Head Teachers Blog

22nd January 2021

posted 22 Jan 2021, 06:45 by Liz Pattinson   [ updated 22 Jan 2021, 07:04 ]

Dear Students/Parents/Carers,

As always, I hope you and your family are well.

Free School Meal Voucher Scheme

As a school we have been working extremely hard to clarify what the provision will be around providing free school meals for our students during this lockdown. The Government has announced that the national free school meal voucher scheme will go live this week and we have been able to issues vouchers to all of our eligible families. This covers the period between 4 January and 18 January as a ‘backdated’ voucher. The vouchers are worth £15 per week per eligible child and will now be issued on a weekly basis to our families. The Finance Office will be in touch with families on a regular basis to ensure this system is rolled out effectively. If any family needs support with food or any other areas at the moment, please do get in touch and we will do our best to help or signpost you to other organisations.

 

Remote Learning

The new timetable of Registration, ‘Live lessons’ and independent study has started extremely well this week with the majority of students engaging and behaving extremely well. We have had an 80% attendance at morning registration throughout the week which is a great start but we would like to improve this still further.

 

There are, however, few issues that we need to be clear on:

 

·         There is a huge difference between ‘attendance’ and ‘engagement’. All teachers complete an engagement register which logs how actively involved a student has been and the quality of work produced relative to their ability. If the level of engagement is a cause for concern, Senior Staff will work with the family to resolve the issue but we are alert to the possibility that we may need to work with other agencies in the situation where a family did not engage. We also have the possibility that the pupil would be required to attend in school provision. Overall, levels of engagement are high, and the over whelming consensus is supportive of the use of the timetables.

·         The behaviour of students in a small handful of lessons has not been acceptable. We have had reports of students sharing lesson codes and enabling other individuals to join a lesson and cause a disruption. We have tightened our security to ensure that only students who are invited to a lesson will be allowed in. We have also encouraged staff to ‘eject’ any student who is not behaving in the lesson. This includes ‘off-task’ comments either verbally or in the chat function. Senior Staff will consistently drop into live lessons to ensure the conduct of students is acceptable; just as we would in a school lesson.

 

Electronic Devices

I would like to publicly thank all individuals and organisations from our community who have donated their old electronic devices for Remote Learning. We have been humbled by the huge amount of support that we have received particularly from the Good Neighbour Scheme (IP17GNS) and EDF Energy. I am extremely pleased to announce that all of our families now have at least one suitable device in their house for home learning and I would like to open up our offer further. I would like to encourage any family who has more than one son/daughter at Alde Valley Academy to contact us if they need a second device. I would also like to encourage you to continue to donate old devices to the school as we have a huge demand for them.

 

Please send your emails to: d.mayhew@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk

 

Consultation on GCSE, AS and A Level Grades for Summer 2021

The Government have now launched a joint consultation with Ofqual on how GCSE, AS and A Level grades should be awarded in summer 2021. This will last until the 29th January and students (due to take exams), parents and teachers can submit their views. The Department for Education say that teachers will use their judgement to determine grades. The consultation will consider the range of evidence teachers use to award a grade which could include coursework, other forms of assessment and papers provided by exam boards.

 

Further information on the consultation can be found here:

 

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/953000/6743-1_GCSE__AS_and_A_level_grades_should_be_awarded_in_summer_2021.pdf

 

In the short-term, it is important that all Year 11 students engage fully with the learning as it is already clear that there is a stronger focus on the need for evidence to support the grades awarded.

 

Thank you as always for your fantastic support of the school. I would like to encourage parents to join our next Parent Forum meeting at 6pm on 4 February where we can discuss any issues that you may have or answer any of your questions. If you have any issues or comments that you would like to be discussed, or you would like to attend this virtual meeting, please send an email to:

 

parentforum@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk

 

I hope you stay safe.

 

Yours faithfully,

Dan Mayhew

Headteacher

5th January 2021

posted 5 Jan 2021, 13:15 by Liz Pattinson   [ updated 6 Jan 2021, 01:18 ]

Dear Students/Parents/Carers,

There has been a huge amount happening in the 4 days since I wrote to you last; the most significant of these being the announcement from the Prime Minister yesterday:

      +  A new national lockdown comes into force at 00:01 am Wednesday 6 January
      +  Schools will remain open to vulnerable children and the children of critical workers only
      +  All students will learn remotely until February half term
      +  The Government does not think it is possible for exams to go ahead fairly this summer. 
          The Secretary of State for Education will be asking Ofqual to consult rapidly on an approach for alternative arrangements that                                              ‘will allow students to progress fairly’
      +  The coronavirus testing programme should be continued to enable weekly testing for staff and daily close contact testing for staff and students. The programme also allows schools to test students on return

Remote Learning
All students should stay at home from Wednesday 6 January and should continue their studies remotely online using Google Classroom and the other online platforms that have been explained to them. Due to the nature of these announcements we have already briefed all students on how to access all online resources and emails. 
Teaching staff will send students work according to their normal school timetable (week 2) for the remainder of this week (until Friday 8 January) at the following times:

      +   Lesson 1:    9.00am – 10.00am
      +   Lesson 2:  10.15am  – 11.15am
      +   Break:    11.15am  – 11.45am
      +   Lesson 3:  11.45am  – 12.45pm
      +   Lunch:    12.45pm  –   1.30pm
      +   Lesson 4:    1.30pm  –   2.30pm

As you can see, following student and parent feedback from Lockdown 1, we have broken lessons down in to shorter sessions of 1 hour and added a break between each session.

A new ‘one week’ timetable is currently being created so that all parents are clear on the lessons due on a given day. These timetables will be distributed on Friday 8 January.

All teachers will be available to support your child throughout the lesson and can be contacted via their school email address. It is expected that all students access Google Classroom and their emails at the beginning of each lesson and work consistently throughout that session.

We continue to improve our provision and it is our intention to offer Year 11 students ‘Live Lessons’ via Google Meet. All Year 11 students will be sent an invite to the lesson where the teacher will deliver lesson content, encourage class discussions and will assess progress and misconceptions. It goes without saying that all students are expected to engage in all lessons unless they are unwell.
If you have any difficulties with the home learning please contact our IT department via our website:


In order to support learning we will provide all students with a resource pack containing an exercise book, guidance notes and some subject specific resources. These packs will be available for collection from school reception on Friday 8 January along with student files, work for certain KS4 subjects including Art, Health & Social Care and PE resources. If collecting these resources is going to to cause you a problem please let us know on the ‘enquiries’ email address at the top of this letter. 

Year 11 Mocks and Assessments
It was always our intention to conduct a full set of Year 11 mock exams starting on Wednesday 6 January. The majority of our students will have put in a huge amount of work over the Christmas holidays to prepare for these exams and it will be a source of disappointment and anxiety that these exams will not go ahead at this time.

I would like to reassure all of our students and parents that as a school we have been making preparations for the possibility that the GCSE exams would be cancelled this year. For this reason, we have explained to our students that these types of assessments are more important than ever as they will give us the ‘evidence’ to justify our Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) if they are asked for in the summer. For this reason we will just delay this set of mock exams, the timetable and sequence of exams will be used when the students return after February half-term, or later if the lockdown lasts longer than predicted at the moment. We will closely follow the Government and Ofqual decisions and we will prepare students well for whatever assessments follow. Just keep working hard and we will do the rest!   

Key Worker Children and Vulnerable Children
If either parent is a Key Worker, or if you consider your child to be ‘vulnerable’, then your child should attend school as usual (full time) from Wednesday 6 January 2021.  Your child will be supported to complete their online learning within their Year group bubble. We currently have approximately 30 students due to attend our key worker school on a daily basis. If you would like to send your child to the key worker school please email Miss Moore on k.moore@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk

Emotional Wellbeing
Miss Moore has joined Alde Valley Academy to lead our fantastic pastoral team as Assistant Headteacher. She will be coordinating our regular ‘Welfare Calls’ to ensure all of our students are making progress academically, engaging well in their learning and to check on their emotional wellbeing. 

In order to provide students with a semblance of ‘normality’ and get to see their peers on a regular basis, we will be starting our virtual assemblies again next week. Look out for the invite via Google Meet.     

Mass testing of students and staff in secondary schools
Over the past 2 days we have received the delivery of all of the Lateral Flow Tests, PPE and resources that we require to roll out our testing programme. We have prepared our ‘Rapid Testing centre’,  are fully trained and ready to go. In my last letter I outlined our plans for the initial testing and subsequent weekly tests for our staff and students. Unfortunately, we do not have that ‘mass’ of students to carry out the mass testing.
       + an updated handbook on asymptomatic testing in schools and colleges. This handbook sets out the plans to begin rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) testing of staff,            pupils and students, in secondary schools and colleges from January 2021 to identify asymptomatic cases.

It is our intention to continue with the plans for the regular testing of all staff and students that we do have in school at the key worker and vulnerable student schools. This testing will start on Friday (8 January) and will incorporate all students for whom we have consent, whenever they return. For this reason I would urge you to return the consent form that was sent on 1 January and can be found on our website and Facebook page. 

All completed consent forms must be sent to our dedicated email address below or returned via the school office.


I hope this letter has gone some way to clarify our provision for the continued education of your child and our commitment to continually improve our practices. However, I am acutely aware that you and your family may have questions or anxieties that I have not covered. If this is the case, or you have any comments on our plans, I would urge you to contact me directly on d.mayhew@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk. I assure you that I will respond to any enquiry within 24 hours.

Once again, may I take this opportunity to thank you for your support and resilience during this difficult time. I am confident that, working together, we will make the best of this situation and return to ‘normal’ school life as soon as it is safe to do so. 


Yours faithfully,
Mr D. Mayhew
Headteacher

1st January 2021

posted 1 Jan 2021, 09:38 by Liz Pattinson   [ updated 1 Jan 2021, 09:58 ]

1 January 2021

Dear Students/Parents/Carers,

I very much hope that you and your families have been able to enjoy some form of break over the past two weeks and wish you all a Happy New Year. With the rise of new cases locally and beyond, the identification of a new variant, as well as Government announcements on Wednesday, as promised, I am writing to update you on our plans for the staggered start to the Spring term and the mass testing of staff and students at Alde Valley Academy.

Staggered start to the Spring term

Since my last letter, the information from the government that all secondary schools in England must have a “staggered start” to next term, has changed. 

If your child is in Year 11, they should NOT attend school as usual from Wednesday 6 January. They should stay at home from Wednesday 6 January until Friday 8 January. Your child should continue their studies remotely online using Google Classroom and the other online platforms that have been explained to them. It is our intention to continue with Year 11 mock exams starting on their first day back which is now Monday 11 January. Every Year 11 student has been given a timetable for the exams, a guide for their revision and have been encouraged to prepare thoroughly for these exams. There is a distinct possiblilty that this timetable will be changed due to the delayed start to the exams, the testing programme and the increased availability of space to conduct the exams in the week beginning 11 January.  Please note that there will not be any food available for purchase at school during this week.

 If your child is in Year 7, Year 8, Year 9 or Year 10 they should stay at home from Wednesday 6 January until Friday 15 January. Your child should continue their studies remotely online using Google Classroom and the other online platforms that have been explained to them. Due to the nature of these announcements we have already briefed all students on how to access all online resources and emails. 

Teaching staff will send students work at the time that they would normally have that lesson. Therefore, they are able to follow the normal timetable and you will be able to monitor the work that is due and completed. It is expected that all students access Google Classroom and their emails at the beginning of each lesson and teachers will be available to support the learning for the duration of that lesson.

If you have any difficulties with the home learning please contact our IT department via our website:

http://www.aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk/curriculum/remote-learning

Key Worker Children and Vulnerable Children

If either parent is a Key Worker, or if you consider your child to be ‘vulnerable’, then your child should attend school as usual (full time) from Wednesday 6 January 2021.  Your child will be supported to complete their online learning within their Year group bubble. If you intend to send your child to school during the first week of the Spring Term, please email me on d.mayhew@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk by Monday 4 January 2021.

Mass testing of students and staff in secondary schools

Over the past 2 weeks we have received a limited amount of details about the way that the Lateral Flow Testing needs to be rolled out to all secondary schools across the country:

             + an updated handbook on asymptomatic testing in schools and collegesThis handbook sets out the plans to begin rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) testing of staff, pupils and students, in secondary schools and colleges from January 2021 to identify asymptomatic cases

A great deal of the decision making about the practicalities and frequency of the testing is made in each school based on their context. I had a meeting with the Senior Leadership team and Trade Union representatives yesterday and we are in agreement that this form of testing is vital to ensure the safe return to face-to-face education for our students, staff and the wider community. The Lateral Flow tests need to be carried out twice, with the second test being carried out within 3-5 days of the first test. All testing is only with parental consent (consent form attached) and students will self-administer the test with guidance and supervision by a trained member of staff. We would urge all parents to give consent for these tests to be carried out. 

We have made the following plans for the initial testing:  

       + In our context, we feel that we will be able to test all Year 11 students that we have consent for twice in their first week back around their mock exams

       + We feel that we are able to test all other students twice in their first week back in school (week beginning 18 January)  

       + Following their initial test, students need to be tested ‘regularly’ according to Government guidance. We hope that we will be able to set up a testing             system to test every student and member of staff once a week as long as we can secure enough of the testing kits (due to be delivered on 4 January 2021)

I have attached an additional letter explaining the rationale behind the testing and a leaflet describing the testing process.  

If all consent forms could be returned to school via email consentform@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk or in person by Friday 8 January I would really appreciate it. 

Once again, may I take this opportunity to thank you for your support and resilience during this difficult year and to wish you all a happy and safe New Year. 

Yours faithfully,

Mr D. Mayhew

Headteacher


18 December 2020

posted 18 Dec 2020, 06:39 by Liz Pattinson

18 December 2020


Dear Students/Parents/Carers,

As always I hope this letter finds you and your families well. It was not my intention to write to you again this calendar year but yet again the Government have thrown in a ‘curve ball’ which takes 11th hour planning and organising.

You may be a aware of the Government’s announcements over the last two days about a) the mass testing of students and staff in secondary schools and b) the staggered start to the Spring term in January for some year groups.

Mass testing of students and staff in secondary schools
All secondary schools in England received the following information yesterday, 17 December:

The government has today, 17 December, confirmed that all secondary schools and colleges in England will be able to offer staff and students an extra round of free coronavirus testing from the first week of January. This will help deliver the national priority of keeping as many students and teachers as possible in school and college while fighting the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The full report can be found at:  schools

As you can imagine the details about how this will be implemented on a practical basis are extremely patchy at this moment in time. Please rest assured that we will be making decisions over the next two weeks which will be in the best interest of our students, staff and community. Any testing that does take place will be with parental consent and I will write to you again on 4 January 2021 with an update.

Staggered start to the Spring term

We received notification yesterday from the government that all secondary schools in England must have a “staggered start” to next term, with only certain groups of students being allowed to attend in the first week.

The government directive says that, in secondary schools “vulnerable children, the children of critical workers and pupils in exam year groups (primarily years 11 and 13) are expected to access on-site education provision from the first day of term. All other pupils should not attend that week and must be provided with remote education until 11 January when they should return to school and resume face-to-face attendance.”

If your child is in Year 11, they should attend school as usual from Wednesday 6 January onwards (unless they are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 or are self-isolating). It is our intention to continue with Year 11 mock exams starting on their first day back. Every Year 11 student has been given a timetable for the exams, a guide for their revision and have been encouraged to prepare thoroughly for these exams. The results from these exams may be used in the summer if we are asked to produce Centre Assessed Grades (CAGs) as we were last year.

If your child is in Year 7, Year 8, Year 9 or Year 10 they should stay at home from Wednesday 6 January until Friday 8 January. Your child should continue their studies remotely online using Google Classroom and the other online platforms that have been explained to them. Due to the nature of these announcements we have already briefed all students on how to access all online resources and emails. 

Teaching staff will send students work at the time that they would normally have that lesson. Therefore, they are able to follow the normal timetable and you will be able to moinitor the work that is due and completed. 

If you have any difficulties with the home learning please contact our IT department via our website:


Key Worker Children and Vulnerable Children

If either of your child’s parents is a Key Worker, or if you consider your child to be ‘vulnerable’ (*see definition below), then your child should attend school as usual (full time) from Wednesday 6 January 2021.  Your child will be supported to complete their online learning within their Year group bubble.

If you intend to send your child to school during the first week of the Spring Term, please email me on d.mayhew@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk by Friday 1 January 2021.

*DfE Definition of ‘vulnerable’ children

The DfE has defined vulnerable children as those with an EHC plan and children with a social worker. 

Once again, may I take this opportunity to thank you for your support and resilience during this difficult year and to wish you all a happy, restful and safe Christmas and New Year. 


Yours faithfully,

Mr D. Mayhew
Headteacher


10th December 2020

posted 10 Dec 2020, 07:41 by Liz Pattinson

10 December 2020

Dear Students/Parents/Carers,

I hope this letter finds you and your families well.

I would like to take this opportunity to update you on some recent developments and plans for the next term in terms of Covid precuations.

As you may already be aware we had a ‘spot-check’ inspection from the Health and Safety Excecutive (HSE) on 26 November in order for them to assess our protocols, risk assessments and compliance with all Covid related measures. This inspection was completely random and we were one of a thousand schools selected across the country. The HSE inspector praised the school’s leadership on the plans put into place and the students for their diligence and maturity in following the new rules. In the verbal feedback we were given a small number of improvements to be made; mostly around signage in staff areas of the school.    

On Tuesday of this week the Department for Education wrote to all schools encouraging us to consider closing the school on Thursday 17 December; a day earlier than we had planned. As you may know, we have already put an additional PD Day on Tuesday 5 January 2021 in order to make safe preparations for our re-opening in the new year. It is therefore not appropriate, at this late stage, with all of the childcare implications, to change our PD days. As a school, we will satisfy our duties related to contact tracing for the full six days following the last day of term.

 

Arrangements in the School Holidays for Positive Coronavirus Cases


The Department for Education say the following:

 

·      Where a pupil or staff member tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), having developed symptoms more than 48 hours since being in school, the school should not be contacted. Parents and carers should follow contact tracing instructions provided by NHS Test and Trace.

·      For the first 6 days after teaching ends, if a pupil or staff member tests positive for coronavirus (COVID19), having developed symptoms within 48 hours of being in school, the school is asked to assist in identifying close contacts and advising self-isolation as the individual may have been infectious whilst in school.

·      School staff are not asked to remain on-call or conduct any contact tracing more than 6 days after the final day of teaching. As our school’s last teaching day is Friday 18 December, there will be no pupil contact tracing asks beyond Thursday 24 December.

·      Where pupils are required to self-isolate due to contact with a positive case after the first 6 days following the end of term, schools do not need to be informed about their absence until the first day of the new term. If parents wish to contact us about a positive case, you are welcome to do so and during the holiday you should email me on:  d.mayhew@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk

The only advantage for us in you doing this is that it alerts us to the possibility that Public Health England may be in touch.

 

End of Term


We are planning to hold special celebration assemblies and rewards events for students throughout the final week of term. We hope that these events will bring the term to a positive and pleasant end.

 

Exam arrangements for summer 2021


You may have seen recently that the Secretary of State for Education announced that students sitting exams and assessments next year will benefit from a number of measures which include:

 

·         More generous grading than usual in line with national outcomes from 2020;

·         Students receiving notice of some topic areas to focus revision;

·         Exam aids such as formula sheets;

·         Additional exams for a second chance (if affected by illness or self-isolation). We are told that more details will be given in the New Year.

 

On our return, Year 11 will immediately start two weeks of mock exams in preparation for their GCSE examinations in the summer. We would urge all parents and students to watch the revision guide produced by Mr Battle (Head of KS4) on our website. All students should use this advice and revise thoroughly over the Christmas break to give themselves the best chance of performing well in these exams and give us the most accurate assessment of their strengths and weaknesses. Please let us know if you require any further advice and guidance on revision.

 

Phase 3 of Covid precautions


Following our positive HSE inspection we have reviewed our whole school risk assessment and have decided to make small, well-managed amendments to our plans in order to improve the teaching environments.

 

These changes incude the following:

·         Art rooms being used by all year groups for Art lessons;

·         Computer rooms being used by all year groups for Computer Science lessons;

·         Drama lessons being taught in the Hall or Drama room;

·         Available Science labs being bookable for practical Science lessons.

·         Year 9 will finish school at 3pm

 

For all of the amendments above, we have updated our procedures in order to limit the crossing of bubbles and maximise the cleaning of rooms and equipment between groups of students. All new procedures will be explained in full to all students on their return.

 

The existing arrangements in the following areas will remain the same:

·         Staggered break and lunchtimes

·         Food provision

·         PE arrangements

·         Masks to be worn in all communal areas and when moving around the school

·         Year 7 will finish school at 2:50pm

 

 

 

Other considerations


If a parent needs to contact the school, please do so by telephone or email. Please do not come into school without an appointment. If parents are contacted because of an unwell child it is important that they are collected quickly. All the measures will be under review and subject to change, particularly in the light of Government guidance. The next phase of our plans will be reviewed immediately prior to the February half term holidays in line with the Government’s plans. We have also developed a contingency plan for remote education. This would be for students who need to self-isolate or where there is a local lockdown. If you have any particular worries or concerns about our plans please do not hesitate to contact me: d.mayhew@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk

 

As always we welcome your feedback on any of the measures already put in place or on any of our plans. Any feedback can be sent directly to me on the email address above.

Thank you very much for your ongoing support.

Wishing you all a restful and peaceful Christmas.

We look forward to welcoming our students back on Wednesday 6 January 2021.

Yours faithfully,

Mr D. Mayhew.

Headteacher


1st December 2020

posted 1 Dec 2020, 03:41 by Liz Pattinson   [ updated 1 Dec 2020, 07:39 ]

Dear Parent/Carer

We would like to set up a Parent Forum in order to gain parental input around the direction of Alde Valley Academy at this time of exciting growth. 

Please find below information about FAQs and information about how to get involved. 

What is the Parent Forum?

 The Parent Forum is a partnership between parents and the leadership of Alde Valley Academy. It is a valuable way to share ideas, views, concerns and make suggestions for improvement. 

 

         The aims of the Parent Forum will be to:

                          + work together to improve the education provided for our children
                          + share information, knowledge and skills
                          + meet in a mutually supportive environment
                          + further improve communications between parent/carers and staff/academy committee
                          + work together to shape the future of the school with increasing student numbers and the potential investment from local businesses
        The parent forum does not have any statutory responsibilities, duties or powers in the school.


Who can be part of the parent forum?

Any parent/carer of children currently at Alde Valley Academy is welcome to join any parent forum meeting.  The forum will be chaired by Mr Mayhew (Headteacher) and Mr Ketteringham (Deputy Headteacher).  At times other members of the school community will also attend the meetings depending on the agenda items and what the school feels they would like to share with the parents, such as new initiatives.

 

Why should I be part of the parent forum?

It gives you, the parent, an opportunity to get together on a regular basis with other parents to have your say on what the school is doing well, and suggest ideas of how things could be improved.

 

How often will the Parent Forum meet?

Every term for about an hour.  Each term the Parent Forum meeting will be held at different times to try to enable as many different parents to attend who wish to.

 

What will be discussed at the meetings?

Anything related to improving the school and further developing the partnership between the school and parents.  The meetings will be informal and are an opportunity for an open discussion.  Minutes of the meetings will be taken and these will be accessible on the school's website.


It is not the forum to discuss concerns or complaints involving individual children, families or members of staff.

 

How can I raise an issue?

Come to the meeting and bring it up during the open discussion.  If you are unable to attend send an email to the school office and they will pass it onto Mr Mayhew who will bring it up at the meeting.


When is the first meeting?

The first meeting will be on Thursday 10th December at 6.00pm. Due to Covid restrictions it will be held virtually on Zoom.


How do I get involved?

Send an email to the address below stating your interest and anything that you may wish to discuss.


parentforum@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk 



Kind regards,

Mr D Mayhew
Headteacher

6th November

posted 6 Nov 2020, 06:58 by Liz Pattinson

Dear Students/Parents/Carers,

I hope that all students and families were able to enjoy a well-deserved rest over the half term. 

Following my letter on 23 October which discussed the review of our Risk Assessment and outlined the plans for phase 2 of our Covid plan, there are a few factors which have changed. I am immensely proud of the way that all of our students have adhered to the new rules around face coverings. We have not had any issues with students not complying with the rules and the atmosphere around school has been supportive and relaxed.

As you will know from the Government’s recent announcements, a further national lockdown is upon us. This time the intention is for schools to remain open. At 3.30pm on Wednesday 4 November 2020 the Government released the following guidance:  

'In schools where pupils in year 7 and above are educated and further education colleges, face coverings should be worn by adults and pupils when moving around the premises, outside of classrooms, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing cannot easily be maintained. Face coverings should also be worn by pupils in year 7 and above when travelling on dedicated school transport to secondary schools or on public transport to college.'
 
Given the heightened alert following the Government's announcement of a lockdown, it is only appropriate that our measures continue to be as rigorous as possible. The latest Government guidance also makes the expectations around corridors and communal areas clear. 

Therefore, from Monday 9th November it is mandatory for all students and staff to wear a face mask when in any corridor or communal area of the school. This is only slightly different from our current rule which only applies outside of a year groups pod area. Face coverings are not mandatory currently when in lessons or in the pod social areas where a number of students eat and drink. However, we feel that it would be a good habit for students to wear their face coverings for as much time as possible throughout the school day. 

I am very confident that this tightening of the rules will cause no issue for our students and they will show the mature attitude to the current situation as they have done throughout these challenging times.

Once again I thank you all for your ongoing support.

Yours faithfully,


Mr D. Mayhew
Headteacher

23rd October 2020

posted 23 Oct 2020, 06:48 by Liz Pattinson   [ updated 23 Oct 2020, 06:57 ]

Dear Students/Parents/Carers,

I hope this letter finds you and your families well.

I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank everybody involved with Alde Valley Academy this term. The way that site staff, support staff, teachers, parents and students have adapted themselves and their work routines throughout this term has been absolutely remarkable.

We have achieved our objective of welcoming back all of our students to the ‘new normal’ and have instilled a culture of safety and teamwork. We have opened our school to prospective parents and students in order to support them to make the extremely important decision about their secondary school education. We have also welcomed over 30 new students to Alde Valley Academy, re-written the timetable to ensure we are true to our pledge to maintain our small class sizes and produced a student led video to give parents an insight into what it is like to be a student at our school. 

The video can be found at:  https://vimeo.com/468484061/09ea415472

We are making plans for a significant intake of Year 7 students in September 2021. We have made a pledge to all Year 6 parents that we will accept all applications from families who put Alde Valley Academy as their first choice of secondary school irrespective of our published school capacity. In order to maintain our school ethos and small class sizes in this scenario we are actively making plans for increased building space and increasing our staffing numbers; both teaching and non-teaching.
   
As planned we have reviewed our initial Risk Assessment after the Phase 1 of our reopening and have decided to make the following amendments. These changes will improve students’ educational experience whilst ensuring the safety of our our staff, students and community. The fully updated Risk Assessment can be found on our website. 

Ventilation
We have taken on board advice given by several government advisors on the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the virus in schools:

 “The big key to managing coronavirus prevention in indoor environments is ventilation. Anything you can do to increase the number of ‘air changes’ will help. That refers to how many times the whole air volume of the room cycles. If it is cold, I don’t actually advocate changing that. I would not say close the windows. The better thing would be to advise parents to send children in with warmer clothing. You shouldn’t be so cold that your hands are too cold to work, but I don’t think it ever would be that bad in an indoor setting with children.”

In order to support students to keep warm in school whilst we consciously open windows and doors as much as possible, we have made a few amendments to our uniform policy:
  • We encourage all parents to send their children to school with a winter coat every day. Outdoor coats will be allowed to be worn in corridors and classrooms following the half term holidays.
  • We encourage students to wear a white ‘base layer’ under their school shirt.
  • We encourage students to wear a black jumper over their shirt but under their blazer. We have relaxed the rule on this layer and will allow students to wear a plain black sweatshirt as an alternative. This sweatshirt must not have a logo or zip visible. 
  • Our ban on hoodies and scarves remains in place.

PE changing
We are aware that as the weather becomes colder students remaining in PE kit all day is no longer appropriate. For this reason we have updated our cleaning protocols and have established a way of allowing our students to get changed in a safe and efficient way. 

The points to remember are as follows;
  • Students will come to school in their PE kit if they have a PE lesson Period 1 or Period 2. All students will get changed into their school uniform at the end of their lesson.
  • Students who have a PE lesson during Period 3 will change for PE at the end of morning break and change back into school uniform at the beginning of lunch break.
  • Students who have a PE lesson during Period 4 will change for PE at the end of lunch break and will leave school in their PE kit.

School food
Food will continue to be available using the canteen or trolley service but we will start to provide a limited amount of hot food. This will constist of pasta bakes and baked potatoes as well as the normal selection of food available.

Homework
We have made the decision to start to set homework again after the half term holidays. In order to reduce the amount of books/worksheets moving between home and school, the majority of work will be set using online platforms. The completion of homework will be mandatory and the sanction for non-completion will be as set in the homework policy following the H1, H2 system. For Year 11 non-completion of homework will immediately result in an H2 after school detention.

Extra curricular clubs
We have decided to reinstate a small number of extra curricular clubs after school which will be limited to one pod at a time. A timetable for these clubs will be distributed to our students and placed on our website and social media platforms on our return from the holidays. There will be a late bus leaving at 4.30pm every night of the week.

Oasis
During Phase 1 of our Risk Assessment we had moved the Oasis centre in order to allow staff to use the area as a second staff room to allow for social distancing. This meant that our SEN and vulnerable students have not been offered our normal high level of support before, during and after school hours. During Phase 2 the Oasis centre will be reopened for students in order to support their academic and social progress. Students will be invited into school early, be removed to the Oasis during lessons and will be invited to spend break and lunchtime in the centre if they wish to.

Breakfast Club
Breakfast club will begin again in the Oasis centre from Monday 2nd November for any student who wishes to attend. This provision was extremely popular prior to the lockdown and we would like to encourage all students to attend from 8.15am for some breakfast and a sociable, settled start to the day.
 
Other considerations
If a parent needs to contact the school, please do so by telephone or email. Please do not come into school without an appointment. If parents are contacted because of an unwell child it is important that they are collected quickly. All the measures will be under review and subject to change, particularly in the light of Government guidance. The next phase of our plans will be reviewed in December 2020. We have also developed a contingency plan for remote education. This would be for students who need to self-isolate or where there is a local lockdown. If you have any particular worries or concerns about our plans please do not hesitate to contact me: d.mayhew@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk

As always we welcome your feedback on any of the measures already put in place or on any of our plans. Any feedback can be sent direct to me on the email address above. 

Thank you very much for your ongoing support. Wishing you all the very best; stay safe and and have a great half term holiday. 

Yours Faithfully,

D.M Mayhew
Headteacher

October 2020

posted 22 Sept 2020, 03:50 by Liz Pattinson   [ updated 24 Sept 2020, 05:37 ]


Dear Parent/Carer,

It gives me great pleasure to write to all parents outlining a number of initiatives we are launching to help you get to know Alde Valley Academy a little bit better.
It was with huge regret that we were not able to welcome all parents to Alde Valley Academy for our Open Evenings but in the current circumstances we felt that it was a risk to our students, staff and parents that we were not prepared to take. 

I am aware that many parents may have had older children or family members who attended the school in the past and therefore are familiar with how we work and the fantastic facilities that we have. If this experience was not in the past few years I would urge you to ‘take another look’ as we have made huge strides over recent years in all aspects of school life.

Our GCSE results have improved year on year with the 2020 results demonstrating that students of all abilities are able to make great progress in all subjects. This is reflected in our Progress 8 score of +0.28 indicating that on average every student in year 11 achieved nearly a third of a grade more than expected in all 11 of their GCSE subjects. A pleasing 69% of students achieved a grade 9-4 in English Language and 70% achieved a grade 9-4 in Maths, which is significantly above the National Average.  

In order to allow parents to see how the school works we have created a video of staff and students working together demonstrating the the close working relationship that we have with our students. This video will be available on our website and social media pages from mid October.  
In the summer term 2020 we were very conscious that we had a record breaking number of Year 6 students who had chosen Alde Valley Academy for their secondary education but were unable to join us for the formal transition process. The transition process is always extremely important to us in order to relieve anxiety for our new students and enable them to make the change to secondary school as seamless as possible. For this reason we introduced a number of innovative ideas which you are welcome to see for yourself:
  • vLogs:  Published to try to introduce certain members of staff to the students and give them a ‘brief’ introduction to their roles in school. The vlogs were posted on our website everyday and are available for you to see at: http://www.aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk/students/transition-2020.
  • Letters from our students: A personal letter was sent to the Year 6 students from one of our Year 7 or Year 8 students. In them they summarised how they felt when they were transitioning between schools and how things turned out in reality. This provided reassurance regarding the experiences that our current students have at school.
  • Personalised video messages: Some of our Year 7 students who went to one of our nine feeder primary schools recorded a ‘personalised’ video which was shared with Year 6 students at their primary schools. These videos were available during the day at school or at home and, again, can be accessed on our website. 
  • Year 7 ‘buddies’: Each Year 7 tutor group now has two Year 11 ‘buddies’ who they were introduced to in vlogs. The Year 11 students provided reassurance and support to the Year 6 students.
  • Year 7 tutor groups: Students gave us information about who they would like to be in a Year 7 tutor group with.
  • Virtual tutor group meetings: Once we were able to put all 130 students into one of six Year 7 tutor groups (average class size of 21/22 students) we introduced the students to their new form tutor and Year 11 ‘buddies’ through the vlogs during the week. Following the introduction to the tutors all Year 6 students were invited to join a virtual tutor group meeting with their new class mates and tutor.
  • Virtual parents meeting: Following all of the children centred activities, myself and Mr Ketteringham (Deputy Headteacher) arranged a virtual meeting with as many parents as possible to give all parents the information that they required and an opportunity to ask any questions that they may have had.
  • School visits: Despite the lockdown, I personally visited every one of our feeder primaries (and those outside of our catchment) to introduce myself to the students and answer any questions that they had during this unprecedented time.
  • SEN Transition: Mrs Wills (SENCO) contacted all primary schools and parents in order to provide additional support for our vulnerable students who may have additional needs or need to be part of a nurture group. These groups of students were invited into school to meet the ‘team’ and familiarise themselves with the school site. This was obviously done following government guidelines on social distancing and other precautionary measures such as keeping students in pods based around their primary school groups. 
You can see from our work that the welfare and pastoral support of our students is absolutely paramount to us at Alde Valley Academy. This is reflected in the views of our parents:

‘All 4 of my children have gone here and we've seen the school improve massively in the last few years. I wouldn't consider sending mine anywhere else & recommend it to everyone. I really think AVA is a great school with really good staff.’ – Year 10 parent

‘I have had two children attend this school and can honestly say that it is a fantastic school. They both had an amazing education as well as an enjoyable one. The staff really do go above and beyond to support the students. I wouldn't have wanted them to go anywhere else as in my opinion AVA is the place to be!’ – Ex Year 11 parent

‘My daughter is now in Year 10 and is throughly enjoying her time at AVA ... AVA has something very special that is hard to put your finger on. Without wanting to sound too bonkers it feels like a big family. From the friendly office staff who know who you mean when you tell them your child’s name, to all the teachers and finally the head ... A ruddy brilliant place and I make sure to tell anyone who asks!’ - Year 8 and 10 Parent

Open Mornings
With the cancellation of the Open Evening we are extremely keen to ensure that all parents who would like to see the school in action are able to do so in a safe and controlled manner during the day. For this reason we are offering more dates to book a tour. There will be two bookable tours on each morning, lasting approximately 1 hour. Tour 1 will begin at 9.15am and Tour 2 at 10.30am.

The additional dates are:
  • Thursday 8 October 
  • Friday 9 October 
  • Friday 16 October 
  • Tuesday 20 October
  • Thursday 22 October 
The booking system is on our school website at: www.aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk
Small ‘pods’ of guests, made up of up to 2 family groups of no more than 4 members, will be taken on a tour of the school to see our refurbished school site.  
We hope you find the information in this pack insightful and useful. If you have any questions or queries about any aspect of the school please don’t hesitate to get in touch with either Mr Ketteringham (n.ketteringham@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk) or myself (d.mayhew@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk). 

From all of us at Alde Valley Aacdemy we would like to wish you well during this difficult and challenging time.

Yours faithfully, 

Mr D Mayhew
Headteacher

September 2020

posted 22 Sept 2020, 01:00 by Liz Pattinson   [ updated 22 Sept 2020, 01:03 ]


Dear Parent/Carer,

I very much hope that this letter finds you and your families safe and well.

Due to the unprecedented numbers of students joining Alde Valley Academy in the past few weeks we are in a position where some of our tutor groups and teaching classes have exceeded the number that we feel is acceptable.

We have extremely high expectations of our students in terms of behaviour, conduct and work rate but also demand a great deal from our staff. In order to teach, mark and assess students’ work effectively on a regular basis we feel that class sizes need to be manageable. This obviously has a financial implication for the school but we are prepared to meet that cost for the quality of education for your children.

Year 9 currently has three tutor groups which is not enough to accommodate the number of students that we have in the year group. We predict that the number of students joining us in this year group will continue to increase as students and parents start to consider GCSE subject choices. The breadth and quality of our curriculum is such that we have experienced an influx of students into year 9 in previous years.

A new timetable has been written and new members of staff have been employed to allow us to increase to four tutor and teaching groups in all subjects. The timetable is currently being checked by Heads of Faculty and Subject Leads and we propose to start it on Monday 28 September 2020. In the meantime we are pushing ahead with four teaching groups in Maths and Science starting on Monday 21 September 2020. These groups will be set according to ability and will be dynamic, allowing students to move up or down sets according to the progress that they are making.

The Key Stage 3 team lead by Mr Kelsall have arranged the four tutor groups using academic data and have taken into consideration which students work best together. It is inevitable that there will be a small number of students who are disappointed not to be in each others’ class anymore or not to have the same class tutor. We feel that the huge benefit of smaller classes and improved quality of teaching and learning far outways any ‘friendship’ disappointment.

If you have any questions about any aspect of our plans please do not hesitate to contact Mr Kelsall on his school email address: a.kelsall@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk

Wishing you all the very best; stay safe and well.

Yours faithfully,

Mr D. Mayhew

Headteacher

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