Our plans for re-opening in September
16 July 2020 (updated 27 August to reflect new government advice on face coverings)
Dear parents & carers
As we reach the end of another academic year, I write to you for the last time in my capacity as Principal at the academy. As this is a long letter, you may prefer the printable PDF version.
As mentioned in my previous letter to you, I will remain involved with CAM in my new role as Executive Principal for Greater Manchester, and am delighted that Mel McMorrow will be stepping up to lead the academy from September.
This end of term letter is like no other that I have written, as we have all found ourselves in a position like no other over recent months. In the main body of this letter, I will outline our plans for a full re-opening of the academy to all students in September, and will highlight some significant changes that will be introduced as a temporary measure in order to ensure we operate safely and in a way that minimises transmission of COVID19.
Before I go on to outline these changes, I would like to pay tribute to all of our students who have worked hard to remain engaged in their learning – whether remotely, online or on site. We all know that this has not been an easy thing to do, and that it has taken effort and willpower to sustain over so many weeks. Thanks also go to our parents and carers – many of you have supported us and often taken up the role of substitute teachers and tech-support for your children. I would also like to make a special mention to our Year 11 leavers, who had the end of their normal high school experience pulled out from under them with no notice. Everyone at the academy misses our outgoing year group and wishes them every success for their future studies and employment. We do hope to be able to meet up as a year group at some point in the future. Lastly, I would like to say a special thanks to the academy staff team of teachers and non-teachers for the tremendous way that they have all had to adapt to a completely new way of working in order to support students’ wellbeing, safety and learning.
In the last week or so, the government published guidance for schools on how to re-open fully, for all students from September. We all know that we will still be living with COVID19 in September, and this is why we cannot simply return to business as usual at the very start of next academic year. Instead, there will need to be a number of changes to the way that we operate. All of the temporary changes that we are introducing flow from the following three principles :
SAFETY – the need to keep students and staff safe and to minimise the spread of infection in order to keep families and the wider community safe from infection.
LEARNING – the need to protect students’ entitlement to a broad and balanced curriculum without narrowing subject choices or asking students to drop options subjects
PEOPLE – the need adopt an approach that works for staff and students by reorganising learning, minimising movement around the academy & not overloading staff or students with impossible requests
The changes that we are introducing from September will present some additional challenges but also offer some opportunities that we haven’t enjoyed before. Like all change, we also know that students will need a bit of time to adjust to a ‘new normal’ but we are confident that our fantastic student body will soon acclimatise and will take it all in their stride after the first week or so. We will take the proper amount of time at the start of the new term to talk through all of the changes with every student so that they are clear about what to do. This letter outlines some of the most significant changes, and it is important that you find time to go through these with your child so that they know what to expect and when and where to arrive in September.
The Start of Term
The academy will open for new Year 7 and Year 11 students ONLY on Thursday 3rd September. These two year groups will be the only students in the building for the first two days (Thurs & Fri).
The academy will open for ALL students in all year groups on Monday 7th September.
Staggered Start and End Times
In order to keep groups of students apart from each other and avoid mass mixing, we are adopting two different start/end times for different year groups.
Years 7, 9 & 11 will start at 8.30am and will finish at 2.25pm
Years 8 & 10 will start at 9am and will finish at 2.55pm
Students should not arrive on site until 20 minutes before their allotted start time so that we can keep groups separate.
Years 7, 9 & 11 should not be on site before 8.10am
Years 8 & 10 should not be on site before 8.40 am
Different Entrances / Exits
To keep groups from mixing, different year groups will arrive and leave through different gates and entrances.
Years 7 & 8 will arrive through the main pedestrian gate (fig2 in pic below) and enter the building through the main student foyer at the front of the academy. They will be directed to their areas from there.
Year 9 will arrive through the bottom gate (fig1 in pic below), and through the car park gate near the 3G sports pitch, into the quad. They will then enter the building through Humanities and the Science stairs.
Years 10 & 11 will arrive through the very top service road gates (fig3 in pic below opposite Plant Hill Park), behind the back of the new extension, and in through the doors by the back staircase. Year 10 will go up the stairs to Maths. Year 11 will go straight into the English area.
At the end of the day, it is important that students do not hang around to wait for friends from other year groups, but that they leave the site straight away and go home.
Breakfast Club and Bus Issues
We will not be able to offer our normal informal mixed year group breakfast club or after school activities as we need to keep year groups apart. We do appreciate that some families have unavoidable childcare issues and value the before school breakfast club provision. We plan to allocate breakfast club rooms within each year group area ONLY for those students who absolutely need to access it. Other students should not arrive on site any earlier than 20 minutes before their start time. We will provide more details on this when we write to you with details of your child’s tutor group over the summer.
We also understand that there may be students in year groups that have the slightly earlier finish who need to catch the school bus at a slightly later time. For these students ONLY, we will provide supervised rooms, within each year group area, for them to wait after their finish time. All other students must leave the site straight away. We have let the bus company know about our revised start and finish times. Current advice from the bus companies is that students should only use buses if they cannot walk or cycle to school. At the time of writing, students will not need a pass to use school buses. We will share future information on timetables and updates from the bus companies with you.
There will be no open access to the library after school. Instead, different year groups will be assigned different days when they can access the library at break, lunch or after school if they need to. This allows us to maintain the required hygiene and cleaning regime that is required.
Changes to Learning
To minimise the spread of infection, students will remain in their year group ‘bubbles’ and will not mix with other year groups. This means that for the most part, year groups will remain in a specific area of the academy, and will only change rooms within this area. Students will still be able to access specialist spaces however (e.g. Drama / Science / Technology / Music / Art / ICT etc.) but this will be controlled and supervised by these specialist teachers.
To minimise movement around the building and to cut down on wasted time, we will move from 5 single one hour lessons, to just 3 sessions of learning. Two of these will be double lessons and one will remain a single lesson. You will be able to see, for example, that 1 double PE lesson rather than 2 single lessons means that we can halve the number of times the changing rooms need to be used.
To facilitate the staggered starts/ends of the day, some year groups will have tutor at the start of the day, and others will have tutor at the end of the day. In order to maintain the year group ‘bubbles’, our existing mixed tutor groups will need to temporarily be regrouped to form single-year tutor groups. Students will stay in the Families that they already belong to and tutor groups will stay in the Families they currently belong to. This will allow us to continue with the great work that the Families do including their charity work and competition. It also means that we do not have to change anyone’s Family tie. We will write to you over the summer to let you know who your child’s tutor will be while these measures are in place.
Breaks and Lunches
We are introducing more staggered sessions for break and lunch so that we have far fewer students out at any one time, and so that we can keep year groups apart.
Break will remain as 15 minutes and lunch will reduce to 20 minutes each day.
Some year groups will be split into their timetable bands for break/lunch so that not all students within a year are out at the same time. We are confident that having far fewer students on lunch, along with making use of two separate dining areas, will allow plenty of time for all students to be served and to eat.
The allocation of Leadership Team and LPSOs to year groups from September will be :
Ms O’Connor (Associate Assistant Vice Principal)
Ms McLean (LPSO)
Mr H Egalton (LPSO)
Ms Peavoy (Assistant Vice Principal)
Ms Mitchell (LPSO)
Mr Talabi (LPSO)
Mr Haseler (Assistant Vice Principal)
Mr Blagbrough (LPSO)
Mr Poole (LPSO)
Mrs Antrobus (Associate Assistant Vice Principal)
Ms Thistlethwaite (Senior LPSO)
Mr Graham (LPSO)
Mr Heaney (Assistant Vice Principal)
Ms Jackson (LPSO)
Uniform and Equipment
It has been a while since any of our students have worn full uniform. From September, all students are required to return to wearing full academy uniform. Please take time to read the reminders below and visit our website for full details.
As many of you will know, the year before last, the academy adopted its new brand and this meant that new items of uniform carry the new academy logo. We continue to adopt a common sense approach to the introduction of the newly branded uniform to allow parents the opportunity to continue to use the old branded uniform until it has reached the end of its natural life.
As a reminder, the key details you need to know are:
- All new Year 7 students will be given a newly branded blazer to start with
- All new Year 7 students will purchase newly branded PE kit
- All other students can continue to use their existing blazers and PE kits until they need replacing. Next time these need to be replaced, you will buy the newly branded versions. Of course, you are welcome to buy the newly branded items for September if you wish. Please note that, to aid social distancing, we ask that you make an appointment to collect any new uniform via https://bit.ly/uniform-2020 – please note that for current students, you can pre-pay by card for uniform in the Parent Pay uniform shop – if paying in person you must bring the exact cash (we have no card payment facility in the academy).
The Student Council worked to influence the academy uniform and as a result of their excellent work, we introduced optional academy PE leggings for girls. We also replaced the old loose fitting tracksuit pants with a slimmer fitted version as optional items for both girls and boys. Both the leggings and the new tracksuit pants are available from the academy uniform shop via Parent Pay. Please note : only the versions of the leggings and tracksuit pants from the uniform shop are acceptable – please do not buy alternative versions as these will not be permitted.
New Year 7 students will be provided with their first ‘Family tie’ free of charge at the start of the year, but all other students are expected to keep using their current ties unless their Family group has been changed. Replacement ties can be purchased at a subsidised cost of £5.
Please ensure that your child arrives at the academy in September in full uniform and is equipped ready to learn with a pen, pencil and ruler etc. Given the current restrictions around infection control, it is more important than ever that students have their own equipment with them each day so that there is no need to share items. As always, students will be able to purchase basic stationery from the rewards shop throughout the year using their Class Charts points – but this will be limited due to restrictions on the use of the library.
I would like to draw all parents’ attention to the academy uniform policy as there have been one or two slight amendments over recent years in order to make it even clearer about what is expected. In particular, we have added a line which now includes a plain black head-scarf, if required, for our Muslim girls. We have also indicated that girls’ skirts should be knee length (or just above), as we have had several students this year coming to the academy in skirts that are far too short. Please note that skirts must not be pleated or stretchy/lycra material and that trousers must not be slim/narrow fit or jean-like in their appearance.
Shoes must be plain, black (no trainers, pumps, canvas, patterns or accessories or excessive decorative features) and should not be on or above the ankle (i.e. No boots). A number of students last year had bought expensive designer shoes, only to be told that they were not acceptable at the academy. Many of you will buy new school shoes over the summer break. I urge all parents to err on the side of caution and to buy simple, plain, sensible school shoes rather than purchasing fashion shoes.
Please also note that our Dressed for Business Uniform Policy includes hair, make-up and jewellery. There must be no extreme hairstyles (including non-natural colours, no shaved heads or lines), any make-up must be subtle (no coloured nail varnish is allowed) and only one pair of small stud earrings is permitted. If your child plans on getting any piercings or changing their hairstyle, this must be done at the start of the summer so that it does not present a problem at the start of the new academic year. A copy of the uniform requirements and the full policy can be downloaded from the academy website.
We will be checking uniform carefully throughout the first week back and will be sending students home to rectify incorrect uniform. Your help in making sure that your child fully meets the academy Dressed for Business Uniform Policy is greatly appreciated and will mean that your child has a really positive start to the term.
Face coverings (updated 27 August)
On Tuesday 25 August the Government announced that face masks or face coverings “should be worn by adults and pupils in secondary schools when moving around the school, such as in corridors and communal areas where social distancing is difficult to maintain”. They have confirmed that face coverings are not necessary in classrooms.
As a result of this new guidance, we will be asking all students to wear face masks in the academy when they return next week when they are moving around the building, where social distancing is more difficult to do, this includes : moving to lessons, going to break and lunch and entering/exiting the academy .Our staff will support them to understand expectations surrounding the face covering, when and where these should be worn. We are asking for students to bring their own face covering into school, ensuring it is looked after and kept clean. We will continue to follow government and trust guidance and when this changes we will of course communicate this to you and students. Thank you for all your support and patience with this.
Hygiene and Infection Control
- Students will be encouraged to wash their hands upon arrival / before refreshments / if using the toilet
- Each learning area will have hand sanitiser / tissues / anti-bac wipes and a lidded bin
- Gloves will be available for use if required
- Students will use wipes provided to wipe Chromebooks / PCs before and after use
- Each learning area is only used by a designated year group ‘bubble’
- Where specialist spaces are used by different year groups, these will be thoroughly cleaned in between use
- Students should not share personal equipment (pens / pencils etc) – defined groups will be able to use shared classroom resources and these will be cleaned regularly
- There are visual reminders on display in each learning area about hygiene / not touching faces / social distancing / catch it, kill it , bin it etc
- Students will not pass paper around / hand in work for marking etc – instead, teachers will use e-learning tools to share work and feedback, or use mini whiteboards to check students’ understanding. Teachers will also be able to mark students’ work but this will be subject to hygiene measures and/or quarantine times after handing in.
- If any student develops COVID symptoms, they will be moved to a separate area until collected / sent home. Their desk area will be cleaned down immediately by our cleaning staff
The government has made it clear that attendance will be compulsory from September. The academy’s normal attendance procedures will recommence from the start of the term.
NB : any student that has COVID symptoms should not attend the academy, but should self-isolate for 7 days in accordance with government guidelines. Any student living with someone that develops COVID symptoms should self-isolate for 14 days. Parents / carers should keep the academy informed if either of these is the case so that we can record this correctly in the register. Symptomatic students and their families will also be able to get tested to confirm whether they have a confirmed case or not, and this will help avoid long periods of absence. From September, we will resume home visits to ensure the wellbeing and safety of our students and to offer support.
It is critical that we are informed of any confirmed cases of COVID19 so that we can inform Public Health England and follow their advice.
If a student develops COVID symptoms throughout the course of a day, we will make contact with parents / carers and the student will be sent home to isolate / be tested.
In all other regards, the academy’s normal attendance procedures will operate.
I know that all our parents and carers will support the need for excellent behaviours from all students so that we can return to full opening safely in September. When students return, the normal academy behaviour systems will operate, and our expectations of students’ conduct will be higher than ever. This is particularly important given the temporary restrictions that will be in place and the changes to breaks, lunch, movement and lesson times.
The academy behaviour policy has been amended to reflect the need to keep everyone safe – and the full range of sanctions will be used as necessary to protect others (up to and including exclusion) where students choose to disregard the rules and put others’ safety at risk. We will take time to explain this to students when they arrive at the start of the new term so that there is no confusion.
The academy rewards system will also continue, and students will be awarded Class Charts points for working hard and doing the right things. The Class Charts shop will re-open, but will operate slightly differently in order to maintain social distancing. Parents and carers will continue to be able to see their child’s behaviours and rewards via the Parent ‘My Ed’ app. If you have not downloaded the MyEd app yet, I urge you to do so as it is our main method of communicating throughout the year and gives you easy access to all sorts of information.
Over the Summer
It is important for all students to have a break over the summer holidays – so we are not setting homework or other assignments over this time. We are also acutely aware however, that some students have missed valuable learning time over recent months. For those students who can, we have signposted to resources that can be used over the summer by placing links and information in students’ existing Google Classrooms. One of the most important things you can encourage your child to do is to read over the summer. We have recently launched our new e-book system which gives all students instant access to over 1200 titles. Students have all been sent login details via the parent app, or you can follow links from the academy website.
On site, we are making a few more improvements to the academy. We are adding some more covered space in the quad (including the outdoor queue area) and a canopy cover where students queue outside for PE. We are also really pleased to be replacing the Sports Hall floor with a brand new resin version.
It has been a privilege to serve the academy and our community as Principal over the past six and a half years. I have enjoyed working alongside such a talented and committed team of staff. Our students have never ceased to impress me with their hard work, positivity, resilience and good humour. I wish all of them every success in the future.
Have a great summer
Steve Brice, Principal & Mel McMorrow, Head Designate