Head Teachers Blog

7th April 2021

posted 7 Apr 2021, 01:44 by Liz Pattinson

Dear Parent/Carer,                                                                                                                                         

 

As always I hope this letter finds you well, having had a peaceful and relaxing Easter weekend.

 

As promised, we have conducted a complete review of our Covid-19 precautions in the light of the most up-to-date guidance from the Department of Education and medical experts. Our overriding intention is to reopen the school as much as possible to maximise the quality of teaching and learning whilst minimising the risk of infection. To this effect our focus remains firmly on:

1.       Hands

2.       Face

3.       Space

4.       Fresh air

 

One of the most contentious precautions that schools have put into place during the pandemic is the requirement for students and staff to wear face coverings in classrooms and communal areas. The government has today, Tuesday 6 April, confirmed that face coverings should continue to be worn in secondary school and college classrooms as a precautionary measure when students return after the Easter break. This cautious approach will help limit the risk of transmission and enable continued monitoring of the effect of school and college returns, as twice weekly testing is established and embedded in student routines. It is expected that face coverings will no longer be required to be worn in classrooms, or by students in other communal areas, at Step 3 of the road map, which will be no earlier than Monday 17 May.

 

With the latest guidance in mind we have decided to make the following key changes:

1.   Students will move around the school to attend lessons in subject specific classrooms as opposed to remaining in their ‘pod’ areas. This will be under strict supervision of staff which is explained later in this letter.

2.    Students will attend school in full school uniform every day and will change for PE following a strict movement and sanitising protocol.

3.   School uniform rules will return to normal with sweatshirts under blazers and coats no longer being permissible in the school buildings. We will be strictly enforcing the school uniform policy including rules around school shoes, piercings and hair colour. We appreciate your anticipated support with this as always.

 

Key details about how the new system will work will be explained to all students during registration on Monday 12 April. We have tried to keep many of the arrangements as they have been since September and our philosophy is still to maintain social distancing between students in different pods as much as possible.

·      All students enter the school site and register in the same rooms as they have since September.

·      Students and staff will adhere to a one-way system where the doors near the Hall are used to enter the building and the PE doors are used  to exit the building.

·      Year 7 students (top floor), will finish registration early and will be escorted to their pod communal area (see below). Other year groups will follow at 9.00am and assemble in their pod area as no other year groups need to share a staircase or corridor at this time.

·    Staff will collect their teaching group and will escort the students through the corridors, avoiding busy areas (by using alternative entrances), ensuring that the one-way system is adhered to.

·      This process will be repeated at the end of every lesson with the top floor classes moving first, followed by the middle floor classes and then the rest of the school. This will also be repeated at the end of the day. Please be aware that some students will be dismissed from school at 2.50pm. If you would like your son/daughter to be supervised until 3.00pm please let us know.  

 

All staff will reiterate the need for students to sanitise their hands and working areas on a regular basis. We have a huge number of sanitising stations across the whole school site. We expect students to use the sanitisers on a regular basis throughout the day. Work spaces (including equipment) will be sanitised by students before and after they use the area. For practical subjects like PE, Art, Science and Design, teachers will build time into their lesson plan to ensure students have time to sanitise their area and equipment effectively.

 

Year group ‘pod’ social areas will be maintained both inside and outside the school buildings. In these spaces students will be able to remove face coverings in order to eat and drink but we continue to encourage all students to spend as much time outdoors, in the fresh air, as possible.

·         Year 7 – Hall

·         Year 8 – Gym

·         Year 9 – Main playground

·         Year 10 – Covered Quad area

·         Year 11 – Dining room

Food will be available from our catering company for students eligible for free school meals and all other students in their pod areas. This system will operate, as it has since September, with a trolley service.

 

As mentioned earlier, it is expected that at Step 3 of the roadmap, which will be no earlier than Monday 17 May, many restrictions will be reviewed by the government. At that point the next stage of easements, including increased social contact indoors, will be confirmed following a review of the latest data on infection and vaccination rates. All changes will be carefully considered and all of our safety measures, including regular asymptomatic testing, smaller group bubbles, increased hygiene, ventilation and social distancing where possible, will be reviewed.

 

We are entering an extremely busy time in the school calendar preparing for Teacher Assessed Grades for Year 11 students, preparing to welcome a record breaking number of Year 7 students in September, recruiting new staff and preparing to expand the school building due to increased student numbers.

Our priority remains on maintaining a high quality education in a supportive and safe environment. If you require any further details on our plans or have any queries at all, please do not hesitate to contact me using the following email address: d.mayhew@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk.

 

Thank you very much for your ongoing support. Wishing you all the very best; stay safe.

 

Yours faithfully,

Dan Mayhew

Headteacher

25th March - Year 11 letter

posted 26 Mar 2021, 02:47 by Liz Pattinson

Dear Year 11 and Parents,

There has been a huge amount of change in education over the past 12 months, most of which has a direct and immediate effect on Year 11 students across the country. Sometimes when people are not in control of things that will have a direct effect on them and their future, they may worry or become anxious about what is going to happen. I hope that Year 11 are starting to feel as if they are back in control of their futures and that they have the support required to set themselves up for their next step.

 

I hope the following will give parents and students some reassurances which will help to reduce your anxiety and give back the control needed. Most of this information has already been relayed to students.

 

What we know:

·         All GCSE, A-Level and SATs exams are cancelled;

·         Year 11 grades will be awarded by the teachers and support staff that know them the best;

·         There is a significant amount of robust internal and external moderation of grades awarded to ensure the grades are accurate, fair and consistent between exam years and between schools;

·         We will base our Teacher Assessed Grades (CAGs) on:

1.       The data that we have on your attainment so far

2.       The assessments that are completed between now and the end of term

3.       Students’ attitude to learning between now and the end of the year

·         We will award students the grade that they deserve, no more, no less.

 

When students return to school after the Easter holidays they will enter an assessment window of 6 weeks between 19 April and 28 May 2021. These assessments will be completed in normal classrooms and in the normal timetable of the school day. Additional support and/or additional time will be given to students requiring it as they would have had in GCSE exams. Please find enclosed a timetable of when these assessments will be taking place.

 

The assessments will give us the basis of the Teacher Assessed Grade but, unlike terminal GCSE exams, we will be building a portfolio of evidence to show what level each student is operating at on a regular basis as opposed to everything resting on one exam.

 

In order to prepare our students as well as possible we have arranged a series of Assessment Preparation Sessions to run over the Easter holidays in 15 different subjects. Sessions are 2 hours in duration and run from 10am-12pm and 12.30pm-2.30pm everyday with exception of the bank holiday Easter weekend. I would strongly recommend that all students attend as many of these sessions as possible. All students have been given a timetable of the sessions and have been told to indicate what sessions they will be attending by Friday 26 March. Please note that Health & Social Care has been missed off the timetable but will be available all day on Wednesday 7 April.

 

All Teacher Assessed Grades need to be submitted to the exam boards by Friday 18 June following internal and external moderation so the likely last day for Year 11 students to be in school will be Friday 11 June 2021. However, it may be the case that some students are asked to return to school right up to the submission date.

 

Following the 18 June, students who are studying courses at A Level or Level 3 courses will be invited to attend dedicated ‘Preparing for KS5’ courses in the subjects that they wish to continue to study. These lessons will ensure that the whole GCSE course has been covered and that there are no gaps in their knowledge due to remote learning.

 

What students need to do now:

·         Have a positive and pro-active attitude in all that they do;

·         Sign up to and attend as many support sessions over the Easter holidays as possible;

·         Continue to revise in small, manageable chunks to ensure that the assessment grades are as good and consistent as possible;

·         Make sure they take some exercise and do things to relax and unwind;

·         Contact us in school if they need help.

 

Key members of staff:

1.       Mr Battle – Academic support                                   r.battle@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk

2.       Mrs Betts – Emotional well-being support                   a.betts@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk

3.       Mr Smith – Careers support                                      j.smith@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk

 

 

This has been an extremely difficult time for us all but the students’ future is our priority. I am 100% confident that if we work together over the next few weeks all students will receive the grades that they deserve and will have the knowledge, confidence and character to be successful in the next chapter of their lives.

 

I will be sending out a letter to all parents during the Easter holidays to explain our plans to relax some of our Covid-19 restrictions in school to begin the process of return to ‘normal’ school life.

 

As always, if you need my help for any reason please contact me directly:

 

d.mayhew@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk

 

Take care and stay safe.

 

Yours faithfully,

Dan Mayhew

Headteacher

22nd March 2021

posted 22 Mar 2021, 04:26 by Liz Pattinson

Dear Parent/Carer,                  

As always, I hope this letter finds you well and looking forward to a time when we can all return to life with some kind of semblance of ‘normality’.

Our return to school has been extremely successful and again we are reminded of the remarkable resilience of young people. Student attendance for the first 2 weeks has been remarkable at 96% and, on the whole, they have returned to school seamlessly and appear to be appreciative of the routine that school provides. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of our staff who, despite some having their own anxieties about returning to school, have been positive and professional in all that they have done. I would also like to take this opportunity to publicly thank our team of volunteers and support staff who have run the Lateral Flow Device (LFD) testing with military precision. Over 96% of our families have provided us with consent for the tests and all of these students have now been tested 3 times in school and provided with ‘home-testing’ kits and a letter of instructions. Particular thanks go to Mrs Nicolosi, Mrs Burrows and Mrs Pattinson for their leadership of the teams. 

As we look forward to the Easter Holidays we are preparing to offer a full package of ‘Assessment Preparation’ sessions for our Year 11 students who are working hard to ensure that they are awarded the grades that they deserve in the summer. The system that will be used to generate these grades is beginning to become clearer but a separate letter will be sent to the parents of Year 11 students to explain the plans later this week. If you would like to keep up to date with these plans, further information from the Government is available at: 


It is with a huge amount of disappointment that I announce that Barry Norman has stepped down as Chair of the Alde Valley Academy Committee (AVAC) for personal reasons. Barry has led the team with enthusiasm and passion for the past 2 years and leaves us in a far stronger position than when he joined. I am delighted to say that TJ Haworth-Culf has been elected as Chair with immediate effect. The structure and role of the AVAC has changed over recent years and is now made up of influential, local, professional people who have a significant influence in the leadership of the school. They provide a ‘challenging friend’ role in all aspects of the school’s leadership. If you are interested in joining the Academy Committee please contact me at school.

I hope to update you on the potential lifting of Covid restrictions in school over the next few weeks but in the meantime,  I hope you stay safe.

Yours faithfully,

Dan Mayhew
Headteacher

24th February 2021

posted 24 Feb 2021, 08:10 by Liz Pattinson

24 February 2021

Dear Students/Parents/Carers,                                                                                                                                                                    

As always, I hope you and your family are well. As expected, several announcements have been made regarding the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions as well as the future re-opening of schools for all students. We have received two updates from the Department for Education and the Senior Leadership Team have consulted about the plans for the return of Alde Valley Academy students starting from Monday 8 March 2021.

We are extremely aware that there are a number of our staff, students and parents who are anxious about our return to school. I can assure you that all decisions have been made following scientific advice to minimise the potential spread of infection whilst returning to some semblance of normality. This phase of the return to school will be as close to what the students are already used to, incorporating the need for testing, and will be reviewed again once we reach the Easter holidays (return Monday 12 April 2021).

Please find below the answers to the questions that you may have:

When will the students be returning to school?

Testing and return of students will be phased during the first week to manage the number of pupils passing through the test site at any one time.

 

Students will return to school on the following days:

·         Years 10 & 11: Monday 8 March

·         Years 8 & 9: Tuesday 9 March

·         Year 7: Wednesday 10 March

 

What will Years 7-9 do on the days that they are not required back in school?

All students will return to using their normal school timetable (Week 2) from Monday 8 March. Students who are at home will continue with their Remote Learning on the days that they are not required in school.

 

Can my child continue to attend Keyworker School until they are due back into lessons?

Students who are currently attending Keyworker School are encouraged to attend school as normal until they return to normal lessons. For the week beginning Monday 8 March all students on site will be expected to wear full school uniform whether in lessons or Keyworker School.

 

Will the students still be in separate ‘Pods’?

Yes. All of the school Covid precautions which existed before the Christmas holidays will still be adhered to. This includes, but is not limited to:

·         The separation of year groups in ‘pods’ in different parts of the school including social areas (teachers move between classes)

·         Designated entrances/exits for each year group

·         Sanitising and cleaning expectations

·         Designated toilet facilities for year groups

 

 

Have the rules on wearing face coverings in school changed?

Yes. The DfE now recommends that face coverings should be worn in the school building including in classrooms. This does not apply in situations where wearing a face covering would impact on the ability to take part in exercise or strenuous activity; for example in PE lessons.   This is an additional precautionary measure for a limited time during this period of high coronavirus (COVID-19) prevalence in the community.

 

Face visors or shields should not be worn as an alternative to face coverings. They may protect against droplet spread in specific circumstances but are unlikely to be effective in reducing aerosol transmission when used without an additional face covering.

 

What are the arrangements for Lateral Flow Testing in school?

All students are offered 3 tests, 3 to 5 days apart as part of their return to school. Following these tests we will be moving to a home testing model (for students, following the first 3 onsite tests). The lateral flow devices used have received regulatory approval from the MHRA for self-use. Home test kits will be available for all staff on return. Once pupils have been tested 3 times at school, they will be provided with home test kits for regular testing.

 

The testing will be carried out by a team of fully trained staff and volunteers on a daily basis for the first two weeks. We are extremely grateful for the time and expertise that our team have devoted to support us setting up and running this system which has been extremely successful testing staff and keyworker children.

 

The timetable for testing is as follows:

 

Date:

8/3

9/3

10/3

11/3

12/3

13/3

14/3

15/3

16/3

17/3

18/3

19/3

Group

Years 10/11

Years 8/9

Year 7

Years 10/11

Years 8/9

 

 

Year 7

Years 10/11

Years 8/9

Year 7

Catch up

 

What happens if I haven’t returned the consent form?

Testing remains voluntary but strongly encouraged. We can only carry out the testing of students with a completed consent form from a parent.

 

If you have not already done so, please complete the consent form here.

 

Do students need to wear full school uniform?

Yes. All uniform expectations are the same as they were before Christmas. Students should still wear PE kit on the days that they have PE on their timetable but all other times must wear full school uniform.

 

Will Year 11 students return to tests and mock exams?

No. We are very conscious that the uncertainty around schooling and exams is extremely worrying for Year 11 students in particular. For this reason, our only focus for the remainder of this term is to get students back into school, support them in lessons and reassure them that the situation is under control. Any ‘mock exams’ which were planned for the students’ return in January have been postponed until after Easter in the first instance and will be reviewed along with all other arrangements and precautions.

 

Details of how GCSE grades will be awarded this year have still not been released. As soon as they are we will be making arrangements to ensure all of our students are awarded the grades that they deserve in line with DfE guidance and moderation.  

 

Can I choose to send my child into school or not?

From 8 March all pupils should return to school and attendance will be mandatory once again from this date. Students not undergoing testing should attend school in line with the school’s phased return arrangements. If you are a parent of a child that is vulnerable or if you are a critical worker, your child should continue to be able to attend school throughout, unless they receive a positive test result.  Mandatory attendance means that it is your legal duty as a parent to send your child to school regularly. Where a secondary age pupil is not expected to attend due to their school’s testing programme in the week of 8 March, absence will not be penalised.

 A small number of children and young people may be unable to attend in line with public health advice to self-isolate. Schools will still be required by law to provide remote education to any pupils who need to continue to learn from home. If you think that your child is eligible to continue to work from home for a medical reason, appropriate evidence as to why pupils cannot attend should be provided. The school may check that your child is advised not to attend school by asking to see a copy of the shielding letter sent to you.

We are fully aware that the extended lockdown will have placed additional mental stress on a number of our students. If you have any concerns about the mental wellbeing of your child please contact school and we will endeavour to support you through this process. Please however remember that normal school attendance regulations will be in place and therefore any absence will be dealt with accordingly as per the school attendance policy.

 

Summary

We are looking forward to welcoming back all of our students from Monday 8 March. Whilst I have tried to answer any questions that you may have, I am conscious that there may be some questions that I have not addressed. If this is the case I would urge you, as always, to contact me on the following email address:

 

d.mayhew@aldevalley.suffolk.sch.uk

 

I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank all of our staff for their hard work throughout this lockdown period. This includes the site, admin, pastoral, support, volunteers and teaching staff who have really pulled together to offer our community the best provision possible during this difficult time. I would also like to thank the community for your support, particularly around providing electronic devices for our students to continue with home learning.

Yours faithfully,

 

Dan Mayhew

Headteacher

Friday 12th February 2021

posted 12 Feb 2021, 05:58 by Liz Pattinson

Dear Parents/Carers,

I don't feel there is a need for a letter at the current time as I do not have any information to give you about the 'roadmap' for reopening schools.We will hopefully be receiving further guidance from the government on 22 February about the planned reopening on 8 March 2021. 

Thank you very much for your fantastic support of us all at Alde Valley Academy and your phenomenal efforts supporting your children's education over this lockdown. We have seen some great work and commitment from students.

Comment from a year 7 parent received today:

"I would like to pass on to all of the staff what an amazing job the whole school is doing with online learning, positive messages, internet safety. I could not be more pleased with the school. Big thank you to everyone involved with Alde Valley Academy"

I would urge everyone to take a break from their screens over the half-term holiday and recharge for another full term when we return on 22 February.

I hope you stay safe and warm.

Yours faithfully,

Dan Mayhew
Headteacher

School closure - Tuesday 9th February 2021

posted 8 Feb 2021, 10:37 by Liz Pattinson

Dear Students/Parents/Carers,

Due to the continued difficult travel conditions we have made the decision to close the school again to key worker children tomorrow (Tuesday 9th February). 
The safety of all our students and staff are paramount in making this decision and by making it early we hope that other arrangements can be now made.
Remote learning lessons will continue as usual despite the closure.

Stay safe.
Dan Mayhew.
Headteacher.

Monday 8th February 2021

posted 7 Feb 2021, 14:12 by Liz Pattinson   [ updated 7 Feb 2021, 14:25 ]

Dear Students/Parents/Carers,

Due to the significant snow fall and difficult travel conditions we have made the decision to close the school to key worker children tomorrow (Monday 8th February). The safety of all our students and staff are paramount in making this decision and by making it early we hope that other arrangements can be now made.

Remote learning lessons will continue as usual despite the closure.

Stay safe.

Yours faithfully,

Mr D Mayhew
Headteacher

1st February 2021

posted 1 Feb 2021, 01:55 by Liz Pattinson   [ updated 1 Feb 2021, 02:00 ]

Dear Students/Parents/Carers,

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

As I write we have had a relatively settled few weeks of Remote Learning without any ‘guidance’ changes. As we work our way towards the commencement of the re-opening of school on 8 March we await further guidance which will give details about how this will be planned. However, we are fully aware that this period of lockdown has presented a serious challenge for families and schools. Teachers and other education staff are working hard to support families through this crisis. The National Education Union – which represents almost half a million school staff in England and Wales – wants to help you as parents and carers with children learning at home.

The National Education Union (NEU) has launched a website – Learning Under Lockdown– aimed at supporting parents and carers with remote education for children of all ages.

On the site you will find lots of support:

1.       Clarification on expectations around remote education.

2.       Advice on school safety and other key issues.

3.       Fun and educational activities to do with your children.

We know many parents and carers are juggling different priorities, including work and caring responsibilities, alongside home-schooling. But these are not normal times and you should not feel under pressure to replicate the classroom at home.

Please explore the site today – we hope you will find it useful.

Thank you, as always, for your fantastic support of our school. Again, I would like to encourage parents to join our next Parent Forum meeting this Thursday (4 February) at 6pm 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

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

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