End of Half-term letter to all parents
23 October 2020
Dear Parents and Carers,
I’d like to begin by paying tribute to the pupils who have made a fabulous return to full-time education since September. They have been excellent in adapting to a number of different rules and expectations, showing a great deal of maturity in their approach. They have been ably assisted by all the hard-working staff who, equally, have had to get used to a variety of different working methods. I hope the forthcoming half-term holiday brings a well-deserved rest for all.
With the current possibility of pupils having to self-isolate and work from home, we have been working very hard to provide the best possible opportunities for pupils with remote learning. On the school website, there is now a dedicated page to remote learning. This offers support to pupils and parents alike, with advice on a full range of topics concerning working from home. As well as advice on topics such as ClassCharts and Microsoft Teams, it also contains a range of valuable online learning resources that can be utilised in addition to any work set by teachers. This can be found here: https://www.lsmchs.com/remote-learning
In addition, school is able to assist families struggling to access remote learning due to the lack of a computer at home. I would urge any family in this position to get in touch with school and we can advise accordingly.
Tier 3 restrictions
Thankfully, the recent movement of Lancashire into the government’s ‘Very High’ Tier 3 category has not affected current arrangements at St Mary’s. Although local cases of Covid-19 may be rising, we are able to stay open. I’m sure you would join me in welcoming this. There is no substitute for face-to-face teaching and we are hopeful that schools across the region will continue to remain open. Youngsters have experienced enough disruption to their education and are very much benefitting from being back in the school environment.
As we move into the half-term break, it is a timely reminder that your child’s face mask should be regularly washed as this ensures they remain an effective barrier to airborne particles. Equally, disposable masks should be regularly changed. The pupils have responded to the wearing of masks very well, but it is a good time to ensure your child has an adequate supply for when they return. Up to now, school has been providing masks free of charge to any child without a face covering. However, this is not sustainable as the masks we purchase are coming directly from the school budget. Therefore, when we return in November, we will be charging 50p for masks to help offset this mounting cost.
Reports and progress evenings
Written reports and interim assessment updates will continue to be issued to parents in the usual manner, as in previous years.
However, it is looking increasingly unlikely that Progress Evenings will be allowed at any point soon. For this reason, we will be moving to telephone-based appointments in the week you would ordinarily expect your child’s Progress Evening to be held. Form tutors, pastoral staff or senior staff will phone to offer an update on your child’s general progress in all subjects. These calls will last no longer than 10 minutes. As ever, if you require further advice on your child’s progress for any particular subject area, please get in touch with school and we will provide further details. We have already successfully used this system with parents of Year 7 pupils and I will write to each year group separately when their Progress Evening approaches.
Year 8 learning manager
Recently we said a temporary farewell to the Head of Year 8, Mrs Drew, as she began maternity leave. We wish her all the very best! Until Mrs Drew returns, our experienced RE teacher Mrs Wilson has taken over the role and all correspondence can now be addressed to her. Mrs Kelly remains in place as Pastoral Assistant for the year group.
To cover Mrs Drew’s classes, we have appointed Miss Young to the MFL department, and welcome her to St Mary’s.
Year 7 CAT tests
Year 7 have recently completed their CAT tests. We hold CAT tests, or Cognitive Abilities Tests to give them their full name, every year. They give us an indication as to a pupil’s overall ability level and, given the lack of SAT tests in the summer, are especially important this year. After half-term, pupils in Year 7 will begin to be placed in sets for the majority of classes. These initial decisions will be taken based on evidence from class and homework, as well as the CAT test scores. From this point forwards, pupils will be assessed at various points in the year and, as in older year groups, may find themselves moving sets based on their overall effort and performance.
It is very encouraging to see so many pupils cycling to school. However, now that the clocks are about to change and we enter the winter months, it would be a good idea for bikes to be fit with front and back lights. In addition, the wearing of bike helmets is compulsory for all cyclists. We introduced this last January with a great deal of parental support. After half-term, pupils will not be allowed to leave school on their bike at the end of the day unless they are wearing a helmet. Any bike which is temporarily confiscated will be safely stored and returned to the rider when we are satisfied they are in possession of a helmet. Remember please that no matter how safely bicycles are ridden, risks do exist on the busy roads and helmets are purely for your child’s protection.
A reminder that jumpers again become a compulsory part of school uniform after half-term. This rule will remain in place until we break for the Easter holidays in March and applies to year groups 7 – 10. The wearing of jumpers is optional for Year 11 pupils.
There has been an increase recently in the consumption of sugary fizzy drinks such as Lucozade, Coke, Fanta etc. These are not healthy and do nothing to aid a child’s concentration in class. Therefore, such drinks will be confiscated and disposed of if seen by staff. Please could you remind your child not to bring such drinks into school. School does sell fruit-flavoured carbonated water and this is a much healthier and cheaper alternative to shop-bought products.
Archiocesan contribution and Sr Mary's 500 club
Every year the Archdiocese asks for a contribution of £10 per family to its Building Levy. This is a centrally-based pot of money available to all Liverpool Archdiocesan schools. St Mary’s has directly benefitted from this fund over the years, most recently with the recent £100,000 refurbishment to the Music rooms and pastoral zone. In previous years, school has allocated its share straight from the school fund. Unfortunately, Covid-related costs have risen rapidly for the school and we are requesting assistance from you to help cover this obligation.
If your family is in the position to donate £10 per family towards our Archdiocesan contribution, we would be extremely grateful. Alternatively, rather than pay £10, families can sign-up for the school’s 500 club. Every month lucky numbers are drawn out and 50% of the monies raised are paid as prizes – the more who join, the bigger the prize. By joining the 500 club, you would still be helping to contribute to the Archdiocesan fund, but also stand the chance of winning this amount, and more, back! Further details can be found here: https://smchsleyland.schoolzineplus.co.uk/form/33
Finally, may I once again thank you for your patience, understanding and support during this half-term. It is never taken for granted and always appreciated.
Mr P Thompson