of last week has been tempered by a few chillier mornings this week, but this hasn’t altered the positivity around school.

I did promise that I would aim to make some of my Friday letter focused on the core purpose of school – learning. This week I hope families will be glad to hear about our reporting plans and also interested to follow the links to our website that show what our students learn about day to day.

How can I know more about what my child is learning?

Our curriculum is carefully considered and planned. There are several places that families can see what students learn in geography, Spanish or any other subject. The first is that our students have a journal (an A4 bound book with Greenshaw printed on the front cover) that contains summaries of each subject. These pages are for students to revise and also their homework across the year.

Another area is the school website in which there are several helpful sections. The first outlines what we try to achieve with our curriculum and can be found here. On the right hand side of this web page are links for every subject that detail what is taught in each year group.

In addition, there are sections for what we read with students in our morning registration session (click here) and our homework outline (here).  I know that school websites can be tricky to navigate, so hopefully these links are helpful for families to see what our students learn about.

Keeping in touch with families – reports after half term

Despite the lockdown from January until March, and the restrictions on schools since last September, we have made significant efforts to stay in touch with families. We have held a parents’ evening event for students in every year group as well as online events with a range of year groups ranging from subject choices for Years 8 and 9 to the government announcements for exams in Years 11 and 13.

The English, maths and science assessments for students in Year 7, 8 and 9 concluded this morning and Year 10 and 12 students will learn about their mock exam plans over the coming week or so. These exams will be scheduled for after half term. We will share the scores that we get for each of these five year groups with families. While these reports might not look like our normal ones I think they will provide valuable information, even in this disrupted school year.

Safety before and after school

We have worked even harder at ensuring our students are safe before and after school. Members of the school’s senior team are on duty before school and every afternoon, equipped with high visibility jackets, to ensure that our students use the pavements safely as well as disperse promptly for the benefit of our local residents. There has also been excellent support from the London Borough of Sutton in very regularly dispatching parking enforcement officers to ensure that the roads immediately around school are not made more dangerous by illegally parked vehicles.

However, we still have issues around the turnings and roads next to the school where parents too often park to pick up students, or even worse stop in the middle of the road to drop off students. Please consider how you could support the whole school community by parking further away from school, or even better ensuring your child walks to school if at all possible. We are doing all we can as staff to ensure that the immediate surrounds to school are as safe as possible. Support from families that drive cars directly to school would be a huge help.

So, as promised I have signposted information that should give parents clear indications about our teaching and our plans to report on students’ progress as the school year continues. I hope that you all have good weekends, and that as many of you as possible have a three day bank holiday break. Wishing you all the best.

Nick House, Headteacher


A great week: Friday 23rd April (4.00pm)

It has been a great week back at school in the sunshine. Our students have returned very positively, clearly refreshed by the break and everything feels so much more optimistic in the sunshine. While the classrooms remain as focused as before the holiday, the outdoor spaces are coming to life. At break and lunch students fill the playground benches in the warmth and chat, or play table tennis and basketball. This new term feels so positive.

As a school we remain vigilant and know that the country is still not clear of the pandemic. It is important that we continue to take every precaution on site (following the hands, face and space approach). It is also essential that families remain steadfast in not sending children into school if they have any of the Covid-19 symptoms. Thank you for continuing to work together to keep all parts of the school and its families safe.

PSHE survey

Miss Webb’s request for feedback on our Personal, Social, Health and Economic education curriculum and the policy had an overwhelming response. It was very helpful to read the positive replies about what we teach and why that matters. It was also great to see just how many families offered to help with focus groups and other forms of consultation going forwards. Miss Webb will be in touch in due course, but I fear we may not be able to involve absolutely everybody.

Year 11 and Year 13

This week the students in Years 11 and 13 have started taking in class tests for their GCSE and A Level subjects. These tests will give us the evidence needed to ensure that pupils in these two groups receive the grades they deserve this August. The sense of purpose that students in both years have brought to their assessments has been superb.

Harassment in schools

Over the Easter holidays you may well have heard in the news about a website called ‘Everyone’s Invited’. It received thousands of testimonies from young people about sexual violence. This led to claims that there is a culture in some schools where sexist language, attitudes and behaviours exist and even thrive. Also, following the tragic murder of Sarah Everard on her way home in Clapham, women have been speaking out about their experience of being objectified and harassed.  Both of these events have prompted a lot of thinking and discussion amongst us in our community and I wanted to let you know how we ensure that our school culture is one that is positive, where sexist attitudes are never tolerated.

Our PSHE curriculum (as above) is designed to address difficult topics such as this skilfully, in an environment where attitudes can be safely challenged. In addition, there will be opportunities for some small group workshops and for students to give us feedback. We are not complacent as a school. We have talked with all staff about their role in ensuring a culture in which sexist attitudes and behaviours cannot thrive.

Assessment for all students

I hope I do not need to repeat too much that I detested the phrase used often in the media about ‘catching up’ when students returned to school last month. I felt it suggested an unnecessarily dramatic sense of the situation and that it could lead to needless anxiety. However, as a parent myself, I do know that staff, families and children need to know how well the students are doing. Here is a brief outline of the plan.

Students in Years 7, 8 and 9:

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday next week, students in these year groups will sit tests in their classes for English, maths and science. They are national tests that will give standardised scores and are not activities students can revise for – they simply test what our students already know. It would be supportive if parents were to check with their children at some point next week how they found the tests, but they are ‘low stakes’. We will share the results with parents when we get them, probably after half term and use them to tailor what we teach and if we need any interventions put in place.

Students in Years 10 and 12:

We will run small exams in the GCSE and A Level courses for these two year groups in June. Neither year group has had huge exam experience (Year 12, for example, did not sit any GCSE exams last summer) and although they have not covered all parts of their courses as previous years we do feel that some form of exam will make for a meaningful activity. Again, we will use this information to shape our next phase of teaching and report to parents before the end of the summer term.

Over the coming weeks I hope that the weekly letter will be more and more focused on learning, and where we should be, responding to issues such as those above. That is our responsibility as educators: to prepare our young people both for responsible citizenship and exam success.

Wishing you all restful, and hopefully, bright sunny weekends.

Nick House, Headteacher


Key information for the return to school: Friday 16th April (2.00pm)

Please find below a couple of key points of information that might be helpful as we look to the return to school following the Easter break.

Twice weekly Covid-19 testing

At the end of last term we issued all students and staff with a blue NHS branded box of Covid lateral flow tests. Each box contained seven tests so should contain sufficient for the first week and a half back at school. Students and staff should continue to self-test on the recommended schedule, which would be Sunday evening (this week, before the return to school) and the Wednesday of each week.

Face coverings

The Department for Education have decided that face coverings should remain in place, both in classrooms and communal areas until at least the 17th May. It would therefore be really helpful if you could send your child in with at least one face mask in their pocket.

Coats no longer worn in classrooms

Despite the snow flurries earlier in the week we are now firmly into spring – and the temperatures on the Met Office website suggest highs of 14 degrees for next week. If there was any unseasonal cold snap, we would of course permit coats in classrooms, but this will not be standard from the start of next week. We will continue to run the school heating over the first couple of weeks back to ensure that students are not diverted from learning.

We come back in Week 2!

One of the odd things about a secondary timetable is that we run alternate weeks… but not all terms start with Week 1, because if they did we’d have an uneven distribution of subjects for students. So a reminder here that students should be packing books and equipment for Week 2 on their timetables.

So this is intentionally a very brief letter, with just the most essential information. I hope all students have rested well and particularly that our students in Years 11 and 13 have managed to combine rest periods with focus on the topics that they have been told will be part of the first assessment when they return. We are all looking forwards to the return of our students on Monday, alongside the warm spring sunshine.

Nick House, Headteacher


An extraordinary term: Thursday 1st April 2021 (4.00pm)

What an extraordinary term. It started with schools fully open following the Christmas break but on the very first school day back, 4th January, schools were closed to all but most vulnerable students and the children of critical workers. At the same moment exams for summer 2021 were cancelled without an indication of what might take their place.

Over the following weeks, we all dealt with home learning, changes to our working patterns, the closure of so many spaces that we would have used for our social times, separation from friends and families and, in some cases, the worst impact of the pandemic. By mid-February the return to school was being floated and then plans firmed up, including face coverings and Covid testing in schools.

Finishing the term today it honestly feels like we have had the experiences of two or three years crammed into just twelve weeks. At least, in looking forward to the summer term we definitely have clarity on some things.

  • The weather will be warmer, so students will not be wearing coats in the classroom. This will help lessons feel a little more normal.
  • Over this Easter period the government will be reviewing the guidance on students wearing face coverings, specifically on whether these should remain worn within the classroom. We should know this before next term.
  • Students in Year 11 and Year 13 will return to mini-assessments on each sequence of learning that will allow schools to have the evidence needed to support the grades that teachers are being asked to award.
  • Extracurricular PE will continue to increase. Currently there are sessions for each year after school with limited numbers. After the holiday we will return to full teams for netball, football and basketball and after the May half term we will include summer sports such as netball and cricket in lessons and our after school clubs.
  • Most aspects of the current ‘bubble’ system will remain in place. Students and staff will clean hands regularly and classroom movement continue to be restricted to reduce any viral transmission

Lateral flow tests

Schools have been issued with a further set of these for every student, sufficient for them to carry out two self-tests each week of the holidays. These have been distributed to all students this morning and yesterday. Despite it being school holidays, the NHS have asked that secondary school aged children continue to self-test for the next fortnight.

Through the turmoil of January onwards our children have needed caring for and, where possible, access to their learning. As adults (parents/carers and school staff) we have tried to help in all ways possible. We have all experienced a range of emotions including anxiety, frustration and sadness.

At the same time, many of our children have managed to remain resilient, engaged and positive. During the partial school closure so many students demonstrated fantastic learning. On the return last month, students have responded to the classroom superbly and for those that have found challenges we have put in support.

As important as their academic progress, students have returned to the social setting of school and thought about others. The collection of Easter eggs (pictured) has been donated by Year 10 students and will be distributed around local care homes, the children’s ward of St Helier Hospital and the homeless.

So this term, that started with school closures across the land, ends with an act of kindness and generosity from our students and staff. This term, unlike any other, comes to a close and I hope that the coming two weeks allow for rest and re-charging for all of you. Wishing you all the absolute best.

Nick House, Headteacher


A sense of normality: 26th March 2021 (4.00pm)

This week has been normal. In any other times this would not necessarily be grounds for celebration, but in the times we are currently in it certainly is. To have a week where lots of children come to school (average attendance this week over 95%), lots of learning happens in full classrooms and students head off for break and lunch chatting together is something to cherish.

On a slightly damp afternoon yesterday, I walked through the Year 8 ‘bubble’. Hearing a music teacher explain to the class about the percussive effect of the hi-hat and seeing a group in the next room reading about the life of Charles Dickens was delightfully normal. Walking past a history lesson and seeing the pupils writing away, while the teacher modelled what a good essay looked like on the classroom’s interactive whiteboard was a thing of beauty. If I ever find myself reflecting on school days being familiar, or even a bit repetitive, I will try to remember these times when things following their routines is something to be cherished.

Please help us by using ‘Frog Messenger’

You will have received a message earlier this week about downloading the Frog app. This enables us to message families directly, at no cost to the school. I am confident that the quickest way to communicate messages is through our phones (for example, a reminder about a parents’ evening for a year group). I regularly receive information about my daughter’s primary school through their app and it helps me stay in touch. The explanation about how to access the Frog app can be found here.

Academic testing in Years 7, 8 and 9

Families will know that I was very keen to get school safely opened up as soon as we could, which is why we started on the first day possible. I hope families also know that I am very cautious about over stating the effects of the school closure on students’ learning. There were some dubious messages catastrophising about lost learning, and even lost earnings, in the press a month ago. However, it is important that we do have a sense of where our students are at. In May we will be running some low stake tests, organised by GL Assessment. These will be for English, maths and science, to be completed in lesson time and not require revision. Because they are standardised tests and marked off site, they will also be able to give us scores that are relative to the age of each student. As well as using these to consider what we teach in the summer term, we will be sharing the results with each family.

Year 9 and 10 information events - Wednesday 31st March at 18:00

Although we are still not quite in a place that will see families coming in to school, we are committed to keeping the communication going. We have run online information events for a number of year groups, naturally using Zoom, and will do the same again next week. Please ‘save the date’ if you have a child in either Years 9 or 10 for next week and the joining instructions will be sent through at the start of next week.

Thank you for your ongoing support. I hope you and your family have safe and relaxing weekends. 

Nick House, Headteacher

Excellent Year 9 artwork – pictured clockwise from left: by Rebecca, Olivia, Suheera and Seb.


A great place to be: Friday 19th March (3.00pm)

Happy Friday. The sun has been out all day today and it has been a lovely one in school. This morning I have seen Year 11 working on key maths topics, Year 7 practising the sounds of different French verbs and Year 10 playing handball in the warmth. Year 8 were looking at the demographic transition model in geography and I have included two of the partially completed graphs from the point of the lesson I visited. All of Mr Derrick’s Year 8 form were  working superbly and I have included examples from Dinitha and Hannah’s exercise books. As with every day since school returned, Greenshaw has been a great place to be this week.

Covid update – week ending 19th March

Thankfully, the live data about the prevalence of Covid-19 in Sutton is in line with the significant national reductions. I shared with staff in our weekly meeting that the presence of Covid-19 was now reduced to 45 cases per 100,000 people, alongside the national rate of 46 per 100,000. I emphasised that this does not mean that the coronavirus has disappeared, but more that the actions people are taking are making a real difference.

At Greenshaw, we maintain year group bubbles, students clean their hands regularly and the wearing of masks through the day continues. That last measure will be reviewed by the Department for Education over the Easter holidays.

So many of us are undertaking one more action. I extend a huge thank you for all of the families and students undertaking home testing each Sunday and Wednesday at present. Like many of the Covid-19 changes we have made, this is not the easiest extra thing to be doing but it is so important. With two weeks to go until the Easter break it remains essential that we safeguard all of the students and staff in our school.

Mental health – a reminder about free online support

As well as dealing with the huge work arising from the coronavirus, the NHS has spent much of the last year supporting mental health and wellbeing. They have purchased access to an online counselling service called Kooth. It is for all young people aged 11 to 22 in Sutton, Croydon, Merton, Kingston, Wandsworth and Richmond and is entirely free.

You can search ‘Kooth’ or visit www.kooth.com to see details of this free online chat service that works on either phone or computer. You can find out more by watching this video. There are also urgent helplines that you can call 24 hours, 7 days a week at 0800 028 8000.

Teacher Assessed Grades – Year 11 and Year 13

Thank you for the huge turnout of Year 11 families and students last night.  Mr Stock (Deputy Headteacher, Teaching and Learning) explained what schools have been asked to put in place to create the information that exam boards will then use to award grades later this summer. From this weekend, information about each GCSE course and the ‘teaching sequences’ (the units of learning we will teach over the next eight weeks or so) will be available on Frog.

Year 13 students had an assembly with Miss Buchanan this week and she is writing to parents with the necessary level of detail, separately to this letter. If you have any queries about this for students in Year 13, the best person to communicate with is Miss Buchanan (lbuchanan@greenshaw.co.uk). The equivalent people to communicate for Year 11 students are Mr Clarke (mclarke@greenshaw.co.uk) and Mr Johnson (cjohnson@greenshaw.co.uk).

Information evenings (Years 9 and 10) – Wednesday 31st March

  • Year 9 Information Evening, confirming GCSE options – Wednesday 31st March @ 18:00
  • Year 10 Information Evening, the Pathway into Year 11 – Wednesday 31st March @ 18:00

While it is important that we ensure those students approaching their final exams are given urgent support, we want to reach out to all families, regardless of students’ year group. Ms Radwan and Ms Blackham will be in touch with families with students in Years 9 and 10 respectively about an information evening next week. As with all school events currently, it will need to remain online and you will receive further joining information.

Wishing you all peaceful and safe weekends.

Nick House, Headteacher


A positive start: Friday 12th March (3.45pm)

The return to school this week has been as good as I could have hoped. Walking around school classrooms have been focused, students have been very attentive and it has felt really positive. All students have been utterly respectful to the adaptations that have been put in place, including frequently cleaning their hands and staying within their ‘bubbles’. The one significant change, the wearing of masks in classrooms, has been followed impeccably.

As I wrote on Monday, I told the students and staff how proud I was of them during the school closure. As I write this on Friday, I am utterly proud of how our students have taken responsibility for the safety of one another and continued their academic ambitions in this week of the return to school.

Testing for Covid-19 in school

We have now conducted almost exactly 5,000 lateral flow tests for Coronavirus in school. Of these we have had five positive cases. The frustration of this for the young people and their families is unimaginable, but it is essential that they have supported the school and the wider community by self-isolating. Please bear in mind the NHS advice: if we receive a negative lateral flow test result it is not an absolute guarantee that we do not carry Covid-19. I have reiterated this message to all students this morning as we all need to continue to follow the protective measures that have driven down the prevalence of the virus so far.

Testing at home

Now the responsibility for testing is transferred to families and the students themselves. Each student in Years 7 to 11 has received a home testing kit and a leaflet explaining how to run a lateral flow test at home. Students in the Sixth Form will receive theirs at the start of next week.

The whole school watched the NHS instruction video this morning that I have mentioned earlier this week, the link for which is here. I would definitely recommend watching it (it is only seven minutes long) as it is a really helpful set by step guide.

Please also see the revised Student Privacy Notice which relates to tests being done at home. 

Timings of the school day

From Monday 15th March we will revert to the timings of the school day that we adopted in September. This means that all students will have a full five period day, with students in Year 11 and the Sixth Form having a period 6 where it is on their timetable. Please the link on the school website here for details. You will see that each year group has slightly different timings, reflecting the need to maintain the bubbles for each year group.

This change to the school day signifies that the first week back is now under our belts and we are ready to take another step forwards. I do not underestimate the awful impact that this pandemic has had on many of our families and the children of our school. You can be reassured however that the students and staff have done brilliantly this week and we will continue to build onwards together. Wishing you very restful weekends and all the very best.

Nick House, Headteacher


First day back: Monday 8th March (7.00pm)

I know that many of you would want a brief note on how today went, which in many ways felt like ‘the first day back’.

First thing this morning I spoke to all students in Years 7 to 11 across the school (through the wonders of Zoom) to emphasise the important steps we should take in preventing the spread of the Coronavirus in schools. I emphasised the need for good hand hygiene, face covering, distancing and keeping windows and doors open, even in the colder days.

Attendance was superb at 97%, students wore their masks in classrooms perfectly and the general feel in classrooms was very positive. Although we are definitely not in ‘normal’ times, students were focused, making notes and answering questions. A sense of learning was actively being re-established from the first lesson this morning and that was even more the case when I visited lessons after morning break.

As exciting, was seeing lots of PE sessions on the basketball and netball courts and our all-weather pitch. Basketball, netball and football were being played as if we had never been away. When I watched the sessions, I saw students capably self-managing and enjoying each other’s company in a healthy, fresh air location. It was lovely to see.

We did have three confirmed Covid cases here today, following the lateral flow testing that we are running. This will be incredibly frustrating for those asymptomatic students and those that sat near them that on the first day back that they are required to isolate. However, it is an important reminder that Covid-19 is still with us and we have to maintain protective measures. There is one area that I absolutely need parental support with.

Some students started to arrive from 7.30am today and by 7.50am the pavements outside of school were beginning to fill. I absolutely appreciate that school is an important place for social interaction but we have to be aware that the current Covid situation means that behaviours have to be different.

Students should not arrive at school more than five minutes before their gate opens. If your child walks to school, please do not allow them to leave at any point that would see them arrive more than five minutes ahead of the times in the table below. Thank you for your support.

 

Start time

Gate to use

Finish time

Year 7

8:10 am

6

1:00 pm

Year 8

8:10 am

2

1:00 pm

Year 9

8:15 am

5

1:10 pm

Year 10

8:15 am

4

1:20 pm

Year 11

8:10 am

3

1:20 pm

Year 12

First timetabled lesson

2

1:10 pm

Year 13

First timetabled lesson

2

1:10 pm

So, overall today was a really pleasing day with nearly all of our students back in lessons, and where they were engaging really well. Please help us keep the school (and the community immediately around our site) safe by ensuring that students arrive at school in line with the schedule above.

Wishing you all the very best.

Nick House, Headteacher


A sense of pride: 5th March (1.00pm)

I cannot over state my sense of pride for the efforts of the whole school community over the last week. Yesterday, we tested just under 800 students, which is an extraordinary number. As our first run at any form of COVID testing on this scale, it ran astonishingly smoothly and showed just what a group of people can pull off when they work together. And that group includes a large number of people.

Thank you to families from whom I needed a speedy response for the consent forms. We had over 93% of returns in under a week. This was so supportive and has enabled us to open the school on Monday.

Thank you to the small army of staff (including members of the school office, invigilators, technicians, lunchtime supervisors and the catering team) that stepped forwards to be trained up and administer the testing.

Thank you to the students who were brilliant. They arrived on time, did not linger after their tests and conducted themselves superbly when in school. Faces covered, hands cleaned and distances maintained - they were a credit to their families, their school and themselves.

Returning safely to school

I hope all families feel clear on measures that Greenshaw has taken to reduce transmission of the COVID virus. All previous protective measures remain in place. These include: students staying within set classrooms for their year groups; staggered breaks and lunches so students only mix with students of their own year group; the seating plans of all classes being recorded if we need to trace contacts of a COVID positive case; all students asked to wash their hands on arrival, when entering new classrooms and eating areas; all students finishing at delayed times, and leaving by different gates, ensuring that they do not make contact with students in other year groups as they leave our site.

The two new additions that the Department for Education has introduced are the lateral flow tests that will be administered three times on our site, before students receive testing kits to use at home. These home kits will be distributed by the school to students in the week beginning 15th March. The second change is that the DfE is recommending that students face cover whenever they cannot socially distance, which includes within classrooms. Students will not need to cover their faces when outside or when eating or drinking.

I know that Heads of Year and form tutors have been speaking with families where they have concerns about their child/ren returning to school. Please do contact your form tutor directly or complete this form here. Apologies as this did not work earlier in the week, but it should now be up and running.

Schedule for every day next week

We are starting at the normal times from Monday, but end earlier for the first week back to allow us to conclude the testing. The table below gives information for start and finish times for every year, as well as reminding students which gate they should enter the site by.

 

Start time

Gate to use

Finish time

Year 7

8:10 am

6

1:00 pm

Year 8

8:10 am

2

1:00 pm

Year 9

8:15 am

5

1:10 pm

Year 10

8:15 am

4

1:20 pm

Year 11

8:10 am

3

1:20 pm

Year 12

First timetabled lesson

2

1:10 pm

Year 13

First timetabled lesson

2

1:10 pm

Coming back smart and fully equipped

For all years other than the Sixth Form, please ensure that your child leaves for school in full uniform, or full PE kit if they have PE on that day next week. We will, kindly but firmly, insist on students being smart for school. It is important that with the return to school our children set high standards for themselves and we help them do this. If you have any concerns about missing or outgrown items of uniform, please make sure your child’s form tutor knows this before Monday.

The same is true of equipment for learning. The list of what is expected is here on the school website and most of this can be sourced cheaply from supermarkets or similar. Please do ensure that your child is ready to learn, and feels confident that when they return on Monday they will have all that is needed to be successful. Again, if you have any concerns please contact your child’s form tutor.

So, all things being equal, we return to learning on Monday. We are so looking forward to welcoming back all of our students and helping them adjust to being in school. Some will continue as if they had not been away, some may take a few hours or even a couple of days to readjust. For a few students we may need to support them closely to ensure that they start to feel okay about being back in school. However, I know that a sense of the familiar and the routine will be good for our students and that they will all get there, just some more quickly than others.

Finally, do remind your child/ren, that it is Week 2 on our timetable next week. When packing their school bags make sure they have the books for the correct subjects.

I hope that all students and families have a restful weekend – it feels good to be coming back. I am sure you will miss your children on Monday morning, but that you will be glad to get your kitchen table back and return the responsibility for learning back to school.

Wishing you all the very best.                                                    

Nick House, Headteacher


Covid testing and the return to school: Tuesday 2nd March (5:00pm)

Last week I wrote to you to ask for your support in completing consent forms for the proposed Covid testing in schools. Thank you all so much for the rapid response to my request last week - we have already had more than 85% of families reply in just a few days. This means that we are able to plan the next stages and get prepared really quickly.

I am so proud of our staff group. A significant number of staff (from the school office, invigilator, school canteen, technician and lunchtime supervisor teams) have volunteered to run the testing centre and are being trained this week to ensure that everything runs smoothly. With that being said...

Covid testing will begin this week

We will run the first test this week, before the whole school returns. We will have students in school only for a short amount of time and just with their year group. This will enable us to run the first of the three tests in as safe conditions as possible. It will also help us refine any of the logistics around mass testing before the whole school returns.

The times for the first test are below. Please note that these times are correct but we will be able to give even more precise time slots for each tutor group. We will contact families tomorrow, Wednesday 3rd March with this additional detail. Students should be on site for no longer than 15 minutes.

Thursday 4th March

Time

Friday 5th March

Time

Year 10

8:20am - 11:00am

Year 12

8:20am - 9:45am

Year 9

11:00am - 1:30pm

Year 13

9:45am - 11:00am

Year 7

1:30pm - 4:00pm

Year 8

11:00am - 1:30pm

 

 

Year 11

1:30pm - 4:00pm

Before testing:

  • At home: students should watch this NHS video explaining how to carry out the test. Students will be supported by school staff but they will carry out the test themselves. 
  • In school: students do not need to attend in uniform but MUST wear a facemask as they will enter the school buildings for a period of time.

After testing:

  • There will not be live online learning during the slot allocated to each year group but there is a schedule for all students across both days. Where their testing slot falls their learning will still need to be completed but will be pre-recorded or involve using a learning website like Hegarty Maths or iXL.

School will restart on Monday 8th March

Although the Department for Education has said secondary schools should open ‘from’ Monday 8th March we will be open to all year groups from Monday 8th March. To accommodate the full schedule of testing we will need students to leave the site after four lessons, other than those students being tested. In addition, with members of the canteen team supporting the testing centre we will not be in position to run a school lunch. We will be able to run some breaktime food offer and those students entitled to free school meals will have their accounts credited earlier in the day so that they can access a meal in school. This means students in: Years 7 and 8 leave school at 13:00 each day next week; Years 9, 12 and 13 at 13:10; and Years 10 and 11 at 13:20.

I have taken the view that with the challenge of accommodating the testing schedule in school it is best for students and families that their child returns to school as soon as possible, rather than delaying the opening of school by several days next week.

I know that this re-opening of schools will generate a range of feelings in families, from relief and happiness to anxiety. I will write in greater detail later in the week about the arrangements for schools returning, but broadly it is similar to how schools operated in the autumn term. There remains a focus on frequent hand washing, open windows and doors, students remaining in bubbles within school and ‘track and trace’ of contacts with any COVID positive case, using seating plans. If you have any specific concerns about your child and their return to school please let us know, via the form here.

So the next steps are to check for a message tomorrow about the specific time of your child’s tutor group testing slot, within the times above. The other steps include checking school uniform, books and stationery. Thank you once more for supporting so quickly around the testing arrangements – your quick turnaround has made it possible for us to get going really quickly.

We’re nearly there now to get our school re-opened and I appreciate your action as a community of families. Wishing all of you the very best.

Mr House, Headteacher

A letter from tutors to their tutor groups: Thursday 4th March

I hope this letter finds you and your loved ones well. You will have already read from Mr House about the preparations for next week. I wanted to write to you as your child’s form tutor. I know there is lots to absorb so I hope you will find it helpful to see these reminders. If I can help with any of this please e-mail me directly and I will try and help wherever possible.

Getting ready for next week

Uniform: As Mr House has written in the most recent letters, we want some parts of the return to school feel like normal school days and uniform is a big part of this. Please check you have all the required elements of uniform, including a full PE kit. Students should continue to wear their PE kit on the day they have a PE lesson. All students must have a mask and at least one spare. You can find below the uniform page on our website here.

Equipment: This is the other area that being ready for school next week would give students a sense of confidence. Please ensure your child has all the required equipment, including their exercise books for Week 2 (students should continue to use the exercise books they have used for home learning), and a reading book. The equipment list can be located in the student journal and on our website here.

If you have any issues about uniform or equipment that cannot be solved straight away, please contact me before we return.

Cashless catering: Remember to top up your child’s account to enable them to purchase food. A reminder that for the first week food will only be available at break time.

Parent survey: As Mr House wrote to families yesterday we would be grateful if you would take the time to complete our survey regarding the return to school by clicking on the link here.

Student survey: There is also a student survey on the home learning area on FROG for your child to complete. There is nothing for you to do here, it will be set as a task for completion like the other learning tasks but I wanted you to know we are also seeking to find out how students feel.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.   

Your Form Tutor


Full reopening of school on 8th March: Friday 26th February 2021 (2.30pm)

We have spent the last few days planning how best to manage the full re-opening here at Greenshaw High School. When thinking about this we are considering a number of questions.

  • How can we ensure that school is opened in the safest way possible?
  • What do we need to do to make the return to school as positive an experience as possible for students and staff?
  • How can we ensure that the return of our students to school is as swift as possible?
  • How do we offer testing to all students three times within the first two weeks?

We have nearly completed the planning and I hope to offer families details of our plans, along with the all-important dates, in the first half of next week. But I think it is also important that families understand our rationale behind the various decisions we are making as a school. Some of the questions above pose difficulties and they need to be considered alongside each other. So I thank you in advance for your forbearance: we’ve nearly got this sorted, but I need to review and reflect to make sure all of the principles above are being met, all of the time.

Please complete the consent form

The first thing I need ALL families to do is complete a consent form for the Covid testing. I wrote to families yesterday and we had 700 responses quickly, but this has slowed since. To plan our testing, which in turn impacts on how and when we re-open, we need to have a response for every child on our roll. Even if you have reservations about your child being tested (the consent form does have a ‘No’ option), we need it to be completed. Thanks to those who have, for those that haven’t the link is https://forms.gle/MSvGGdsRuxS3mxhC9. Please click on the link and complete the form.

Helping students prepare for their return

I hope that all students will be in school for most of the week beginning 8th March. We have talked at school about how important it is that students get the positives of a normal routine going as soon as possible. That definitely means coming in to school every day, rather than the present experience. It also means dressing for school, in full uniform, and bringing in all of the right books and equipment.

I know that children tend to grow, so some of them may be at the limits of the most recent uniform you bought for them. I also definitely know that children can, on occasion, lose the odd thing. I am also aware that students may have used subject exercise books during lockdown that has seen them finish books that were only half used at the end of December.

Please spend some time next week checking the uniform and stationery, and if necessary pop to the supermarket to top up on pens and pencils. Where there is equipment we supply as a school (exercise books, mini-whiteboards and so on) we will see what students need and make sure they have them. If you could do the same for items you supply I think that will really support students’ return as it will give them a sense of confidence and readiness.

Arrangements for Year 11 and 13

The (very) long awaited announcement came from Ofqual and the Department for Education today. When it arrived it generally said what we had anticipated, but we still await the details from the individual exam boards on each of the subjects. Next week our students in Years 11 and Year 13 are completing practice papers that use familiar exam questions and cover topics that we have already taught. Please be clear – these are not something that we are proposing to use as an indicator of likely exam performance. They are not sat in controlled conditions (there are no invigilators, students might complete some as open book papers as well as exceeding the recommended timing) but I think they are important to keep our students feeling a sense of purpose. They will also offer the chance for feedback from their teachers when they return. All of this is a good thing.

Gallery of excellence

It’s been brilliant to see how students have maintained their standards this week and I have loved seeing the writing, drawing and many other forms of work that they have produced. This week’s gallery is on the website here. Please take a moment to appreciate the resilience and tenacity that so many of our students have demonstrated, despite the challenges of the last months.

When I meet parents who do not know our school, I stress that we have twin aims: we want to have a focus on high outcomes and also a focus on wellbeing. It can be a challenge at times to deliver on this, but these remain our core values and they lie at the heart of our planning for the full re-opening of our school. Wishing you all restful and safe weekends.

Mr House, Headteacher


Happy half term break! Friday 12th February 2021 (3.00pm)

Well, we are there now. A half term that started with schools fully open on the 4th of January ends with the last signs of a dusting of snow on the ground and the majority of students at home. Amongst this we have held parents’ evening and run assemblies, our students have attended thousands of lessons, we are celebrating excellent work (see this week’s gallery here) and we are doing all we can to stay connected with each other. I think that is pretty extraordinary, given that twelve months ago the idea of remote learning had not even be considered in the vast majority of schools in England.

Being careful about the language of ‘catch up’

As a headteacher, and a father, I try hard not to engage in something known as ‘catastrophising’. This is an idea that we explain to all of our students as part of their PSHE programme and we encourage them to monitor it in their own thought patterns. It refers to the human tendency to worry about a problem, which can then snowball, becoming a bigger and bigger issue if we let it.

So it was with interest that I read this morning on the news that some are estimating students will have ‘lost a year’ by the time they return to school. I am not certain how this number could be calculated, given that we do not know a return date. I am also more than a little suspicious about it being such a conveniently round figure.

What I do know is that for students in Year 11 and Year 13, this school closure has come at a really unhelpful time in their school careers. I know that students of all years will not have gained as much knowledge online as they would have in classrooms. I know that for some young people, and some adults, social distancing becomes social isolation, with feelings of sadness. However, the idea that this phase will inevitably be an episode that our young people could never recover from is not healthy and definitely falls into the category of ‘catastrophising’.

When we return to school, safely and in a managed way, we will help the students and support them with learning. As parents, I think it is important that we do not use any of the more negative language around future prospects for our students, especially in their earshot. Students will return, schools will need to adapt, and the next chapter will look different to how we previously conceived it. But that doesn’t have to be a ‘crisis’, just something that we work together on so that our next generation of adults is successful and capable.

How much can we make half term a week away from screens?

I had a very odd experience on Wednesday. I walked through classrooms on one corridor and visited three assemblies for different year groups, all delivered online through the whiteboard and speakers at the front. What each Head of Year was talking about was a variation on the same theme – urging the students that over half term they should put away the screens and give their eyes and brains a break. Without sports clubs or other groups currently up and running, and youngsters not visiting each other in their homes, it will be a challenge not to have more days on tablets or laptops.

Coincidentally, my wife and I were discussing just this last night. We were trying to work out how we could structure next week in a way that gives our two children a break from being online so much in school. Other than the family walks, card games and art work we are going to be asking the children to take a lead on menu planning, shopping and cooking. I think this will be an interesting learning experience for them… and hopefully one without any unintended side effects for us. It would be good for all of our students to be given a week away from their devices. I fully know this might be a challenge, but it would be great if you were able to factor this in, maybe for set days or parts of each day.

Update from Sutton SEND

I have attached an update from Sutton’s SEND team here. Sutton schools are asked to share Sutton’s SEND newsletters with all of their families and I think they are a very useful summary of both recent changes and provision in the local area.

Parents’ evenings – an update

Last week saw our highest rate of family success with the online technology. 93% of Year 7 families had no issues connecting, so it appears clear that the parents’ evening software works effectively. We do still have a handful of families that encounter difficulties and this is most likely with the web browser or the device being used. If families do struggle to connect, staff should always follow up with an e-mail afterwards. A number of families, as they did the week before with Year 12, said the online appointments were much better than being in a busy hall – we will think about this carefully over the coming months.

For families in Year 7 we hope to hold a ‘subject evening’ later in the year. Last week’s event was a ‘meet the tutor’ evening that we normally start the year with but could not with the COVID restrictions in place. For Year 8 families we will be completing your parents’ evening on 4th March. As well as the remainder of the subject appointments, we will include information about starting to think about GCSE option subjects.

Thank you to our staff

I would like to extend a huge thank you to the staff who have fulfilled a wide range of roles over the last month and a half. Managing online learning, checking in on students’ wellbeing, giving feedback to students at distance and supervising the studentspils in school has been a massive challenge. This is compounded by the fact that many staff have school-aged children themselves, whose education they have been supervising.

I hope that half term break is a positive for students and families. If there is anything you would want me to know about you are always welcome to e-mail me directly at nhouse@greenshaw.co.uk, especially if it is a photograph of delicious cookies baked by one of your children over half term. Stay safe and stay warm.

Mr House, Headteacher


An air of positivity: Friday 5th February (3.00pm)

As I write, the sun is making a welcome appearance through my office window and the first daffodils of spring are pushing through the grass next to the school fence. Amongst the many difficult news items that we have had to absorb of late, it feels that mother nature is making her best efforts at energising us. So, in keeping with this, today’s end of week letter is universally positive.

Zoom registration for students in Years 7-11

Thank you for your support with this. From Monday in our live lessons we will know the full registered name for each student in an online live lesson, as opposed to any abbreviated version of their name. This will make our ability to track engagement and attendance even more accurate, so thank you for supporting your child with this. We know as adults that online registration processes can be complex and lengthy, so we appreciate your guidance with your child/ren.

Parents’ evening – making progress

We have run the online parents’ evening platform every Thursday for the last month. With Year 12 last week, 91% of families that logged in had ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ experience. Where there were issues, for example with audio, that is not an element of the service under performing, but more likely to be a combination of the web browser and/or device being used. I will not be satisfied until we get 100% of families that report a ‘good’ experience or better, but it is clear that it does work effectively and remains a strong way of staying connected, even during the current restrictions to school opening.

Gallery of Excellence – Week 4

Our gallery has had more and more submissions by the week – with over 50 pieces of brilliant work this week. Please take the time to take a look here and see if your child’s work has been nominated. The messages I receive from staff when they share work with me are also a delight to read. This week, one teacher wrote: “This piece of work shows real understanding. Many of our students have made real progress over the last few weeks and we are really pleased.” While another wrote: “He thoroughly enjoys doing the Big Ideas homework and will be so honoured if his work gets into the Gallery of Excellence”.

One way of facing down the current challenges is to deliberately share the positive and circulate the good. So take a look at the brilliant work of our students in our gallery: I hope it might bring some sunshine into your afternoon. Wishing you safe and enjoyable weekends.

Mr House, Headteacher


Schools returning? 29th January 2021 (3.00pm)

As I often tell our staff at school, headteachers are not privy to any additional information beyond that which is available to any other staff, parents or members of the public. So the news this week that schools could be considering some form of return from Monday 8th March was very welcome. The Prime Minister’s statement did include a number of conditions and caveats, so it is far from certain that this date will definitely see the opening of schools. It is also currently unknown whether all years in all schools (primary and secondary) might return at the same time. However, it was good to hear the first indication that the prospect of students returning is now even being discussed.

Most helpful was that the Secretary of State for Education’s assurance that schools would get two weeks’ notice of future changes. When it is decided that students can return, probably in a phased way, this will allow schools better opportunity to make the necessary arrangements.

In the meantime, we continue to develop our online teaching. Combining pre-recorded content with greater quantities of live learning sees a ‘blended’ approach to learning that should meet the needs of a wider group of students. While it is rarely possible to make everything perfect for everyone I think the recent changes, alongside live reading at 8:30am each day for Years 7, 8 and 9 and a weekly assembly for all year groups, are getting our online offer to a really good place.

Live learning online – solving problems

For the live learning we are using an education licence for Zoom. For a few families this has caused difficulties, ranging from older versions of web browsers to problems with speakers on the student's device. We have mobilised a ‘help desk’ for these issues, and others. Please use the section on our website at https://www.greenshaw.co.uk/homelearning. This page has a sequence of questions and advice for frequent issues. If, after working these through, the situation is not resolved there is a blank form to detail the problem and we will respond directly to that.

It is possible that some students could find the live learning too fast, and certainly a change in style to the pre-recorded content. Staff are working to find the optimum level of challenge for live teaching online, which is not the same as teachers have experienced in the classroom. For students, the experience of following a lesson on screen (unable to check with the student sat next to them or another adult in the room) is definitely something that takes time to acclimatise to. Please do not worry overly if your child says they are struggling with the learning; these are strange times and the most important thing is that students continue to engage and complete what they can. If this continues to be an issue please contact your child’s form tutor, but only after a good week or so of the live learning.

Gallery of excellence – Week 3

There continues to be a regular flow of superb work being produced. The visual arts (particularly painting and drawing) make for great viewing in a gallery, but this week’s offerings include great extended writing and super science. Please click here to see the work completed by a range of different ages in different subjects over the last five days.

Wishing all of you restful weekends and I hope that our various children spend a good amount of time away from their screens, after their week of learning.

All the best.                                                 

Mr House, Headteacher


Update on remote learning: Friday 22d January 2021 (4.30pm)

This has been a turbulent week away from school. The weather has been extreme (rain, wind and cold) and the national health news has been troubling. I hope that you are staying safe and well, while also keeping healthy with some form of exercise.

Updates to online learning

The supply of five lessons a day for Years 7 to 11 continues, alongside homework and the online learning platforms (including iXL, Vocab Express for modern foreign languages, Hegarty for maths and Tassomai for science).

As well as pre-recorded content we are increasing live teaching. For Years 7, 8 and 9 there is live reading every morning from 8:30am. So for all students in Years 7 to 11 they should be online by 8:25am, ready to start their day at 8:30am.

Students in Years 12 and 13 continue to have a lesson every day for each of their A Level subjects. Because Sixth Form students follow different timetables, based on their subject choices, they should be online for three hours of content each day. As well as this most subjects will set tasks between lessons that need completion.

Gallery of excellence

Our students continue to create work that shows their resilience and commitment. Every Friday we will showcase examples of excellence on our website. Please take a moment to visit this gallery and get a sense of the many excellent examples of extended writing, maths, science, artwork and learning in other forms.  

Parents’ evenings

Last night’s Year 9 evening went reasonably well. The company hosting the service did suffer an interruption to their service, but it went back online again quickly. I will send a survey to a sample of families to get a sense of their experience. I know some of you had difficulties and for others it went pretty smoothly so it would be good to increasingly iron out any issues. If you do receive an e-mail on Monday asking for feedback, it would be really helpful to learn from your experience.

So, at the end of a very mixed week for the world, I will close with the words of Amanda Gorman, from the inauguration of the next American president.  I know her words were intended for her domestic audience but like all great pieces of writing, the messages shine beyond the boundaries of their specific context.

Talking about the next chapter in her country’s history Gorman said, “There is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.” I think this invocation to be positive and brave is important for all of us, even in the toughest of times. I

hope you all have good weekends, staying safe and well. All the best.

Mr House, Headteacher


Remote learning – a gallery of excellence: Friday 15th January (5.30pm) 

As we finish our first full week of online learning, we are starting to receive some brilliant work from our students. We are creating a gallery of excellence to celebrate our students’ resilience, as well as their talents. All of the work will have been produced while students are away from school. The example shown here, a beautiful collage created by Eloise, is visual so we will of course showcase artwork. However, we will also include written responses, so our gallery will show the full range of learning tasks undertaken over each of the coming weeks.

Supplies of materials

There is a supply of exercise books in reception at school and students are welcome to take these. In addition, some departments are leaving out particular resources for students, by arrangement. Please ensure that if your child does need to visit the site then they do so on their own, or with you as members of the family bubble rather than in any friendship group.

Fun Friday Challenge

Each Friday we run activities that are creative, engaging and aim to offer some form of diversion from the day to day routines. There is a different event each Friday, the details of which are found on our website here and will be promoted on each student’s daily schedule on Frog.

Morning reading programme

From Monday of next week, all students in Years 7, 8 and 9 will have daily live reading. They will not be able to have a copy of the book, so will film the text on each student’s screen so they can follow along. All students should attend, using a pass code will be visible on their daily schedule on Frog. This will also allow us to make sure that all students are online at the start of the day, as well as promoting daily reading for our learners.

Parents’ evening for Year 8 last night – apologies

Sadly, last night’s online parents’ evening was interrupted by a failure from the company that offers the platform. As must be happening across the world in different settings, systems are responding to unprecedented levels of usage. We will reschedule the evening and share the details with our Year 8 families. The information about the outage last night is here:

“SchoolCloud provides parents’ evening software to over 5,000 schools, and experienced an outage on 14th January affecting the parents and teachers accessing video calls at that time. An update to the system in December caused a web page to perform slowly and this ultimately took the system offline. This wasn’t up to the high standard of service that schools expect of us, nor that we expect of ourselves. We have already made changes, and continue to take further steps to ensure that you can continue to enjoy this new format of parents’ evenings.”

Currently, we are planning to use the platform for the Year 9 parents' evening next Thursday, but will be seeking further assurances from the company, SchoolCloud.

Finally, I hope this letter finds you well and that you and yours are staying fit. Sadly, we have heard of families in our Greenshaw community affected by the Covid situation this week and our thoughts go out to them. Although the vaccination numbers increase, we have all to remember that the virus remains prevalent. As I am sure you are doing, please encourage your children to stay at home unless for exercise and not to meet in groups beyond the family bubble. Wishing you relaxing, and above all else, safe weekends.

Mr House, Headteacher


Online learning - the next steps: Tuesday 12th January, 6.00pm

Incredibly, this is only the fifth day that online learning has been up and running for our students. It feels like a lifetime ago that we were considering how to resource this but incredibly it was only last week. Generally, I send a letter on a Friday afternoon, but I thought I would drop an update in midweek as there is a lot going on. The focus of this letter is purely on learning rather than the wider range of topics I have needed to cover over the last few months. 

Online learning – the plan for now, and the next steps

We have made sure that all of our learners, from Year 7 to Year 13 have structured days with plenty of content. We will continue to use the best quality resources available, sourced from the Oak National Academy and the wider schools of the Greenshaw Learning Trust that contain structured videos and quizzes. In the light of this it was interesting to see what Ofsted had to say this week. 

Ofsted released guidance yesterday, titled What’s working well in remote education (11th January 2021). Amongst a number of points the report emphasised the most effective features of online learning. It emphasised the importance of a short presentation or modelling of new content, then followed by exercises or retrieval practice. Reassuringly these are the principles behind nearly all of the lesson content that we are providing. We are also continuing to use online platforms like Hegarty (for maths) and Tassomai (for science) with which our students are already familiar. What was interesting to note was the a number of myths that Ofsted identified, including that it not true that the best way to deliver remote education is always through live lessons. 

At present, we need a number of our teachers in school to support the children of our critical workers and those deemed vulnerable. This number of these students has risen significantly, about three times the quantity since the last lockdown and we are proud to support these families. This does reduce our ability to resource live learning for all students with all teachers. At the outset, we have prioritised learners in Year 11 and Year 13 to receive the greatest quantity of live learning. These year groups will receive qualifications in eight months’ time that will be critical in their successful transition to their next phase. The mechanisms for these grades being awarded are still not known so it is essential we prioritise these students.

After just five days of remote learning I am confident that we have the best quality learning available for our different year groups of students, given the restrictions we are operating within. However, I am ambitious to take this further.

The next steps are to enhance what we can offer our learners. Although live learning is not “the gold standard of remote education”, (Ofsted) I strongly believe that being connected with school maintains pupils’ motivation and is good for their wellbeing. This is even more true in the current ‘Stay at Home’ phase we are in; connecting with others is a central pillar of wellbeing. So, as January progresses we are looking at how we can create more of a blended model, including features such as live assemblies, live tutor time reading and live lessons, in amongst the pre-recorded content.

We are also looking to see how we can enhance the feedback students get, beyond the quizzes that are already part of the online lessons.  These developments are being planned as I write this letter and we will update you as the weeks progress.

Parents' evening update – Year 8, 9 and 12 in January

As mentioned last week, we are continuing with parents’ evenings in January. Despite the restrictions on school opening, teachers have lots of information about the learning from last term and our first one (for Year 8) is this Thursday night. This will happen online, using Wi-Fi connectivity and camera enabled devices. I hope all families have been able to set up their appointments. If you have any questions, please contact parentsevening@greenshaw.co.uk .

We have moved the Year 9 evening forwards to Thursday 21st January. The families of this year group have been particularly impacted during both lockdowns, so we have created an earlier slot for them. The Year 12 event will go ahead as planned on Thursday 28th January. Colleagues in the school office team will contact families of each year group before the respective events.

So I hope your forgive a mid-week letter but I want to make sure that families are kept in the loop as much as possible. As always, feel free to drop me a line at nhouse@greenshaw.co.uk if there is something to celebrate or something you would want me to be aware of. Just give me a touch longer to respond than in normal times! Stay safe.

Mr House, Headteacher


Stay safe and stay at home: Friday 8th January 2021 (3.30pm)

Well, Monday feels like another world. On that morning, my daughter went into her primary school for the first day back after the Christmas break. Although there were reservations, primary school children returned in the expectation of a full term ahead of them. But by the end of the same week, schools have moved to remote education and GCSE and A Level exams have been scrapped. At Greenshaw, online learning has now been up and running for three days and children of critical workers in the school for four days. 

Parents’ evenings to continue

We will proceed with the Year 8 evening next Thursday, 14th January, as previously planned. My view is that having parents’ evenings now is actually a really good idea as the students have just completed a full term in the building. This means that teachers have plenty of information about their attainment and the efforts they have made. We have piloted two online parents’ evenings at the end of last term (using and online booking system and devices with cameras and microphones). This seemed to be effective, notwithstanding issues with occasional Wi-Fi dropouts that affect many of us in different locations at the moment.

In addition, I am acutely aware that families in Year 9 have been caught out by the timing of the two lockdowns, so have had less reporting and fewer parents’ evenings than other years. If possible, we will work a Year 9 parents’ evening in January. 

Support for families – devices and free school meals

We have today received an order of Chrome books from the Department for Education. We already hold a list of families that do not have devices to allow their children to access the online work, so will be issuing these Chrome books next week. While I fear that what we have been issued with might not be sufficient for all families that need them, if you do not have a device then please let us know at info@greenshaw.co.uk. If needed, when we’ve issued the Chrome books we will see if we can re-purpose other school devices. 

The value of free school meals will continue to be passed directly to families, as previously using the voucher scheme. If you are having any issues with this then please, again, use the e-mail address info@greenshaw.co.uk.

Exercise books – available from reception

I know that some of our students may need additional space to write their learning over the coming weeks. Some students had their books taken in over the holidays by teachers while others might be close to finishing this book and be about to move on to the next one. We all have a shared responsibility to stay at home and maintain social distancing at the moment. However, daily exercise is permitted and the importance of maintaining education is clear to the government. So students, or parents, are welcome to collect a book from the reception area of school. They do not need signing for, just take one (no stockpiling) and head home.

I would ask that you do not allow your child to come to school with a group of friends though as this would jeopardise the efforts that are being made across the community to break the chain of infection. 

GCSE and A Levels – the next steps

I have already written separately to families with children in Years 11 and 13, explaining that the government have announced that schools are likely to be playing a role in decisions about grades for the second year in a row. Although the details are currently unknown, it has been promised that there will be support and training that will see grades awarded ‘fairly and consistently across the country’. Please do not contact directly any members of staff to discuss possible grading as they will not be able to discuss this.

So this has been a very long week in school, and for many of our families. However, I was struck watching a feature on the BBC News at Ten last night by just how difficult life is for those people working in health. Whatever my challenges have been this week many of the staff of St Helier hospital – as well as other health and care settings around our school – have had it far tougher.

I know that we have many families at our school who work in health, so on behalf of the staff and students at Greenshaw thank you for everything you do, every single day. For the rest of us, let’s make sure we respect their work and support it by staying at home with no social contact outside of the family home. Wishing you all a safe weekend. 

Nick House, Headteacher


School closure - online learning from tomorrow (posted 5th January 2021, 2.00pm)

I write to you the morning after the announcement of what amounts to a national lockdown, with the closing of schools across the country. I am aware of the huge challenges this brings and we will do all we can as a school to make the experience of our students as productive as possible.

GCSE and A Level exams this year

The first thing I should address is the situation for our Year 11 and Year 13 learners. The news about examinations was ambiguous. While the Prime Minister stated that proceeding with exams on the previous basis would be unreasonable and unfair he did say that plans were being considered for what would replace them. In addition, Michael Gove stated on BBC radio this morning that the government were considering what part assessment would play in the awarding of grades in summer 2021.

I think that we need to be very careful with our students about suggesting ‘exams are cancelled’. The reality is that the government knows that a full range of exam papers testing the full GCSE and A Level specifications is not viable, nor would it be fair for the students across the country. I agree with this entirely. However, I think that the government will be very seriously considering other options that do not lead to a repeat of all of the issues that arose last summer.

This could look like scaled back assessments that might be sat in classrooms, or schools being given a choice over what sections of a full exam course their students can opt into. I would like to stress that these are my best professional estimations and not any form of insider knowledge. However, I will be sharing this view with students in Year 11 and Year 13 and we are continuing with our plans to prepare them for summer. This is because I think there is a chance of an assessment being planned for them, short of the full exams. It is also because our learners are all preparing for the next phase of their learning, whether at college or university and they need to gain all the knowledge possible. And it is also because engaging the brain and establishing a routine is good for all of us.

So I can’t tell these two year groups I have all the answers, but will explain why we are doing what we are, and when we are given specific directions we will be able to refine our plans further.

Online learning from tomorrow

We are completing the content for the remote learning this morning and all is ready to start from Wednesday 6th January as planned. I said I would write to you with details of how to access your child’s learning today and this information is available on our school website here

In summary, all of the learning for the various year groups will be accessed through ‘Frog’, our online learning site that all students already use for homework. All of the content has been tested yesterday and today and is currently fully functioning.

Occasionally, some issues can arise from using different web browsers (the brand and/or the version being used) from what we have used to test. On the right hand side of that web page there is a section on troubleshooting. However, if after trying these solutions your child is still having issues with accessing their online learning, then send us an e-mail to homelearning@greenshaw.co.uk. These messages will go to our online learning support team who are best placed to solve any issues.

We have been contacted by the Department for Education with details of the numbers of tablets that we can pass to families to access the online learning.  We do not currently have these, but understand they are in transit to us. We will contact the families who have let us know that they need an additional device as soon as they arrive. If you do not have access to a laptop or iPad then please let us know at info@greenshaw.co.uk. We may have more requests than items that we are issued with but we will do our very best to resource as many families as possible.

I will write to you again over the next day or so, but will aim to keep information to the ‘need to know’ category, rather than the short book I could send you about the current situation. I hope that the little and often model of communication will help but feel free to contact me directly at nhouse@greenshaw.co.uk if you think there is anything I can help with. Stay safe and stay in touch.

Nick House, Headteacher


Plans for the start of term on Wednesday 6th January
(Posted Thursday 31st December, 1.00pm)

Apologies for writing to you on New Year’s Eve, but I know that you would want to know what yesterday’s announcement in the House of Commons means for our school.

As the London Borough of Sutton is in a Tier 4 area (described as ‘stay at home’ by the government) schools are to have significant reductions to the number of students in their buildings. The exception next week is for students whose families work in critical services (defined here) and students with EHCPs or a vulnerability. At the moment, the government are not making longer range decisions as they want to see what the most up to date information is about the prevalence of COVID-19 within each local area.

However, despite schools being asked not to have students in next week we are not closed. We will continue to supply learning for students in all year groups and maintain contact with families to check that the learning can be accessed. We will also be supporting our students in Year 11 and 13 as a priority, given they have GCSE and A Level exams this summer.

Please find below a summary of the first two weeks of this term. 

Planning days: Monday 4th and Tuesday 5th January

Monday 4th January was already planned to be an INSET day. Staff will spend this day, and Tuesday 5th January term planning the curriculum for the next eight school days. We will also be working through the testing arrangements and undertaking staff training when the COVID-19 testing equipment arrives. The Department for Education have notified schools that these materials will start arriving from Monday 4th January. 

Online learning: Wednesday 6th January onwards

Online learning for all year groups will start from Wednesday morning. There has been some talk in the press about secondary students having at least a further week of holidays but I want students to stay in touch with their learning and I firmly believe that this is better for their wellbeing. And I write this as the dad of two school aged children with me at home this morning. One has been reading and drawing since 7.00am, while the other emerged from his bed rather later, but I believe that they both have an entitlement to learning when term starts. 

Instructions about how to access each child’s online learning will be sent out during Tuesday 5th January. These will include the names of key staff that students in each year group should contact if there are any issues logging in or accessing the materials. Under the current plans this will be in place for students in Years 7 to 10 and Year 12 until the end of Friday 15th January. 

Year 11 and Year 13 return to school from Monday 11th January

From Monday 11th January, students in Year 11 and Year 13 will be allowed to return to school and learn in person. This will allow the school to prioritise the learning of the two public exam year groups while also managing the mass testing for students and staff in the second week of term.  

Free school meals continue

While students learn from home in the first fortnight we will ensure that families entitled to free school meals receive the value of the free school meal allowance. We will send a text out directly to those families affected and make arrangements for the two weeks of vouchers to be sent out in one go.

Mass COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic staff and students 

The government announced that schools should start their testing in the week beginning Monday 11th January. This makes good sense, giving schools the chance to make proper arrangements. One of the things I am considering is offering the test to all staff who want it first, so we can have a run through of the process and take any learning from this. 

I will write to families separately about this as next week gets underway. This will include a schedule so that families can make any childcare arrangements as soon as possible. As I wrote earlier this week, I do think the mass testing is a good idea and I certainly will be taking part. If you could complete this online form here to let us know your intention that will speed up the process significantly.

I am sure there will be further updates as next week begins, but I will try to make this the final Greenshaw letter of 2020!

In summary: online learning for all from Wednesday 6th January onwards; Year 11 and Year 13 return from Monday 11th January; and please complete the form about COVID-19 testing as soon as possible.

Thank you all for your support, especially over the last nine months. I hope we all have a smoother and more straightforward 2021. Wishing you all a very happy and safe new year.

Mr House, Headteacher

New Year image courtesy of callmetak @ www.freepik.com


Information for the start of term on Tuesday 5th January
(Posted Monday 28th December, 2.30pm)

I hope you have had a good time over the last week since school finished. I did say I would write to you in the middle of the holidays to confirm arrangements for next term. 

The contents of this letter are correct and accurate at the time of writing but this can, of course, change with little notice. As of today, and my writing of this letter, this is the picture for the start of term.

Students in Years 11 and 13 – in school from Tuesday 5th January

We are very keen that students in these two age groups, given that they are in examination years, have as much contact with their teachers as possible. This is also the view of the Department for Education so students in these two year groups will return at the start of term, Tuesday 5th January. They should use the normal entry points (Year 13 through the SRC and Year 11 through the main entrance) at their normal start times.

Students in Years 7-10 and 12 – remote learning from Tuesday 5th January

In the middle of December, it was announced that students in Years 7-10 and 12 would start the term learning from home. This means that their learning will be hosted on Frog, the website we use for homework as well as lots of subject content. We have heard nothing to the contrary, so as it currently stands students in Years 7-10 and Year 12 will start their learning from home from Tuesday 5th January. Their first day scheduled for learning in school will be Monday 11th January 2021. 

We will communicate with families and students on Monday 4th January to explain how they will find their learning and what the expectations of them are. This will mean that a day before their term starts we will send out an explanation of what students are to complete and how we will support them. 

Like the previous school closures, we will be offering provision for students whose family are key workers or have significant SEND needs. Please e-mail info@greenshaw.co.uk by midday on Thursday 31st December to allow us to plan staffing for this. Please include the student's name, year group, and parental occupation.

Testing of asymptomatic students and staff in January

At the very end of last term it was announced that schools would be asked to host mass testing of asymptomatic students. Students with COVID-19 symptoms, or those that are contacts with cases, should not be in school and be using testing processes outside of school. However, estimates suggest that around one third of COVID-19 cases are entirely asymptomatic. An asymptomatic case (child or adult) would be potentially spreading the disease but be entirely unaware. 

As things currently stand we are prepared and ready to host the testing activity, but schools do not have all that is required to get it up and running in the first week back. This may well change, and at little notice. Later this week we will issue a consent document that needs returning. The exact date of any testing capacity going live is uncertain, but we would like to be well prepared if something happens at short notice. There have been many questions raised in this discussion about testing for COVID-19 being hosted in schools but I think these are the two most important ones at this point.

FAQ 1: Does my child had to have had a test to return to school?

I think, on balance, that testing as many staff and students as possible is a good idea. Although statistically students of school age are at hugely reduced risk from COVID-19, positive cases can transmit the virus to others who might be at much higher risk. So knowing this would make our school, our families and the wider community safer. But a student does not have to have a test before returning to school.

FAQ 2: Can I decide that I don’t want my child to have a test at school?

Yes. As I’ve said I think wide scale testing is a good idea that could reduce COVID-19 numbers, in turn making things safer for those individuals vulnerable to the infection. But when the consent form is sent out later this week one of the questions will be whether families wish their child to take part. This is a family decision.  

So I hope this letter keeps you in the picture. It would be really helpful if you could look out for the e-mail with detail of the consent form (it will be an online form, so no need for printing off) later this week. Finally, should there be any government announcement at the end of this week I will write to you to explain what it means for our school. In the meantime, I hope that you can continue to enjoy the holiday period. Wishing you all the very best.

Mr House, Headteacher


End of autumn term: Thursday 17th December (3.00pm)

Well we’ve made it. Autumn term 2020 is finished. I am so proud of our school and its achievements in the toughest of terms I have known in the 26 years I have worked in schools. But the highlights are everywhere as I walk around the school at work in the classrooms and playgrounds of our school. And sometimes even beyond the school site.

On Wednesday morning I watched as some of our Year 7 students put cards through the letterboxes of houses along Grennell Road, wishing them – as our neighbours – a merry Christmas. The cards had been quarantined for 72 hours and the students wore plastic gloves to ensure there was no risk of infection. Even despite the strangeness of these necessary additional measures what shone through was human beings’ capacity for kindness, almost regardless of the challenges.

Earlier this month over 200 of our students took the time to create Christmas cards that have since been delivered to care homes in the community around Sutton. The time taken to design and produce their own cards was another example that, in the oddest of times our students have shown that they have the capacity to bring warmth and kindness to others. In a world where sanitiser and face masks have been recent additions, the timeless human qualities of care and kindness also continue to be present.  

COVID positive test updates

I really hope that it is not the case, but if your child has a confirmed case of COVID during the holiday period please let us know. Depending on the dates of the test and the onset of symptoms, even though we are on holidays, we might need to contact other students or staff. Please send an e-mail to covid19@greenshaw.co.uk and include: details of symptoms; date of symptom onset; medical advice sought; date last attended school; and date of positive test. The e-mail account will be monitored daily until the end of Wednesday 23rd December.

Support while school is closed

At Greenshaw we work closely with a variety of agencies including the London Borough of Sutton, volunteer groups and the NHS. Please be aware that our website has many signposts to support agencies in the section ‘Care & Support’ as needed. In addition, we have put together a leaflet with some useful information, attached here.

January start of term

School is due to open on Tuesday 5th January. We will follow the same start times as this term and each year group should enter via the same gate they have used this term. You may have heard on the news that schools are being asked to support COVID testing next term. I am fully supportive of this as it has the potential to mean that far fewer students and staff that will need to self-isolate because they have been contacts of a positive case. It will bring its own challenges and the plans for this are being considered over the Christmas break so I will share information with you when I know it.

In the unlikely case of there being a last minute government decision that affects our school start date, I will share that with you. My intention is not to communicate with families too much over the coming holiday, but if there is any change to our January plans I aim to let you know details during the second week of the holidays. 

So thank you all for your backing this year. I have received a number of really supportive messages throughout the term, and particularly the last week as the end of term approached. As a parent myself I recognise the quandary of sending our children into school when the conditions are unlike anything in the past. However, our attendance has been high and our students have played their full part in keeping themselves safe. I thank them and you for that.

So all it remains for me to do is wish you all a restful, safe and happy Christmas break. See you in 2021.

Nick House, Headteacher


Last day of school – Thursday 17th December

Posted Friday 11th December (4.00pm)

This morning started for me on the Year 7 and Year 9 gate, seeing all of our students file in and dutifully sanisiting their hands before putting on their face masks. Thank you to families for being supportive in making sure that our students now all bring their own face covering in. Schools have had no additional budget for any of the additional purchases related to COVID-19, so to no longer need to supply spare face masks on the door each morning is a real help. Thank you. 

During period 1, I visited Year 7 students listening to a violin recital, Year 8 studentspils doing their repeat bleep test in PE (to see any improvement from earlier in the term) and Year 9 practising the imperfect tense in their French lesson. Even as we move close to the end of a long term, our students are upbeat and there was a delightful moment I found in a GCSE science lesson. The class were understanding the difference between weight and mass, and the teacher was sharing a personal moment. The illustration the teacher used was that he might have put on mass from buying a chocolate bar from the newsagent after work yesterday but that he would lose weight if he was on the moon. The class certainly enjoyed his example and seemed to fully understand the principle.

Is online learning for the last week a possibility?

The Department for Education has instructed all schools not to move to online learning. Put simply, schools are not allowed to. Where local schools, in Sutton or other authorities have moved to online learning that has been because the schools have had high levels of COVID-19 prevalence. Public Health England have decided that it is more important to break the chain of infection than keep the school open.

If you think it would be a preferable decision for students to learn online from home next week then please of course express this to officials at the DfE. Unfortunately, schools in England are not allowed to make this choice, even if they think that home learning might be a sensible decision for the last week of term.

Year 10 bubble learning at home

The way we have structured the school since we returned in September has been that we have kept year groups within ‘bubbles’. In real terms this has meant that students from different year groups have had no extended contact with any other year. It also means that if there are several cases in a short amount of time we can isolate students within that year group. As of today, Year 10 students only will continue their learning from home. That single year group has had more positive tests over a week or so than any other year and I am always balancing the safety of students and staff alongside keeping students in school.

So this will be my final Friday letter of 2020 – a year that many of us will be keen to see the back of. Thank you for the support and trust you have put in us as a school. This has been an unbelievably challenging time but the importance of people being kind to each other, even more so at this testing time, has been more vital than ever. I wish you all a safe weekend and look forward to the last four school days of 2020 next week. 

Mr House, Headteacher


Change to term dates – last day of school Thursday 17th December

Posted Thursday 10th December (11.00am)

During this very unusual term I have taken to writing to families at the end of each Friday of the week. However, the government announced something during this week that families would want to know about as soon as possible.

You may well have seen already on national news that the Department for Education has suggested schools take an INSET day next Friday, 18th December. This means that term will end next week on Thursday 17th December. We will finish at the normal staggered finish times from 14:40 onwards. This means that Friday 18th December will not be a school day for students. 

I apologise for the lack of notice, but this was only shared with schools this week. I do think this is a sensible decision from the DfE that recognises the pressures that schools have been under, and that the work continues even when the students are not in the building. I hope that a full week’s notice of this change is enough for families to make any changes needed.

Thank you for your support with attendance, and deciding when your child should not come in.

As every week since the start of September, thank you for your support this week. Thank you for sending your child into school when they are well. Even yesterday, the attendance rate of Greenshaw students was 95.2% – when the average rate of attendance at schools in England, in normal times, is 94.5%. 

Thank you as well for keeping any children at home if they – or a family member – exhibits any of the three COVID-19 symptoms: high temperature (particularly hot on the back or chest); a loss of the sense of taste or smell; or a new or continuous cough (coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours).

If you are in doubt, please contact us. While we cannot give medical advice, if you let us know the situation we can decide whether this should be recorded as ‘self-isolation’ while you get medical advice. Any student self-isolating will not have their time out of school recorded as absence, so it would not affect their personal attendance record. So, if you are at all unsure, please ring us.

Wishing you all the best for a restful weekend when it arrives. 

Mr House, Headteacher

(Image: Freepik - macrovector)


News about GCSEs and A Levels in 2021: Friday 4th December (3.30pm)

The government has made some welcome announcements about this summer’s exams. They suggested that teachers will get advance notice of the topics that will come up in the exams and that the grades awarded will be similar to those this year. This, in conjunction with the delaying of exams by three weeks next summer, should support our students to do well in 2021.

At the end of my Year 13 lesson yesterday afternoon some students asked what these changes would actually mean. At present, schools have not been given the details of these changes and certainly subject departments do not know which topics are yet to come up in the exams. 

I think this is a difficult decision for the Department for Education, and exam boards, to know when the best time to release this information is. The risk with schools knowing the precise exam topics too early in Year 11 and Year 13 is that students and staff will focus only on these areas, neglecting every other area of the exam specification. I know it is difficult to remember this, but students should be studying subjects in school to develop their broader knowledge and understanding of the world around them. Albert Einstein, a pretty intelligent thinker about the wider world beyond just science, wrote that:

“Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.”

So for me, I hope that our Year 11 and Year 13 students continue to think deeply about their subjects over the coming months, and that the detail about the topics that will come up in the summer gets released when students have finished their courses. I’m hoping that the timing of the topic information allows our students to be successful in their exams, as well as wiser about the wider world. 

Thank you for the continued parental support

As we approach the end of term I would like to thank families for sending their children into school so regularly. However, I need to remind all families – even with ten days to go – that if they have any COVID-19 symptoms students should not be attending school. Please ring us and discuss the situation. If a student is self-isolating this is not marked against their attendance as long as we know this is the reason for their absence. 

Wishing you all the best for restful weekends.

Mr House, Headteacher


An update from Mr House: Friday 27th November 2020 (4.00pm)

Another great week for attendance – on two days this week we’ve had over 96% attendance which is little short of astonishing. Thank you for showing such confidence in the systems we’ve had in place at Greenshaw this term and sending your children in so regularly. Having such consistent attendance is really supporting their learning, helping the gaps from ‘lockdown’ being made up for our students.

The new model for parents’ evenings

Last night we experimented with our first online parents’ evening. It seemed to go very smoothly for the vast majority of staff and families. We are not using Zoom or any other online software that you might have used over the last nine months. Instead, the parents’ evening scheduling software has five minute slots, along with an on screen timer that shows the remaining time in the appointment. 

Of the many things I have learned this term, one is that comparing what we do now with what it used to be isn’t a helpful way to review what we are doing now. A different way to think about it is whether the event adds something that we wouldn’t be able to do. So while an online parents’ event is unlike a traditional evening, I think it definitely allows communication with a range of teachers over a couple of hours or so. We are aware of a couple of technical issues with families’ technology so will give clear information each time about the minimum need for the updated web browser to support the programme.

When the parents’ evening for your child’s year group is coming up, our school office team will contact you to explain how to make appointments and log on that evening. The next year group is is Year 10 on Thursday 10th December.

Winter dress code for students continues

It has generally been milder this week, although this morning the cold had definitely snapped as I met Year 7 students on the gate. Earlier in the week, far fewer students have chosen to keep their coats on. Some bubbles remain very warm, such as the classroom that our Year 8 students occupy. However, I am very happy for students to keep their coats on in the classroom if they wish to, given that we continue to have windows and doors open to have maximal airflow and ventilation. I would not want our efforts to reduce COVID infection to inadvertently result in students getting other infections such as colds, especially as we run up towards the Christmas break.

On that note, the first few Christmas lights are appearing outside houses along Grennell Road, and even the odd Christmas tree can be seen in front rooms. In my family I am currently resisting quite some pressure to start Christmas decorations, even before December has begun! I wish you good luck with whatever decisions you are currently debating as a family, and hope that you have a restful weekend. 

Mr House, Headteacher


Thank you : An update from Mr House
Friday 20th November (3.30pm)

Thank you for your ongoing support. Attendance has been strong again this week, 95.5% against the national average in non-COVID times of 94.5%. I think this is remarkable – and definitely the best thing for our students. I know I am repeating myself, but I feel I need to say this every week, however:

If a family member (parent, sibling or anybody else living in the family home) is presenting with COVID symptoms then students should stay at home while the family member has a test. Please ring us to let us know and we will mark your child as self-isolating, which will not count against their attendance.

Coats as necessary

It has been a decidedly colder week and some students have appreciated keeping their coats on. However, even with doors and windows open some of our classrooms have remained very hot, particularly in the Year 8 bubble. Other year bubbles (Sixth Form and Year 11, for example) have definitely valued keeping their outdoor coats on. 

Adjustment to timings of the school day – Wednesdays

One of the things that has kept school open and running so well has been brilliant rates of student and staff attendance. Greenshaw staff have been brilliant in supporting the re-opening of schools and this has taken huge effort and increased levels of work. But don’t take that from me – take it from Ofsted.

Ofsted have visited just under 400 schools across the country since September and published a report last week, available online if you Google it. It included phrases like, “Leaders stated that teachers are tired and exhausted, and workload has increased.” I would say that is also the case at Greenshaw but we are blessed with a dedicated group of staff, teaching and non-teaching. 

I do not take this for granted however and want to protect it over the dark last few weeks of this term, and the start of next term. From Wednesday 25th November until 10th February (the last four weeks of this term and the first half of the spring term) we will still teach the same quantity of lessons but end school after the fourth period.

Students will have the same subjects in the same order, so there will be no change in their curriculum experience. For those that have free school meals they will have their cards credited by morning break so they will still be able to take their food in school on a Wednesday. The timings are here. They will maintain the ‘bubbles’ with each year group leaving from a different exit at staggered times. 

13:00

Years 7 and 8 leave school

13:10

Years 9, 12 and 13 leave school

13:20

Years 10 and 11 leave school

SEND message

Finally from me this week, please see the newsletter  here from the Sutton Education Partnership, of which our school is a part. It contains information about SEND in the local area and contains a number of useful updates about developments in Sutton.

Thank you for all of your support this week - have great weekends.

Nick House, Headteacher


The end of our first week back: Friday 6th November (4.30pm) 

It has been a great return this week. The chilly November mornings have been a wintry backdrop for conversations with our students and made for a very positive coming back into school. The adoption of face coverings by students has been excellent. On the very, very rare occasion I have met a student leaving a classroom without a mask they have looked horrified that they have forgotten, and immediately rectified it. 

After five full days of face covering at Greenshaw, I can absolutely say that I feel proud of our community, and how our students and staff are taking their responsibility to protect others so seriously. 

In classrooms, the focus has been exemplary. I walked around school today, seeing over 80 classes at work, including students: considering beach reclamation; counting electrons; critiquing Andy Warhol paintings; speaking Spanish together as a whole class; rushing to volunteer to read aloud from a play script. Of particular joy was a group of Year 13 further mathematicians absolutely loving their subject, and laughing together as they undertook undergraduate level mathematics. It has certainly been a great start to the new term. 

Parents’ evenings – arrangements for this year 

It was always going to be a challenge getting traditional parents’ evenings in place even before the restrictions that were introduced across the country yesterday. However we are determined to keep the contact between home and school as much as possible. We have purchased a piece of software that allows teachers and families to talk online in their appointment schedule. I hope this will go some way to making sure that we all stay in touch. 

The schedule of dates is below and is also available on our website. We will contact families for each year group as the year goes on with the joining details.

Early closure, Wednesday 11th November 

I hope that families will recall that before half term I wrote to explain that next Wednesday we will need to close school early to accommodate a small group of children who will sit the Sutton Eligibility Test. The details of the closing times for each year group are here. Thanks for your support with this one off inconvenience. 

 

 

Vacancy for parent governor 

We currently have a vacancy for a parent governor on our governing body. Please find attached an outline of the post, as well as an overview of what the role includes. Should you have any questions about the role, please contact Laura Marchese, clerk to the governors at lmarchese@greenshawlearningtrust.co.uk

Wishing you all the best for a restful weekend. 

Nick House, Headteacher

 Date 

Year Group 

Thursday 15th October 2020 

Year 13 Academic Review 

Thursday 26th November 2020 

Year 11 (first evening) 

Thursday 10th December 2020 

Year 10 

Thursday 14th January 2021 

Year 8 

Thursday 28th January 2021 

Year 12 

Thursday 4th February 2021 

Year 7 

Thursday 4th March 2021 

Year 9 

Thursday 25th March 2021 

Year 11 (second evening) 

Thursday 22nd April 2021 

Year 13 


Welcome back on Wednesday 4th November

Posted Tuesday 3rd November (10.00am)

I hope you and your children have had had a good break, despite what has generally been pretty wet and dismal weather. We ended last half term on a high, with great attendance and lots of positive achievements from our students. We also got all of our Year 11 and 13 students through mock exams to help us identify the next parts of their respective courses we should be focusing on.

In the context of this great half term, the weekend news about the new national restrictions may well give families a moment of reflection.

We have worked very hard over half term to ensure that all of the measures already in place have been re-established ready for our students' return on Wednesday 4th November, at their normal start times. As the government announced on Saturday, schools will remain open and the measures we have been asked to put in place (regular hand washing, year groups restricted to particular zones of the school, staggered break and lunch times, face covering in communal areas) will continue as before.  

As I have said previously, I think schools are the best places for young people to be for their welfare as well as their education. I certainly can’t predict the national situation going forwards so would emphasise that each week schools are able to be open is a really great opportunity for our children. We look forward to hearing about their half term breaks, seeing them back and helping them understand the world a little better through their learning each week. Thank you, as always, for your ongoing support. 

Nick House, Headteacher


An update from Mr House: Friday 23rd October (5.00pm)

Thank you for your support since September. We have completed a full half term in a very positive way, despite the challenges and many issues that have been thrown at us. One of the things that parents have queried with me has been whether there will be any substantial changes to arrangements next half term. The way that the ‘bubbles’ have worked this term will be maintained and you can reassure your child/ren that there is no variation in what they have got used to this half term.

There are two important items I need you to be aware of before we close this afternoon.

Important: if your child has a confirmed COVID case over half term

I really hope that it is not the case, but if your child has a confirmed case of COVID during the holiday period please let us know. Depending on the dates of the test and the onset of symptoms, even though we are on holidays, we might need to contact other students or staff. Please send an e-mail to covid19@greenshaw.co.uk and include: details of symptoms; date of symptom onset; medical advice sought; date last attended school; date of positive test.

Face covering – please ensure your child brings their own

The students were brilliant with face covering on Wednesday. We gave a few out on the door but the vast majority were fully prepared and all wore them absolutely appropriately in corridors. On Thursday morning we had to supply more masks as the number of students without them went up. I need to let families know that schools are not receiving any additional budget for the purchase of items relating to the COVID situation. If we have to give out significant numbers of masks it will reduce our spend on other areas of the school so please support us in ensuring you organise your child. 

Next half term starts on Wednesday 4th November at the normal start times for each year group and the gate they have used this half term. As ever, any celebrations or concerns you would want to share, please e-mail me at nhouse@greenshaw.co.uk.  I hope that students have a restful break and recharge over the week and a half.


Face coverings: Tuesday 20th October (2.00pm)

You will know how delighted I have been by the huge efforts of students, families and staff to get school up and running this term. What we have achieved so far has been really impressive and, as far as I know, there are no plans for schools to be closed any time soon.

However, in light of London being placed into ‘Tier 2’ of national health rating there has been a change to guidance for secondary schools about face covering. The Department for Education (DfE) have released the following:

… face coverings should be worn by adults (staff and visitors) and students when moving around indoors, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain. [1]

The DfE suggest that there is no requirement to wear face coverings in classrooms as there are other protective factors in place. They also state that face coverings are not required outside.

So please send your child in from Wednesday 21st October with a plain dark face covering. They should also have a small sealable plastic bag to store the mask in securely.

We do have spares, so nobody should miss school because they are not able to bring in their own mask or sealable bag. However, it would really help our school budget if families were able to supply the face covering and bag for their child.

As long as it is safe, school is the best place for our young people to be. School offers social opportunities not available in the home. It also provides the escape that reading, languages, arts, sport, science and so much else offers while of course broadening the mind. And I write this as the father of two school-aged children, one of whom was negatively affected by their prolonged absence from school. I think this change from the DfE is proportionate and will enable schools to stay open and safe.

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions below, but please do e-mail me in person at nhouse@greenshaw.co.uk if you have any concerns or there is something you would wish me to know. 

Frequently asked questions about face coverings

What is the science behind this DfE change?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) usually spreads by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. These droplets can also be picked up from surfaces, if you touch a surface and then your face without washing your hands first. This is why social distancing, regular hand hygiene, and covering coughs and sneezes is so important in controlling the spread of the virus.[2]

The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others. Because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer, from coronavirus (COVID-19) they are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing. 

How will this be explained to my child?

Tomorrow morning in morning tutor time, Mr House will explain the reasons over Google Meet to every classroom. He will also explain when the coverings are needed, and when students and staff can choose to remove them. This poster will be visible in each classroom and on corridors.
 

 

Why does the requirement not include classrooms?

The DfE states: “…it will not usually be necessary to wear face coverings in the classroom, where protective measures already mean the risks are lower, and they may inhibit teaching and learning.[3]

My child has always worn face coverings. Does anything change now?

No. If any student – or staff member – has worn a mask previously they should continue to do so.

Are there any medical exemptions?

If your child has a health or disability reason for not wearing a mask please let us know. We would not want any student or staff member to feel uncomfortable about this. Please e-mail the details to Sarah Richards at srichards@greenshaw.co.uk. If you would rather discuss this with a member of your Year team or SEND teacher, then please contact them directly. 

Why do the masks have to be plain and dark?

We don’t want the masks to be a distraction from learning. Our students have lost enough learning time over the last nine months – every minute in the classroom should be about learning.

Why do children need a plastic bag?

Face coverings need to be safely stored when they have been removed. This means placing them into a small sealable bag (like ones that sandwiches can be put into). 

Where will my child need to wear the face covering?

Inside in communal areas – which means mainly corridors and lunch queues. This will include the Sixth Form Resource Centre. While students are eating they need not have their face coverings on, similar to regulations around cafes. Face coverings are not needed outdoors. For example, if students are waiting for the gates to open or at break or lunch in the playground, face coverings are not needed.

What do I do if my child can’t find their face mask before they leave? Or if they leave it on the bus? 

Don’t worry – we will have spares at the gate for each year group. We know that life is complicated and families have many things to remember each morning. If the same student did forget their face covering several times in the same week we might ring the family to ask for their support in helping their child to organise themselves.

Nick House, Headteacher 


Covid-19 – Frequently Asked Questions
Wednesday 16th September (5.30pm)

Over the last day or so there have been a number of questions about schools and their response to Covid-19, most specifically, about what happens if there is a positive Coronavirus case. Speaking with parents, I have created a list of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ 

Are schools set up differently to when Year 6 and Year 10 returned in June?

Some of the things schools were able to put in place in June and July (very small classes, maintaining 2 metre distancing within the classroom) are not possible when all students return full time. The Department for Education (DfE) required schools to return this year with all of their students and full time. I wrote to families in July about what we are doing (year groups having their lessons in limited areas of the site, staggered start times and entry points, emphasis on hand hygiene, additional cleaning). If you are a new parent to the school, or do not recall the details of the letter, it is on the school website here. Look for the letter dated Thursday 16th July. 

So what does the word ‘bubble’ mean in secondary schools from September?

A ‘bubble’ describes how in most secondary schools' students in each year group are kept separate from all other year groups. They will not spend social time or learning time with other year groups. Most secondary schools have created ‘zones’ where lessons happen for particular year groups. The teachers are mobile, while students remain in the same classroom, or the group of rooms allocated to that year group. We have done this at Greenshaw High School, and included separate playground space and separate eating arrangements for year groups. 

What happens in schools if a case is confirmed?

Schools will contact their local Health Protection Team. In the meantime, schools apply the DfE guidance to create a ‘track and trace’ activity in school. At Greenshaw, all staff have seating plans for each of their groups so we can see where the student has sat in the room. As a precaution, we double check with the teacher if s/he has changed the plan very recently so we can ensure that it is an accurate record of where students have sat. Schools will also speak with the student to identify their travel arrangements to school and their social contact at break and lunch.

The DfE give the following instruction[1] to schools when considering who should be sent home if there is a positive COVID-19 case reported to schools.

Schools must send home those people who have been in close contact with the person who has tested positive, advising them to self-isolate for 14 days since they were last in close contact with that person when they were infectious. Close contact means:

  • direct close contacts - face to face contact with an infected individual for any length of time, within 1 metre, including being coughed on, a face to face conversation, or unprotected physical contact (skin-to-skin)
  • proximity contacts - extended close contact (within 1 to 2 metres for more than 15 minutes) with an infected individual travelling in a small vehicle, like a car, with an infected person

Might a whole year group be sent home if there is a confirmed COVID-19 case?

This is possible, and there have been examples of this in Sutton this term, in both primary and secondary schools. There have also been instances where this has not happened. This decision will be made in conjunction with the South London Health Protection Team (SLHPT). However if there is a confirmed COVID19 case we will always apply the DfE ‘close contact’ definition while we wait support from SLHPT.

What do I do if my child has Covid-19 symptoms?

If your child has any of the Coronavirus symptoms (a high temperature, a continuous cough or a loss or change in sense of smell or taste) you should arrange for them to be tested for Coronavirus. Please let the school know if this is the case.

Your child should stay at home and the rest of the household should self-isolate whilst you wait the result of the test. No student with Coronavirus symptoms should attend school. 

More detail about the symptoms, testing, social distancing and related issues can be found on the dedicated part of the NHS website here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.


[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools


Friday 11th September (3.30pm)

We’ve done it. The first full week has been completed with average student attendance at Greenshaw High School of over 97%. This is even higher than the national average attendance – in normal times – so I want to extend a massive thank you for having the confidence to send your children back to school. I thought I’d share with you some snapshots of my week from the privileged view of headteacher, going in and out of lessons.

On Tuesday I went into a Year 10 class studying science. They were in a standard classroom as part of the Year 10 bubble’s zone, not in a lab as previously. Despite this, the students were entirely engaged and asking the teacher really considered and technical questions about bacteria. There was absolute fascination from the class in the teacher’s explanation and you could have heard a pin drop.

Yesterday, I went around ‘morning maths’ (an additional maths practice session that all Year 11 students have first thing in the morning). Every student in the year was absorbed, practising maths with absolute focus. At 8:30 in the morning!

Today, I popped into a Year 7 group considering the concept of ‘trust’, having first read a demanding broadsheet article about this idea. The class was writing at length in their journals, explaining their own thoughts on whether ‘trust’ is a generally on the rise in contemporary society or not. 

Each of these was a brilliant moment, and there are many more besides. What shone through was how our children appreciate being back in school and having the opportunities of a full school-based education once more. I am not complacent about the future and cannot predict what might happen. But I can assure you that this week our students have been all the better for being back in school, both academically and socially. 

Two really important pieces of information now that I need you to be aware of. 

1) Grennell Road will be closed off from next week
Not all families may be aware, but from Monday 14th September Grennell Road will not be a through road. There will be bollards fixed at the bottom of the hill (just after Edinburgh Road) preventing vehicles from coming up the hill, neither will it allow cars and vans to proceed towards the town centre along Grennell Road. This is part of a national scheme to make roads around schools safer and traffic free. Sutton Council is branding this as ‘Safer, active, greener streets for Sutton’, which I think describes its ambitions really well.

This is critical for the small group of families that drive up to the school gates and drop off their child. I have always stated that driving into Grennell Road at peak times is dangerous and deeply unhelpful for the rest of our school. If you feel you must drive to school, then please stay well away from Grennell Road and arrange a pick up spot with your child some distance away.

The vast, vast majority of our students walk to school, either from their homes or from local bus stops. Increasing numbers also choose to cycle to school. For children to be able to walk and cycle more safely into school should be a great thing for our students. Please support all of us by not driving into Grennell Road at all.

2) Covid-19 symptoms: schools have been asked to share this update from ‘NHS Test and Trace’
To ensure we identify those with coronavirus while avoiding a huge increase in demand for tests from people without coronavirus symptoms, we ask that you recommend to your students and staff who feel unwell, that they get tested if:

  • They develop one or more of the main coronavirus symptoms: a high temperature; a new, continuous cough; or the loss or change of their sense of taste or smell; or
  • They are recommended to get tested by a healthcare provider (e.g. GP or nurse).

If a student or staff member develops one or more of the main coronavirus symptoms described above, only they should be tested. There is no need for their households to have a test, unless they are also symptomatic.  

Unless a student or staff member has one of the three main coronavirus symptoms, they should only be tested if instructed otherwise by the local authority, health protection team or their GP. As schools and colleges across England return, students may feel unwell for example with a sore throat, stomach upset or a headache. These students don’t need to book a test but may need to stay off school and seek medical advice through their GP or pharmacist as usual.

So that concludes the first full week since lockdown that has seen all of our students in. I hope you all have restful weekends and enjoy reconnecting with the children that you saw endlessly for the previous five months but who you might have missed, a little, over the last five days. 

Nick House, Headteacher


Friday 4th September (5.00pm)

I want to write to you to say how proud I am of the staff and students of our school. For the first two days the staff have had to take on so much new information and prepare for working in a really different way to what they have been used to. Then over the following two days our students have returned in huge numbers, looking brilliantly smart and fully ready for learning. I have visited many lessons and tutor sessions and been blown away by how keen the students are to get back and their entirely positive attitude.

Wearing PE kit all (All years)

For students in Year 7 to 11, I can confirm that if they have a PE lesson that day they should arrive in school changed and ready in their full Greenshaw PE kit. Students do not need to bring their uniform (shirt, tie, jumper etc.) as they will stay in their PE kit all day for their lessons. This is to avoid using the changing rooms and means we are able to keep PE on the timetable for all years.

Reading books are needed for all students in Year 7, 8 and 9

For students in Years 7, 8 and 9 we will be running ‘DEAR’ sessions each day, which stands for ‘Drop Everything and Read’. As I wrote to you on Tuesday, please make sure that your child has a reading book that is something they will enjoy, and is a sustained work of fiction or non-fiction that is age-appropriate in content and should be of genuine interest to the child. For students in Year 7 they should bring back in their copy of The House with Chicken Legs that we gave them as welcome gift when they joined us yesterday.

Finally, can I remind parents of what we all know, but I will re-state this repeatedly across the term. Please do not send your child to school if they are displaying any one of the three coronavirus symptoms.

The NHS website gives further detail, explaining that the coughing symptom is a new and continuous one – which they define as coughing a lot for more than an hour, or having three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours. The high temperature is explained by the NHS web page as feeling hot to touch on the chest or back and it adds that you do not need to measure your temperature. The third symptom is a loss or change to the sense of smell or taste. 

It is very important that all of us are aware of the coronavirus symptoms and work hard to keep all of us safe. And I say that as a parent, not just a teacher. I sent my two children back to school this week with mixed emotions of trepidation and relief which I am sure you may recognise.

So we’ve made it successfully through the first few days of term. If there is anything you want to ask or share with me, then always feel free to contact me at nhouse@greenshaw.co.uk. In the meantime, I hope you have great weekends.

Nick House, Headteacher


 

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Tuesday 1st September (8.00am): Return to school

Today is the first day that all staff are back in school since mid-March and we are hard at work, making sure everything is ready for later this week. This week is about all students receiving an induction and knowing more about how school will operate this term. Next week is about trying to get all students in school and for them to develop increasing confidence in the arrangements.

I have made a brief video message for students and families that is available above. Hopefully it reassures by giving some additional information. 

Face coverings

As I wrote to you last week, we are very happy that if families would like their child to wear face masks then they can do so. The requirements are that the mask must be dark and plain (without any marking, logo etc.) and that the student carries a sealable plastic bag for safe storage of the mask when removed.

In addition, staff will be wearing visors in heavily occupied areas such as corridors and full classrooms. Both of these decisions will be reviewed periodically and are subject to change, depending on the local situation. 

What do families need to know?

  • Arrival in school: One of the key parts of schools’ re-opening this September is that groups of students should make less contact with other groups than in normal times. Arrival times and entry gates are listed on the school website here. I am sure you will already have looked at these, but we have made some small changes so please check over the next two days.
  • School uniform: Students in Years 7 to 11 should wear full uniform as usual. The requirements are listed here.
  • Equipment: We are not able to run the school stationery shop in the same way we have done previously so it will be really important that students bring in the full equipment for learning. That list is also available on the website here.  
  • Reading books: In addition, all students in Years 7 to 9 will need to bring in a reading book from Monday 7th September. Students in these year groups will remain in their classrooms for a large part of their week while teachers move to them which will mean that they have five minutes several times a day that they will be reading. The books brought should be a sustained work of fiction or non-fiction, be age-appropriate in content and complexity and be of genuine interest to the child. 

So, we stand on the verge of a full return to school. The purpose of this week is to get staff back in, then students, to receive an induction and a clear sense of what school will be like. The purpose of the second week is to develop students’ confidence and start to re-focus on their learning. I am very confident in our planning and the quality of our staff and students but should you have any concerns then please contact me at nhouse@greenshaw.co.uk

Nick House, Headteacher


Thursday 27th August (6.00pm)
Update on face coverings in school

Following the government change in advice about face coverings yesterday, I have met with school governors, senior members of the Greenshaw Learning Trust and union representatives. I have also taken into account the views of family members who have e-mailed me and risk assessments we have undertaken with individual staff members.

The London Borough of Sutton has an incredibly low rate of Covid-19 infection and transmission. As a school we have put in place a significant number of precautions to minimise risk, as outlined in previous correspondence to you and available on the website. Therefore, in line with the above government guidance, we will not be making the wearing of masks mandatory in any area of the school. 

However, I absolutely recognise that some students will feel more comfortable wearing a face mask in the corridors and/or in the classroom and I am very happy for them to do so. Any student wearing a mask will need to carry a sealable plastic bag so that when removed (at lunch time, in PE lessons etc.) it will be safely stored. Please note that masks must be plain in appearance, no logos or motifs, and must be worn appropriately and sensibly. Any student intentionally misusing a mask will be required to take it off.  

I will of course review this decision in light of any updated government guidance and changes in the local situation. I know that this has been an area of anxiety for some families and I hope this gives reassurance.

Nick House, Headteacher


Wednesday 26th August (10.00)
Government announcement on face coverings in schools

Many of you will be aware that late last night the government reviewed their guidance to secondary schools about face covering. The guidance for schools that has been in place through the summer had suggested that face covering was not necessary and even suggested some negative features of face covering. With a week or so until schools return there is clearly now some movement. 

I am meeting with the Chair of Governors tomorrow morning to confirm our approach as a school and I am also working closely with senior staff at the Greenshaw Learning Trust. I will update families as soon as possible, hopefully by the end of Thursday 27th August and am confident that this will give reassurance to those of you concerned about this.

I want to reiterate the messages I sent out on Monday: we are really looking forwards to welcoming our students back next week and any changes we are advised to make, even at this late point, will be absorbed and enhance our plans. 

Nick House, Headteacher


Monday 17th August (5.00pm)
A Level results update

This afternoon’s announcement, that students will receive their Centre Assessed Grades rather than the one that was centrally awarded broadly looks like very good news. It is my understanding that, in the handful of cases, where students received a higher grade in their results on Thursday morning then they can retain that. So students should not be fearful about this decision. 

What is less clear, is whether a student has missed out on a university place because of lower than expected grades, that have been improved this afternoon, whether those universities will have spaces still available for this September. It is absolutely crucial that any student whose ‘Centre Assessed Grades’ (the ones we shared with our students on Thursday at 10.00am) now mean they met the terms of the university they wished to study at this autumn makes contact with the admissions officers at that university. I fear that some may have filled their allocation of spaces for this year but only the admissions officers working on each course will know the absolute detail of this.

We will continue to monitor the situation and advise those students we have been working closely with since Thursday morning. Please stay in touch with the sixth form team if you have any queries.

Mr House, Headteacher


Thursday 13th August (14.45pm)
A Level results at Greenshaw High School

As the dust begins to settle on a very unusual A Levels results day, students and staff at Greenshaw High School are starting to get an increasingly clear sense of today’s news.

Overall, the number of A Level passes at A*-A rose to 27%, as well as increasing at both A*-B and A*-C. So, despite the significant national issues, a number of our students received very pleasing results: Fardeen achieved 4 A* passes; Sophie and Tobi are heading to Oxford University and Hollie is off to Cambridge University in the autumn. 

All students received the grades awarded by the exam boards at 8.00am. We also shared the ‘centre assessed grades’ (those grades that teachers had been asked to propose following evaluation of any coursework, classwork, mock exams and other relevant evidence) with all of our Year 13 students this morning. This allowed each student to fully understand their situation, particularly if considering university places or needing to speak with admissions officers. All of our Year 13 students also have access to their mock grades from their school reports on our managed learning environment, Frog.

The sixth form team has been talking with students to celebrate their many achievements, as well as support them with any concerns. 

Miss Lisa Buchanan, Assistant Headteacher in charge of Greenshaw Sixth Form, said, “We continue to support students this afternoon, tomorrow and next week. Although the headlines are generally positive, we are determined that all of our students will receive the support they would always get, regardless of the Covid-19 situation.”

So, at the end of a turbulent week for sixth form students across the country, today’s grades, for many, bring closure. Not just for this week, but right back to that day in March when it was announced that A Level examinations would not be taking place this year.

We wish the very best to all of our students in the next chapter of their careers and thank all of the staff and families that have supported, encouraged and inspired the Year 13 of 2020 to navigate these uncertain times so effectively. Upwards and onwards from here.

Mr House, Headteacher


Wednesday 12th August (11.30am)

As all parents and Year 13 students will be absolutely aware, there have been some unsettling news stories this week about tomorrow’s impending A Level results. I was as surprised as any of you to hear talk of ‘mock exam grades’ being floated last night, 36 hours before our hard working students can find out their results. In the light of this, I hope the outline below gives clarity on what the next steps are and reassures all involved that we have steps in place to support all of our students, for both celebration and advice.

I cannot promise that the information I will outline below might not change, but at the time of writing it is correct. I hope students and families will find this helpful and I remain firmly confident that in the vast majority of cases ‘the system’ will work fairly. Where we see that it has not tomorrow morning we will work on behalf of our students in all ways possible. Here is the timeline for tomorrow:

Thursday 13th August

8.00am

  • Students will receive their A Level, AS Level and EPQ results via Frog. These will be the actual grades that the exam boards have awarded following the process that has been outlined in the news. There is a summary here.
  • At the same time, UCAS will update students’ university applications. There is often high levels of traffic on their website so students may need to log in more than once.

10.00am

  • Students will be able to see their ‘centre assessed grades’, the grades that subject teachers proposed to the exam boards. These will be made available on Frog in a similar way to the results two hours earlier. Students and families will be able to see if there is any variation between these and the grades they were awarded at 8:00am
  • The appeals process is very limited this year. For example, in the past students could appeal if they suspected a marking error but there have been no examination papers marked. They could also appeal to see if there had been a clerical error (for example incorrect adding up of each question on a paper) but again as papers have not been marked there is no appeal possible here.
  • Should students feel disappointed that their actual result is lower than the centre assessed grade (the one suggested by subject teachers, shared at 10:00am) they should contact the Sixth Form team at alevelqueries20@greenshaw.co.uk
  • The sixth form team will be able to advise about the next steps which could include the proposed re-sit public exams season in October.
  • Students MUST NOT contact subject teachers to discuss their centre assessed grades if they have a concern. To do so could jeopardise any future dialogue we would have with an exam board on behalf of students to review a grade.

Throughout tomorrow we will maintain a running log of students that might have concerns, missed university offers and anything else that we can support with. I am determined that we will not allow the prospects of our Year 13 students to be inadvertently damaged by events beyond their control.

Nick House (Headteacher)


Thursday 16th July 2020 

Greenshaw High School in September: full opening 
As I wrote to you last week, we have been working through the Department for Education advice about how the new school year will look for us. I have maintained throughout that we are balancing the competing demands of keeping our students and staff safe while also ensuring education can be maintained. I also wanted to hear from parents and carers to understand your concerns. I want to extend a ‘thank you’ to the many of you that took the time to complete the survey I put online last Friday. We have made significant progress and can share our plans. 

Before reading on, please bear in mind that the information in this letter is correct at the time it was written and in line with the DfE guidance published on 2nd July. There may be areas that we are instructed to change, either at national or local level. I also absolutely reserve the right as headteacher to alter these arrangements as the term unfolds. Put simply, if something isn’t working we will change it. The first priority will always be health, with educational experience a close second. 

In summary, we have made the following alterations for September. The detail follows below. 

  • Year groups of students will be in ‘bubbles’ and movements adapted to secure these bubbles. 
  • Entry and departure times, break and lunch arrangements will be staggered.
  • Students will be based far more in consistent classroom bases with staff being mobile. 
  • Hand cleaning arrangements will be significantly enhanced.

How will contact be reduced between students? 
The DfE guidance states: Consistent groups reduce the risk of transmission by limiting the number of students and staff in contact with each other to only those within the group. Movement around the school site [should be] kept to a minimum. 

Parent voice said: “I am worried about moving groups and classrooms for subjects” and “How will the school buildings and classes be socially distanced?” 

From September, we have allocated parts of the school to particular year groups. These year specific zones will significantly reduce student movement around the site and these year groups will be the ‘new bubbles’. The majority of students will remain either in the same room, or move to a room within a corridor of pupils of the same year group. 

How will contact be reduced between students of different ages? 
The DfE guidance states: While passing briefly in the corridor or playground is low risk, schools should avoid creating busy corridors, entrances and exits. 

Parent voice said: “Is there increased risk in a large and compact school?” and “Could there be different time breaks for different year groups?” 

With students being in age specific ‘zones’ corridors and stairs will be significantly less busy than previously. In addition, we will stagger arrival and departure times, and require year groups to use different gates as they arrive on the site. In school we will also stagger break and lunch times to reduce the amount of contact pupils will have with pupils of other year groups. 

How will we ensure good hygiene is maintained? 
The DfE guidance states: Schools must ensure that students clean their hands regularly, including when they arrive at school, when they return from breaks, when they change rooms and before and after eating. 

Parent voice said: “It’s important good hygiene is kept” and “All students should sanitise their hands.” 

We will have portable wash basins at each entry point to the school, with soap and running water. There will be large waist high hand sanitiser dispensers at entry points to the building and in the dining halls. There will be bottles of hand sanitiser in each classroom. 

Was it considered whether groups of students could remain at home for parts of the week? 
The DfE guidance states: We are asking schools to prepare for all students to return full-time from the start of the autumn term. Schools should not put in place rotas. 

Parent voice asked: “Could we retain distance learning?” 

The DfE has been clear that students should return to school full time. It is for schools to make arrangements about arrival and departure times, and how to reduce students’ movement around school, but students are expected to return full time. 

However, each year group will have induction activities during the first week that clearly outline the changes. Their days will also be shortened in the first full week to enable students to reacclimatise with school. 

What will learning be like? 
The DfE guidance states: The curriculum remains broad and ambitious: all pupils continue to be taught a wide range of subjects, maintaining their choices for further study and employment. 

Parent voice asked: “How much pressure will be placed on my kid to catch up?” and “Worries about covering the curriculum.” 

We are maintaining a broad and balanced curriculum: we have dropped no subjects, even though some of these will not be taught in specialist rooms at the start of the school year. For example, art will continue to be taught and we will focus on sketching and drawing skills rather than painting. PE will continue, with an emphasis on exercise and health, but reduced use of equipment that needs wiping down. 

For students in Year 11 and 13 there are public exams at the end of the next school year. We will look at what they have learned over the last four months and plan what we need to cover. These will take a range of forms, including quizzes at the start of lessons so that we don’t take students out of lots of lessons for testing and add to any existing sense of worry. For all of our year groups the emphasis will be on re-connecting with school and learning. 

Mary Myatt, Ofsted inspector and educationalist put it really well when she wrote: ”Pupils need to understand the threshold concepts1 in order to access the next stage of their learning. Not knowing all the small details won't hold them back.” 

1 Threshold concepts are the ‘big ideas’ of a subject. For example, history units on the Magna Carta and ancient Greece might both be linked by the concept of democracy. Missing one of these as an example will not necessarily inhibit the understanding of the ‘big idea’. 

I hope this gives parents and carers a clear sense of our plans as a school for the next phase. There will be further issues that arise, an example in the last two days is face covering. I expect there to be clear guidance for schools on this over the coming weeks just as guidance around public transport and now shops has emerged. I know that this letter can not answer every question that each family may have so feel free to contact me at nhouse@greenshaw.co.uk with anything further that I can clarify. 

As we close the strangest of years I hope that all of our students and families get a restful time over the holidays. I can reassure you that we will continue to work across the school holidays to refine our plans and continue communicating with you. On the next page please see a summary of key dates and information for the start of next term. These will be published on the school website and if there are any significant alterations I will write to you during the summer. 

Please reassure any worried children you might have. They will not be in trouble for any missed knowledge and we will work hard to develop their learning. Do also reassure them that feeling a mild level of anxiety about returning to school is absolutely normal and recognising and discussing that feeling is positive and healthy. 

In the meantime, I really hope that you have a restful break and that you and your child/ren do not spend much of the next month thinking about school. 

Wishing you all the very best. 

Nick House, Headteacher 

ARRANGEMENTS AND KEY DATES FOR NEXT TERM 

Tuesday 1st and Wednesday 2nd September – INSET days 1 and 2

Thursday 3rd September:

 

Friday 4th September

Monday 7th September onwards – Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays

 Monday 7th September onwards – Wednesdays only

Friday 2nd October - INSET Day 3 

Monday 26th October to Tuesday 3rd November inclusive - Half term 

Friday 18th December - End of term (half day)


Friday 10th July (10.30am)

We are nearly at the final week. Thank you for all of your support and feedback over the last fourteen school weeks. It has been a challenge at times, but the levels of student engagement have remained high. This is despite the difficulties of parents being asked questions that we don’t always have the answers for!  For all of next week all aspects of the learning will be set, Year 10 and Year 12 students that have attended school since June should continue to do so as previously and the provision for children of key workers will continue until the normal finish time next Friday.

Plans for next term
You will be aware that the Department for Education published plans this time last week about how schools should operate next school year. The document explains that schools can now re-admit all students from September, as opposed to the 25% of students in Year 10 and 12 that were permitted from June. We are currently planning the details of what school will look like in September but the principle is that all year groups will be back in school full time next term. There will need to be some adaptations to the school day to keep year groups from ongoing mixing and we will need some year groups to arrive later than others. I hope to share more specific details with you before the end of term but it is likely that we will need to communicate through the summer holidays. 

A curriculum for re-connecting
We will aim to establish a sense of normality and regularity in September.  Having stated that as our aim, we are planning to help students make the transition back to school smoothly. We are starting to plan these sessions and would welcome views from parents about what you feel needs to be covered in these sessions. We have set up a brief survey here: please complete this if you have a few moments. The more feedback we get, the closer our programme can be aligned to what you know the children need. 

School uniform
A number of parents have written to me to ask whether the ‘new uniform’ (white shirts, ties and jumpers) rather than polo shirts and sweatshirts will be expected for all students in September. I had previously stated that for the vast majority of students the old polo shirts and sweatshirts have been worn out or grown out of! However, I fully understand that part of the Covid-19 effect has been a reduction on incomes for some households. If it is a matter of stress to purchase the newer items when the previous ones can still stretch to another term, then I will extend the deadline for new uniform until January 2021. Please bear in mind that the supplier no longer makes the sweatshirts so any purchase of replacement uniform would have to be the tie and V-neck jumper.

Wishing you all the best for a restful weekend and if you could complete the above survey that would be really appreciated.

Nick House, Headteacher       


Thursday 2nd July 2020 (11.00am)

Adjustment to school term dates
I am aware that a number of you have been enquiring over recent days about any potential changes to term dates in the light of school closures. There have been two main questions, the first being would families be okay to take holidays from Monday 20th July. The second is whether a full two week half term break in the autumn term will go ahead as planned. I am communicating to you my decision on both of these below. Adjustments to term dates need agreement from governors, so I am writing to you at the first opportunity following the scheduled governors’ meeting last night.

Summer term to end on Friday 17th July
The term was due to end with a half day on Tuesday 21st July. This allowed us to make up a day’s classroom learning for events like sports day that have not happened this term. Families also contacted me to enquire that if they were able to get bookings for UK holidays, like camp sites, in the week beginning Monday 20th July how would that sit with school.

Put simply, the last four months have been very demanding for all of us and the vast majority of our students have committed brilliantly to their online learning. I wouldn’t want to deny any student or family the chance to relax together. I also think that the loss of a day and a half at the end of this term could be significantly offset by an alteration to next term.

Autumn half term to be reduced – Monday 26th October to Tuesday 3rd November inclusive
When we consulted about introducing a two week half term a few years ago, I received supportive responses from parents about the strain of a fifteen week term at the coldest and darkest point of the year. While this remains true, I also think we need to give our students the best opportunity to learn following the extended lockdown we have all been through. 

I have always been clear that as a school we should focus on two things and neither should compromise the other. We seek excellent results for our students, enabling them to access the best pathways going forwards and also seek high student wellbeing that sees them happy and us able to support them at times of stress and challenge. By adding in three additional school days to the autumn half term I think we stay true to both ambitions.

Please note: we have made the full week off the same dates as the London Borough of Sutton term dates. While academies do not need to follow these dates, I hope that this may give some support to families with children in other Sutton schools. 

There may be some families, and staff, that have pre-existing holiday bookings for the second week of half term. While nothing is clear about the possibilities for holidaying, we would like to know this. Please contact your child’s Head of Year if the additional three school days in November does raise an issue. 

The recovery curriculum from September
The Education Secretary is due to announce plans later today, but it seems likely that all students are expected to return to school at the start of the next year. There will be adaptations required and we will work those through at school. We have also started to plan how we will seek to reestablish the routines for students unused to the school day and will be consulting families on any specific areas of concern they may have for their child.

For families of students going into Year 11 and Year 13 in September (the GCSE and A Level years) there are information events this term that will run online. The respective Heads of Year have been in contact with families with details of these and we will explain what additional activities we have planned for next school year to mitigate the effects of the extended school closure. 

Thank you for your ongoing support and efforts at the most difficult of times. I hope this information is helpful and welcome and as always I welcome your direct feedback at nhouse@greenshaw.co.uk.

Wishing you all the very best. 

Nick House, Headteacher


Friday 19th June 2020 (9.00am)

It was brilliant to welcome around half of our Year 10 students in to school this week, in separate groups of 25% of the year in line with Department for Education guidance. We will be working with small groups of Year 12 students next week, and increasingly giving ‘face to face’ online live teaching for this year group. In other year groups we are inviting small numbers of students in to school, particularly focusing on those that have struggled with their online learning. 

I am really sorry that despite some partial opening this week we are not in a place to offer more face to face support for greater amounts of our students. For every student in school there are a dozen or so not in the building. The government have asked schools to focus their energies on the two year groups closest to final examinations, those in Year 10 and Year 12.

Keeping students and staff safe, in line with the current guidelines means we have to do things very differently. As an example, when we had 65 students arriving on Monday we entered through the playground gates to ensure that social distancing could be maintained, rather than coming in through reception as normal. Like many shops that opened this week, we had markers for 2 metre distances, across the playground. This spacing saw over half of the playground occupied while we were welcoming only a quarter of one year group. So the current requirements, absolutely in place to keep people safe, mean that even if the government were to increase the year groups in school we would very quickly be unable to make this work. 

I want to reassure parents of all year groups that while we are committed to increasing our support Year 10 and 12 we will still maintain our support of all years. We are keeping online learning going for Years 7, 8 and 9, and this will be unaltered. Form tutors will continue to make regular contact with their students. And we are maintaining the provision for vulnerable students and the children of key workers going over the last three months.

It is my expectation that we will hear more over the coming days about possible plans for the wider opening of schools in September. We do not have access to any information about such announcements so I could not predict what these might contain, but on a number of occasions phrases around, “All schools will open at the start of the next academic year” have been used. We are really looking forward to all of our students having some contact with their teachers as soon as possible.

I have written separately to Year 10 and Year 12 parents this week with more detailed provision for their children so what you are reading here is not a letter of huge announcements. However, even in times of little change it is essential that we maintain contact with all of our parents and carers. Indeed, it might just be possible that by the time you read this letter further news has been released about the wider opening of schools. So please stay in touch, email your child’s tutor with examples of great work or simple updates about their learning. Wishing you all the best, stay safe and well.

Nick House, Headteacher

Please click here for the letter sent to Year 10 parents/carers.

Please click here for the letter sent to Year 12 parents/carers.


Friday 12th June 2020 (8.30am)

We have written to parents many times over the last few months. Particularly, we have tried to keep them updated about changes to schools during the current Coronavirus pandemic. These letters have sought to inform on government decisions about GCSE and A Level grades, or how our school is planning to structure online learning.  But we write here about something utterly different. 

If we had been open as normal, we would be supporting our students to make sense of the shocking events in the United States over the last three weeks. The appalling death of George Floyd has brought to the consciousness of millions the deliberate actions of institutional and engrained forms of discrimination that are the result of systemic racism in our societies.

This has rapidly grown into a shared conversation around the world, from Australians considering the significant over representation of indigenous deaths in custody to anti-racist protests in European cities from Amsterdam to Zagreb.

In Britain marches ranged across the country, some that you may have attended, have also raised important questions about our nation, our towns. And yes, even our schools.

If we were in school in normal times we would be addressing this directly – through assemblies, through tutor time and through guiding and advising staff how to support students with their feelings. Most importantly we would be considering how we urgently move this forwards as a school, and even more broadly across Sutton. 

But because we’re not in school we have not spoken to our students enough about this. Some form tutors have done and our Heads of Year have acknowledged these global events in their weekly assemblies. We have altered some of our online curriculum to ensure that we directly address racism in our English lessons in Year 10, and will do so next week with students in Year 9. 

What has become absolutely clear over the last few days is that being silent is not an option. And we fear that some of our families might worry that our limited response so far could reflect a lack of interest or responsibility; it certainly does not and we apologise for what we have lacked in speed of response and make a commitment to make up for this in terms of longevity of response. 

Earlier this year, some of our students directly affected by systemic racism set up our Cultural Appreciation Society. The students delivered assemblies to the whole school about what it means to be black and British and were engaged in reviewing parts of our curriculum. We want our learning experience to be one that allows students affected by systemic racism to be seen, heard and supported in such matters, in a way that educates all students to make greater decisions and sense of the world around them. We will continue to engage with students and staff to ensure that we understand the aspects about how we operate as a school that need improving. We will be engaging with the rich and plentiful literature that is there to make sure we make informed and educated decisions. And we will be grateful for those families who offer ideas of their lived experience and how we can improve our support for your children.

We stand united with our staff, students and families in actively opposing systemic racism, prejudice and injustice.

Nick House, Headteacher, and Sue Wood, Chair of Governors


Friday 5th May (11.00am) 

I hope that you all had some form of break over half term, and that you were able to take advantage of the sunny weather. You may have seen guidance about the opening of secondary schools in England last week, and that other parts of the UK have also announced their plans this week. Many of you, as I have, may also have younger children in primary schools so have noted those changes since half term. I hope this letter gives you a clear sense of the what Greenshaw will look like in this period of change.

Years 7, 8 and 9
For students in these year groups the learning will continue to be set online. I know that this has been very successful for many students, but also will not suit all. We will continue to do whatever else we can alongside the online learning. This will include regular contact from form tutors, virtual assemblies with the year teams and recognition awards for great commitment from learners. 

Year 10
There is some capacity for face to face contact in this year group, but only with one quarter of students. I have written details of this separately to families with children in Year 10. Because not all of the students can ever be in at the same time even for this year group their learning will continue to be predominantly online.

Year 12 
The vast majority of students in Year 12 have engaged really well with their A Level studies despite the challenges of the current situation. From this week we will also be delivering advice and guidance around university applications, apprenticeships and other pathways after Year 13. Miss Buchanan (Director of Sixth Form) has written separately to families with details of how we will facilitate face to face support for some students in Year 12.

As this letter shows, there is inconsistent provision for students depending on their year group. As a parent with children in Years 8 and 3, my son and daughter will complete the year with little prospect of returning to their classes and schools. Both of my children have their high moments, but also their lows and I think this is entirely normal and understandable. If you have any concerns about your child please do discuss this with the form tutor, Head of Year or any other member of school staff. In addition, we have access to Education Wellbeing Practitioners who can be accessed as needed. 

I hope you stay safe and well, and know that you can always reach out to school, whenever needed. Wishing you and all in your family the very best.

Nick House, Headteacher

Year 10 – partial re-opening of schools

We are still in a changing situation, but at the time of writing there is much greater clarity over what schools are expected and allowed to do in the next phase.

The government announced over half term that ‘remote learning would remain the predominant mode of learning’, but that there would be the opportunity for ‘face to face learning’ for up to a quarter of these two year groups at any given time.

So, from Monday 15th June we will be offering the chance for students in Year 10, where families would want this to happen, to return to school. Many of our plans remain as they were before half term. I’ve put them at the end of this letter as a reminder.

The biggest alteration, following feedback from some families, is that while we still have to split the year group we will divide them differently. I had suggested ‘Week 1’ and ‘Week 2’ but some families felt that being in every week, even if for a few days, would create a better sense of routine.

So while all students in Year 10 will complete their assessments from home on Fridays, as at present, we aim to have Year 10 students in for each Monday and Tuesday of the next five weeks of term, or the Wednesday and Thursday of each week. Please note that this is our current plan, based on likely student numbers, but we reserve the right to alter this if student numbers change.

The start time of the school day will be around 9.00am, and the finish about 12.15pm. When we know the exact numbers, we will communicate this to families so that we can stagger their arrival at school.

For what I hope is the last time this term, it would really help if you could complete  this brief survey. If you had previously stated that your child would, or would not, attend school can I ask to repeat this. I know from the circle of families that I am friends with that views are changing, both ways, so I would not assume that what you said before half term would remain the case.  Please complete the survey by 5.00pm on Tuesday 9th June.

I hope the details below will answer most of your questions. However, should there be other areas that I can clarify, then please do email me directly at nhouse@greenshaw.co.uk.

Nick House, Headteacher

Outline of Year 10 on site provision from 15th June

What measures will be in place to keep students and staff safe?
The most important area to focus on is safety. We will need to maintain social distancing at all times for all people - staff and students - on our site. We will also need frequent hand washing and to observe other elements of Public Health England advice.

  • Each classroom will be cleaned down using anti-bacterial/viral solution at the end of each day. We have ordered a large quantity of this and our cleaning teams will be deployed at full strength, despite the fact that we will have a reduced number of students in school. Cleaning staff will be in the school during the day and wiping down ‘touch points’ such as door handles.
  • Through the Greenshaw Learning Trust we have placed an order for hand sanitiser in each classroom.
  • Because of the need to maintain social distancing, students cannot arrive in groups. If they do, we would not be able to admit them to school.
  • We will start the day in the playground, with areas marked out for a ‘line up’ for each class. Within each zone there will be markers on the ground to ensure distancing is maintained. 
  • Students will not be able to mix with other students that are not in their lesson. These ‘pods’ of students are intended to reduce the possibilities of cross contamination.
  • Class sizes will be small. We are planning for 8 students per group, which allows a clear 2 metre area around each student desk and also for the teacher.
  • We are unable to guarantee social distancing in queues for the dinner hall or the school playground so these will be not be open. Students should bring in a water bottle and a snack for break time that can be eaten in the classroom.
  • Full uniform will be required, although that should not include ties. DfE advice for primary schools suggests uniform should be washed each day after school and the school tie does not wash well. PE kit can be used on alternate days to allow families enough time to wash and dry school clothes.
  • Each of the ‘pods’ (classroom groups of 8) will have their own toilet cubicles and hand washing facilities allocated. 
  • We ask that children do not wear masks or gloves because it is not recommended with the precautions we are putting in place.
  • What will learning look like?

Year 10 students may not be with their usual teacher. With students in groups of 8 we will need more staff than previously. In addition, some of our teachers are not able to be in work if they have pre-existing health conditions or are shielding vulnerable family members.

Given this low students to teacher ratio, we are planning to separate the year group into sections, so students will attend school on Mon/Tuesday or Wednesday/Thursday. They will continue learning from home on the other days they are not in school.

They will stay in the same group of 8 students for English, maths and science learning. This will be based on the same content that is used online for all students in Year 10. 

In addition, we will coach the students in some of the best aspects of note taking and establishing positive study habits that will set them up for their Year 11 studies.

We will ask students to bring in their full pencil case on the first day and leave this in the classroom to prevent cross contamination. Clearly, if students want to ensure they have sufficient pens and pencils for home learning they should take out some of their normal stationery and leave these at home.

The school day is provisionally planned to run from 9:00am to 12:00pm. Students will not be able to arrive more than ten minutes before the start time and we will open the playground gates to ensure they do not start to gather on the pavements outside school. We will also consider staggering arrival times, but this will be communicated to families when we know the actual numbers.

As you will be aware, Fridays are ‘assessment day’ with our online learning. This requires students to have access to a laptop or tablet each, so we are intending that this continues from home. So the in-school week will run Monday to Thursday, with Fridays being an assessment day completed at home. This also allows students to submit their work electronically and receive feedback from their class teacher.

So what are the benefits?
I think the process of ‘normalising’ by returning to school, even in a different way, will have benefits to the wellbeing of the majority of our students.

There will be some lessons where teachers will elaborate on items from the videos and discuss these with their group.

In some lessons, teachers will model the principles of good note taking. This will be transferrable from the classroom to the continued remote learning, and also good preparation for the GCSE exams in Year 11.

Nick House, Headteacher


Friday 29th May (10.00am)

Department for Education update – Monday 25th May

Parents and carers may have seen that the Department for Education (DfE) published guidance for secondary schools this week about partial opening of secondary schools. As anticipated, they have prioritised Years 10 and 12 as both have important examinations at the end of the next school year. 

The guidance states: “Remote education will continue to be the predominant form of education delivery for these year groups” and that schools should have “flexibility to implement face-to-face support for Year 10 and Year 12 pupils in the way that best suits their circumstances ”. They also state that this should not begin before Monday 15th June at the earliest.

What the guidance makes clear is that any form of ‘return to normal’ is not part of government plans yet, particularly with the requirement that no more than one quarter of students should be in school at any given time.

I have some thoughts about how we can facilitate “face to face support” but want to discuss these with colleagues in the Greenshaw Learning Trust and fellow Sutton secondaries to see if other schools have models that we can learn from. I hope to give families of students in Years 10 and 12 more detail towards the end of the first week of term. In the meantime, we will continue with the online learning that staff and students have committed to so well over the previous half term. 

I hope all students and families have stayed safe and well over this school holiday week, and where possible that you have enjoyed the great weather. Wishing you all the very best.

Mr House, Headteacher


Friday 22nd May (5.00pm)

I am writing to you to update you with a decision made by the Greenshaw Learning Trust (GLT) around the possible wider opening of secondary schools. We have not received advice from the Department for Education around the plans for secondary schools to safely manage any gradual increase of the numbers of children on site. Therefore, it is the view of the GLT that there is not adequate time for its secondary schools to effectively plan and risk assess for a safe opening for more students from specific year groups from 1st June. Any planning for increasing our provision would be only from 8th June at the earliest. This does not affect the existing provision for children of critical workers and children from vulnerable groups.

I would like to be able to give families of students in Year 10 greater certainty than this, but we are reliant on national documents being published. We have the planning in place for a partial opening at such time as we can manage safely and I will keep families and parents updated throughout. I hope you all have restful weekends and a positive half term.

Nick House, Headteacher

The latest issue of our newsletter can be downloaded here.

Don't forget to join in this week's Fun Friday Challenge.
 
(Image: Excellent photography work from Daniel, one of our Year 10 students.)
 

Monday 18th May (11.00am)

I hope you are keeping safe and well, and managing to make sense out of the slowly changing situation of the next phase of the Coronavirus situation. There continue to be announcements relating to education, in both primary and secondary sectors and here is a brief summary.

Year 7, 8 and 9
The government has highlighted ‘priority year groups’. For example, in primary schools these are classes in Reception, Years 1 and 6. In secondary, Years 7, 8 and 9 are not in a similar group so they will continue remote learning for much of the summer term. I know, as a parent with two children home learning myself, what challenges this brings. However, it seems that for most of the summer term the government advice will be that students in Years 7, 8 and 9 are not likely to return to school. We will continue to set the learning tasks, and the ongoing contact with students and families in these year groups. Thank you all for your support and care with this challenging activity.

Year 10
In secondary schools, students in Year 10 have been identified as a ‘priority year’. I will write to parents in this year group separately with our plans for the next phase.

Year 12
This year group has also been identified as a ‘priority year’ and I am considering how we get some face to face contact for these students with their staff. The current rate of students’ engagement with their subjects is very high, and they will start next half term by continuing their home learning.

I know that having different provision for each year group is complex, and particularly for those of you that have siblings in different years, or even at more than one school. Thank you for all of your support in these very challenging times. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us with any queries, particularly through your child’s form tutor or Head or Deputy Head of Year.

Nick House, Headteacher


Friday 15th May (3.00pm)

Wishing all our families a restful break over the weekend. Enjoy the sunshine!

Don't forget to join in this week's Fun Friday Challenge.
 
(Photograph: Some of our key worker and vulnerable students were enjoying arts and crafts in school this week.)
 

Tuesday 12th May (9.00am)

You will have heard the Prime Minister’s statement on Sunday night, as indeed I did for the first time, outlining some possible steps to move the country forward from ‘lockdown’. Yesterday the Department for Education was working on guidance about what this might look like. When we receive that guidance we can begin to make plans in accordance with what it lays out. We will work very closely with both the Greenshaw Learning Trust and the London Borough of Sutton to plan our provision. Above all else, we will always ensure that the safety of students and staff is our prime focus.

Currently, our status is as it has been since 23rd March – our school is only open for those children of critical workers who need to be cared for while their parent(s) are at work and for those children deemed ‘vulnerable’. We continue to provide learning, the majority of which is online, and maintain contact with students and families.

As soon as we have had the relevant guidance and our new plans in place I will be making contact to share the relevant information with you. In the meantime, I hope you all stay safe and please do not hesitate to get in touch at any time, particularly through your child’s form tutor. Wishing you well,

Nick House, Headteacher


Friday 7th May (2.00pm)

We are drawing to the close of a four day working week. There will not be formal learning tomorrow on Frog, but access to the online platforms (Tassomai, Hegarty, IXL, Unifrog and others) will be maintained as usual if students wish to use them. It is a shorter week for a very important reason and we want to share this with our students, as outlined below.

VE Day – Friday 8th May
Tomorrow is the 75th anniversary of a turning point in the Second World War, dubbed as ‘Victory in Europe’ and the day most European countries mark as the end of the Second World War. As each year passes, memories of the most recent global conflict runs the risk of losing its importance. In turn, this can make the severity of world war less real for future generations, and if we were in school this week we would absolutely remind all of our students of the tragedy, loss of life and destruction that World War II wrought. Mrs Pearse of the history department has prepared resources for tomorrow that can be found here: https://frog.greenshaw.co.uk/2ad13cc063f87555188be20256daa786 and we would urge all students to click on the link and understand why the country is recognising this event of the past, and its importance to our present and future.

Government announcement – Sunday 10th May  
On Sunday afternoon, it is anticipated that the government will make some form of announcement about the current restrictions on movement. Contrary to some opinions, headteachers are not privy to any advance information so I will also be sat watching my TV screen and seeing what, if any, changes are planned for the coming weeks. Regardless of what is announced, please be assured that we will continue to make the safety of students and staff our absolute concern. If there is anything substantial announced we will explain how we will apply these changes. 

Making a difference to others 
In these tough times I know that many of our students and families are making the effort to reach out to others, especially the elderly and vulnerable. Well done to all of you that sent thank you letters and posters to the staff and residents of a local care home, Orchard House. The manager wrote to the school extending her thanks:

“Thank you for thinking of us at this time and for showing us, so thoughtfully, that we are appreciated. We have fantastic staff who are dedicated to caring for our residents at all times, and especially in this crisis. We have had our fair share of challenges and some very sad moments during this time, as I expect many care homes are experiencing. We are encouraged and touched to know that you are all with us whilst we try to manage this pandemic and the effects on staff, residents, families and communities. Please give our love and hugs (if that’s allowed) to all your students and staff – thank you.

I couldn’t express this better, especially the last sentence. Stay safe, keep well and I hope you can enjoy some rest this weekend. Wishing you all the best.

Nick House, Headteacher


Friday 1st May (4.00pm)

As we draw to the close of the week, I hope you are all safe and well. I know the last five days might have presented challenges, but I know there will have been some great achievements as well. Please keep us informed of any of your children’s achievements. Whether it’s care and effort presenting work in exercise books, or work in other forms (like the painting above by Konrad in Year 10) we’d love to see these.

Form tutors are working really hard to stay in touch, so please send them messages and photographs of the learning happening in your home.

Exercise books
I know that some students are beginning to run out of space in their books. Some families have popped into school to collect spare books from reception as part of their daily exercise. We are running low, so have ordered another 2,500 books this morning. We will continue to put piles of them in reception every day so please help yourselves, always, of course, observing social distancing expectations. I will text families when the new books come in and you are welcome to collect a couple from reception. Please don’t take more than one or two – we saw where stockpiling from the supermarkets got us all to a few months ago!

Fun Friday
Alongside the other schools in the Greenshaw Learning Trust, we have introduced a light hearted challenge at the end of each week. The one set today is to find the funniest joke – the deadline is Thursday 7th May at 10.00am.

Last week’s challenge (do something unusual with a toilet roll) was artistically interpreted in this image and also in a number of sporting videos. Click here for more details of this week’s competition and how to enter.

 

VE Day – Friday 8th May
A week today there will be, unusually, a ‘Bank Holiday Friday’. This is to recognise the 75th anniversary of a significant turning point in the Second World War. We will be sending information about why this event is important and teaching students about the history associated. We will not be setting the full work normally scheduled for a week day. If students want to keep up with any of the online programmes we use (IXL, Tassomai, Hegarty etc.) they are available, but we will not be monitoring their usage.

Wishing you all a restful weekend. I hope you get a meaningful break and we look forward to resuming learning with all of our students on Monday. Stay safe.

Nick House, Headteacher


Friday 24th April (3.00pm)

WELL DONE ALL!
We’ve earned our weekends. Wishing all our families a restful break over the next couple of days.
 
Don't forget the Fun Friday Challenge.
 
(Photograph from a local park.)

Monday 20th April (9.00am)

From Monday 20th April, all year groups will follow a new remote learning curriculum. All work (Year 10 and 12) and daily schedules (Year 7 -to 9) will continue to be accessible through the ‘My School Work’ button on Frog. For more details, please click here.


Friday 3rd April (12.30pm)

Thank you for your support at what has been a hugely difficult time for all of us. We have needed to change what we are doing as a school on multiple occasions over the last week and a half and I want to say thank you for all of your support. It has been so heartening to hear your appreciation for the work we put together in a limited amount of time. As we are now in the second week of school closure it has also been lovely to hear accounts of how our students, your children, are making the best of the current very difficult situation.

Learning next term

The work set for the closure of school this term focused on core skills, especially with a focus on maintaining reading and writing. The time we had meant that all of our students have followed a narrower curriculum than they would have experienced in school. From the start of summer term, which will certainly begin at home, we are aiming to have learning in all, or nearly all, of each young person’s timetable.

Staff have been working hard preparing resources, and we will continue to upload these onto Frog over the Easter holidays. We will have quizzes that staff will be able to see how well pupils are doing and videos that will explain content. I’ll write in more detail to families in the second week of the holidays, when it’s fully completed. In summary, I’m proud of the job we have done for the last fortnight of this term, but we’re aiming to give greater curriculum coverage next term.

Year 11 and 13 results

One of the biggest actions of support you have taken as a parent and carer group is not to contact teachers about the system for GCSE and A Level results. That enabled us as a school to focus on the urgent actions last week. Regardless of government announcements this week the position remains that the school is unable to discuss the situation, and certainly not individual students’ circumstances. In the summer term the Year 11 and Year 13 year teams will be in contact with students to check that they are okay, and specifically support with any queries about their next destinations.

Advice for Sutton residents

Sutton Council has put all of its advice and information about the current situation onto one website. These pages include information about local parks, what to do if you feel you have symptoms and other information relating to our local area, ranging from refuse collection to council tax. I found it very informative, so please take a look.

https://www.sutton.gov.uk/info/200588/health_and_wellbeing/2078/covid-19_coronavirus/2

So, as I never tire of saying, I am a parent of two school aged children myself. This fortnight has been unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, but that has also brought the opportunity for me to spend (a little) time with my children and see their learning. I hope this time hasn’t brought too much stress for you as family units and that there have been moments of light. I will write to you in the second week of the holidays about our plans for learning next term, but until then enjoy the extended company of your young people and definitely stay safe. Wishing you all well.

Nick House, Headteacher

If you need information about free school meals, please click here.

There are two useful guidance sheets for parents  here.


Friday 27th March (11.30am)

I hope you, your children and your wider family are okay.

It has quickly become a cliché during this week to say this situation is ‘unprecedented’. The world has changed so fast it seems barely believable that school closures were announced only nine days ago given how quickly we have adapted. It was only Monday night that the current restrictions on working and movement were instructed but these now feel routine.

As a school we will continue to do whatever we are able to in supporting our students and families. There are a few updates below that hopefully let you know we continue to think about all of our community, even when we are not able to be together.

Explaining the world to young people

It is hard enough to be able for us to understand this current bewildering situation. To be able to support our children with this is another level of challenge. You can download a help sheet here from the Mental Health Foundation about how to explain scary news to young people. I found this really helpful when talking to my two children. I hope you do too.

Fun Friday Challenge

I know that trying to get children to engage with routine learning every day can be difficult. So each Friday we are going to release a weekly challenge. This might be creative, mathematical or physical. The aim of this is to vary the experience of each week for our children. The details can be found on our website here and also on Frog. We will text you when it goes live!

Learning

Our Heads of Year have been contacting families of students that have been having difficulties logging on to online resources. Our aim is that all students will have taken part in learning this week and next week, which is officially the end of term. We are setting up an ‘IT help desk’ for password re-sets and will have more details of that next week. For me the most important thing about students’ learning is maintaining practice. Reading and writing just need to be kept going because it’s important to practice and it also goes some way to normalising what is a totally abnormal situation.

Free School Meals

All families whose children receive free school meals when in school should have received an electronic voucher. We have worked really hard to resolve the handful of issues but if you have not received it please email fsm@greenshawlearningtrust.co.uk.

So that’s it – the first week of not being in school is nearly done. Thank you for all you are doing to support our students. It’s great to hear your tales of teaching your children: working on the knowledge summaries from the homework journal or worrying about why your child’s maths is so much harder than when we were in school doing it. But I think the most important thing is that they and you are okay at the moment. Wishing you all well. Stay safe.

Nick House, Headteacher


Tuesday 24th March (1.30pm)

Thank you so much for your positive messages of support over the last week or so. We are all having to work our way through the current situation in ways we don’t fully understand. It is really heartening to know that most families feel supported with the provision for learning we have made so far in what are very, very challenging circumstances. Please see today’s updates below.

Daily schedule for learning 

We will continue to release a daily schedule for each students in Years 7 to 10 and 12. While these will look very similar each day, they do change. For example, the online links change but the routine will be broadly the same. This is deliberate, as we want students to develop regular study habits.

No picking up of work

As stated last night, the government feels that this phase is only essential movement. Therefore we are reducing the school opening hours to an absolute minimum and having no one on site without prior clearance. If that means that students don’t have a new exercise book for home learning then they should use spare pages in any of the exercise books they currently have for other subjects.

Free school meals

Parents whose students are entitled to free school meals should now have received electronic vouchers. These are redeemable at Tesco, and have been issued directly by the Greenshaw Learning Trust. If you have any queries about this please use the email address info@greenshaw.co.uk.

Partial opening

We remain open to a small group of students for whom it is unsafe for them to remain at home. As well as completing their learning they have also completed artwork, which you can see below. The rainbow is being used as a symbol for hope in the current crisis and the students have completed these pieces of artwork. 

 

Monday 23rd MARCH (9.00pm)

I am sure you will have heard the Prime Minister's announcement earlier this evening. The instruction to only leave the home when absolutely essential, and the direction to remain in the family home are both very clear. Please now disregard my invitation earlier this evening to send students to school to pick up resources. No students should be coming to school to collect work. We do continue to remain open for the small group of students whose families are at the forefront of the battle against the Coronavirus. We will update further in the morning. Take care and stay safe.


Monday 23rd March (4.30pm)

Thank you for all of your positive messages of support over the last week. These are much appreciated and the sense of a community pulling together is something that we continue to find strength from in school. Please find today’s updates below. 

Picking up learning resources from school – until Friday 27th March 

Some students were self-isolating over the last week but may no longer be presenting symptoms such as high temperature or a new persistent cough. We have kept the pack of physical resources (exercise books, a novel and printouts) for these students in school and they can be picked up between 11.00am and 1.00pm until the end of this week. Please ensure that your child understands the importance of maintaining a 2 metre space. Students should not come to school in groups. 

Online learning 

Every student in Years 7 to 10 and Year 12 has got a daily learning schedule on Frog. Students should be logging in and completing this each day. We are also logging in each day to see the students completing work, but also to see where students might be having issues with accessing the websites. Form tutors will be making contact with members of their form group, prioritising those students that seem to be having issues. Please use the reporting facility here if you are having issues logging on. 

We will check students’ online usage at 6.00pm each day. They are free to produce additional work after that, but this will give tutors an indicative sense of whether students have logged on successfully or not.

You can find a link to our home learning page here: 

Free school meals 

As a member of the Greenshaw Learning Trust, the families of all students entitled to free school meals will receive an electronic voucher. These will be dispatched directly to you at the start of this week by the Greenshaw Learning Trust. 

Reporting absence 

During the current closure of all schools there is no need to use the absence phone line. 

Awarding of GCSE and A Level grades 

Students and parents are understandably concerned about this. As a school we do not know any more than what has been communicated by the Department for Education. We have to focus on the safety of our students and staff, so I have summarised the situation here. We will not be able to discuss any student's individual situation with you. 

I do not anticipate updating you on a daily basis, but please keep up to date with our website and social media channels. Stay safe. 

Nick House, Headteacher


Thursday 19th March (5.30pm)

I have written separately to families of students in Year 11 and Ms Buchanan is currently composing a letter to families of sixth form students. However, here are the key messages I communicated to all students in assemblies over the last day or so. It might help you, as families, to know what I have said.

It’s good to talk
These are difficult times, but also distressing for many of our young people. I am emphasising with each year group of students that talking through our feelings is a really important thing to keep each of us well.

Focus on what you control
It is impossible to work out how GCSE and A Level grades will be awarded because it’s just not known currently. Focusing on what you can do positively is really important. Take exercise, speak with others and get off your phone. 

Engage the brain
We have a daily schedule for each student in Years 7 to 10 on Frog. We have equipped each student with a novel and additional exercise books to write in. I have emphasised to students how good it is for all of us to have time away from rolling news and social media, occupying the brain with big ideas. School will return to normal at some point and our students need to be as prepared as they can be for that.

We are awaiting direction from the government on exactly what groups of employment are considered as ‘key workers’. I hope to write to you later tonight or tomorrow morning to outline how we will look to support people that are in the front line of this current situation. We will also be contacting families of youngsters with an EHC Plan and those that have a social worker. I hope families appreciate that the current situation is ever changing and we are currently confirming these plans.

Finally, I am aware that many of you will have your own concerns with other family members and situations beyond Greenshaw. I wish you all the best at this difficult time.

Nick House, Headteacher


Wednesday 18th March (6.45pm)

You may have heard tonight’s government announcement at the same time as I did. It was helpful to get clarity in some areas, but it also raised a lot of further issues. Schools are closing as of Friday evening, but provision will be put in place for children of key workers and vulnerable children – we will make sense out of this over the coming days.

My first thoughts are that all the planning we have put in place for our students’ learning is well positioned. Each year group will receive support around their learning from school and we have that in place, certainly between now and the Easter break.

However, there is little clarity about how GCSE and A Level grades will be awarded and I know that students in Year 11 and Year 13 will be concerned about that. I am due to speak with students in both of those year groups tomorrow. I will reassure them that, whatever plan is decided upon, I am confident that bodies like Ofqual will ensure that students will not be actively disadvantaged.

The key movements for tomorrow are:

  • Year 7– in at normal time, full day.
  • Year 8– remain at home, continue with daily schedule available on Frog.
  • Year 9– come in at normal time – students should be in full uniform. Receive briefing on work arrangements, return home by 9.30am.
  • Year 10, 11, 12 and 13– in at normal time, full day.

Thank you for your support.

Nick House, Headteacher


Tuesday 17th March (5.00pm)

I am writing to update you on our response to coronavirus. Last night the Prime Minister gave a briefing in which he advised social distancing and that anyone who falls into a number of vulnerable groups should self-isolate as a precaution. You can view the latest advice on self-isolation here, and I strongly encourage you to read this if you haven’t already. 

At this stage, Greenshaw High School remains open. We are taking – and will continue to take – all reasonable precautions. As such, a number of staff will be self-isolating – mostly because they fall into a vulnerable group. As a result of staff shortages, we have had to close to Year 9 today. On Wednesday 18th March we will be closed to Years 8 and 9.We will keep you updated throughout the week; we hugely appreciate your patience as the situation is changing daily.   

As you can imagine a number of sudents have asked me throughout the day how I make these decisions and I am always happy to talk this through with them. We have prioritised year groups that have impending examinations (Years 10, 11 and 13) as well as our youngest students. It is difficult to make decisions about particular year groups, especially when families have more than one young person in schools, but there is a clear rationale.

We are continuing to prepare for all possibilities, including a full closure. Should we close, please rest assured that we are very well prepared to ensure your children can continue to learn from home. We have ordered additional exercise books for students to complete work in at home and will use Frog (our online learning platform) to outline the daily schedule that students should follow. 

Nick House, Headteacher


Tuesday 17th March
School closed for Year 9 students only

The school will be closed for Year 9. We have been monitoring the situation overnight, but it has continued to develop this morning. Because of teaching staff who are self-isolating we are not able to run all year groups safely. We are prioritising exam classes and our youngest students. 

Students in Year 9 should not attend school today. If they have arrived in school we will safely accommodate them, but will make contact with home to establish that a parent or carer has arrangements for the student to return home. 


Monday 16th March - 9.30pm

Many parents and carers will have seen the adjusted advice from the Prime Minister this evening. The instructions on self-isolation have changed significantly stronger from the start of today. The advice is here (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/) and this may have an implication for families and us as a school.

We were able to run normally today, but had to cover for absent staff who had self-isolated and we are monitoring the ongoing situation overnight. The school will definitely be open tomorrow, but we might need to consider a partial opening. We appreciate how tricky these situations can be for parents and carers, and we will do all we can to have the whole school open and fully functioning. Please check the school website and social media in the morning as we will aim to have communicated by 7.30am. 

These are extraordinary times, and we hope parents understand how complicated it is in an ever changing situation. 

Nick House, Headteacher


Monday 16th March - 4.00pm

In what are currently very strange circumstances, the spirit of Greenshaw High School has shone through. We await developments from central government, but current advice remains the same in terms of preventative actions (hand hygiene, catching sneezes and coughs) as well as avoiding contact with people who are unwell.

Student attendance overall today was respectable, given the circumstances, at 94.3% and we are monitoring the situation for students whose families have told us they are self-isolating. We have continued to check all toilets frequently during the day and ensured that there is sufficient soap in place. We have also conducted a routine of disinfecting door handles throughout the school.

The Public Health England advice has not changed: members of staff or students who have a high temperature or a new, continuous cough should self-isolate for seven days. It is essential that you let the school know that your child is self-isolating. 

Otherwise, students attend school as normal. If a member of your immediate household is self-isolating, students should still come in to school unless they develop the symptoms above. If you are concerned about any current symptoms, go to https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/ to complete an online assessment and follow the advice provided.

Our core responsibility is to inform and educate our young people. There appears to be low health risk to children and people of working age. Our responsibility to wash hands and not distribute germs is based on community responsibility, particularly for safeguarding the elderly and the already unwell.

Where students take information from social media and their peers I will always be concerned about the accuracy. We will responsibly inform students of the most up to date and accurate information as part of our primary role as educators.

Nick House, Headteacher


Thursday 12th March

Following today’s announcement from the government about Covid-19, there are no current plans to close schools. We will bring you the latest information should this change.

Advice from the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Scientific advisor is that people who are showing new symptoms, (continuous cough and high temperature) should self-isolate by staying home for seven days. This will help reduce the spread of the illness. 

Ordinarily, we would encourage students to be resilient and come into school wherever possible but in the current circumstances we are erring on the side of caution. If your child shows the symptoms above we ask parents and carers to keep them at home for a 7 day period, in line with national medical advice. Please contact the school to confirm this so we know the situation.

To prevent the health system from being overloaded the government have asked people with mild symptoms not to immediately call 111 unless their symptoms worsen to a level where they would normally have sought medical advice.

Much of the rest of the advice has not changed from when we wrote to you last week. The importance of hand hygiene and catching coughs or sneezes in a tissue (that is then binned) remain key actions. 

We will continue to monitor the situation, are taking advice directly from the Department for Education each day and will update you accordingly. Thank you for your ongoing support.


Wednesday 11th March

The Year 10 parents’ evening scheduled for tomorrow evening has been postponed. Please see the letter to parent and carers here.

This morning I have rung the recently set up Department for Education advice line and the overall position remains:

  • Generally, business as usual.
  • Emphasise the need for each person to manage their own hygiene, with an emphasis on rigorous hand washing.
  • Review school events on a case by case basis.

If any of you also have a child in Year 11, I can confirm that tonight’s event will go ahead. Again, please see the letter here.

I am sure there may be some parents and carers disappointed by my decision, but in assessing each school event I need to consider the individual risks associated. Thank you for your support.

Mr House, Headteacher


Tuesday 10th March

Last night a patient in their seventies, with pre-existing health conditions, passed away at St Helier Hospital after contracting the Covid-19 virus. We have taken advice from the Department of Education on appropriate next steps. They agree with the school’s position that there is no need to make any changes to the school operation at this time.

When a patient is diagnosed with Covid-19, the Local Healthcare Protection Team works with the patient to trace any people who they may have been in contact with, to enable them to be contacted and tested. The infected patients would be kept in isolation, so should you have been in St Helier Hospital yesterday, there is no cause for concern. 

We will continue to monitor the situation and will update the school community as appropriate.

Mr House, Headteacher