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. 

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.

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.

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