I hope that this letter finds you and all your family as well as can be in the current situation. There doesn’t look to be a return to normality any time soon, and we all continue to adapt to the new expectations being placed upon us in all walks of life. Of course, many of you will no doubt be asking ‘When will schools reopen?’ and the simple answer is, we don’t know. However, we all wish that it is sooner rather than later.
Ever since lockdown, we have opened school for a very small number of children e.g. children of key workers, children who have contact with Social Care and those with EHCP’s (Education Health Care Plans). This provision has continued throughout the Easter holiday and we will be open during the half-term holiday next week as well.
At the time of writing, there are no plans to widen this provision. As ever, we will be guided by the government and scientific advice we receive before making any changes. I will be writing to the parents of Year 10 pupils soon to outline how we propose to approach the government’s recent announcement that schools ‘offer some face-to-face support to supplement the remote education of year 10 children who are due to take GCSEs next year.’
Although this wasn’t the way that anybody would have liked their time at St Mary’s to end, we say goodbye to Year 11. They have been a fabulous set of pupils, contributing in so many ways to the success of the school and we hope that they leave with many happy memories of their time at high school. I’m sure you will join me in wishing each and every one of them all the very best for the future, whichever path they choose to follow.
The staff have put together various messages to share with the Year 11’s and these will be with the pupils very soon. Unfortunately, although understandably, the Year 11 Prom has been officially postponed, but we dearly hope to meet-up with all the leaver’s in the near future.
As we know, GCSE’s and other exams have been cancelled this summer. Teachers are busy finalising their predicted grades for the exam boards. I will remind all Year 11 pupils that schools are not allowed to discuss any grade awarded, and that results day will be as originally planned on Thursday 20 August.
ClassCharts will continue to be the method by which we will issue work for pupils. Although there have been one or two minor glitches with the system, which have affected all users across the country, it has worked very well in helping us communicate which work needs to be completed.
Whilst we don’t pretend that remote learning is in any way a replacement for the classroom, we continue to be delighted with the level of engagement of so many of our pupils. The teachers are working very hard to ensure that appropriate work is set and monitored, and I am full of admiration for the way they have set about this task. I know many parents appreciate the work which is set, but I would ask that if any family is experiencing any difficulties to get in touch and we will try our best to resolve the issue.
Next week marks the May half-term holiday which means that there will be no work set after Friday 22 May. Teachers will resume uploading work from Monday 1 June.
Free School Meals
Free school meal vouchers will continue to be delivered to all eligible families during half-term.
If any family has been affected by the lockdown and feel they would benefit from free school meals, then in the first instance, I would advise looking at the following webpage to see if you are eligible;
The latest government advice on school trips is that all domestic trips should be cancelled. Therefore, we will not be running events such as the Year 8 retreat to Liverpool, or the end of year rewards trip to Blackpool.
In relation to trips abroad, the government advice is applicable up to 31 May. They say they will update the advice before 1 June. In reality, we must accept that it is highly unlikely the current advice (which is that foreign school trips should not take place) will change. Therefore, it is very likely that the Madrid trip in June will not go ahead.
However, until we get confirmation that this trip is cancelled and refunded, we are not in a position to return any money back to parents. As soon as we hear any more, we will be in contact with families.
Many thanks for your continuing support during this difficult period. I hope and pray that you all remain safe and that we will be together again as a school community as soon as possible.
Mr P Thompson
Year 11 Update
06 May 2020
Good morning to all our Year 11 pupils, parents and carers. Unfortunately due to the ongoing social distancing restrictions we have had to make the decision to postpone the Year 11 Prom originally scheduled for Friday 19th June 2020. We are aware that many of you will be disappointed by this update and we share this feeling with you all, however everyone's health and safety must be our key priority during these difficult times. We shall endeavor to try and reschedule a celebration when restrictions are lifted and it is safe to do so, we are already looking forward to seeing you all once again. We hope you are all keeping well and continue to hold you all in our thoughts and prayers.
Y11 Next Steps
27 Apr 2020
Dear Pupils and Parents of Year 11,
The Local Authority have put together the three documents (English, Maths and Science) to support you in the preparation for the next phase of your education. They will be available through ClassCharts and on the school website.
Remember that teachers are still setting work for you. Your brain is a giant muscle – keep using it to exercise it.
With ‘wellbeing’ being a concern for everyone during these anxious times, Lancashire Mind have informed of us the following webinars which may be useful for our families.
Sam Tyrer, the founder of Change Talks, a Children and Young People's organisation, and his colleague, Dave, are hosting live webinars called ‘Mental Health Family Hour’ every Tuesday at 10am. A pre-recorded session on YouTube - https://youtu.be/wZKO4sb9BAk has been tested and received a great response.
Each of the live sessions will also be uploaded to YouTube. They can be watched at any time and they will be useful for everybody at this time. These sessions will especially create a great opportunity for families to discuss their mental well-being and hopefully lead to some positive discussions.
All you have to do is click the link www.twitch.tv/mindsetbydave every Tuesday morning at 10am and you will immediately tune in to the live streaming. They have opted for this platform as it enables them to run their PowerPoint alongside their discussion. There will also be an opportunity at the end of each session to ask questions.
We hope you find this useful.
08 Apr 2020
Today we reach the end of our Spring term and it is an ending none of us could have predicted when it began back in January.
I would like to thank all parents and carers for your support, patience and understanding over the last few weeks as we have collectively dealt with the impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. It has undoubtedly presented us all with challenges as we adapt to a new, albeit temporary, way of living and working.
To the pupils, I would like to say well done to everyone who has attempted to complete the work which has been set. We know it is strange getting work through ClassCharts and being unable to interact in the usual way with teachers and friends, but staff have been very impressed with your efforts – keep it up!
We have attempted to retain a sense of normality in the work that we are setting and I would like to pay tribute to all the staff who have gone above and beyond in their response to this crisis. They are a fabulous group of colleagues who have shown, now more than ever, that they have your child’s interests very much at the heart of everything they do.
Thursday 9 April marks the start of the Easter holidays for St Mary’s. This will clearly not be the break that any of us were planning for, but it should be a rest all the same. For that reason, there will be no work uploaded for pupils on ClassCharts for the duration of the holidays. We return to work on Monday 27 April from which time work will again be uploaded 5 times a day, following your child’s timetable. However, we are staying open for a very small number of pupils whose families are key workers during the break. In addition, the government vouchers for Free School Meals will also be distributed by staff on a weekly basis.
We were very happy to help earlier in the week when we donated our Science goggles to the Royal Preston Hospital. It is a shocking state of affairs that those on the frontline of this crisis are having to ask, but we hope our little contribution is of some use. In addition, we were obviously unable to host our annual Easter community bingo event. We appreciated very much your kind donations of Easter eggs, in exchange for participating in a non-uniform day. However, the eggs would have gone to waste so it was decided they would be donated to the food bank at St Mary’s RC Church.
We would be happy to help out in any other way we can and if you know of a way in which we can help the wider community then please contact school and we will see how we can be of assistance.
Educational Visits/School Trips
We are currently working with school trip providers to ensure that you are properly refunded for any activities you have paid for which do not go ahead. As soon as we get confirmation that a trip is cancelled and refunded, we will start getting money back to parents. It may be that we have to make final payments before we can claim full refunds so please stick to payment schedules and deadlines until we advise you otherwise.
It was a sad but ultimately inevitable conclusion to the coronavirus outbreak that end of year exams for Year 11 had to be cancelled. The exam boards have issued guidance to schools on how final grades will be awarded. In essence, this will come down to teacher predictions, using their professional judgement to assess what was the most likely result for pupils in their class. The finer details of this process are still being ironed out, but this much we do know already;
GCSE results will come out in the summer, possibly sooner than the expected date of 20 August
Pupils cannot submit any work now which will go towards any final predicted grade
Schools (and individual teachers) will not be allowed to tell parents or pupils what predicted grades they have given
Ofqual, the body in charge of all public examinations, have written to pupils and parents. You can view this letter here:
Easter is the most special time of the church year, when we remember the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made on Good Friday, only to be raised to life on Easter Sunday. In these times we should not lose sight of the hope of the Easter message. With churches shut, you may wish to visit one of these websites in order to access Easter services during Holy Week both within the Archdiocese of Liverpool and beyond;
It is unclear when schools will reopen again. For the time being, we look forward with hope to a time when we can come together again as a school community. In the meantime, on behalf of all the Governors and staff at St Mary’s, I wish you a happy and Holy Easter.
02 Apr 2020
Please see the attached Parental Guide on heldping your child through the school closure from Lancashire County Council
IMPORTANT SCHOOL CLOSURE INFORMATION
20 Mar 2020
Dear Parents / Carers,
As you will be aware, the government has announced that all schools will close from the end of the school day today (Friday 20 March) due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We do not yet know when school will reopen.
We have closely followed developments and have made contingency plans to allow a level of education to continue for pupils remotely.
Work for Pupils
I wrote to you on Tuesday this week to explain that we will use ClassCharts to upload work for pupils. I have asked staff that, where possible, they match the work your child receives to their timetable for any given day. Therefore, you can expect 5 pieces of work to be uploaded per day. Last week and this week, we have ensured that every child has been reissued with their ClassCharts login details, and reminded of their school email addresses.
The government has asked that all children are instructed to stay away from school, and be supervised at home. We have been asked to stay open for a very small number of children e.g. children of key workers, children with contact with Social Care and those with EHCP’s (Education Health Care Plans). If school has not contacted you regarding this, your child must stay at home.
Our school service is now severely limited. Therefore, I am asking that communication to school is done via email. Any queries regarding subject specific questions can be directed to the following email addresses:
Queries regarding I.T. and General Enquiries
Any queries regarding access to ClassCharts or school email addresses can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Can I ask please for your patience and understanding in this matter. Staff members will not be able to reply immediately to your enquiries. Due to the fact that all schools are closed, staff may have caring responsibilities of their own, or indeed, may be ill due to the virus. For this reason, I am asking that you allow 48 hours of the email being sent for you to receive a reply.
As a school, we deal with a number of pupils and families with our safeguarding team. The two main contacts for safeguarding at St Mary’s are Mrs Gail Reader and Ms Lynne Turner. Should any parent or pupil need safeguarding advice or guidance during our closure, in the first instance, please email email@example.com. Mrs Reader or Ms Turner will respond accordingly.
In addition to this, we have endeavoured to collate as many helpline contacts as possible. These are listed below. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that they will all be operational at the present time.
Nurture and Chaplaincy
In addition, Anthony our Chaplain provides vital support for a number of pupils. Should it be needed, he can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org. This email can also be used for any nurture-based enquiries.
Free School Meals
We have received information from Lancashire County Council regarding the provision of Free School Meals for those pupils who ordinarily collect them. We will be in direct contact with the relevant families shortly about how Free School Meals will be distributed.
We will naturally be following the news for updates of the situation in the UK. The Department for Education coronavirus advice line for pupils, parents and staff is 0800 046 8687. We all hope that the impact of the virus is at the lower end of predictions and that the country can return back to normality as soon as possible. As a school, we will continue to follow official advice and update parents regularly through the usual means:
Many thanks for your understanding at this unique time for the nation. We are all being asked to make sacrifices for the good of the country and the good of our health. I am sure we will all rise to this challenge and take good care of one another. I ask that you keep the St Mary’s community in your prayers, as we also pray for you, your family and your loved ones. With God’s blessing, we will be safely back in school as soon as possible.
Mr P Thompson
Urgent Information for Parents who may be Key Workers:
20 Mar 2020
Thank you to parents who have already responded to our request yesterday regarding key workers. In many cases, our staff have already spoken to you about this matter.
Last night the government issued clear guidance for schools regarding the children of key workers.
The guidance strongly recommends that social distancing is key and that ‘every child who can be safely cared for at home should be’.
The guidance also says that ‘the government has asked parents to keep their children at home, wherever possible, and asked schools to remain open only for those children who absolutely need to attend’.
Please check the list of key worker jobs which are crucial to the containment and management of Covid-19. If you fall into one of these categories, and school is the only way in which childcare can be managed, then please contact school by 1pm today, in order for us to plan for the coming week.
Thank you if you have already responded earlier, and apologies if this message does not apply to you.
If you require support and have not yet registered please click here.
Mr P Thompson
HT letter to parents 19.03.20
19 Mar 2020
Dear Parent / Carer,
Please follow the link to view the headteacher's letter to parents.
School is fully open today to all year groups, we will continue to monitor the situation and keep you all regularly updated. We continue to follow government advice in our handling of the COVID-19 situation.