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UPDATE ON SCHOOL RESPONSE TO COVID19

Dear Parents and Carers,

You will be well aware that this week we have had confirmed cases of Covid-19 amongst the school population. Thankfully, those affected are suffering only mild symptoms, and I know you will join me in wishing them all a speedy recovery. Many schools in the North West and throughout the country are experiencing similar scenarios.

We have been very keen to have pupils return to as full a curriculum as possible after enduring such a long time away from school. If lockdown showed us anything, it is that there is no substitute for education within the classroom, and this has been our aim since we knew schools would reopen in September.  

It is therefore desperately disappointing that we have had to ask a number of pupils to self-isolate. I know the overwhelming response from parents whose children have been asked to self-isolate is exactly that; disappointment that such a positive return has had to be temporarily halted, yet understanding of the reasons why. However, our decisions have been done on the back of advice and guidance that the school has received from Lancashire County Council and Public Health England. In conversations I have had with officials, they have been satisfied that our response has been appropriate and that we are acting in line with their expectations. However, if cases continue to rise, it may well be that an alternative course of action is required. If this is the case, that will be directed by Public Health England and we will follow their advice.

I understand the concern that parents may well be feeling given the rise in cases nationwide of school-age children, coupled with the well-publicised delays to testing. Although the government said it was fine for children to return to school, it was always stated that no environment can be entirely safe from the virus. That is why every school has been asked to put in a series of measures to help reduce the risk. At St Mary’s, we have increased our cleaning regime markedly, there are hand sanitiser dispensers in all areas of school, and year groups are kept separate from one another all day except at lesson changeover where we have introduced a one-way system and mandatory wearing of masks. I will stress, though, that our risk assessment remains dynamic, meaning that it is constantly under review to look at ways in which our procedures can be enhanced to minimise risk even further.

The pupils have responded very well and show great maturity in their understanding of the situation. Even so, I am asking all parents to continue to encourage their children to engage fully with school systems. Ensuring they leave for school with a mask, reminders about the correct way to wear a mask, the importance of good hand hygiene, encouraging social distancing and not touching one another will benefit the whole school population and reduce the possibility of further outbreaks.

However, these good habits are not only for during school time. Children are at school for roughly 35 hours in a week. Please encourage them to keep these good habits for the other 133 hours, especially when in the company of friends or extended family after school or the weekend, or at the many clubs and activity groups that are once again starting to meet, and this includes observing the government’s new ‘Rule of Six’. This morning, I received a letter from South Ribble Borough Council highlighting this very point and I have been asked to share it with you. Please click here to view.

 

As we have had confirmation of positive tests and the need for close contacts to self-isolate, I would like to set-out how school will respond to any future cases.

Dealing with and communicating a positive Covid-19 test

Dependent upon when school finds out about a positive test result will determine our approach.

At weekends or in the evening, we will issue an alert through our usual channels that a particular year group will be asked to remain at home on the next school day following the confirmed result. This then allows us to identify and contact any pupil who is seen as a close contact of the positive case. The following day, all pupils who are not close contacts will be allowed to come back into school.

If we are alerted to news of a positive case during school hours, then we will look to send that year group home that day. Again, we will identify close contacts of the positive case and ask them to self-isolate. All other pupils will be allowed to come back in the next day. Please consider this carefully and make contingency plans if we need to send children home. Ensuring they have a key to get in the house, or being able to get home will need to be planned. For year’s 7, 8 or 9, we will not allow pupils to leave unless they can assure us they have contacted a responsible adult and are able to get home. If your child does not have a mobile phone with them, school will make that call for them. Pupils in year’s 10 and 11 should be responsible enough to get home independently however, once again, if school needs to contact home we will do so.

What is a ‘close contact’?

A close contact is someone who has been close to another person with Covid-19. Public Health England’s definition for schools is:

  • Has had extended close contact (between 1 and 2 metres for more than 15 minutes) with a case, or
  • Has been directly coughed on, or
  • Had a face-to-face conversation within 1 metre, or
  • Had unprotected skin-to-skin physical contact, or
  • Travelled in a small vehicle with the case, or
  • Any contact within 1 metre for longer than 1 minute without face-to-face contact

In a school setting, this generally would mean any pupil who has sat close to a positive case in class, or been in close proximity at break or lunchtime. We have set seating plans for every class and lesson, so this will form the bulk of determining who close contacts are.

What does self-isolation mean – does my child have Covid-19?

Self-isolation means that we will ask your child to remain at home for up to 14 days. This means staying in the home/garden and not leaving for any reason. Being asked to self-isolate is a precautionary measure. It DOES NOT mean that we think your child is also positive with Covid-19, neither does it mean that you should seek a test for your child. 14 days is required because it can take this amount of time for any new potential case to become apparent.

Also, the 14 days starts from the last time your child had contact with the positive case. This may lead to a strange situation where, due to delays in tests and results, we may not be aware that your child is a close contact for a number of days. They could easily have been at school or other places for some time before they are asked to self-isolate. Even so, the guidance says the 14 days starts from their last contact and we will stick to this.

No-one else, including brothers and sisters at the same school, will need to self-isolate. The only time other people in the household would need to self-isolate or seek a test would be if they developed symptoms of Covid-19 (symptoms being a new, continuous dry cough, and/or a high temperature, and/or a loss of taste or sense of smell).

Even if your child does have a Covid-19 test and the result is negative, they will still NOT be allowed back into school until their agreed return date.

What if my child is told to self-isolate?

If we ask pupils to stay away from school, even for one day, they MUST remain at home. It is not a day-off or an unexpected holiday. We expect every child to complete the work that will be set for them on ClassCharts. I will not ask nor expect teachers to repeat this work the next day pupils are in, even if the whole year group has been asked to stay off.

The reason every child must stay at home until further notice is that they may also be infectious with Covid-19. Until we can establish whether they are a close contact or not, I must urge caution and ask your child stay at home.

What work will be set? How can I access it?

If your child is off school due to Covid-19 related issues, their work will be uploaded onto ClassCharts.

If all the year group are off - teachers are being asked to upload work in line with timetables. So, for example, if your child has Geography on Period 5, the teacher will be able to upload work between 2pm – 3pm. Five pieces of work will be uploaded for the day

If it is a partial year closure – teachers will still be teaching the children remaining in school. They may not be able to upload work at the time the lesson is being held. Therefore, there may be a short time delay before receiving the work, but I would expect this to have been uploaded at some point on the same day.

All work set will be important and will follow what pupils would have received if in class. Therefore, I repeat that the completion of remote learning is not optional. As a family you need to be prepared for a child to learn at home. They will need a quiet space to work and access to equipment.

If accessing ClassCharts proves a problem at all, please contact school and we will look into the matter. This includes any issues with home IT or Wi-Fi access.

What do I do if my child tests positive for Covid-19?

It is important that you let school know as soon as possible. If this is during usual school hours, please contact us via the regular means. If you receive notification out of school hours, please email c19@lsmchs.com with your child’s details. If possible, please attach a copy of the letter/text informing you of the positive result.

If your child, or anyone in the household, tests positive for Covid-19 then you must follow NHS advice and self-isolate. The message you receive will explain how long you must remain in isolation for, but generally it is 10 days for the person with symptoms, and 14 days for all other household members.

 

Clearly, Covid-19 is still very much in circulation and we all need to remain vigilant. The start to term has been frustrating and disruptive and I apologise for that but we will continue to be guided by both Government and Public Health England advice. I hope you can understand that the picture is continually changing and thank you for the patience shown in these extremely testing times. 

Yours sincerely,

Mr P Thompson

Headteacher

Catholic Relationships and Health Education consultation.

Dear Parents/Carers, 

In the academic year 2020/21, Relationships and Sex Education and Health Education will become statutory in all secondary schools in England.  This new subject will build on the non-statutory lessons we have previously taught in PSHCEE lessons. 

As a Catholic school, our mission is to support the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of all of our pupils, rooted in the wisdom and teaching of the Church. The education of children in human sexuality is an important, precious and privileged responsibility.  The Church teaches us that this is very much a partnership with parents, in which parents are the ‘first educators’ of their children on these matters; ultimately, you confer on us the right to co-educate your children with you. 

We have been researching various programmes that are available and have decided to adopt Life to the Full by Ten Ten Resources. Ten Ten is an award-winning Catholic educational organisation that is well-respected and very experienced in this field of work. 

Ten Ten have entered into a partnership with the Catholic Education Service and the Department for Education to provide training for teachers in Catholic schools on the subject of the new statutory curriculum. I have undertaken this training and so we are confident that this programme is a very good fit for our school. 

Through their programme, Ten Ten understand the foundational role that parents have in educating and nurturing their children on these matters. Within the programme, they have built in resources which will not only keep you informed about what is being taught in school, but will also give you the opportunity to engage your children in discussion, activity and prayer.  

We would like to have your feedback on our approach, and particularly on the key decisions that we need to take regarding the teaching of certain topics.  To this end, we have opened a consultation period during which we welcome your feedback.  

Ten Ten have provided an online Parent Consultation Tool.
This is a simple-to-follow, short online course which: 

  • Outlines the statutory changes that will take place.
  • Articulates a vision for Catholic Relationships and Health Education.
  • Explains how Life to the Full aims to help us fulfil the statutory curriculum with a Catholic ethos.
  • Provides some information about key decisions we need to make, in consultation with parents.
  • Answers some Frequently Asked Questions. 

Ten Ten have also provided an Online Parent Portal which will be a tool we can use throughout the year to keep you informed and updated about the work we are doing in school. 

To take part in the consultation, please do the following:

 

  1. Access the Parent Consultation Tool here:

https://www.tentenresources.co.uk/courses/parent-consultation-tool-secondary/

 

  1. You will need the following login credentials for our school:

Username:         st-marys-pr25   

Password:           best-school2                           

 

  1. Undertake the Parent Consultation course provided.

 

  1. Complete the feedback questionnaire by following this link before Monday 5th October 2020. 

We hope that our approach not only assures you about the new subject matter we are going to undertake; we hope that this will be an important and exciting opportunity for our entire school community. 

Mrs Pilling

Assistant Head Teacher

COVID 19 - Year 7

COVID 19 MESSAGE - YEAR 7 Unfortunately we have been notified of a positive case in Year 7 this morning, therefore we are asking that all Year 7 children return home. If you have not heard from your child, please phone the school office, so we can make safe arrangements for your child to come home. We will update you with more information once we have spoken to Public Health England.

Work will be available on Classcharts

Many thanks

NHS Covid Guidance

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COVID19 Y11

FOR YEAR 11 PARENTS - unfortunately we've just heard about ONE confirmed positive test for COVID19 in Year 11, therefore as a precaution we have asked all Year 11 students to go home today (Wednesday 16th September). Work will be available on Classcharts.

Once we have determined who has been in close contact we will phone parents in person and will expect the majority of students to return on Thursday. Apologies for any inconvenience that this may cause. 

Further updates will be posted via the school’s social media accounts, website and parent app.

Regards,
Phil Thompson
Headteacher

Parking

A reminder for car users.

We are asking you to be considerate to our neighbours and safe for our pupils by not stopping, dropping-off or picking-up outside school.

Please respect the yellow cones and yellow road markings as they are in place for everyone’s health and safety and are not to be used by vehicles.

A short walk to or from school for your child will help ease the situation on Royal Avenue and the surrounding roads.

Many thanks,

 

Mr Thompson

Headteacher

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Technology

Equipment for Practical Technology Lessons

Where possible we are trying to ensure that our pupils are still receiving a varied technology curriculum and plan to offer practical lessons with revised procedures in compliance with C19 regulations. Extra measures are being taken to ensure the safe use of equipment and to prevent use across year group bubbles.

 

Students are asked, however, to ensure that they bring in their aprons or overalls for practical lessons e.g. Food, Engineering and D&T. Whilst school has class sets, there is simply not enough time to ensure that they are washed and dried in time for use by pupils in other year groups.

 

As per our uniform policy a plain blue apron is required for Food Technology and should be brought to each lesson. Only KS4 pupils are expected to have their own overalls for workshop based lessons. Given the cost, we are happy for KS3 pupils to come to school with an old oversized shirt which can be worn over their uniform to protect clothing when doing practical activities such as tool work or painting.

 

Many Thanks

Mrs Doran

(Curriculum Leader Computing & Technology)

 

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CHANGE TO EXPECTATIONS WITH FACE MASKS

Dear parents and carers,

I’d firstly like to congratulate the pupils who have been excellent on their return to full-time school. They have displayed a very mature attitude and have settled as well as any of us could have hoped for after such a long absence.

As you know, we have put in place a series of measures to ensure school is as safe an environment as possible for staff and children alike. One such measure is the school’s new one-way system. This in itself is working well as pupils get used to their new routes. However, pupils do mix briefly with other year groups and it is difficult to maintain effective social distancing at these times.

Therefore, as an additional precautionary measure from Thursday, 10 September, we are asking that all pupils and staff wear face masks at the changeover of lessons. The only exception to this would be any pupil who would ordinarily be exempt from this rule due to a pre-existing medical condition. We would expect school medical records to already have these details on file. This change goes beyond current government advice.

We recommend the best face coverings to wear to be reusable, washable masks. Can I ask please that all masks are of one plain colour, without logos or patterns.

At all other times, pupils will remain within their year groups, so the wearing of face masks will not be necessary, including in lessons.

I hope you understand the reason for this change. Plans on paper can often be different in reality and it is important we recognise this and amend things when necessary as soon as possible. There is a need for the school to be flexible as we manage our return.

May I thank you for your continued support, including those parents who have offered feedback since the children returned – your comments and thoughts are always welcome.

Yours sincerely,

Mr P Thompson

Headteacher

New School Term

Dear Parents and Carers

REOPENING OF SCHOOL – WEDNESDAY 2 SEPTEMBER 2020

As we prepare for a full reopening of St Mary’s for all pupils on Wednesday 2 September, I would like to remind you of the key points of how school will operate on our return.

MASKS

One important change from the information I sent out in the summer is regarding the wearing of face masks. Government guidance has changed on this very recently, therefore pupils can now voluntarily wear face masks when on corridors or in communal areas such as the canteen. Given that there will be movement for children at times around school, it may be that your child would feel more confident wearing a mask. If your child would like to wear a mask, we would ask that the mask is a plain colour, is a medically approved face mask (e.g. not a scarf/ bandana/neck warmer), and that it is removed upon entry into a classroom.

UNIFORM AND APPEARANCE

St Mary’s pupils traditionally look very smart, so on returning to school on Wednesday 2 September all pupils should be in full school uniform. This includes top buttons fastened, blazers and black shoes (no trainers). There should be no make-up, no false tan, no inappropriate haircuts/colours and no jewellery. Our expectations on uniform and appearance have not changed since lockdown!

ENTRY INTO SCHOOL

All year groups will have a dedicated entrance into school. These will be clearly marked and staff in high-visibility jackets will be present on Royal Avenue to guide pupils to their correct year-group entrance. Entrances are as follows:

            Year 7 – The ‘usual’ pupil entrance via the path onto the main yard

Year 8 – Pupils will enter via the Reception area, i.e. the main school entrance

Year 9 – Will access school via the main car park, gather at the back of the school near the netball court/Astroturf and enter school by the entrance at the MFL stairs

Year 10 – Pupils will come in by the side entrance door, next to the bike shed on the main car park

Year 11 – Entry via the small car park, gather in the quad area outside the Drama Theatre, and enter school via the door near the Music/Technology corridor

 

All paths to entrances will be clearly marked and your child’s form tutor and Head of Year will be waiting for them at the entrances. Form rooms will be changed to make sure they are as close to the year group entrance as possible.  

ONE-WAY SYSTEM

To ensure that minimal mixing of pupils is achieved, a new one-way system will be in operation. Pupils will be guided through this one-way system, and as a form group be able to walk the route to familiarise themselves with it on the first day back.

BREAK AND LUNCH TIMES

Both break and lunch times will be split, with no more than 2 year groups out of class at any time. Each year group will be assigned to either the Drama Theatre or canteen. Each will have access to an outdoor area and these 2 year groups will not mix.

START AND END OF THE SCHOOL DAY

Our start and end times of the school day are not changing. Pupils must be in school by 8.45am and will leave at 3pm. Pupils will be told to leave by the closest exit to their classroom. They must leave by this exit.

SCHOOL TRANSPORT

Ideally, your child will walk or cycle to and from school.

Bicycle: If pupils come on a bike they must wear a cycling helmet for safety. Secure areas have been arranged for each year group to store their bikes.

Car: If you are dropping-off/picking-up your child please do not park on Royal Avenue, but use the roads close by and encourage your child to walk the remaining short distance. This will reduce congestion and help with the safety of pupils.

Bus Transport: Whether using a public or school bus, all secondary school children will be required to wear a face mask, unless they are exempt. It is advised that they use hand sanitizer on entry and exit from the bus and sit with pupils from their own year group wherever possible.

LOCKERS, BAGS & EQUIPMENT

For the foreseeable future, lockers will not be able to be used. Therefore, pupils should be prepared to carry one bag with them throughout the day. In addition, pupils are asked to have their own equipment. They must not share with another pupil. Your child will not be required to bring their PE kit on the first day.

LUNCHES

Initially, we are asking that pupils bring snacks & a packed lunch with them. A limited sandwich selection will be available for all pupils to pre-order in the morning, but for the first 2 weeks at least, hot school meals will only be made available to those pupils in receipt of Free School Meals.

OUTDOOR AREAS

Every year group will have a dedicated outdoor area they will be able to use at breaks and lunch. They will not be mixing with pupils from other year groups. However, it may be that, initially at least, your child may have to spend more time outdoors at breaks and lunch than they ordinarily would. With this in mind, we would recommend they bring a lightweight waterproof coat in case of rain.

 

RETURN TO LESSONS

We are all keen to ensure that your child returns to face-to-face lessons as soon as possible. Their teachers will be working hard to ensure your child has the essential knowledge they need to progress in every subject. However, it is also a long time since many children have been in school. For this reason, our first day will be devoted to understanding the new systems, reflecting on our experiences during lockdown and forming again our relationships and friendships with one another.

INCREASED HYGIENE AWARENESS

School will increase the cleaning regime during the school day so that regular-use areas, such as door handles and toilets are frequently cleaned. Dining areas will also be cleaned after one year group has used them and between sittings. We will also ensure that the school is thoroughly cleaned every evening in line with government advice, so your child will return in the morning to as sterile a site as is possible.

We will be asking every child to wash or sanitise their hands on entry into the building every morning and at other times in the day. The ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’ approach will be promoted as well, with tissues and extra bins provided for rooms. From the start of the school day until the end, wherever physically possible, your child will only be with members of their year group, except potentially at brief movement times on the corridor.

CONTACTING SCHOOL

We would ask that any visits to school by parents or carers are done by appointment only. As much contact as possible will be done by email or phonecall.

 

We look forward to welcoming your child back to St Mary’s on Wednesday 2 September. We are confident that the steps we have put in place will ensure school is as safe an environment as possible for the pupils. Many thanks for your support as we return to our purposeful learning environment.

 

Yours sincerely

Mr P Thompson

Headteacher

Y11 Destination Data

Important message from Lancashire County Council – action required!

 

Year 11 Leavers Destination - Lancashire County Council - 16-19 Education and Skills Team

 

Intended Destination Form

 

All young people leaving Year 11 are guaranteed an offer of a place in post 16 learning/training by the end of September in the year in which they leave school. So we can help you receive your offer of learning/training, we have created an online version of the form for your convenience. please complete this form as fully as possible.

LCC Intended Destination Form