Principal’s Letter – 17th July 2020

Principal’s Letter – 17th July 2020

Friday 17th July 2020

Dear Parents and Carers,

As we approach the end of the academic year, I am writing to you with more details about the arrangements being put in place for the start of next term. I will write to you again in August to confirm these details and to provide you with any additional information that you may need.  However, before doing so, I would just like to start by thanking you all again as parents and carers for your fantastic support over the last four months.  I am particularly appreciative for everything that you have been doing to support learning from home.  The school has also continued to receive a number of messages of thanks and support from so many of you, and these have all been received very gratefully indeed.  I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the staff who have continued to work exceptionally hard to ensure that the students are able to continue with their studies and receive the necessary care and pastoral support when they have been struggling.  Their commitment, care, resourcefulness and energy have never faltered and I am extremely appreciative of everything they have done to help ensure the continued smooth running of the school, despite the challenges they have faced. Finally, I would like to thank the students for showing such strength and resilience during these very uncertain times.  The regular college newsletters have certainly helped to demonstrate just how productive and successful they have been during this period, not just with their academic studies, but through seizing the opportunity to undertake a range of different activities to help keep themselves active, develop new interests, support others, and aid their learning and development.  All very impressive indeed!

As you will be aware, Government guidance has recently been published with regards to the reopening of schools for all students in September. The Senior Leadership Team has been working hard to plan for this return and we are now in a position to share some of the key information about how our plans are developing and what your children will be able to expect.

In order to ensure the safe return of your children we have decided that students will need to return to school on the following dates:

Tuesday 1st September – Staff Development Day – no students in school

Wednesday 2nd September -Year 7 in school

Thursday 3rd September – Years 7 and 13 in school

Friday 4th September – Years 7, 13 and 11 in school

Monday 7th September – Years 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 13 in school. Registration day for Year 12 students.

In order to minimise the risk of infection upon the students’ return, our aims will be to reduce student movement around the site and to maintain a year group bubble structure.  Please find below some key information about how the autumn return to school will be managed:

  • Students  will be organised into “bubbles”, typically by year group, and will not be able to mix with students in other bubbles until guidance changes;
  • We will offer the full curriculum to all students and return to face-to-face subject teaching from the beginning;
  • Attendance at school will be compulsory;
  • Teachers and other adults will be able to move between groups, but will maintain social distancing as much as they can;
  • Students in each year group will be taught in allocated buildings and classrooms.  The only exception to this will be where lessons need to be taught in specialist spaces with specialist equipment. Examples of these subject areas are those of a more practical nature such as vocational subjects, PE, Dance and Music;
  • To minimise movement across the site, the timetable is being re-written to incorporate a number of double lessons for students in Years 7 -11 and double or triple lessons for Sixth Form students;
  • Year 7 will be taught in their new tutor groups; other years will be in normal teaching groups;
  • There will be staggered breaks and staggered lunchtimes. Only two year group bubbles will ever be on break and lunchtimes at the same time. Allocated areas will be identified for each year group bubble;
  • The canteens and food points will only be open at lunchtime. There will be no food available before school or during break times. The canteen and all other food points will operate a cashless system. The cash top-up machines will not be available, so students’ accounts will need to be topped up online;
  • Students will be allocated a food point from which they should purchase their lunch, should they wish to do so. Where appropriate, and to avoid queuing, students should consider bringing a packed lunch to school;
  • Water fountains will not be available to students and as such we recommend that they bring their own drinks into school (no fizzy drinks please);
  • Students will be allocated a temporary tutor who will see them every Monday, Period 1. Students will remain under the auspices of their allocated college;
  • Parents who wish to organise a lift into school for their children will be given staggered drop off times between 8.20am and 8.45am to ensure that students can arrive safely in school. There will also be staggered pick up times at the end of the school day. It is likely that these times will be between 3.15pm and 3.30pm. All times will be communicated with you in August. We are unable to give exact times at the moment as we are working with the local authority to finalise details;
  • Normal school uniform will be reinstated in September and, as such, we ask that parents ensure, in plenty of time, that their children’s uniform still fits them. An email was sent to parents on Wednesday 16th July regarding the ordering and collection process for uniform. If you did not receive the email please contact uniformshop@homewood.kent.sch.uk Students will not be able to attend normal lessons if they are not wearing their uniform correctly.  Students will need PE kit, but specific information will follow in August about changing for PE lessons;
  • Students must bring a named pencil case to school with their equipment in it. They must also bring a suitable bag with them as they will need to carry their own books to and from school. School resources will not be able to be shared in the normal way and so it is imperative that students arrive in school on the first day fully prepared;
  • Sixth Form students will be encouraged to go home to study if they do not have any timetabled lessons. Information regarding signing in and out will be provided in August;
  • Lanyards must be worn by Sixth Form students at all times whilst on site;
  • Students must follow our updated behaviour policies without exception, taking into account new arrangements to keep everyone safe. In these unsettled times there can be no compromise on this;
  • Enhanced hygiene procedures will be implemented and students should bring their own tissues and hand sanitiser to school;
  • Test and trace procedures will be followed;
  • Students should be encouraged to walk or cycle to school as much as possible;
  • Public and school transport will operate, whilst on buses, students should practise social distancing as much as they can, particularly with any other students not within their own year group bubble. It is very likely that all students in September will still have to wear face masks on public transport and if this is the case these face masks must be plain and of one colour;
  • Students are not expected or recommended to wear face masks in school but they may do so if they wish. Where face masks are worn, they should be used appropriately at all times;
  • Students who have a chromebook or a laptop or i-pad must ensure that they bring these into school fully charged every day. It would also be hugely beneficial if they could  bring in a pair of headphones to plug into their chromebooks;

Our hope is that all students will be able to continue their full-time education at school throughout the whole of the academic year from September. However, we know that “local lockdowns” could occur and it may be necessary to ask certain groups of students to remain at home for periods of time if there is an outbreak or suspected outbreak in their bubble or in the local area. With that in mind, we will be ready to reinstate, at any time, the arrangements for online learning. Please ensure that you sign up to ParentMail if you have not already done so. All parents should now have received an email or text invite to join ParentMail, our new communication system. We will be using ParentMail to send out all messages and emails to parents and carers and also for Parents’ Evening bookings when the time comes. If you have not signed up, please do so as soon as possible. This is particularly important as we do not want you to miss out on any vital messages with regards to our return to school in September. If you have any questions about ParentMail please contact Mrs Williams at sh.williams@homewood.kent.sch.uk

Finally, students moving into Year 9 in September will be informed of their new college on Monday 20th July via an email to their school account. Please note that the college students are in does not influence their foundation subject choices.

Thank you all once again for the tremendous amount of support that you have given to the staff and your children throughout this time. It has certainly been a remarkable year thus far. We will continue focusing on doing all we can to ensure that students catch up with any learning that they have missed. We are very confident that, despite the many setbacks this year, we can tackle the challenges ahead of us through working together as a community.

I do hope that the above information has been helpful in giving you a clear overview of our plans. I hope that you and your families have a safe, happy and restful summer. I will be in touch again before the start of the new academic year with any further relevant information.

Yours sincerely

J K Single

Principal

To view the letter as a PDF document, please click here.