Returning to School in January 2021

Returning to School in January 2021

The following letter was emailed to students and their parents/ carers on Thursday 31st December

Dear Parents, Carers and Students

I hope you have had a restful break and been in good health.  Yesterday we met as a school staff to plan the return to school next week. We’re looking forward to getting back to school and hope our students feel the same.  Here is a summary of our plans presented as a series of questions and answers, so that you know what to expect.  Obviously, all of this is subject to the COVID situation and official decisions changing at short notice.

Question: Who will physically attend school from Monday 4th January?

Answer: Students who are vulnerable or who do not have adequate access to the Internet to take part in online lessons should attend school as normal from 1030 on Monday 4th January.  We will be contacting students and their parents where we think this is the case, but if you think your wellbeing would benefit from attending in person, please email me and David Hemsley for advice.

Question: What will all other students be doing?

Answer: Students not attending school physically will be learning online and attending exactly the same lessons and completing the same work as those attending in person.  They will need a laptop or PC with a good Internet connection to access this.  They should check their school emails at 1030 on Monday morning.  We will set some preparatory work for students to do on Monday morning and live teaching will start after lunch. 

Question:  What if I don’t have a suitable laptop/ desktop PC to study online?

Answer: Students may borrow a school laptop to keep at home for the duration of remote learning.  To obtain a laptop simply come to school from 0900 on Monday 4th January.  Please contact School Reception if you are unable to travel and need a staff member to bring the laptop to you.

Question: Will we follow our normal timetable?

Answer: No.  We are planning to try an approach adapted to the purposes of online learning.  Essentially this will be a blend of Lectures which are Zoom meetings that all students attend at the same time, and Supervisions where smaller groups (around 5) of students work with a teacher on solving problems and discussing concepts.  Our learning from delivering online learning so far is that large scale lecture delivery can be effective but works best when combined with small group support that ensures students have to be fully alert and engaged.  Our intention is to ensure that learning continues at the usual pace during January, with all students actively engaged in learning and not simply spectating lessons.  We are also very keen to ensure that students can access additional support when they need it.

Question: OK, so what’s my timetable?

Answer: We’ll put a link in an email on Monday morning to a document that explains everything.  In the meantime please ensure you have completed all the work you needed to do over the break, as there will not be time to do it next week.

Question: What about pastoral support?

Answer:  We don’t currently plan to run the usual daily tutorial sessions but students should contact their form tutor (or, if they prefer, any other member of staff) if there’s anything they need support with.  Additionally, if students are suffering from loneliness or just feeling the lack of social contact then Kerry, Kathryn and Ellie are very happy indeed to have an online chat with them.  Home-learning students really benefited from this last term and the Admin team really appreciate the chance to work closely with students.  Just email reception, or your form tutor if you fancy a chat with someone.

Question: What are the arrangements for testing?

Answer:  We will be setting up the in-school Lateral Flow Testing process when we receive the necessary supplies and have completed the online training.  In the meantime all staff members will be getting tested at Sport Liverpool (University Sports Centre) before starting work on Monday.  We would very much appreciate it if students who are physically attending school would do the same thing to help us to keep everyone safe.  Participation in testing is voluntary and our students are all considered competent to give their own consent to take part in testing.  We encourage students to discuss participation in testing with their parents/ carers, and we also encourage our students to review the evidence (and contrasting interpretations of the data) about the specificity and sensitivity of Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) from a mathematical science point of view.  Here are some papers you might find interesting to compare:

We are not aware of any health risks associated with testing other than the danger of wrongly assuming that a negative LFT result means that the usual social distancing and hygiene measures are no longer required.  Whilst a positive result is very likely to be accurate, there is a significant risk that a negative result from a LFT could be incorrect, so such a result should not be considered to be an “all-clear” signal.

We will provide further information about all these things as and when we have it.  In the meantime, enjoy the rest of the school holiday and let’s raise a glass to 2021 turning out to be a half-decent year for us all!

With best wishes

Damian Haigh