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Letter from Headteacher to Parents

posted 2 Apr 2020, 06:12 by Robin Oxborrow   [ updated 8 Apr 2020, 02:04 ]
Dear Parents/Carers,

I hope you are feeling well and are able to follow the government advice on self-isolation, household isolation and social distancing.

In education, the advice from the government has been very clear on how to further limit the spread of COVID-19. If children can stay safely at home, they must in order to limit the chance of the virus spreading. That is why the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend. It is important to underline that schools, all childcare settings, colleges and other educational establishments, remain safe places for children but the fewer children making the journey to school, and the fewer children in educational settings, the lower the risk that the virus can spread and infect vulnerable individuals in wider society.

Parents whose work is critical to the COVID-19 response may be able to ensure their child is kept at home and every child who can be safely cared for at home must be.

Please, therefore, follow these key principles:
  • If it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they must be.
  • If a child is vulnerable or has a parent who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be available for them.
  • Parents should not rely for childcare upon those who are advised to be in the stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends or family members with underlying conditions.
  • Parents must also do everything they can to ensure children are not mixing socially in a way which can continue to spread the virus. They must observe the same social distancing principles as adults.

I would like to personally thank parents for their support over the past two weeks where, due to your arrangements, we have been able to close Alde Valley Academy. This means that our staff and students have not had to expose themselves to any further risk of contracting the coronavirus. It has also allowed our staff to concentrate solely on setting, marking and feeding back on home learning material. I would like to thank all of our staff for the fantastic job that they have done to support our students academically and emotionally over the past few weeks.

You may be pleased to hear that today, Wednesday 1st April 2020, is the final day of the Spring Term and tomorrow is the first day of the Easter Holidays. This means that there will be no school work set for any students until 20th April 2020.

Over the Easter Holidays we have made arrangements to ‘supervise’ the children of any critical workers who have a role to play in the national fight against the coronavirus. Again, I would ask you to contact me directly on the following email address if you need Alde Valley Academy to support you during this time: d.mayhew@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk

Free School Meals
As outlined in my previous letter we have set up a voucher system for the families of children eligible for Free School Meals. Our system has bridged the gap between the school closing and the Department for Education system which starts on 20th April 2020 after the Easter holidays. All parents of eligible students have been contacted and will be given details of the new system closer to the time.

In the meantime, I would like to draw your attention again to the conversation that I have had with the Leiston Citizens Advice who are reporting an increased number of families who are experiencing financial hardship as a direct result of the COVID-19 outbreak. If you are in this category and would like advice about what to do next or the availability of local Food Banks please contact them directly on 01728 832193.

GCSE Exam Results
We have been provided with a small amount of detail on how Ofqual plan to collect data from school and award GCSE grades for Year 11 students this summer.

Regulators are expected to set out a process that will provide a calculated grade to each student which reflects their performance as fairly as possible. By the end of this week we will be asked to submit our judgement about the grade that we believe the student would have received if exams had gone ahead. This prediction will take into account a range of evidence and data including performance on mock exams and non-exam assessment (including work produced since the school has been closed). Exam boards will then combine this information with other relevant data, including prior attainment, and use this information to produce a calculated grade for each student, which will be a best assessment of the work they have put in. The aim is to provide these calculated grades to students before the end of July and students will be able to appeal their grades if they don’t believe the right process has been followed. In these cases, there will be an option to sit exams early in the next academic year for any students who wish to. With this in mind, I would advise continuous light revision to maintain subject knowledge in case pupils choose to complete exams at a later date to improve their grade.

Following the Easter holidays we will not be setting or expecting any work from Year 11 students. I would advise however, that any students looking to study A Level courses next academic year ensure that they are familiar with all of the material due to be covered in the GCSE course in their chosen subjects.

We have not received any information about what will happen with the English Literature exams that Year 10 students were due to sit in the summer. It is extremely likely that students will sit these exams in summer 2021 due to the amount of teaching time missed.

We are here to support you through these extraordinary times so please do not hesitate to contact me direct on the school’s main phone line or on the email address given above. Please also provide us with feedback on how the school’s home learning, welfare and information systems have worked in the first few weeks of our provision.

I hope that you and your family stay safe over the next few weeks and I will be in contact with you at the end of the holidays.

Yours faithfully,
Mr. D. Mayhew
Headteacher