Dear Parent/Guardian

I am writing to you at the end of an extraordinary academic year to pass on my thanks for your forbearance and support this year, and to share with you announcements that were made just yesterday about the arrangements for January.

First and foremost, I would like to pass on my gratitude for the way your children have gone about this term. They have been brilliant throughout and I hope you are very proud of them. Whilst Term 1 was largely unscathed, Term 2 has been anything but. Pupils have been superb in the way that they have responded to every change and challenge that has been put in front of them. Their conduct has been exceptional and they have followed the limits and parameters put in place for them without complaint. Despite concerns and natural anxieties, their attendance has been superb (when isolation periods allowed) and their determination to get the most of their time in school has been very apparent. Even when remote learning has been necessary they have gone about it in a largely exemplary fashion and those year groups that already have their Chromebooks are seeing a clear benefit of this.

I would also like to pass on my thanks to parents. Your flexibility and acceptance of what we have had to do has made our work so much easier. No parent wants to have to come into school in the middle of the day to collect a child for a period of isolation and yet those who have had to do so have been enormously supportive, which we are extremely grateful for. The understanding parents have shown has also been very gratefully received as have the messages of support.

Whilst this letter is principally for parents and I will say a separate thank you to staff, I would like to take this opportunity to publicly acknowledge the work done by all school staff, often in very challenging circumstances. Just like our pupils, our staff are real people with their own families, challenges and anxieties and many have had to juggle the same type of challenges many parents have at home with isolating children, vulnerable relatives and worries for what happens next. I am very grateful that despite this they have continued to do everything that they can to support your children as best they can in the circumstances. We will continue to do this in the new year, regardless of what it brings.

In my first draft of this letter I had commented on how much I was looking forward to all students returning from Monday 4th January 2021. However, yesterday afternoon the government shared with schools that this was no longer going to be the case. The government is currently working on planning for major in school testing to be rolled out in the new year. This will be a complicated and time consuming process and will be undertaken by school staff. In order for this to happen the government has decided that only Year 11 and 13 should return as planned on Monday 4th January 2021.

All other year groups (7, 8, 9, 10, 12) will receive online learning through that week, and should attend school from Monday 11th January.   Year 11 and 13 should attend school as planned on the 4th January. Year 11 will have their full normal timetable while Year 13, as previously communicated, only need to attend for their exams in the first week of term. Whilst they are able to study at school, for obvious reasons as far as possible we would encourage them to come in just for their exam and leave site straight afterwards.

We will continue to provide support for vulnerable children and children of key workers. If your child falls into either of these categories and you would like them to attend school please contact office@sjwms.org.uk and let us know.

Due to the limited number of pupils on site in that first week there will be no catering available. Full catering will return from Monday 11th January.

We will continue to communicate through the Christmas break as and when new information becomes available. Whilst we fervently hope that you will have an entirely healthy Christmas break, should your child receive a positive test result please report it through this link,

COVID-19 Parent Portal

This will enable us to react appropriately and support the authorities with contact tracing. I would also take this opportunity to remind parents that their child should not return to school if anyone in the household has received a positive test result or is displaying symptoms. For Year 11 / 13 who return on 4th January this could include anyone they have been in contact with in your Christmas bubbles.

I will finish by wishing pupils, parents and staff a safe and happy holiday and I look forward to a phased return in the new year.

 

Yours sincerely

Mr E Hodges | Headteacher