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.