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