Local update – Thursday 16th July (5.30pm)
An update from Mr 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 email@example.com 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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)
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.
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com.
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.
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.
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