09 December 2020: Message from the Principal
End of Autumn Term 2020
You will be hearing through the media suggestions from the Department for Education that schools consider the introduction of a staff training day on Friday 18 December next week. The prime motivation for this suggestion is to support with the on-going need for schools to be involved in test and trace beyond the end of term, and the impact of this close to Christmas.
We recognise that a short-notice change of plans can have a bearing and impact on family arrangements and, for example, child care and work patterns for parents and carers.
Please be advised that University of Birmingham School intends to retain its published term dates and accordingly our end of term next week remains Friday 18 December, with dismissal for all pupils and students at 13.10 on that day. Whilst we anticipate that children will want to end their school day at that time, if your child is in receipt of free school meals, lunch will be available.
School leaders are being asked to continue to respond to Covid-positive notifications for a period of time in the run up to Christmas – as we will remain well placed to identify close-contacts in such circumstances, arising from the last few days of the term. Please therefore be advised to anticipate guidance where needed from the School up to and including Thursday 24 December about self-isolation for your child. Whilst prudent, it is of course our hope that no such communication will be required.
Our spring term commences on Monday 4 January 2021 for all staff, pupils, and students – retaining ongoing our start time of 09.15 for years 7, 8, 9 – and 09.45 for years 10, 11, 12, and 13.
17 December 2020: Message from the Principal
Start of term – January 2021
You will have heard press announcements emerging today from the Department for Education around changes and expectations for secondary-aged pupils and students, affecting the start of the spring term from 04 January. These include school leaders and staff being provided with time to put in place onsite arrangements for Covid-19 rapid tests (lateral flow tests). You will appreciate as keenly as I that there are many aspects of this that will need swift, but careful attention and planning.
The expectations at the start of term will see 2021 public examination cohorts (years 11 and 13) and children of key workers receiving education physically at school for the week commencing 04 January, with other year groups receiving education that week via online learning. Whilst we work through at pace our fuller school response, please make note of this information especially if it will have implications for your child care arrangements from 04 – 08 January 2021 inclusive.
We shall be in touch further tomorrow, with additional information and arrangements.
18 December 2020: Message from the Principal re: arrangements for January 2021
Further to my message to you yesterday in relation to announcements from the Government, and having taken time to formulate initial plans with senior leaders about the start of the spring term in January, I write to provide you with some updates. I shall try to keep the key points as known at this stage, purposefully as brief as possible.
- Schools are being asked to put in place mass testing facilities for coronavirus, which provide an outcome in 30 minutes. The aim of this national programme is to provide an alternative to periods of self-isolation for pupils, students, and staff, whenever identified as a close-contact to a person in school known to be Covid-19 positive. We have identified an area of our site where we might establish a testing centre. There remain details to be fleshed-out, such as staffing, and data processing clarifications and consents. We shall communicate these to families at the earliest opportunity alongside details of the testing process. Involvement in testing, will not be mandatory, but will be encouraged.
- School attendance and learning in the week 04 to 08 January 2021 will now be different to that previously planned and published by us – largely so that school staff can continue to develop and embed new plans. Please therefore note the points below.
- Governors have at my request approved an additional Professional Development Day on Monday 04 January 2021 – meaning that no pupils or students will now be required in school on that day; nor will there be any work set for completion on line. Staff will attend school to prepare for Covid-19 testing arrangements and implications, and for training and development to support the roll-out of synchronous (live-streamed) lessons.
- On school days from Tuesday 05 January to Friday 08 January:
Pupils in year 11 and students in year 13 should attend school for 09.45 in the way that has now become routine. Line up should occur in the usual way outside of the building so that our established Covid control measures (such as bubbles and distancing) can be preserved.
Pupils of key worker families and those who are vulnerable are also able to attend school. We understand that children in these groups will be defined by the same criteria as throughout the March-July lockdown – but we shall clarify this further, including with individual details, on Monday 04 January. Children in these groups, from Tuesday 05 January should come to their respective line-up area outside of the school, at 09.15 or 09.45 as normal for their year.
Pupils in year 10 and students in year 12 will receive synchronous ‘live-streamed’ lessons using Microsoft Teams. Lessons will be scheduled on ClassCharts, and will follow their usual school timetable and curriculum programme. A family friendly guide, and a copy of an addendum to the Home School Agreement is linked below if you have children in either of these year groups. We ask you to read these documents carefully so that you can support and safeguard your child. The relevant teaching staff will be in contact with pupils and students directly on Monday 04 January to ensure that they are fully prepared for this way of remote learning.
Pupils in years 7, 8, and 9 will undertake work set on line from the Oak National Academy, aligned to our own curriculum. These will be scheduled on ClassCharts with the usual school timetable being followed.
We wish to stress-test synchronous (live-streamed) lessons in a restricted way in the first instance, ahead of any wider roll-out or necessity for remote learning, as we move into the term. For this reason, between 05 and 08 January synchronous learning will be planned for year 10 and year 12, with online learning for other groups which is not interactive at this stage.
- We shall circulate details again at the start of term on Monday 04 January for years 7, 8, and 9, however as a head-start electronic copies of Knowledge Organisers for the spring 2021 term are available here.
- Pupils eligible for free school meals, who are educated off-site in the period 05 to 08 January will, in the manner now established, receive supermarket vouchers to ensure provision.
- From Monday 11 January, all year groups of pupils and students will attend school for onsite learning.
Whilst we are now at the end of term, I would request that should your child need to have a Covid-19 test, you continue to alert us of the result of that across the holiday period, by emailing our communication channel: firstname.lastname@example.org. This will help us to monitor, especially over the coming days, where we may need to contact other families in relation to self-isolation precautions – if there has been close-contact with others.
More reflective communication around the autumn term now passed will be circulated to you in an email separate to this one, for your information as we all now enter a period where we can to a greater extent ‘breathe and recharge’. This will include our autumn term newsletter. In the meantime, thank you for your on-going partnership and support for the School.
31 December 2020: Message from the Principal re: arrangements for January 2021
Dear Parents and Carers,
I wrote to you on the last day of term (18 December) to outline changes for the start of term, from Monday 04 January next week. You will I am sure have engaged with announcements in the media yesterday and today from the Department from Education, outlining further adjustments and changes, nationally. Please therefore note the most current arrangements affecting your child, detailed here:
Monday 04 January 2021
This day remains, as per my 18 December message, a professional development day for staff attendance at school only – so that time can be dedicated to putting in place lateral flow testing arrangements onsite – and for staff to plan different patterns of learning for the weeks that lie ahead.
Tuesday 05 January to Friday 08 January 2021
Children of critical workers and those whose circumstances are vulnerable are able to attend for onsite learning. Children in these categories are broadly as they were during the March to July lockdown period earlier in the year – and include those in receipt of an EHCP. Critical workers are those fulfilling coronavirus-critical roles which they would not be able to fulfil if childcare presented a barrier. If your or your child’s circumstances are such that you request onsite school attendance in the 05 – 08 January period, please email Anna Cosimetti by midday on Monday 04 January 2021: email@example.com
Children in these groups, from Tuesday 05 January should come to their respective line-up area outside of the school, at 09.15 or 09.45 as normal for their year.
Pupils in year 11 and students in year 13 will receive live ‘synchronous’ lessons remotely in the period 05 – 08 January. They should not attend school physically – a different arrangement now to that previously communicated. Details for this will be circulated to these learners on Monday 04 January.
Pupils in years 7, 8, 9, and 10 and students in year 12 may be asked to engage with some online learning once overall staff capacity for this week is established – and teachers will contact children if this is possible. The Department for Education is clear that schools should prioritise the learning of current public examination cohorts in the first instance.
Week of 11 January 2021
Online learning will be provided for all pupils in years 7, 8, 9, 10 and students in year 12, aligned with their normal in-school timetable. Pupils in year 11 and students in year 13 will attend onsite learning at school – following the timings, and arrangements now routinely established across last term.
During this week, if arrangements have been satisfactorily established onsite at school for routine coronavirus lateral flow testing, we shall put in place a programme to invite pupils and students to attend school for these. Further details for this will be circulated to you as the week of 04 January unfolds and our arrangements embed. This will include important details about the testing process, and other aspects such as data protection and handling. Pupils and students not in year 11 or year 13 will only be onsite that week for lateral flow testing purposes – not for onsite learning.
Week of 18 January 2021
Return to onsite learning for all pupils and students, as of 18 January 2021. We shall re-visit the risk assessments for those individuals known to be of increased clinical vulnerability and liaise with parents/carers on a case-by-case basis in relation to adjustments that may be possible or prudent.
Remote and online learning
The School has a limited stock of IT resources to loan to children who cannot access learning and work set on ClassCharts. If your child has no access to technology at home, please contact the relevant Year Leader (see below) and the School will seek to support where possible.
Year 7: Miss L Saunders firstname.lastname@example.org
Year 8: Mr A Herbert email@example.com
Year 9: Miss S Heath firstname.lastname@example.org
Year 10: Miss C Exton email@example.com
Year 11: Mr J Bennett firstname.lastname@example.org
Year 12 or 13: Mr S Washbrook email@example.com
Free school meals
Families of pupils eligible for free school meals, who are educated off-site in the period 05 – 15 January will, in the manner now established by us as a School, receive supermarket vouchers to ensure provision during this period of altered arrangements.
I would request that you keep alerting the School of coronavirus test outcomes as we enter the start of the new term, so that we can continue to track and where necessary respond appropriately to the C19 profile at any point in time across the School community. Please be reminded that our reporting channel is: firstname.lastname@example.org
As we welcome and journey into the New Year, please be assured of our continued commitment to safety, well-being, and educational provision and development which is as ambitious and supported as possible.
We shall be in contact with further details come 04 January 2021, and throughout the week ahead.
On behalf of all my staff, I sincerely hope that whilst different to normal circumstances and years, you are able to enjoy New Year celebrations over coming days.
With my hopes and warm wishes to you all for a more settled, healthy, and prosperous 2021.